Nebraska REALTOR® Association Takes REALTOR® Party Show on the Road

  • Lincoln County Board of REALTORS



REALTOR® associations of large, less populous states like Nebraska often undertake ‘road show caravans’ to connect with members of distant local boards. Inspired by that model, this summer, the Nebraska REALTORS® Association’s REALTOR® Party Leadership Team (RPLT) took the REALTOR® Party on the road to acquaint members with all its efforts, accomplishments, and opportunities.  They’ve been warmly welcomed from Scottsbluff to Nebraska City and from Norfolk to Beatrice – and they didn’t ask for a single dollar

Jeff Hebb, Governmental Affairs Director, explains that he and the RPLT saw a need to connect with and educate members of the state’s local boards on the workings of the REALTOR® Party. “Across the state, although we have strong RPAC participation, there was still not a bigger-picture understanding of the REALTOR® Party’s value. But when a fellow REALTOR® says to you, ‘I just met with elected officials on your behalf, and made your voice heard at the Capitol,’ that really drives it home,” he says, adding that member attendance at the 12 locations of the REALTOR® Party Tour averaged 17.99%, a great turn-out for a first-time event. Nebraska, notes Hebb, is fortunate in having a team of REALTOR® Party leaders with complementary strengths, who were all willing to take on various tasks involved in the education effort – from getting funding approved and preparing a REALTOR® Party ‘Quick Reference Guide’ booklet for distribution, to taking turns traveling to the local boards to speak, answering questions, and listening to ideas. “The REALTOR® Party tour was not just an information dump from the state association,” he says; “we were there to listen and learn more about our members’ needs.”

Those impressive REALTOR® Party leaders made the following observations about the first annual Nebraska REALTOR® Party Tour Road Show:

Kim Zwiener, Chair of the state Government Affairs Committee and NAR Participation Council for NE, points out that the REALTOR® Party is all about community: “Just as National Association has to consider varying needs of the state associations, we at the state level work to engage local members. We’ve had amazing results in mutually sharing our stories on the road.”

Lisa Ritter, a state Past President and current member of NAR’s Broker Involvement Council, agrees, observing that, “Passion is contagious, and this team is so passionate about how the REALTOR® Party is benefiting our members and property owners across the state. Our members need to see us, instead of just being talked at through social media!”

Darlene Starman, who is both Vice Chair of the state’s REALTOR® Party Team Work Group and serving on the REALTOR® Party Member Involvement Council on the national level, notes that the road show team made a real effort to demonstrate the link between the local, state, and national associations, emphasizing the benefits of the REALTOR® Party at all levels, from advocacy to grant programs.

Connie Burleigh, NAR Major Investor Council member and a past Chair of the state Government Affairs Committee, says that, on a practical level, they took care to make the presentation duplicable, following highlights in the REALTOR® Party ‘Quick Reference Guide’ booklet so that the tour wouldn’t have to be dependent on any particular team members. She adds, “We learned a lot about what the local boards are already doing out in their communities. This was definitely an information exchange, not just a one-way lecture. They also clearly appreciated that we were not asking for money, just urging them to get involved, and showing them how.”

Pat Ohmberger, who chairs the state’s RPAC Fundraising Committee and its REALTOR® Party Team Workgroup, as well as being a state Past President, explains that the team actually had all local attendees write down their top three industry concerns on three-by-five cards, and is putting the information together in a spreadsheet. “This becomes very valuable feedback for our state board on our members’ priorities.”

Darlene Fletcher, 2019 state President, concludes that, “There are great distances between communities in the state of Nebraska, and sometimes those far from the capitol can feel alienated, so we’re constantly trying to think inclusively. This was all about making our members feel connected and engaged, and it’s a process that’s worked both ways! I know that we at the state level have gained a better understanding of our local boards, and I believe we’ve given them a real sense of connection to the REALTOR® Party.”

What was it like to be on the receiving end of one of these road-show visits?:

Fremont Board of REALTORS® President Traci Hilbers says, “I’ve heard about RPAC for years, but I never really understood where the money goes let alone with all of the other advocacy efforts taking place. One of the things I learned today is, not only does the REALTOR® Party work on a state and national level, but they give back to the communities we live, work, and volunteer in.”

Tri-County Board of REALTORS® Immediate Past President Krista Wiedel couldn’t have been more pleased with the team’s presentation to her association. “We have a young slate of executive officers this year, and many board members without much experience participating at the state level. It was fantastic that they were able to hear from the state leadership team about all that the REALTOR® Party does, and how we can get more involved. When our members present heard how Nebraska state legislators were calling our State Political Coordinators to find out our position on issues and gain input on how to vote, that made a huge impact, and is sure to affect their future investments.”

To learn more about how Nebraska REALTORS® are bringing the benefits of the REALTOR® Party on the road, contact Jeff Hebb, Governmental Affairs Director, at 402-323-6500.

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Lincoln REALTORS® Mobilize Voters to Support Roadway Improvements

After substantial potholes caused massive damage to vehicles amounting to tens of thousands of dollars in claims, the city of Omaha, Neb., was recently forced to close two major thoroughfares. Fifty miles to the south, roads in the state capital were likewise crumbling.

Using an Issues Mobilization grant, the REALTORS® Association of Lincoln took the lead in supporting a ballot initiative to fund critical road repairs. Though it passed by a very slim margin, says Kyle Fischer, Executive Vice President of the 930-member board, the quarter-percent sales tax increase will help safeguard the city’s economic development, public safety, and quality of life for at least the next six years.

The new funding mechanism was first proposed by a bi-partisan group called the Lincoln Citizen’s Transportation Coalition, following a lengthy study of the city’s insufficient street-repair budget and possible solutions, explains Fischer. The Lincoln City Council voted six-to-one to put the initiative on the ballot, and the REALTORS® got right to work promoting the time-limited, quarter-percent tax increase to the voting public.

“We reached out to NAR about the process, and they walked us through the next steps,” says Fischer. First, the Lincoln REALTORS® received polling services through the REALTOR® Party’s trusted vendor. Initial polling indicated that the ballot measure was slightly favored by a margin of 57-41, with 2% undecided. Armed with that encouragement, the association submitted an application for an Issues Mobilization grant. “The application process wasn’t quick and easy, but it was incredibly user-friendly, he says. “I’d tell first-time applicants to give themselves plenty of time for collecting details and background information and planning a budget. It will take some time to put it all together, but once you have, you’ve got a good road map, and you’ll really know your stuff. In fact, NAR took our initial application and reached right back out to us about what we could do to enhance it, to make it even stronger,” he notes.

The REALTORS® were the largest donor to the campaign called Fix Lincoln Streets Now, which educated voters through a dedicated website and social media messaging. The REALTOR® Party grant funded phone banks that called voters in the last four days leading up to the election, and that, says Fischer, is what made the difference. Despite being supported by the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the Civil Engineers Association, and the Lincoln Independent Business Association, among others, the measure only passed by a difference of 368 votes. “Our members are so excited that we were able to play such a critical role in the outcome of the vote,” he adds. “It’s very gratifying to know that the REALTORS® have contributed to making the streets better.

Members on the ground and in the trenches are more aware than anyone that having functioning, passable streets affects every aspect of a community’s well-being, from emergency access, to reducing the necessity of expensive car repairs, to home values. Taking care of the infrastructure helps to ensure a strong economy.”

To learn more about how the REALTOR® Association of Lincoln, Nebraska is using REALTOR® Party resources to improve the condition of city streets, contact Executive Vice President Kyle Fischer at 402-441-3625.

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Nebraska REALTORS® Embrace NAR’s Online Fundraising Program—Growing RPAC Participation and Receipts

The 4,000-member Nebraska Association of REALTORS® signed on as one of the first of 38 state and local associations to embrace NAR’s online RPAC fundraising system.  In 2012, its first year up and running with the system, Nebraska raised just $750 online for RPAC.  In 2013, however, they raised over $18,500: 105 percent of their Fair Share Goal.  In the past, Nebraska would send out one standard RPAC fundraising appeal, annually.  Now, it participates in five online campaigns throughout the year, tailored to different populations and with each message building on the previous one.

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