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REALTOR Party News

State Rent Control Issue Takes National Stage

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg & 2019 President John Smaby

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg & 2019 President John Smaby

Across the country, various state and local governments are currently considering – or debating – legislative rent control measures.

However, these efforts are misguided. They do nothing to address residential construction deterrents like imprudent local zoning measures and high land costs. What rent control policies really do is help create political battles between landlords and tenants without addressing the root of – and possible solutions to – America’s housing affordability problems.

In response, NAR is working to fight rent control and rent stabilization laws on both residential and commercial properties.

Last year, California voters rejected a statewide measure that would have overturned the Costa Hawkins Act, which establishes limits on local rent control laws. Costa Hawkins ensures that buildings first occupied after 1995 are not subject to rent control regulations. Further, the law provides an avenue for vacancy decontrol, which gives building owners an opportunity to rehab facilities and establish new, fair market rates with new tenants.

From Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, several jurisdictions have recently considered rent control regulations. Most states preempt local governments from adopting rent control measures in any form. In the states where rent control is permitted (California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and the District of Columbia), local jurisdictions are able to regulate rental rates based off specific parameters written within the state law. The aforementioned Costa Hawkins Act in California is an example of this.

Over recent years, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota and Washington, among other states, have considered legislation repealing prohibitions of rent control, although, thus far, no prohibitions have been successfully repealed. The most significant concerns are in states whose legislatures revisit rent control laws year after year. California and New York, for example, see regular efforts to expand the reach of rent control to include just cause eviction requirements and/or landlord-tenant relocation fees.

Illinois and Oregon have also revisited legislation to repeal existing bans on rent control and have the political support to pass legislation this year.  Oregon will be the first state to enact a statewide rent control law that requires local governments to incorporate rent control regardless of whether or not a housing shortage exists. This is unique, however, as most states allow local governments to decide if rent control is necessary. In Illinois, lawmakers are considering repealing existing rent control prohibitions as well as creating a state regulatory body to oversee rent control regardless of housing supply.

If states are successful in easing rent control restrictions, NAR is concerned that residential rentals in those areas will lose value, while both property tax assessments and bases will decrease, forcing other property owners to eventually pay more in taxes or fees as a result. Ultimately, rent control discourages the production of new rental dwellings in the private sector, and NAR is committed to fighting against these laws across the country.

 

 

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Unveiling Our Vision for Housing Finance Reform

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg & 2019 President John Smaby

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg & 2019 President John Smaby

Last Thursday, February 7, REALTORS® had the chance to showcase their leadership on housing finance reform in front of more than 400 industry professionals, NAR members and a few current and former Congressmen.

With reform to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the minds of so many in Washington, NAR’s first-annual Policy Forum took an extensive dive into its work to ensure these Government Sponsored Entities can effectively serve the housing market and protect taxpayers in the years and decades to come.

At the conclusion of the Forum, those 400 attendees were given a first-hand, first-time look at detailed research outlining NAR’s vision for GSE reform. The whitepaper is already being referred to by both media outlets and industry trade groups as a critical building block for housing finance reform legislation. These discussions continue to gain traction on Capitol Hill.

The paper – and our vision – is true to our core. It offers policymakers a framework that leverages reforms and innovations implemented since the crisis while also promoting competition in the secondary market. Quite simply, our vision boils down to five key principles: protecting taxpayers by using private capital; minimizing costs to consumers; promoting housing accessibility and affordability; preserving the 30-year fixed rate mortgage; and maximizing access for creditworthy borrowers.

The housing crisis of 2007-2008 left Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac financially devastated, forcing the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to move to place the GSEs into conservatorship.

While conservatorship remains more than a decade later, NAR has read the writing on the wall and is evolving to ensure our members and America’s housing industry are in the best possible situation should policymakers move to end conservatorship in the coming months or years.

Led by two of the best minds in the field, Dr. Susan Wachter, Professor of Real Estate and Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Richard Cooperstein, head of Risk Management at Andrew Davison and Company, Inc., NAR has presented a pragmatic solution to these challenges – prioritizing and protecting a liquid mortgage market for Middle America and underserved borrowers alike.

Our hope is that this work will result in GSE reform legislation that secures a government guarantee, ensures equal access for lenders of all sizes, promotes consumer affordability, maintains broad consumer access and protects the 30-year fixed rate mortgage.

To read the full working paper and its executive summary, please visit https://www.nar.realtor/fannie-mae-freddie-mac-gses/nars-vision-for-housing-finance-reform.

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REALTOR® Advocacy Continues Despite Government Shutdown

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg & 2019 President John Smaby

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg & 2019 President John Smaby

As of Monday, January 7, the partial shutdown of the federal government had become the third-longest in U.S. history, with White House and Congressional leadership still unable to reach an agreement on funding for southern border defense.

Currently, more than 420,000 federal employees are working without pay, including some at the IRS and Department of Homeland Security, while 380,000 workers have been furloughed from the Departments of Transportation and Housing & Urban Development, among others. In all, nine of 15 federal departments are closed, while dozens of agencies also remain shuttered. Fortunately, however, roughly 75 percent of government services are unaffected by the shutdown.

Still, concerns would deepen should the shutdown persist for additional weeks, and many Americans and federal government workers are certainly feeling the effects of the stalemate one way or another.

The situation becomes particularly bleak for all federal government employees who will not receive a paycheck until the government reopens. Obviously, any American who faces a temporary pause in income because of the shutdown could struggle to on time make payments in the coming days and weeks. That includes mortgage payments and bills for things like rent, car loans and student debt. Any delay in these payments could harm an individual’s finances and their credit, which would obviously impact their ability to buy a home or make other large purchases in the future.

During the shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is not issuing new rural loans or closing on direct loans. HUD, however, will still close on single-family loans, but furloughs at the agency could make the process longer and more difficult.

For ordinary Americans, this shutdown creates economic uncertainty and feelings of long-term instability. Buying a home is a high-stress transaction, and adding another complexity to the process with possible delays in the transaction only further hurts the economy and U.S. consumers. It could even begin to shave off GDP growth in a measurable way.

We will continue to work with congressional leaders and White House officials to minimize impacts of the shutdown on the housing market, and to ensure our 1.3 million members across the country are equipped with every resource necessary to continue operating as usual during the shutdown. We have also prepared a page which outlines all the ways you and your business could be impacted, along with a comprehensive document explaining the specific impact on each governmental entity that impacts housing.

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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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Staging for Advocacy Success

Victoria Gillespie and Shannon McGahn

Victoria Gillespie (L) and Shannon McGahn (R)

NAR took another step forward to ensure that your interests are heard in Washington with the announcement of Shannon McGahn. As senior vice president of government affairs, Shannon will report to chief advocacy officer Bill Malkasian. In addition, Victoria Gillespie was named NAR’s chief marketing and communications officer. We’re excited to welcome these powerhouse additions to NAR’s senior staff leadership.

We understand there might be concerns about Shannon having worked for members of Congress that were opposed to NAR’s agenda to protect incentives for real estate. Continuing our commitment to being open and transparent, we conducted a thorough, exhaustive process, and Shannon McGahn emerged as the clear choice. This included the creation of an advisory board that included a diverse array of association leadership from the national, state and local levels, as well as D.C.- based political consultants to guide us through the process. Advisory board members represented Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, ensuring our decision would have input from the broader opinions of our membership and this industry. And we were thrilled when she informed us of her decision to accept the offer to become this association’s next senior vice president of government affairs.

We are excited that Shannon is committed to advancing innovative, 21st century approaches to advocacy. In today’s political climate, this is more important than ever. The dynamic in Washington has changed, and we must evolve if we are going to maintain our significant influence in the nation’s capital. Shannon McGahn’s leadership, direction, and focus will ensure NAR remains America’s most prominent government affairs group.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the 2018 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Boston in a few weeks. And hope everyone tunes in on Nov. 6 and 7 for the REALTOR® Party’s election coverage and post-election Facebook Live, where you’ll get to hear from Shannon directly. Don’t forget to sign our pledge to vote, and to head to the polls on Nov. 6.

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Preparation, Partnership, & Participation

bobGoldberg_sm.jpge_mendenhall.jpgAll the hard work we’ve done this year to increase our influence in an uncertain legislative, regulatory, and political environment has highlighted three key ingredients for success: Preparation, Partnership, and Participation. Throughout September, we are reminded of how these play out in our advocacy outreach efforts.

Preparation

As REALTORS®, we understand the importance for being prepared. Not only are we celebrating REALTOR® Safety Month, but we’ve partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to raise awareness of National Preparedness Month. Disasters are never planned, but we can help our clients, our communities, and ourselves by raising awareness about disaster risks and the simple, proactive steps everyone can take to be better prepared. The resources offered from House Logic and Homeownership Matters can build a culture of preparedness and ready the nation for catastrophic disasters.

Partnerships

It’s also a busy time in Washington, D.C. This week nearly 10,000 people are in town attending the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference (ALC). This year’s ALC theme, “The Dream Still Demands,” focuses on the influence and legacy of civil and social movements over the last 50 years moments, while uplifting present-day champions in the fight for racial equality, justice, and freedom. The National Association of Real Estate Brokers hosted a special session, “A 50-Year Journey: The Fair Housing Act to the Current State of Housing in Black America.” In addition to sponsoring a reception, our Federal Political Coordinators, who are attending this five-day conference will have the opportunity to delve into important conversations with industry leaders from across the globe on housing, environmental, business-related topics.

Participation

We say this time and time again because it’s true: our political strength comes from you! When 1.3 million REALTORS® let elected officials know and understand our position on public policy issues, we are successful. We’ve seen this on tax reform, extending the National Flood Insurance Program, and many other issues at the state and local levels. With Election Day only 54 days away, we are asking REALTORS® to make a commitment to vote on November 6. Approximately 15% of membership, or 195,000 REALTORS®, are not registered to vote. National Voter Registration Day — September 25 — is an excellent opportunity to update their voter registration or register to vote.

We thank you for your commitment to the REALTOR® Party, and we look forward to seeing you in Boston!

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With Better Block Event, Longleaf Pine REALTORS® Demonstrate Just How Pedestrian-Friendly Haymount Can Be

The Haymount district of Fayetteville, North Carolina is blessed with neat neighborhoods of cottage-style homes and proximity to downtown. Its vibrant commercial district is currently cursed, however, by an environment hostile to pedestrian traffic.  Armed with a vision, a Smart Growth Action Grant, and a whole lot of duct tape, the local Longleaf Pine REALTORS® (LPR) set out to change that.

Partnering with the North Carolina chapter of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, the Haymount business community, and other local organizations, the 1,600-member association mounted a Better Block Event on a weekend in March to reveal how basic improvements such as bike lanes, crosswalks, reduced traffic lanes, and widened sidewalks could transform the area for the better.

“It was beyond great,” says LPR Government Affairs Director Angie Hedgepeth, of the half-day event that drew more than 3,000 visitors and earned a commitment from the City Council to allocate funding for pedestrian safety measures. It was a city staff member who first approached the REALTORS® about the possibility of securing a Smart Growth Action Grant for a Better Block Event, says Hedgepeth. She, in turn, worked on the project with a county transportation planner and a committee of about 70 REALTORS®.

Using its community relationships, ingenuity, and only slightly more money than the $5,000 grant, LPR effectively transformed a central block of Haymount that had already been the site of one pedestrian fatality. “Beyond the immediate issue of pedestrian safety,” says Hedgepeth, “this effort should benefit property values, business activity, and community connectedness, and could set a positive precedent for the entire region.”

For all its potential, the project came with a steep learning curve: the permits alone, from the North Carolina Department of Treansportation as well as the city of Fayetteville, took months to secure. Then, there was insurance for the event, and a stage to rent, musicians to hire, vendors and artists and food trucks to arrange, and dozens and dozens of orange traffic cones. There was a website to create, and a big publicity campaign, and video coverage involving overhead drones.  Hedgepeth and her team experimented with various temporary crosswalk application methods after-hours in the LPR parking lot.  Two local nurseries and a landscaping company contributed a row of mature potted trees, several park benches, and additional greenery.  The night before the event, the REALTORS® pre-marked the roads.  At 8 a.m., day-of, they were out stenciling bike-lane markers and applying eight critical crosswalks with architectural drafting paper and duct tape.

Despite the significant alteration of the traffic access, Hedgepeth reports, “there was no honking of horns, no screaming; drivers were just easing down the road, giving all the pedestrian activity the time and space it needed.  It was wonderful, and a big relief, because of course, we had no idea what to expect.”

Local youngsters circulating through the event collected surveys from more than 300 attendees, which have been complied in a report for the City Council. At the end of the day, the REALTORS® interviewed all the businesses in the Better Block zone; all were excited, and one, a new coffee shop, was thrilled to report doing triple its usual trade that day, says Hedgepeth. “People came to our tent and said, ‘Please, can you help make this happen for real?’ and ‘How can we help get this done?!’”

The REALTORS® are on it. The City Councilman representing Haymount has assured them that he’ll find funding for at least the painting of the new crosswalks in the next budget cycle, as a start. Communities beyond Haymount stand to benefit from all the effort, too: an official from a nearby city called the REALTORS® directly, after she’d seen reports in the media, to ask how they’d done it. “It’ll be a while before we’re ready to do something like this again,” laughs Hedgepeth, “but we’re happy to share our new expertise! In so many ways, the grant from NAR is being leveraged in to far greater gains.”

To learn more about how the Longleaf Pine REALTORS® are working to make the communities of Fayetteville, North Carolina,more desirable, livable, workable, and walkable, contact Government Affairs Director Angie Hedgepeth at 910-323-1421.  To visit the event website, see https://www.betterblockfaync.com/home.

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Celebrating National Homeownership Month

bobGoldberg_sm.jpge_mendenhall.jpg Throughout June, National Homeownership Month, we recognize the vital role REALTORS® play as stewards of the American Dream of homeownership. This is an excellent opportunity to encourage people around the country to learn more about homeownership opportunities and financial management plans. 

We are a key voice in promoting and educating consumers on the value of homeownership. NAR’s two consumer websites – Homeownership Matters and House Logic – are full of great housing-related tips, news, stories and policy issues to share with your clients, especially first-time home buyers.

The Homeownership Matters website also offers localized content for state and local REALTOR® Associations and their members. This is an excellent resource that can help mobilize the consumer on issues that affect homeownership and amplify our voice on Capitol Hill, and at state houses and town halls nationwide. As NAR’s consumer advocacy outreach program, Homeownership Matters also can help establish REALTORS® as experts before, during and after the homebuying experience.

Join the celebration all month long! Help us champion homeowners on social media by following the Homeownership Matters’ Twitter and Facebook pages and celebrate a #HomeownerHero in your life by using the hashtag on social media. Be sure to visit Homeownership Matters and House Logic, share articles and resources in your newsletters and on your websites.

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Making Our Voice Heard on Capitol Hill

bobGoldberg_sm.jpge_mendenhall.jpg The 2018 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo is a reminder of the critical role advocacy plays in our goal to revolutionize this industry and prepare REALTORS® for sustainable future success. Advancing public policy that build strong communities and promote a vibrant business environment and supporting REALTOR® Champions at the national, state and local levels will help increase our influence in an uncertain legislative, regulatory, and political environment.

As thousands of our colleagues and business partners attend our Legislative Meetings in Washington, DC, we are also continuing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. We hope you join us at NAR 360 for a special Fair Housing presentation on Tuesday, May 15. The General Session on May 16 features U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Dr. Benjamin Carson, who will reinforce HUD’s commitment to fair housing, and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), who will share his personal story of the importance of safe and affordable housing for all Americans. Stop by the Fair Housing display in the Marriott Wardman Park hotel lobby to reaffirm your committment to Article 10 of NAR’s Code of Ethics.

The Trade Expo features more than 130 exhibitors, and will be open Wednesday, May 16, and Thursday, May 17 from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Stop by NAR booth #1707 for a Fair Housing commemorative pin. Before you leave for your Capitol Hill visit, stop by the Concierge Counter in NAR Booth on Wednesday, May 16 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM to pick up your free Metro card and map (available only while supplies last).

This meeting also represents an important opportunity for REALTORS® to meet with their U.S. Senators and Representatives, and communicate the issues critical to their businesses, communities and the consumers they represent. For those of you attending Hill Visits, be sure to review the materials and talking points before heading to the Hill. This is our opportunity to make our voices heard…Own It!

We look forward to seeing you in Washington, DC.

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