Housing the Political Spirit: Real Estate and the Presidential Election

by Peter Thomas Ricci

Of course, RPAC is far from the only housing-related lobbying group on Capitol Hill. BUILD-PAC, the political action committee for the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), is equally active in the congressional landscape. Lake Coulson, who works in government affairs for the NAHB, says BUILD-PAC has a number of housing-related issues it’s currently focusing on, including: the preservation of the mortgage interest tax deduction; loosening credit restrictions by major lending institutions; the pending qualified mortgage rule, and its ramifications for home lending; and the eccentricities of the Environmental Protection Agency’s lead paint rule, which affects properties built before 1978 and can contribute to unnecessary work by builders and remodelers, mainly because of the unreliable testing kits that must be used (inaccurate readings, Coulson says, often result in additional – and costly – tests on paint chips that could be perfectly safe).

NAHB’s lobbying strategy, Coulson explains, involves delegation, and then, as a specific piece of legislation nears a vote, the association will commit more and more resources towards its positions.

“The flood [insurance program extension] is a perfect example,” Coulson says, referring to the same National Flood Insurance Program that Gregory mentioned. “We have a number of lobbyists here on staff. Their assignments include geographic areas as well as an issue portfolio. So in that sense, we’ll have one person taking the lead on flood, and then when it gets down to the two weeks prior [to the vote], we’ll have every one of our lobbyists – even some of our PAC people – we’ll have everyone that is available in a position where they can be contacting legislators of their state and making these points.”

Though its political contributions may not quite match that of RPAC, BUILD-PAC is still no slouch, having contributed more than $24 million since 1989, according to OpenSecrets. Like RPAC, member donations supply BUILD-PAC’s contribution fund and membership dues provide the salaries for the lobbyists on staff, though NAHB would not comment on how much of its budget is reserved for lobbying.

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  • Barb Davis-Hassan says:

    The GOP candidate, Willard (Mitt) Romneym Past Governor of the state of MA along with the GOP platform’s position on the Mortgage Interest Deduction is an absolute joke. And the fact that this article spins it as if Romney is a supporter of the MID is as outrageous as Romney’s entire campaign.

    The actual GOP platform wording is “if the GOP failed on tax reform it would favor the retention of the Mortgage Interest break”. What exactly does this mean. Well, Mr. Romney stated last week when asked about specifics in his tax policy the following: “I can’t tell you right now because it’s not fully formulated”.

    While campaiging Mr. Romney clearly stated that he would “eliminate the Mortgage Interest Deduction on second homes and eliminate the HUD”. The elimination of the MID would be ok in his words because he was going to drop the overall tax rate. I would not exactly call this supporting the MID. Of course NAR doesn’t support any specific candidate but to write an article spinning it as if the GOP is in favor of the MID is a bit of a stretch. It’s almost like saying up front “we know the GOP’s tax policy is going to fail, therefore we conclude the GOP will protect the MID”. Nice balancing act guys.

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