John Smaby

Safety & Disaster Preparedness Dominate September

As the end of summer nears, our advocacy efforts are back in full swing! This month we celebrate REALTOR® Safety Month and National Preparedness Month. Throughout September, we are reminded of how these play out in our advocacy outreach efforts.

REALTORS® face job-related risks every day — working alone, meeting with strangers in unfamiliar places, and sharing personal contact information. While independence is one of the perks of our industry, it can leave us open to vulnerabilities. While we designate September as REALTOR® Safety Month to raise awareness of safety issues, it’s important for real estate professionals to stay focused on safety year-round. That why, more than a decade ago, we launched the REALTOR® Safety Program. The program provides members with safety education, tips, and countless other resources and tools at no cost, including the NEW REALTOR® Safety Network. The program covers a range of topics, including cybersecurity and data privacy — two hot topics for advocacy. The aim: Help REALTORS® make it home safely to their family every night. Learn more at nar.realtor/Safety.

We’ve also partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for National Preparedness Month. When natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian strike, it’s essential that real estate professionals remain safe, but also to look out for their clients and their families so that they have the resources they need. This year’s theme: Be Prepared, Not Scared is an excellent reminder for us to ready ourselves and our clients for natural disasters, and help families in the wake of a tragedy by raising awareness about disaster risks and the simple, proactive steps everyone can take. Visit ready.gov/september for shareable content, graphics, and videos throughout the month. The resources also offered on NAR’s Disaster Preparedness Resources are a valuable asset that can help build a culture of preparedness and ready the nation for catastrophic disasters.

According to FEMA, just one inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage to your home. As floodwaters rise, so do the costs of repairing your home and replacing the things inside of it. Heavy rains or hurricanes that lead to flash flooding highlight the need for the National Flood Insurance Program. Learn more at realtorparty.realtor/nfip.

As with every natural disaster, we encourage you to make a donation to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation. Over the past 18 years, the foundation has collected and distributed more than $32 million in aid for some 80 disasters in 39 states and territories since it launched after the September 11 terrorist attacks. It’s helped more than 13,000 families. Every dollar goes directly to victims of disaster, and NAR covers 100% of administrative expenses. Donate today.

Resources

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Celebrating National Homeownership Month with Pride

June is National Homeownership and LGBT Pride Month. While we are recognizing the important relationship between homeownership and achieving the American Dream, and encouraging people around the country to learn more about homeownership opportunities and financial management plans.

June is also LGBT Pride Month. In 2009, more than a decade before the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, NAR embraced the significance of the protections secured by the Fair Housing Act, and encouraged efforts to extend them by amending our Code of Ethics in 2009 to prohibit discriminations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

REALTORS® attending the 75th anniversary of the GI Bill event with Army Sgt. 1 st Class William Kopf

On June 5, we joined the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of  Housing and Urban Development to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the GI Bill along with the 24 millionth home loan backed by the VA loan program. The recipient was Army Sgt. 1 st Class William Kopf (pictured third from the left), an Active Guard Reserve Soldier who turned to his home loan benefit for the third time after service requirements necessitated a move from Utah to Northeastern Pennsylvania. REALTORS® Marilou Saar and Joni McKenna were in attendance Wednesday as the agents who helped make the 24 millionth transaction possible.

We are a key voice in promoting and educating consumers on homeownership. Through the HomeOwnershipMatters.realtor website, we offer an ideal platform for current and prospective homeowners to have their voice heard at the local, state, and national levels of government on core tax and property issues, joining REALTORS® in protecting homeownership now – and for generations to come. With proposed policy changes happening in communities across the country, it is more important than ever to stand-up for homeowner rights.

Be sure to visit Home Ownership Matters’ National Homeownership Month page for shareable videos, infographics, and other content throughout June.

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Homeownership Advocates: That’s Who We R

Hopefully by now you’ve seen our consumer ad campaign – That’s Who We R. The campaign has been a success that with the 2019 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo next week, we have tied our Hill Visit messages to Congress directly to the campaign – That’s Who We R – featuring both commercial and residential real estate. Why? Well with more than 100 new members serving in Congress, thousands of new Hill staffers, this is the perfect opportunity to reintroduce REALTORS® to the 116th Congress. REALTORS® will remind Congress of the value they bring to their communities, discussing the impact of real estate on the economy, consumers, and the vital role homeownership plays in building generational wealth for consumers.

We have an important story, namely:

  1. Who We Are and Why We Care
    REALTORS® adhere to the code of ethics, and 70% actively volunteer in their communities.
  1. How Real Estate Benefits Consumers and the Economy
    Real estate accounts for one-fifth of the gross domestic product, and commercial real estate supported 8.3 million American jobs in 2018.
  1. What We Care About
    NAR is following range of issues before Congress. For example, the National Flood Insurance Program needs to be extended by May 31, and Opportunity Zone tax incentives, which we are working to implement.

If you haven’t already, watch the recording of the yesterday’s town hall featuring Shannon McGahn, senior vice president of government affairs, and Tracy Kasper, vice president of advocacy.

For those of you attending next week’s meetings, be sure to check out the following events:

Federal Legislative & Political Forum: Behind-the-Scenes in Today’s Political Environment featuring Terry McAuliffe and Haley Barbour
Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 8:00–9:30 AM
Marriott Wardman Park, Marriott Ballroom, Lobby Level
Regulatory Issues Forum featuring Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria
Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 12:30 PM–2:00 PM
Marriott Wardman Park, Marriott Ballroom, Lobby Level
NAR 360
Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 4:00–5:00 PM
Marriott Wardman Park, Marriott Ballroom, Lobby Level
Federal Priority Issues Briefing
Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 7:30–8:30 AM
Marriott Wardman Park, Marriott Ballroom, Lobby Level

RPAC Awards Ceremony, RPAC Hall of Fame Induction, and 50th Anniversary White and Gold Celebration
(Be sure to wear white and gold)
Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 5:00–8:00 PM
Marriott Wardman Park, Marriott Ballroom, Lobby Level

 

And don’t forget to visit the NAR Booth #1707. Throughout the week, we’ll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the REALTORS® Political Action Committee, culminating in the special sold out celebration at the National Building Museum.

If you are unable to attend follow along on social media using the hashtag #NARLegislative, and stay tuned to www.legislative.realtor for additional content.

We look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C., and safe travels.

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April Highlights Fair Housing and Tax Day

April is Fair Housing Month. As stewards of the right to own, use, and transfer private property, REALTORS® understand that fair housing protects the real estate industry and our businesses. We depend on a free, open market that embraces equal opportunity. In short, fair housing makes us stronger. This year, we will commemorate this important and historic milestone by highlighting four key issue areas that will set the tone for the future of fair housing.

On March 13, 2019, Rep. David Cicillini (D-PA) introduced HR 5, the Equality Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Equality Act would amend the Fair Housing Act to provide protections for LGBTQ people in key areas of life, such as housing, employment, credit, public accommodations, and voting rights, and is aligned to NAR’s Code of Ethics. As we monitor this bill through the legislative process, we will continue to express our support. If the bill passes, we will work to address our policy issues as any regulations implementing it are developed.

We’ll also continue to work with and support our multicultural partners — the National Association for Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) — to address immigration housing rights, improving language access to financial materials, and gaps in African-American homeownership.

Don’t forget there are only four days until Tax Day! This is the first filing season that the impact of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will be seen as you are preparing your tax returns. If you still haven’t filed, we encourage you to review What REALTORS® Need to Know About the New Tax Law. There you’ll find helpful videos and other resources available to you. And as always, consult a tax professional if you have more detailed questions.

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REALTORS® Commend HUD Commitment to Addressing Affordable Housing Shortages

National Association of Realtors® President John Smaby issued the following statement on Friday following Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s announcement that HUD will seek to encourage reforms to local zoning and land use regulations as a way to address affordable housing shortages.

“America’s 1.3 million Realtors® strongly support efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing as we look to fill housing needs for both renters and prospective buyers across the country.

 

“NAR commends Secretary Carson’s commitment to spurring additional affordable housing construction through the FHA multi-family loan program and its Low Income Housing Tax Credits, as well as his call to reduce regulatory burdens in local communities.

 

“While some communities have exacerbated this problem through zoning and land use regulations that increase housing costs, NAR encourages states and municipalities to adopt zoning laws, building codes and other policies that facilitate market production of affordable housing units. Realtors® look forward to continuing our work with HUD to address housing affordability issues plaguing much of our nation.”

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