Utah Association of REALTORS® Conducts Compelling Social Media Campaign in Support of Major Legislation Boosting New Housing

Utah Association of REALTORS® Conducts Compelling Social Media Campaign in Support of Major Legislation Boosting New Housing

June 2024

Slow and steady wins the race, but a burst of power at the finish sure helps, too.  In the state of Utah, where the housing market has experienced a decades-long slowdown in single-family residential construction, a five-year effort to correct the decline is finally paying off with the passage of a major slate of new laws addressing affordable homeownership and infrastructure funding in the 2024 session.  The Utah Association of REALTORS® has been hard at work, both at the table and out advocating for statewide support – and with help from the REALTOR Party, it conducted an Issues Mobilization campaign to propel the landmark legislation over the finish line.

As Government Affairs Director Cate Klundt explains, “Utah’s housing stock has been perilously low, and interest rates are rising unpredictably, making it difficult to find and qualify for the average home in Utah.  By increasing the housing supply, we open up opportunities for renters to become homeowners by driving down the average cost of a home.  Increasing homeownership, in turn, creates a more healthy and sustainable housing market in Utah.”

The new legislation is comprehensive in addressing the whole range of barriers that stand in the way of boosting the supply of starter homes for first-time buyers.  The centerpiece, says Klundt, is a law authorizing the state treasurer to make hundreds of millions of dollars in public investment funds available to local banks and credit unions over the next three years, for the specific purpose of making low-interest loans to developers of affordable housing.  Another bill allows developers to put up bonds for infrastructure, where the state was either unwilling or unable.   “These are such creative and thoughtful solutions to financing the supply-and-demand problems,” she notes, adding that these concepts devised in the Utah legislature should be easily replicable anywhere in the U.S.

Other elements of the powerful legislative slate include substantial private property protections; building standards for modular housing; and measures to create certainty for cities in the planning process, reduce ambiguity in land use code, provide optimal efficiency for builders, and deter municipalities from ignoring or breaking state law.

The Utah Association of REALTORS® launched its Issues Mobilization campaign at its annual policy summit.  From there, its Legislative Committee sprang into action, activating its REALTOR® Key Contacts, who met individually with members of the legislature.  “These are our most politically involved members,” explains Klundt; “They’re active RPAC investors, past officers, and some have even served as local legislators.  They have great institutional knowledge, and in many cases, have existing relationships with our state legislators.  Having them present our issues is incredibly effective, because they can show fist-hand just how dire things are, providing anecdotal evidence of how many offers they have to write, the challenge of competing against cash offers, etc.  Ideally, they can bring a client, a constituent, to tell their personal story of being shut out of the housing market.  It doesn’t get more compelling than that.”

The digital campaign featured ‘Tik-Tok-style’ videos urging viewers to contact their legislators in support of the pending legislation – the association’s first significant social media buy.  Working with an award-winning Utah-based video marketing company, the campaign produced 15-, 30-, and 60-second messages in two different versions of the same script, presented by a woman and a man, as individuals will respond to different authority figures, explains Klundt.  “The bills and the solutions are extremely technical, and any explanation would have been long-winded and complicated, and difficult for the average person to take in – or many of us in the industry, for that matter!  So, we worked hard on condensing our message to a few clear sentences that would resonate with the public.”  Message delivered, the Utah Association of REALTORS® looks forward to the positive effects of the new legislation.

To learn more about how the Utah Association of REALTORS® has been supporting legislative solutions for increased housing production, contact Government Affairs Director Cate Klundt at cate@utahrealtors.com or 801.676.5250.  To see one of the videos created for the Utah Starter Home Zone campaign, visit https://youtu.be/TdgGL_8Dk9A?si=rueoWGJ7w2-Z7yLB

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