November

North Carolina “Congressional Road Shows” Highlight Working Relationships of REALTORS® and Capitol Hill Counterparts

“August recess” sounds like a lovely month of downtime, but for hardworking members of Congress, it’s one of the busiest times of year, packed with constituent meetings and events in their home districts. In North Carolina this summer, NC REALTORS® experienced the phenomenon first-hand through a series of “Congressional Road Shows” that gave them rare access to Representatives across four districts. The opportunities capitalized on, and gave REALTORS® members a glimpse into, the successful workings of the state’s Federal Political Coordinators (FPC).

NAR’s Federal Political Coordinator program takes political advocacy to the halls of Congress and makes it personal. Each state association pairs a knowledgeable REALTOR®, the Federal Political Coordinator, with a member of Congress in a one-on-one relationship, in which the FPC can effectively advocate for favorable real estate industry policies, and serve as a resource and educator on housing issues in a given state or district. Often, the FPC and his or her Congressional counterpart have an existing relationship, making the working bond even stronger.

Kevin Green, the FPC working with Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina’s 6th District, including Greensboro and Asheboro, reports that the Congressman and his staff were excited to participate in this summer’s “Town Hall” type meeting.  “He was able to interact with his constituents, answer real-estate specific questions and share with us his view of the mood in D.C.  The FPC program allows us to personally connect with our Congressman, and also gives him a resource for real-estate related economic data and demographics in his district.”

Bill Aceto, who is paired with Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Winston-Salem, agrees that the mutual value of the FPC relationship is invaluable. “There are very few, if any, other industries I know of that have this kind of access, and such positive relationships with members of Congress across the board; of course, it doesn’t hurt that RPAC provides such generous support. Our representatives look to us as a reliable resource,” he continues, “with good industry data and our fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in the district. They know that we’re not lobbyists, but volunteers: we are citizen advocates!”

Troi Bachmann, Local Government Affairs Director of the Winston-Salem area, helped to coordinate the event with Representative Foxx, working with Katharine Wendt, NC REALTORS®’ State Grassroots Coordinator and Regional Government Affairs Director. “Our members were thrilled,” says Bachmann. “It was so powerful to see our elected Congresswoman here in our REALTOR® association office, in conversation with our own Bill Aceto, talking through a pre-approved agenda based on NAR’s guidelines; it really showed our members the power of the REALTOR® brand. Bachmann, who is a shared GAD with the local Homebuilders Association, arranged for its members to attend the event, as well, and Representative Foxx addressed issues of concern to both industries. These ranged from the National Flood Insurance Program, to association health care reform, to a shortage of skilled building labor. The hour-long event seemed to make an impression on the Congresswoman, too, says Bachmann. “She asked us to make sure we do it again!”

Also making themselves available to their REALTOR® constituents were Representatives Ted Budd and David Price. According to Wendt, who began planning the Congressional Road Shows more than four months in advance, they were lucky to get as many as that:  “We reached out to each of the 13 Congressional district offices in the state, and some were already booked for every minute of the August recess!” she recalls, adding that members who sit on the Homeland Security Committee advised them that, during hurricane season, they’d have to cancel if FEMA called…. On the strength of the success of this year’s Road Show, NC REALTORS® is going to repeat the effort next year, and will start planning even earlier. “Now that we’ve built connections with the schedulers in each office, we should have a leg up,” says Wendt. The value of opportunities like this, she adds, is that it’s not feasible for all REALTORS®   to attend the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings in May and travel to the Capitol for National Legislative Day visits coordinated by the FPCs. “This gives them a chance to be involved closer to home, advocating for issues close to the heart of their industry and communities.”

In addition, FPC Bradley Cohen was asked by his Congressman Richard Hudson to participate in a small business round table organized by the 2020 Trump Campaign, part of a larger effort by the Trump campaign asking business leaders across the country about the economic impact of their industry. NAR Political Representatives and Research staff helped prepare Bradley Cohen with appropriate North Carolina-specific real estate data. Trump Campaign Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany prompted many questions directly to our FPC during the panel. He was able to lead the conversation around a myriad of housing issues including: the economic impact on the average home sold, improving home ownership rates, tax reform with the 20% deduction for independent contractors, opportunity zones, affordable housing, and association health plans.

To learn more about how NC REALTORS® are working with their elected officials to make a difference for the state’s property owners, the real estate industry, and small businesses, contact Katharine Wendt, State Grassroots Coordinator and Regional Government Affairs Director, at 919-573.0988 x388.

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REALTOR® Party Leaders Plan for 2019

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg & 2019 President John Smaby

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg & 2019 President John Smaby

A few weeks ago, nearly 600 REALTOR® Party leaders gathered in in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the 2019 REALTOR® Party Training Conference. This conference was special for a number of reasons. For the first time, it went beyond just the state and local advocacy components of our organization and brought in the federal parts, as well. It also kicked off an important celebration – the 50th anniversary of the REALTORS® Political Action Committee. While RPAC certainly is one of the most powerful PACs in America, we like to think that RPAC also stands for REALTORS® Participate Advocate and Celebrate, the conference theme.

While a lot of fun was had in our purple REALTOR® Party shirts, we also laid the foundation for important advocacy outreach efforts in each state and region throughout 2019. All of this work was tied to NAR’s 2019 strategic priorities. We also got a preview of our 2019 federal policy priorities. Finally, it wouldn’t have been a REALTOR® event without an opportunity to give back. Conference attendees donated nearly 500 toys to Toys for Tots Twin Cities. This is a great organization that has been “bringing the joy of Christmas to America’s needy children” sin 1948.

The REALTOR® Party comes alive with our stories of advocacy and community involvement. These stories, powerful and inspiring, are stories of how the REALTOR® Party is a force to be reckoned with at all levels. Your state leaders have developed ways to Own Our Story and make sure it’s told, and told well. Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” That’s what the REALTOR® Party is about — 1.3 million members and staff working together nationwide, advancing public policies and candidates that build strong communities, protecting property interests, and promoting a vibrant business environment. No doubt, our ability to articulate the REALTOR® narrative effectively will play a huge role in the future of our businesses and our associations.

We hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

Bob Goldberg, CEO

John Smaby, 2019 NAR President

 

 

 

 

Bob Goldberg, CEO                      John Smaby, 2019 NAR President

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REALTOR® Votes Counted: 2018 REALTOR® Party Campaign Coverage

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg & President John Smaby

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg & President John Smaby

Through all the mail pieces, television ads, canvassing, and punditry, we survived the mid-term elections! Every election year, our political activity kicks into high gear, and 2018 was no exception. Not only did we survive, but we broke records – 1.1 million REALTORS® registered to vote, and we were involved in 13 federal independent expenditure campaigns, 252 state and local independent expenditure campaigns, and 25 issue campaigns. Last night, we elected 35 REALTORS® to public office…and counting! Our results were impressive, and we hope you’ll check them out at www.realtorparty.realtor/vote2018. Clearly, REALTORS®’ votes counted.

As newly sworn-in elected officials take office, our work begins but the mission as REALTORS® remains the same: Advancing public policies and candidates that build strong communities, protect property interest, and promote a vibrant business environment. We have a lot to look forward to in the coming year. We’ll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of RPAC throughout 2019. We also have some major issues ahead to address, one of which is housing affordability.

Housing affordability is one of the most critical problems facing home buyers and the nation. And the lack of housing supply is only adding to the problem. Comprehensive solutions to address this issue must be locally based and include local community experts — REALTORS® and REALTOR® associations. That’s why NAR has developed resources that work uniquely in each community to address the specific issues related to housing affordability and supply. These resources also include valuable information and tools to start the dialogue in your community. Check them out.

McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc once said, “none of us is as good as all of us,” and the same goes for the REALTOR® Party. When we work collectively; when we speak with one voice; when we tell our story, we can change lives. We see it in our neighborhoods, on the faces of our clients, and in the success of our associations and businesses. If we work together — owning, creating, and telling our story — the best is yet to come.

Bob Goldberg, CEO

John Smaby, 2019 NAR President

 

 

 

 

Bob Goldberg, CEO                      John Smaby, 2019 NAR President

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Haywood REALTORS® Supports Smart Growth and Affordable Housing in Waynesville, NC

In some respects, the western North Carolina Town of Waynesville doesn’t have much choice but to embrace Smart Growth: bounded by the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as a flood plain, sprawl isn’t necessarily an option. Still, as it updates the regulatory twenty-year Comprehensive Land Use Plan that serves as its critical ‘road map’ for future land use and zoning decisions, Waynesville needed as much public input as possible as it tackles issues from insufficient affordable housing to the contemporary appeal of living close to the business core. With a REALTOR® Party Smart Growth Action Grant, the Haywood REALTOR® Association sponsored a Visioning Workshop on a weekday afternoon in June, to gather ideas and opinions from local stakeholders.

Lisa Brown, Association Executive of the 280-member board, says that when her Government Affairs Co-Chair, Ellen Sither, approached her with the idea of using a REALTOR® Party grant to fund the event, “My first thought was ‘Yay!’…. And then, as a staff of one, I thought, ‘Oh Lord.  How am I going to do this?’ It was our first major grant application, and had I known it would be as easy as it was, we would have started long ago!” She gives credit for the heavy lifting to Sither and Elizabeth Teague, the Town of Waynesville Development Services Director, who put together the application; they, in turn, note that the team at the National Association of REALTORS® was helpful and responsive every step of the way.

The Visioning Workshop, which was held in the town’s Recreation Center, met a critical need for the planning process, says Teague. “With our consultants, we had accomplished a lot of technical work, but what was missing was public input. And while the town has a reasonable budget, we certainly couldn’t have held such an event without the REALTORS®. They provided food, and marketing, and worked side-by-side with the professional consultants. It was wonderful!” The event drew just shy of 400 participants, and generated valuable responses and ideas for the steering committee. Through the workshops, local support was affirmed for exploring redevelopment opportunities for older properties, for smaller area planning, and for maximizing density through infill; it was also made abundantly clear that Waynesville residents don’t want development to spread up their beloved mountainsides. Over the course of the day, notes Sither about 25 REALTORS® donated their time to the event, participating in a morning training session, then helping to bring in lunch for the team, and working in sessions with members of the public from 3-7pm. “For some, it meant closing a one-person office for the day. It was a lot to give!”

Although the Visioning Workshop was deliberately planned to coincide with pick-up time from the Recreation Center day camp, it didn’t attract as many young people as the planners had hoped. “We had more higher-income retirees than younger residents providing input,” remarks Sither, “but still, every bit was useful as we considered the big picture.” Brown and Teague are also members of the Haywood County Affordable Housing Council, which focuses on making it possible for younger generations to return to live in the rural community. “This is a key issue for the well-being of the town,” says Brown, “and it dovetails neatly with the visioning process for the Comprehensive Plan. So, while the younger folks may not have been directly represented – and, of course, they’re busy! – there were others of us advocating for the housing needs of their generation and beyond.”

Teague expresses the town’s great appreciation for the leadership of the REALTORS®, not just in sponsoring the Visioning Workshop, but in volunteering their time and expertise to the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, and in communicating the town’s efforts to a larger audience. “We’ve created a truly productive partnership, which is not always the case between towns and the real estate industry. As we go forward, we know it’s critical for the REALTORS® to be our partners in Smart Growth planning: together, we can protect the town and create growth.”

To learn more about how the REALTORS® of Haywood County, North Carolina, are helping the Town of Waynesville plan for future land use and zoning decisions with an eye to Smart Growth and affordable housing, contact Lisa M. Brown, Association Executive, at 828-452-5096; Government Affairs Co-Chair Ellen Sither, at 828-452-5809; or Elizabeth Teague, Development Services Director for the Town of Waynesville, at 828-476-9645.

 

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