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Maine Association Facilitates Smart Growth for Once-thriving Mill Town

The Stenton Mill

The state of Maine has the nation’s oldest population, the eighth oldest housing stock, low median income, and essentially no public transportation infrastructure. At the same time, the vacant and unused manufacturing spaces in once-thriving mill communities all across the state offer an opportunity for revitalization through mixed-use development of their downtown centers. To help the once-prosperous mill town of Sanford envision a future with walkable affordable housing and fresh economic contributors, the Maine Association of REALTORS® received a Smart Growth Action Grant to support a three-day charrette, or stakeholder-informed design session.

Trish Ohler, a Program Manager at the 5,000-member Maine Association of REALTORS® (MAR), explains that “MAR prides itself on longstanding advocacy for the value of housing choice and opportunity as essential components in a thriving economy. It also continually strives to create smarter alternatives to urban sprawl.” The region is fortunate to have a non-profit called the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast (WHC) whose work in Sanford was supported by the REALTOR® Party grant. In this case, the municipality had already done a lot of advance leg work: redefining its zoning code, creating a Recreation Master Plan, and hiring a staff member focused on housing. By the time the WHC facilitated the design charrette in Sanford, says Ohler, “the event was a springboard for lots of good ideas that had already been percolating for a while.”

On the first day, participants went on a site walk of the mill complex, and submitted ideas, as well as perceived obstacles to development. The second day saw the professional team of architects and planners organizing and analyzing the community input, from which they created two plans, accompanied by a feasibility document, revealed at the end of the third day. About ten REALTORS® participated in the process, along with dozens of other local stakeholders.

The Lofts at Stenton Mill Design Concept presented during the The Stenton Mill Area Revitalization Workshop: A Workforce Housing Coalition Design Charrette

Greg Gosselin, 2017 MAR President and a current member of NAR’s Housing Opportunities Committee, has been involved in infill development projects in several Maine towns in the past few years; he was on the committee that selected the old mill site as the focus of the Sanford charrette. “The work of the Workforce Housing Coalition is changing communities by providing a vision derived from community input. As REALTORS®, our involvement can help insure that future development includes both market rate and middle market housing.”

Rebecca Lapierre, a REALTOR® living and working in Sanford, and a committee member for the local charrette, agrees. “As a REALTOR®, I was able to advise on the type of housing that would work best for the mill area,” she says. “My professional expertise will have a real impact on this development, which will in turn have an impact on the future of Sanford.”

Since the charrette, the development in Sanford has been progressing swiftly, reports Ohler, with additional funding secured for Brownfield abatement, new interest in the former mill structures, and one being prepped for development, with plans for intown residential units and retail units underway. The civic leaders of Sanford have expressed their gratitude to the REALTORS® for their leadership and support. “This project was a great opportunity to bring REALTOR® knowledge and expertise into the community housing, planning, and development process,” says Ohler, “and the NAR Smart Growth funding was key to this collaboration.”

To learn more about how the Maine Association of REALTORS® is using its leadership, energy, and the resources of the REALTOR® Party to promote downtown revitalization and workforce housing, contact Trish Ohler at or 207-622-7501. See the final report on the Stenton Mill Revitalization Charrette.

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Residential Real Estate Council Invests in RPAC at Record Levels in 2017

You see the letters “CRS” and you know it identifies sales agents who’ve met the exacting standards of experience and education set by the Residential Real Estate Council (RRC).  So, it might not surprise you to learn that the more than 34,000 active REALTORS® who are members of the organization are also engaged at a high rate in industry advocacy: in fact, in 2017, their collective RPAC investment reached $4.5 million, up from $3.9 million in 2016.

This dramatic increase can be credited to a movement RRC (formerly known as the Council of Residential Specialists) calls Building the Complete REALTOR®, whose hashtag #morethanhouses refers to all those ancillary activities, like volunteering and civic involvement, by which its members improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods and strengthen and protect the real estate industry. The energetic movement, says Michelle Huffman, RRC’s Director of Communication, can, in turn, be credited to Leigh Brown, last year’s RRC President.

Brown, who is now 2018 RPAC Fundraising Trustees Chair, says “One of the biggest and most successful undertakings of the National Association of REALTORS® is our advocacy efforts. The members of RRC are already leaders in so many regards, when it comes to professionalism, education, achievement, etc., that it was a natural progression to examine and improve our efforts on the advocacy front as well,” she says, adding, “The members of RRC represent a large portion of the investment and volunteerism that leads to success. The focus on improving our reach among members is that of outreach and education:  I have personally found that many members WANT to do more once they know WHAT is being accomplished.”

In addition to emphasizing RPAC awareness at meetings and in email and social media campaigns, Brown also addressed the importance of investing in her President’s Letter at the front of The Residential Specialist, the group’s every-other-monthly magazine. Also in the magazine, RRC began celebrating its Major Investors in a high-profile list that’s become a popular bi-annual feature. Brown also initiated a new icon on the CRS.com website’s Find a CRS page, identifying RPAC Major Investors:

“There’s a growing movement among RPAC Major Investors to refer to one another, as that means the end consumer is more likely to be served by a REALTOR® who is involved in more than just their transaction. As such, we added a filter to the Find a CRS app, to help members locate CRS Designees who are also Major Investors. It’s been well received and becomes an ongoing effort to reach more members, so they can belong to the group and also use the app!” she says.

Huffman notes that “Leigh’s efforts were focused and tireless, and her message of investing in and protecting the industry really took hold with our members. Raising the visibility of those who invest has also been a successful strategy:  not only are they strong advocates, but great role models for their peers.” Says Brown, “Nothing makes me prouder as a REALTOR® than to know how many of my peers are engaged in changing this profession forever, while we also protect it from unnecessary and damaging regulation.”

To learn more about how the Residential Real Estate Council encouraged record investment in advocacy last year, contact Michelle Huffman at or 312-321-4428.

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Investing in a Legacy of Success

bobGoldberg_sm.jpge_mendenhall.jpgWe’ve just come back from the 2018 President’s Circle Conference. RPAC and, specifically, President’s Circle had a banner year in 2017, breaking records with 35% member participation and 1,207 President’s Circle members, respectively. This year’s President’s Circle Conference was no different with more than 1,500 attendees and a stellar line-up of speakers. The event also led to record investments, totaling more than $178,000.

For those of you who are not familiar with this RPAC Program, President’s Circle allows REALTORS® to contribute directly to REALTOR® Champions at the federal level. Why? Federal election law prohibits RPAC from making more than $10,000 in direct contributions to any single federal candidate during an election cycle – a pittance in today’s age of multi-million dollar congressional races. However, individual members may make contributions of their own. As a result, NAR member contributions routinely exceed $100,000 for each Member of Congress chosen for President’s Circle support. This level of financial strength ensures our REALTOR® Champion candidates have the financial resources they need to successfully seek re-election and continue advocating for public policy positions shared by REALTORS®. To date, nearly $12 million in direct contributions to have been given to 151 candidates from 47 states*.

The President’s Circle Conference is a two-day annual meeting that gives President’s Circle members the opportunity to meet and hear from congressional leaders and staff, and political and public policy experts to discuss salient issues. This year, South Carolina Senator and REALTOR® Champion Tim Scott inspired the crowd, thanking our members and staff for their bipartisan support of homeownership. He noted that, “financial independence is the cornerstone of the American Dream,” and told personal stories of his close relationship with his Federal Political Coordinator, Michael Sally, and the support he received during the tax reform debate.

We encourage you to learn more about President’s Circle, and hope to continue breaking records and seeing more friendly faces at the 2019 President’s Circle Conference.

 

*This figure does not include national political party contributions.

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Vote

As a member of the REALTOR® Party, NAR encourages you to vote for candidates and issues that build strong communities, protect property interests and promote a vibrant business environment at the local, state and national levels.

Get Involved

For REALTORS®

Register to Vote

Find Your Polling Place

Find Your Elected Officials

Update Your Voter Registration Information

 

For REALTOR® Associations

Voter Registration Program

See how many REALTORS® are registered to vote in your area.

Order “Vote, Act, Invest” Campaign Buttons, Bumper Stickers, Balloons, T-shirts and More

 

Resources

REALTOR® Party/RPAC Federal Candidate Endorsements

NAR’s Top Federal Issues

2016 RPAC Federal Election Cycle Summary

2014 RPAC Federal Election Cycle Summary

 

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Future of the REALTOR® Party PAG

In early 2017, the NAR Leadership Team created a Presidential Advisory Group (PAG) on the Future of the REALTOR® Party, and charged its 21 members with five responsibilities.

  1. Analyze the results of the REALTOR® Party’s first five years of performance (2012-2016);
  2. Identify and recommend improvements to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the management of the REALTOR® Party;
  3. Review each REALTOR® Party program and recommend enhancements or elimination—and identify new REALTOR® Party program offerings;
  4. Establish REALTOR® Party Strategic Objectives for the next five years (2018-2022); and
  5. Identify and recommend the financial resources necessary to continue to grow the REALTOR® Party.

PAG Documents

Full PAG Report

Executive Summary

Recommendations

“In a Nutshell” Summary

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s Next

 

PAG Members

Thank you to the following 21 members who worked hard to produce the Future of the REALTOR® Party PAG report and recommendations:

Leslie Rouda Smith, Chair (TX) Jim Liptak, Vice Chair (HI)
Randall Blankenship (NC) Tim Lund (MT)
Laura Crowther (SC) Bill Martin (FL)
John Flor (WI) Tiffany Meyer (OH)
Mike Ford (AR) Kenny Parcell (UT)
Kathy Fowler (OK) Charlie Oppler (NJ)
Nathan Gorton (WA) Kevin Sears (MA)
Greg Herb (PA) John Sebree (MO)
Christine Hansen (FL) Nick Solis (CA)
Lisa Hollister (MS) Margo Wheeler (WA)
Tracy Kasper (ID)

Questions? Contact the NAR Leadership Team at FutureRP@realtors.org.

 

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Ninja Form Conversion

Prince George’s County Mounts Winning Campaigns for County Council Candidates — Times Three!

With three new REALTOR® Champions on the County Council, and a favorable relationship with the County Executive-elect, the REALTORS® of Prince George’s County, Md., can be assured that the issues that matter to them are in good hands. Three Independent Expenditure Campaign grants from the REALTOR® Party helped strengthen the odds.

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Southern Minnesota REALTORS® Jump-start Walkability in Mankato

Using REALTOR® Party resources, the REALTOR® Association of Southern Minnesota hosted a WalkShop event to determine how the revival of Mankato’s Old Town section could be even more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly. The half-day program included a walking tour with an expert consultant, and a whole lot of brainstorming.

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Laguna REALTORS® Help Seniors Age-in-Place

The seaside municipality of Laguna Beach is not the sort of place anyone likes to leave – least of all the growing number of seniors who are deeply attached to the community in which they’ve made their homes. Now, with a REALTOR® Party grant, the local REALTORS® are partnering with a community non-profit to get seniors the help they need to remain where they want to be.

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Sun Valley Board Help Veterans with a Housing Opportunity Grant

The pride that comes with having served in the armed forces makes it hard for many veterans to seek help securing and maintaining housing. “If anyone’s going to do something about their housing needs, it’s going to be the REALTORS®,” says the Executive Officer of Idaho’s Sun Valley Board of REALTORS®. But first, they have to find them.

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Maine Association Facilitates Smart Growth for Once-thriving Mill Town

To help the once-prosperous mill town of Sanford envision a future with walkable affordable housing and fresh economic contributors, the Maine Association of REALTORS® used a Smart Growth Action Grant to support a three-day charrette, in which all stakeholders had an opportunity to contribute ideas to a new downtown development.

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Palm Springs REALTORS® Defend Short-Term Rental Industry

When the thriving cottage industry of privately operated short-term vacation rental properties was threatened by a recent ballot initiative in Palm Springs, California, the REALTORS® secured an Issues Mobilization Grant. The success of their campaign to defeat the proposal was a victory for private property rights.

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With Better Block Event, Longleaf Pine REALTORS® Demonstrate Just How Pedestrian-Friendly Haymount Can Be

Within Fayetteville, North Carolina, the Haymount district is blessed with neat neighborhoods of cottage-style homes and proximity to downtown, but its commercial district is cursed by an environment that is distinctly unfriendly to pedestrians. Armed with a vision, a Smart Growth Action Grant, and a whole lot of duct tape, the local Longleaf Pine REALTORS® set out to change that.

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Kaua`i REALTORS® Use Grant to Engage More Brokers in Advocacy

The 584-member Kaua’i Board of REALTORS® knew that the best way to involve members in advocacy and RPAC would be to show them what exactly it does for them. At the conclusion of an informative breakfast presentation supported by a Broker Involvement Program Grant, 15 brokerages gladly signed on.

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Residential Real Estate Council Invests in RPAC at Record Levels in 2017

The Residential Real Estate Council (formerly the Council of Residential Specialists) was already a powerful fundraising body for RPAC, but in 2017, its investing was supercharged; its Major Investors and President’s Circle membership went up, too.

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Boise Regional REALTORS® Boost School District with Issues Mobilization Grant

In the fastest growing region in the fastest growing state in the nation, the public school facilities could not keep up with the booming student population. An Issues Mobilization campaign helped get a $95 million bond measure approved for new schools, school expansions, and the purchase of future school sites.

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