more than 30 years in commercial real estate, first in New York City and most
recently in Orlando, Fla., Lou Nimkoff, CCIM, CPM, president of Brio Properties
in Winter Park, Fla., has seen the effects of both good and bad government.
This year he serves as CCIM Institute’s Legislative Affairs Subcommittee chair as well as vice chair of
the National Association of Realtors Commercial Legislative/Regulatory Advisory
Board. With his two-pronged perspective on government and real estate, Nimkoff
shared some thoughts on the current legislative and regulatory environment.
daily basis, how does federal policy affect commercial real estate
A number of issues, both legislative and regulatory, affect commercial real
estate businesses every day. We have to deal with factors governed by federal
law, such as depreciation/cost recovery periods, capital gain taxes, treatment
of foreign investors, and energy efficiency tax credits. And there are also
regulatory issues, not created by people we elect but rather by the various
departments of our government, such as the Internal Revenue Service and the
Securities Exchange Commission. These items include 1099 reporting, lease
accounting, and securities rules for public companies and private partnership
offerings. It is important to monitor both these areas to know how our business
and our clients might be affected. On top of that, each state also has its laws
a commercial real estate professional, what are your top federal legislative
and regulatory concerns this year?
I am focused on what I call “the big eight” issues. On the regulatory front, we are trying to relax rules on
the now-illegal use by real estate professionals of unmanned aerial vehicles,
or drones. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed rules regarding
lead paint in commercial buildings, and the SEC is issuing new rules on lease
accounting and crowdfunding. On the legislative side, fortunately the Terrorism
Risk Insurance Act was renewed for another six years in the first week of the
new year. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate were made aware of
the importance of this legislation to the commercial real estate industry. I am
also focused on marketplace fairness,which would require all online
sellers to collect sales tax, leveling out the playing field for
brick-and-mortar retailers. Lastly, we are monitoring proposed changes to both
Section 1031 rules regarding tax deferred exchanges and the Foreign Investment
in Real Property Tax Act, which imposes taxes on foreign nationals who invest
in U.S. real estate.
How does CCIM’s
Legislative Affairs Subcommittee help resolve problem issues?
Working through CCIM’s
Legislative Liaison Lydia Snowden in Chicago and the NAR legislative staff in
Chicago and Washington, D.C., the subcommittee helps monitor proposed laws and
regulations on both the state and federal levels to make sure CCIM members are
not negatively impacted. We also work toward promoting federal legislation,
such as the Marketplace Fairness Act, that will help our industry. The
Legislative Affairs Subcommittee discusses issues that need attention on our
many conference calls during the year and at our biannual meetings. We then ask
staff to take the appropriate action, which varies from simply monitoring
proposed rules and regulations to revising a statement of policy on a
particular issue, to asking NAR to take up a matter in Washington, which could
mean introducing legislation or trying to modify or defeat existing
addition, we work to raise member awareness through grass-roots lobbying,
responding to NAR calls to action, and getting other practitioners involved. We
also encourage contact with NAR federal political coordinators, who are
Realtors assigned to each senator or representative in every state, as well as
participation in state Realtor organizations.
Capitol Hill Visit connects members with legislators. What’s changed about this year’s annual visit?
In past years CCIM has worked with the Institute of Real Estate Management,
which has a very effective Capitol Hill Day each April discussing commercial
issues. Starting this year, CCIM will join NAR’s Realtors Legislative Meetings & Trade
Expo in May, when several thousand Realtors go to Washington, D.C., to meet
with legislators. CCIM members will be there to provide knowledge of the
commercial issues. When meeting with legislators, nothing is more important than
to share a firsthand experience about a problem that legislation can address.
The Institute has increased the maximum reimbursement to $850 for chapters that
send a representative to the NAR meetings.
one thing CCIMs can do to bring about legislative change?
Give to the Realtors Political Action Committee. Even CCIMs who aren’t political junkies know the potential damage
of not being represented. RPAC is the 180-pound gorilla in Washington. In
addition to being one of the biggest fundraisers, it is backed by more than 1
million Realtors, many who vote or are active in the community where they live.
part of the NAR family, our CCIM members get the benefit of RPAC and most don’t even know it. If even half of our members
gave $99 per year to RPAC that would earn us a better seat at the table when
NAR is deciding what issues its members should take to Capitol Hill each year
and what staff should be working on every day in our Washington office.
contribute to RPAC, go to www.realtoractioncenter.com/rpac.
Drummond is executive editor of Commercial Investment Real Estate.