For the first time in three years, thousands of REALTORS® descended on the nation’s capital last week to discuss the pressing issues impacting real estate and to take our message directly to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
The 2022 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings drew 9,000 members and industry experts to the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., for six days of in-depth discussions on the political climate and top issues facing our association and profession.
Thousands of REALTORS® also met with Members of Congress and their staff, raising three main priorities: addressing inventory, supply, and affordability; ensuring fair housing for all; and demonstrating how NAR research products can inform policymaking. Talking points and a comprehensive leave-behind document are available at FlyIn.realtor.
Many of the week’s sessions drilled down on these issues. The Advocacy Scoop, a reimagined policy deep-dive, featured the full NAR leadership team engaging in a rapid-fire Q&A session with three NAR policy experts.
Bryan Greene, vice president of policy advocacy, outlined NAR’s initiatives to expand homeownership to more people, especially groups that have been historically excluded. “The brick wall we face is supply,” he said. “If we don’t have housing, we can’t expand access. So, we’re engaged in a range of efforts to ensure we have housing supply.”
Evan Liddiard, director of federal taxation, provided updates on existing proposals to boost inventory through tax incentives, including renovating distressed properties, converting unused commercial properties to residential, and providing down payment assistance and tax credits to first-time buyers. But he also broached new ideas: “One potential solution we’re discussing is what if we offer some owners of rental properties a capital gains tax break if they sell to first-time buyers?”
Dr. Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights, focused on how NAR’s research products can influence policymaking at all levels of government. “We’ve worked to ensure the research products we’re releasing can be used on the Hill and also in your local communities,” she said.
NAR Chief Advocacy Officer Shannon McGahn gave a “State of the Union” speech on real estate issues, stressing the importance of NAR’s nonpartisan, issue-focused advocacy structure. “No matter who is in power, our issues stay the same,” she said. “Our fight for all consumers continues. And we keep these legislative conversations going throughout the year, back in the districts.”
At another powerhouse session, the Federal Legislative and Political Forum, former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former Trump adviser Ja’Ron Smith shared their insight and expertise on fair housing issues.
“We tend to talk to and complain amongst each other, but we often don’t push forward in making changes that need to be made,” Bottoms said. “Policy changes come from people saying, ‘This is what I see as an issue.'”
She went on to outline policies with the potential to expand homeownership, including alternate credit scoring methods and assistance for first-time homebuyers.
Smith, deputy assistant to the president at the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Office of American Innovation under President Trump, recounted his own struggles with affordable housing and highlighted NAR’s unique position to bring all parties together.
“We have to be very intentional about the problems we’re trying to solve,” he said. “We know these issues, we know the neighborhoods, we know the people. We have to come together collectively.
“I’ll tell you what, [NAR] is one of the strongest advocacy organizations in the country … Work with your local mayors and encourage [them] to work with your congresspeople … to come together to solve these challenges and close the racial wealth gap. This is not a Republican issue; this is not a Democrat issue. It’s an American issue.”
Bottoms agreed. “I believe [we are most successful] when we look at these issues in a nonpartisan way,” she added. “You remove the politics from it, and you put people first.”
Other highlights of the Legislative Meetings included a General Session discussion on the political landscape with Punchbowl News co-founders Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, the launch of a new implicit bias classroom course, and predictions from NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun on the residential and commercial markets.
To those who attended in person or virtually, thank you for your commitment to engaging on the issues that will shape the future of real estate. And please mark your calendars for the 2023 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings, May 6-11, 2023, in Washington, D.C.