Real-estate group gains ground in lobbying against transfer tax

Real-estate group gains ground in lobbying against transfer tax

The North Carolina Association of Realtors has spent about $500,000 spreading its message outside the Legislative Building. The investment appears to be working inside the building as legislators work to hash out a budget deal.

One issue of contention is a proposal to give counties the right to issue additional taxes on land transactions, if approved by local voters.

The 42,000-member association, the lobbying group for most of the state’s active residential real-estate agents, has led a multimedia campaign against what it calls the “NC Home Tax,” which the group says would discourage potential first-time home buyers.

Last week, before a tentative deal broke down, the association also spent more than $13,000 on local newspaper advertisements praising about 12 House members who spoke out against the tax, according to the group’s records.

Other legislators are worried they will be the target of campaign ads next year if they support the land-transfer tax. The association’s political action committee gave more than $600,000 to legislative candidates during the 2006 elections – the most money by any political action committee.

“It’s scaring the heck out of a lot of them,” said Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, who supports the land-transfer tax as a way to pay for surging growth in population and development, particularly in urban counties.

The N.C. Association of Realtors began its campaign in March, including a Web site, television and radio ads and yard signs urging passers-by to “Stop the NC Home Tax.”

Lobbying records filed with the Secretary of State’s office show that the association has spent more than $475,000 this year on soliciting the public, with most if not all of the expenses linked to the campaign. Another political organization created by the group spent an additional $25,000 on the N.C. Home Tax campaign, Kent said.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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