WICHITA, Kansas -- Wichita area realtors are getting ready for war over a potential plank in Gov. Sam Brownback's 2013 budget that they believe would halt the housing market recovery in its tracks.
"It's the most important issue we're facing in 2013," said Tessa Hultz, CEO of the Wichita Area Association of Realtors.
All the worrying is over what Brownback plans to do with the mortgage interest deferment credit.
It's a tax break that's been on the books for homeowners since 1913. It saves the average Kansas homeowner between $300 to $400 a year. And if it's gone, realtors worry potential home buyers might continue to rent.
"I think its going to pull buyers out of the market just because they'll feel there’s more uncertainty," said Hultz.
Brownback floated the idea in 2012 but it didn't gain enough support to pass. It's a different political landscape in Topeka now after conservatives dominated the house and senate elections. And there are concerns Brownback could try again now that he has more support for his agenda in both legislative branches.
"I think its political suicide," said Gary Walker with J.P. Weigand & Sons Realtors.
Walker points out it's a tax break whose beneficiaries are nearly all in the middle class.
Of the people using MID, 65 percent make under $100,000 per year and 91 percent make less than $200,000 per year.
The housing market around Wichita has been making a slow but steady recovery.
Through November, 7,518 homes have sold around Wichita. That's more than the 7,481 homes sold last year and the 2012 figures don't include December sales.
"Anything that hurts the perception that the public has that the economy is recovery is going to hurt us as an industry and its going to hurt our overall recovery," said Walker.
The Governor's office refuses to say what Brownback's plans are for the mortgage tax break. His 2013 budget proposal will be announced in January.