By Andrew Huffman, Ohio REALTORS® Assistant VP of Government Affairs

Ohio’s lawmakers held their last sessions of 2023, marking an end to an extremely busy year in the Ohio legislature. The year began with a battle over who would become the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. In a surprise move, Rep. Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill), was selected speaker after partnering with the Democratic Caucus to receive more votes than Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Twp.), who had initially won an informal vote by House Republicans to take over the top position in the House. The battle over the speakership largely split the House Republican Caucus and created challenges for the new leadership team throughout much of 2023.

Shortly after the Speaker vote, lawmakers were tasked with passing the state operating budget, which funds state government operations for the next two years. Entering the budget process, there was an acute awareness of the housing crisis facing the state, and Ohio REALTORS® played a critical role in advocating for pro-housing policies aimed at investing in new housing supply, reducing barriers to new housing construction, and helping Ohioans obtain the financial resources to purchase a home of their own. Nowhere, however, was Ohio REALTORS® advocacy efforts more on display than in its efforts to spearhead the creation of a homeownership savings account program. The newly created initiative called the Ohio Homebuyer Plus Program, would help homebuyers overcome financial barriers associated with purchasing a new home. This program would allow contributions to a homeownership savings account to be deducted from an individual’s state income taxes, and through partnering with the State Treasurer’s Office, the accounts will also receive above-market interest rates. The program, which has been a long-time priority for Ohio REALTORS®, shows Ohio’s commitment to helping Ohioans achieve the dream of homeownership, and we were proud to help lead the advocacy efforts that led to its creation. Additional information about the Ohio Homebuyer Plus Program, which will become operational in January 2024, can be found through the following link: Ohio Homebuyer Plus

A complete list of legislative victories for Ohio REALTORS® in 2023 includes:

As we look ahead to 2024 all eyes will be on the elections, which in addition to the presidential contest, feature several high-profile races in Ohio, including a US Senate seat, all 15 Congressional seats, 16 Ohio Senate seats, all 99 Ohio House of Representative seats, and three seats on the Ohio Supreme Court. While the legislative calendar is relatively light for the first half of 2024 due to the Primary Election in March, Ohio REALTORS® has many pressing legislative issues it will be pursuing.

We will be seeking changes to require written representation agreements for real estate brokers to ensure transparency throughout the home-buying process. Additionally, we will continue to defend against efforts to reduce Ohio’s educational requirements to become a licensed real estate professional. Ohio REALTORS® will work to enact changes to protect property owners from growing taxes as the state begins a review of its property tax laws. Ohio REALTORS® will advocate for consumer protections against unlicensed real estate wholesaling practices. Ohio REALTORS® will continue to work to ensure efforts to limit large institutional investments in Housing do not negatively impact housing providers and tenants. We will also work on policies that protect private property owners from local governments imposing excessive regulations on short-term rentals. Ohio REALTORS® will also continue to work with legislators to protect the industry from any unintended consequences resulting from efforts to limit foreign adversaries from purchasing property in Ohio.

Ohio REALTORS® looks forward to continuing to serve its 36,000 members and will work to vigilantly protect its members’ interests and the real estate economy. Whether through passing legislation, defeating potentially damaging policies, or ensuring state agencies are property serving the industry, Ohio REALTORS® are there acting as your voice at the Ohio Statehouse.