News

Is it MID-night for home ownership incentives?

BY Ken Clark

The Mortgage Interest Deduction is in the news. And while it may be a stretch to say that it’s on the chopping block, it’s relatively safe to say it’s on the negotiating table.

With the spirit of tax reform inspiring ideas inside the beltway in general, and in the White House specifically, many analysts are pointing their sharpened pencils at the MID – maybe not to eliminate it wholesale, but to reduce it dramatically.

Today, homeowners can claim as a tax deduction the interest on mortgage debt of up to $1 million. It’s a policy widely supported by voices in the home improvement and lumberyard industry, and industry editorial pages.

Earlier this month, when it was learned that a cap on the MID was being considered, the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association issued a call to arms – encouraging dealers to contact their elected representatives in Washington, D.C., and voice their support for the preservation of the MID.

Reports of proposals for a cap reduction to as low as $500,000 have appeared in various political publications.  

“NLBMDA continues to work on behalf of its dealer members to preserve the mortgage interest deduction,” said Ben Gann, the NLBMDA’s VP of legislative and political affairs. “There is a compelling case for tax reform, but it should not weaken incentives for home ownership.”

The NLBMDA summed up its hands-off the-MID position in its recent bulletin to members:

“Eliminating the MID would have a negative impact on housing: after-tax housing costs would increase and demand for housing would decrease. In turn, reduced demand would depress home prices, producing a sizable loss for existing homeowners that would have a drag on the economy.

“Homeowners do not expect to lose their MID, and prospective buyers anticipate taking the deduction,” the note continued. “Changing ‘the rules of the game’ would have a significant impact on the housing market in terms of owner and buyer behavior.”

[Click here for more on the NLBMDA's 2017 Policy Agenda.]

The lumberyard industry has a huge ally in the National Association of Realtors, one of the largest lobbying groups in the country. Meanwhile, opposition to the MID has been growing in editorial pages as diverse as the National Review and Slate. A popular argument against MID is that it unnecessarily benefits the wealthy.

In April, President Trump seemed to support preservation of the MID, with his administration promising to “protect the homeownership … deductions.” But the administration also said it intends to simplify the tax code, while decreasing the federal tax rates. The latest from Washington: Nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen to the mortgage interest deduction, if anything.

“NLBMDA urges its members to take action now by contacting their Representative and Senators and asking them to preserve the mortgage interest deduction and its critical role in American housing policy,” according to the NLBMDA.

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How do you feel about the mortgage interest deduction? Tell us at [email protected].

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Stihl Hardware All Stars: R.I., S.C., Vt.

BY HBSDealer Staff

HBSDealer editors like to say: It takes a little more to be a Stihl Hardware All Star. The 2017 list of 50 hardware stores from 50 states supports that maxim with a tremendous variety of stores.

Since 2011, HBSDealer has reached out to suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, vendors, retailers and homeowners in search of high-performing, service-oriented, community-minded hardware stores, lumberyards or farm and ranch dealers worthy of All Star status.

It’s a tribute to this industry that each year brings a surplus of high-quality nominations. The companies profiled have earned their place on the list of 50 — and they join an elite fraternity of honorees. Here’s to the class of 2017. And here are our representatives from Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont.

Rhode Island
McQuade’s Ace Hardware
McQuade’s Ace Hardware isn’t necessarily the same exact store that locals grew up with in Westerly. Last year, it was completely remodeled from top to bottom, with major investments in its Stihl OPE offering and big name brand selection, such as Valspar and Weber. The McQuades also expanded some of the specialty products they’re known for carrying, like camping goods, kayaks and Boy Scout items. When it comes down to it, however, VP Mark McQuade — the owner’s son — says it’s about knowledge and customer service. “[Our strength lies in] having the right people to do the right jobs,” he said. “My average employee has been here for almost 10 years.”

South Carolina
Heuser Ace Hardware
Heuser Ace Hardware may have only opened its doors just more than a year ago, but it was already named “Best of Bluffton” in the hardware and home improvement categories for two years running, and it also doubles as a full-service bike shop, which sells bicycles that are made in the United States to the active local community. The 12,000-sq.-ft. downtown destination is also frequented for its selection of plants and bird feeders. More than anything, Heuser takes its training seriously: the store is staffed by an expert with a Ph.D. in horticulture, two master gardeners, a master electrician, and a master plumber. Plus, associates are required to pass a robust training certification.

Vermont
Martin’s Hardware & Building Supply
You can tell a lot about a store by its homemade Facebook videos. And at Martin’s Hardware & Building Supply, with stores in Bristol, Middlebury and Brattleboro, the operative word is “fun.” Quirky, but fun. Same goes for its radio spots. “What makes our stores special are the people that work for us,” said Kathleen Clark, co-owner. “We love our community.”

See the full class — presented by Stihl — in the May issue of HBSDealer.

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HBSDealer Stock Watch: another up-and-down day

BY HBSDEALER Staff

It was a mixed day on Wall Street, however home center retailers Home Depot, Lowe’s and Lumber Liquidators all ended the day in positive territory.

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