As the REALTOR® president during the nation's bicentennial, Philip C. Smaby* steadfastly promoted American patriotism and the free enterprise system. He called upon REALTORS® to "rekindle the spirit of '76 by resisting expansion of an already huge government and by working with all levels of government defending the right of Americans to freely buy and sell property without fear of government interference."
Mr. Smaby urged national policy makers to establish a long-term plan for housing and financing and emphasized the need for sensible land use policies and the elimination of zoning obstacles and no-growth policies.
The REALTORS®' bicentennial observance centered around the life and times of Samuel Wilson -- better known as Uncle Sam -- a great American patriot and hero of the War of 1812. Mr. Smaby presented Herbert Noxon's original oil portrait of Uncle Sam to President Gerald Ford, who had it placed on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution. The Association produced the film, "Uncle Sam -- the Man and the Legend," which was viewed by millions of Americans and won eight major awards.
In the expanding realm of federal regulation, a number of bills were debated or enacted in 1976 which profoundly affected the real estate industry and homeowners. REALTORS® were particularly concerned about a challenge to the tax advantages of home ownership raised by Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter and a group of congressmen. although provisions for income tax deductions on mortgage interest expenses and real estate taxes remained intact in the final tax bill, REALTORS® felt threatened by the possible future elimination of these deductions. Mr. Smaby urged Carter not to undermine the goal of homeownership by removing its tax incentives.
Condemning a new antitrust law giving state attorneys general the power to enforce antitrust laws, Mr. Smaby said the ruling was the single most serious threat to the survival of private business. "Not only does this law not help persons injured by antitrust violations," said Smaby, "but it also gives government the power to control business by coercion and threat. Small business cannot afford to defend itself against this arbitrary power."
A financial reform bill, which REALTORS® feared would discourage investment in home lending, died in Congress, due in part to Mr. Smaby's efforts. the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) was revised,making the regulations more palatable for lenders, brokers and buyers.
A major development in 1976 was the United States Supreme Court decision upholding the federal courts' power to order subsidized low income housing in predominately white suburbs. Although the National Association had traditionally opposed conventional public housing, it hoped this ruling would help provide more low density housing for low income families through rent subsidies on the open market.
During 1976, the Federal Trade Commission launched its first full-scale investigation of the real estate industry. for the first time in history existing single-family home sales exceeded three million units and dollar volume surpassed $100 billion.
President Smaby's many accomplishments included expansion of the Affirmative Marketing and Home Protection programs and the sale of the Association's old headquarters at 155 East Superior, Chicago.
Mr. Smaby was past president of the REALTORS® National Marketing Institute, Minnesota Association of REALTORS®, Minneapolis Board of REALTORS®. In addition to the presidency, he held many other national offices including three years as treasurer.
A real estate professional for more than 45 years, Mr. Smaby served on the advisory board of the Minneapolis Planning Commission. He was a graduate of St. Olaf College and the University of Minnesota and taught real estate courses in five states.