After years of stagnant condominium construction in the Seattle region, a coalition led by the Washington Association of REALTORS® was finally able to convince the state legislature to pass a law easing the peculiar legal restrictions that have discouraged condo development. Before long, it should help stimulate the creation of more badly needed “missing middle” housing in the region. In the meantime, the Seattle/King County Association of REALTORS® wanted to let the public know who was responsible for the break-through at the Statehouse. The National Association’s Consumer Advocacy Outreach program helped them give credit where credit was due — to REALTORS®.
The laws on the books, explains Russell Hokanson, Seattle King County REALTORS®’ Chief Executive Officer, were structured in such a way that it was much more cost effective to build apartments than condos. The resulting lack of housing inventory — averaging less than a two-month supply in the last six years — has been the top priority among REALTORS®. Changing the condo liability law was the quickest way to create more housing for median income households. “It didn’t happen overnight,” says Hokanson, but over the course of the past four years, steady work and all the partners that the REALTORS® brought to the table were finally able to gain a landslide of support in the legislature. “There’s still lots of work to be done to satisfy that ‘missing middle’ market demand,” he notes, “but this legislative victory was a big bang for our buck.”
The REALTORS® knew they wanted to take credit for the break-through, but needed some help finding the most effective way to launch a consumer education campaign, says Hokanson, who also serves on NAR’s Consumer Advocacy Outreach Advisory Board. The REALTOR® Party’s Consumer Advocacy Outreach Program simplified the plan. “The team at NAR was really responsive, and great to work with. They suggested an approach we were comfortable with, and recommended an expert vendor to build the campaign: it was off the ground in a very short period of time.”
Anna Naden, Marketing Communications Coordinator at Seattle King County REALTORS®, explains that the message on the campaign’s landing page was, “This is who we are, this is what we do, and we’re working on the big issues — in this case, affordable housing options.” Thanks to the social media engagement the Consumer Advocacy Outreach Program provided through its extensive database of local email addresses, word of the REALTORS®’ role in promoting the new legislation reached more than 300,000 area citizens, many of whom are already registered on the Homeownership Matters site. “From the reports we receive from our campaign team, we can see that REALTORS® are starting to share and talk about the advocacy role of their association. That’s exciting, and we want to keep those conversations going.”
Hokanson adds, “This is just the kind of positive momentum we were trying to build. Other issues will certainly come forward, where we’ll try to leverage this recent success, and we’ll have a critical base of public support behind us.”
To learn more about how the REALTORS® of Seattle and King County, Washington are using the resources of the REALTOR® Party to connect with voting consumers with an interest in housing issues, contact Chief Executive Officer Russell Hokanson at 425-974-1011.