An open letter to North Carolina's Realtors

Dear Realtors.

By now you've noticed that your professional organization, the North Carolina Association of Realtors, has spent your money to influence yet another community decision on transfer taxes. You and your fellow Realtors have tossed in more than $22 for every vote against the tax in Clay County.

Would you please help me understand why? I really don't get it. What exactly do Realtors gain from this kind of political bullying? And more to the point, what do communities and citizens gain when you force them to raise property taxes to pay for schools?

Some of my best friends are Realtors. They make huge contributions to the quality of life in many communities. Indeed, the North Carolina Association of Realtors could be an enormous force for good in our state. But I have such a hard time seeing why this issue is any of your business. I don't understand why you allow the leadership of your organization to run roughshod over communities where elected officials are trying to do the right thing.

If you're a Realtor, I'd love to see your thoughts on this issue. And if you're a leader in the North Carolina Association of Realtors, I'd love to see your letter of resignation.

James Protzman


What they get is

What they get is an electorate that believe the first piece of mail to arrive in the mail box or the first ad in the newspaper. During this campaign every other day I received a "Vote NO on the Home Tax" misleading 1600 + voters here in Clay County. What I don't want to hear is how much our property taxes go up to build a new school, pay for our new court house, complete our new jail, pay for the few service we get such as Law Enforcement, Fire, Ambulance Services. As more and more folks move here we have more and more pressure for these service. So Clay County NO MORE WHINING ABOUT PROPERTY done it to yourself.

Has anyone seen Liz?

The essence of trade unionism is social uplift. The labor movement has been the haven for the dispossessed, the despised, the neglected, the downtrodden, the poor.--A. Phillip Randolph

Why are Democrats sucumbing to the PAC pressure?

The Homebuilders Assoc and NCAR are doing what all industries do, work to protect their bottom line: profits. Trial attorneys, doctors, and every other profession represented by associations and PACs does the same thing.

The real problem is that elected officials continue to accept these bribes and do favors in return for the money/bribes.

Both Republicans and Democrats. Are voters holding Democrats who have accepted Homebuilder and NCAR PAC money accountable?

Professional orgs and corporations are not going to stop promoting their bottom line.

But, perhaps with some pressure from voters and some better regulations on PACs, elected officials will not be so easily corrupted by PAC money.

NCDem Amy on YouTube

The problem with the Transfer Tax....

Is that it taxes both those creating an impact and those not creating an impact on the need for services and infrastructure indiscriminately. Having said that, you have it exactly right, the real estate, and in particular the land development and homebuilding industries, have bought their share of support for perpetually rising property tax rates in high growth counties.

As a former local official (councilman and mayor)in the fatest growing county, Union County, I have worked to find solutions that require developers, homebuilders, and ultimately the folks who buy new homes in areas with overcrowded schools, to help pay the freight for new school construction required to get kids out of trailers and into brick and mortar schools. I advocated for and served on a task force that drafted and succeeded in passing an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) that would either stop new development from happening in areas with overcrowded schools until new schools could be brought online or allow the developer to pay a voluntary mitigation fee to help pay for new school construction.

Imagine, a sensible solution that says wait until we have room for kids or help us to make room for the kids that will be created by your new development. Guess what, they're suing to stop it.

The General Assembly needs to create the tools necessary for local governments in fast growing counties to manage their growth and infrastructure whether the development interests like it or not. It's the right thing for North Carolina.

That's why I'm a candidate for the North Carolina House.

Mike Cognac

Thanks for the update, and good luck

From all I can see the Realtors will stop at nothing to get their way - but I still don't understand why they're mucking around in these issues. I assume it's pure, unadulterated greed, but I can't figure out the logic.

Good luck in your race. You sound like the kind of forward-thinking representative we need more of in Raleigh. Hope to see more of you.


Jesus Swept, so you can come clean.

Mike, are you talking about

it taxes both those creating an impact and those not creating an impact on the need for services and infrastructure indiscriminately

the sale of existing (preowned) homes being taxed the same as newly-built homes? If so, I think I'm in agreement with you. If family A moves out and family B moves in, it's (theoretically) a zero growth scenario. Unless I'm missing something.


that's why the transfer tax is dicey. I'd rather see a tax targeted toward new home construction in rapidly growing areas.

The bigger story

Not only did the Realtors spend all that money to defeat the new taxes, they made sure there wasn't much of a choice in the first place.

Counties and municipalities only have the taxing authority that the legislature grants them. The year (2006, I think) the transfer tax and sales tax options passed there were several bills seeking to provide local governments with additional revenue options. One would have provided a full menu of options including sales taxes, transfer taxes, impact fees, etc., that voters could choose from.

The Realtors and hombuilders always make sure that impact fees and other ways to target new growth don't get approved by the legislature. Only a few local governments have impact fee authority and no new bills have been passed in close to twenty years. The home industry had to crush things like impact fees in the legislature because they knew they had no chance of stopping them if they were available as choices for local voters.

I have full confidence that revenue options that better target growth would have passed by very wide margins. How in the world can you put up that big a fight against a fee that requires growth to help pay for itself? Surely there would be no easy, disingenuous "Home Tax" rhetoric coming from the Realtors. Most people would say, "Heck yeah those newcomers should pay their way" and vote in favor of things like impact fees.

Not only did the lobbyists use their influence to keep the best tools from ever making it to the voting booth, they even hobbled the sales and trasnfer tax options that did make it through. The rates were capped at very low percentages and the options were only available to counties, not municipalities. Hmmm, wouldn't the Realtors have had to spend even more money if they had to fight town by town instead of just at the county level? What the Realtors allowed to pass in the legislature were the least attractive and most hobbled options for the voters. Even if the measures had passed, the additional revenue would not have come close to addressing costs necessitated by growth.

The Reator's crushing of the tax referenda pisses me off, but we should really be enraged that they kept the best options out of voters' hands in the first place. That's why the need the real scorn. the whole process was fixed by the most powerful lobby in the state. Now they can use the "evidence" of transfer tax defeats to "prove" it is not even worth it to give the voters more options. Jerks!

An update on Union's Adequate Facilities Ordinance..and my race!

Union County's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, which I led the fight for and helped to craft, has passed it's first legal challenge. A fair and impartial jurist, Judge Chris Collier, heard the lawsuit by the development industry, and ruled that the the ordinance falls within the delegated authority of county and does not constitute an illegal impact fee. This is good news for every fast growing community in North Carolina trying to find sensible solutions to the cost of residential growth. The developers have already indicated their intention to appeal, so it isn't over yet, but I am encouraged.

My only concern is that I've been involved in legal cases where the real estate industry brings it's political muscle to bear on appellate judges (as they did in Nolan v. Village of Marvin) and the result is activist decisions where the judges make law rather than interpreting it and do so in favor of the huge donors in the real estate industry. We'll have to pay close attention to how this plays itself out.

As for my effort to unseat Curtis Blackwood in the 68th House District, we're doing very well. It's a tough district for a Democrat, but with the help of many folks who think about growth the way that I do, people of all political persuasions, we have turned a safe Republican seat into a contest that has this seat in play. I'm pleased to tell you that we've been successful at fundraising (although we need to keep doing it), have gotten out nearly 10,000 pieces of literature and knocked on hundreds of doors. Friday night, October 3rd, House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman will be appearing at a reception for me here in the district, as far as I can tell, this is the first time that any member of the House leadership has campaigned for a candidate in the 68th. This should be a race to watch on November 4th.

I recognize the economic challenges folks are facing these days, but if you're interested in helping out, visit my website at, or you can contribute to the campaign directly on our ActBlue site at

Thanks so much for your words of encouragement!

Mike Cognac
Marvin, NC

Hi Mike - Everybody...this is Mike

He's running for NC House in my district. He's a great, great guy. Help him out if you can.

Mike...check out Sweet Union Blue

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Go Mike!

A friend of mine is helping Mike, and I've heard great things.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"