On any typical day in many of the more than thirty MLS-zones in greater Greenville, a fast-growing ‘micro-city’ in northwest South Carolina, there are fewer than two active listings under $225K. Costs are increasing as the demand for housing skyrockets, and the last thing the region needed was a county-wide moratorium on new residential subdivisions. When this restriction was, in fact, proposed in September by the Planning and Development Committee of the Greenville County Council, the Greater Greenville Association of REALTORS® responded with a Call for Action, bringing a strong and swift response from its members that made the governing body reconsider.
Chris Bailey, Government Affairs Director of the 3,700 member association, explains that local ‘NIMBY’ groups and environmental advocacy organizations had been pressuring the County Council to prevent any new housing development in the area. The REALTORS®, meanwhile, had been working hard with the local Homebuilder’s Association to ‘clean up’ a few ordinances that stood in the way of reasonable development, and this seemed to cause a knee-jerk reaction to deny any new permits for residential subdivisions, he notes. The sponsor of the moratorium was the chair of the Planning and Development Committee, which heightened the political stakes of the contentious proposal.
With just a little over a week until the Committee’s vote on the moratorium, Bailey contacted the REALTOR® Party’s Advocacy Everywhere team for help with a Call For Action targeting the five members of the Committee. He made a courtesy call to one member, a REALTOR®, who pleaded, “Take it easy on me!” No such luck: no one was spared, and with a 10% response rate, the REALTORS® of Greater Greenville raised their voices in opposition to the moratorium, calling, texting, and emailing all five committee members with their thoughts on the proposed restriction. Bailey says that the turnout was especially impressive at a time when the membership has been so busy with the booming market, and he had thought that it might be difficult to engage them. “I shouldn’t have doubted them. And it’s pretty fun to see the REALTOR® Party’s fancy weapons in action!” Not only was the ordinance not presented for a vote, he reports; it seems to have completely disappeared.
Looking forward, Bailey notes that this win doesn’t solve the problem of insufficient housing in Greenville, especially at the entry-level end. “We need to work with the county’s elected leaders, so what we’ll do is turn the contentious issue around and make it into a conversation. We need for the policies and practices to align with the talk. We’ll get there,” he says.
To any REALTOR® associations that might be on the fence about tapping into one of the many resources the REALTOR® Party has to offer, Bailey says, “Do not be afraid to reach out and call them. Say, ‘I’ve got this issue I need help with,’ and the team will connect you with the right program, all of which are designed to be super user-friendly. They couldn’t be more effective, and they clearly understand that often, these situations will come up fast. That’s what happened in this case, and they were right there with us.”
To learn more about the Greater Greenville Association’s efforts to protect the region’s housing supply and its affordability, contact Government Affairs Director Chris Bailey at email@example.com or 864.992.1953.