Realtors in Austin

Michael DeHart, executive officer of the Fort Hood Area Association of Realtors, prepares to board a bus to Austin for Realtor Day at the Capitol. More than 2,000 realtors are expected to descend on the state capitol to talk to their district representatives and senators about issues such as property taxes and eminent domain.

More than 50 Realtors from the Fort Hood Area Association of Realtors hopped on a bus Tuesday morning to head to the state capitol for Realtor Day.

The local Realtors, from Killeen, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and Gatesville, joined a total of an expected 2,000 or more Realtors in speaking to local state legislators about issues such as property tax reform and relief and eminent domain.

“Our focus is property owner rights,” said Michael DeHart, the association’s executive officer. “The way we work things politically is we just make sure they know what our position is. We don’t ever strong-arm anybody, tell them ‘we want you to vote this way’ — but we’re such a large voice now that people listen.”

When it comes to issues such as eminent domain, the Realtors in Texas believe that all property owners, whether they are residential, commercial or land, should be protected from abusive practices and treated fairly, according to the official Texas Realtors position package distributed to state lawmakers. On property taxes, the realtors support legislation that promotes “honesty and transparency in the process local governments follow to set property tax rates.”

In the past, one of the laws the Realtors were able to successfully keep from passing was a double ad valorem tax on vehicles used by Texans for both personal and work-related travel, DeHart said.

“We didn’t think that was particularly fair for anyone,” he said. “Look at the insurance people, look at the guy who has a lawn care business who uses his truck for his gear and to take his family out. Those are the kind of issues ... we fight against every legislation.”

Additional issues the Realtors planned on speaking about included eliminating the tax code provision preventing property owners from using agricultural land as collateral for a home equity loan; legislation to allow impacted residents to vote on whether or not their property is annexed into a municipality; improving the state’s public school finance system to decrease the burden on local property taxpayers; and the development and implementation of projects to address flood mitigation and preparedness. | 254-501-7554

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