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REALTOR Party News

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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Fair Housing Makes US Stronger

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April 11 marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the federal Fair Housing Act. This is a momentous occasion for the real estate industry, and a top priority for NAR this year.

The Fair Housing Act helps form the foundation of our business — the right to own property — and our Code of Ethics as REALTORS®. Our commemoration of the Fair Housing Act is vital because it highlights how far we’ve come in promoting equal housing opportunity—both as a society and as an association—and, more importantly, how much work still needs to be done.

It’s been a pleasure to join with our partners and allies for this yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. We love seeing how engaged our state and local associations have been with proclamations and having Fair Housing themes to their lobby days and conferences. This is only the beginning.

We encourage you to keep up the great work, sharing your Fair Housing stories. At the 2018 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, there are several Fair Housing events and resources to check out. Be sure to sign the poster at the Fair Housing Act display in the lobby of the Marriott Wardman Park. Then pick up your 50th Anniversary Fair Housing Act pin on Wednesday, May 16 or Thursday, May 17 at NAR Booth #1707.  Join us at NAR 360 on Tuesday, May 16 and the General Session with U.S. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver on Wednesday to hear how Fair Housing Makes US Stronger.

Visit fairhousing.realtor to join in the commemoration. We look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C.

 

 

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Louisiana REALTORS® Defeat a Proposed Tax on Services

The Louisiana REALTORS® weren’t exactly surprised when the state legislature recently started talking about implementing a tax on services to help close a major budget deficit.  “It’s something that comes up every couple of years,” says Kim Callaway, the REALTORS®’ Director of Legal and Governmental Affairs, who cites the economy and chronic structural budget problems as the chief reasons for the threat, which has always been defeated, but which her organization can’t afford to ignore.

“A tax on services would not just effect our members, as service providers,” Callaway points out, “it would have a huge impact on consumers paying for the services of home inspectors, termite inspectors, attorneys, mortgage brokers, and so on.  It would significantly increase the cost of getting in to a new home or business property, and we have a mandate to protect these consumers as best we can.”

While some of the REALTORS®’ legislative contacts assured them that the tax proposal wouldn’t pass, and that they were just reviewing all their options, the REALTORS® weren’t taking any chances. “It was happening fast, and we had to act, just in case it grew legs,” recalls Callaway. “The bill was filed on a Friday, the session started on Monday, and the House Ways and Means Committee heard the bill on Tuesday. Up at the National Association of REALTORS®, thank goodness, the REALTOR® Party team was able to spin on a dime.” She had seen the emails about the new Advocacy Everywhere program, and knew that was what the Louisiana REALTORS® needed, pronto. “We contacted them as soon as the issue came up, and asked, ‘How do we do this? We need it to happen now!’ ”

While Callaway and her team were on the ground in Baton Rouge engaged in essential lobbying at the statehouse, the Advocacy Everywhere professionals at NAR were setting up text mobile alerts and email Calls for Action to REALTOR® constituents of the Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee members. REALTOR® recipients responded at a click-through rate of 38%, and the bill was killed in committee. “We like to think that the number would have been even higher,” notes Callaway, “but it all happened so fast. We’re just grateful for those of our members who had a chance to respond, and did so.”

The legislators have still not been able to reach a consensus on how to resolve the budget deficit, and Callaway anticipates that they’ll have to hold another special session to address the matter prior to the start of the coming fiscal year. While the REALTORS® aren’t actively supporting any other revenue-generating solutions, she says, they’re not opposing any, either. Meanwhile, thanks to their vigilance, and to the REALTOR® Party, issues important to the real estate industry are being protected.

To learn more about how the Louisiana REALTORS® are using REALTOR® Party resources to protect its members and prospective home and commercial property buyers in their state, contact Kim Callaway, Director of Legal and Governmental Affairs, at 225-923-2210.

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Investing in a Legacy of Success

bobGoldberg_sm.jpge_mendenhall.jpgWe’ve just come back from the 2018 President’s Circle Conference. RPAC and, specifically, President’s Circle had a banner year in 2017, breaking records with 35% member participation and 1,207 President’s Circle members, respectively. This year’s President’s Circle Conference was no different with more than 1,500 attendees and a stellar line-up of speakers. The event also led to record investments, totaling more than $178,000.

For those of you who are not familiar with this RPAC Program, President’s Circle allows REALTORS® to contribute directly to REALTOR® Champions at the federal level. Why? Federal election law prohibits RPAC from making more than $10,000 in direct contributions to any single federal candidate during an election cycle – a pittance in today’s age of multi-million dollar congressional races. However, individual members may make contributions of their own. As a result, NAR member contributions routinely exceed $100,000 for each Member of Congress chosen for President’s Circle support. This level of financial strength ensures our REALTOR® Champion candidates have the financial resources they need to successfully seek re-election and continue advocating for public policy positions shared by REALTORS®. To date, nearly $12 million in direct contributions to have been given to 151 candidates from 47 states*.

The President’s Circle Conference is a two-day annual meeting that gives President’s Circle members the opportunity to meet and hear from congressional leaders and staff, and political and public policy experts to discuss salient issues. This year, South Carolina Senator and REALTOR® Champion Tim Scott inspired the crowd, thanking our members and staff for their bipartisan support of homeownership. He noted that, “financial independence is the cornerstone of the American Dream,” and told personal stories of his close relationship with his Federal Political Coordinator, Michael Sally, and the support he received during the tax reform debate.

We encourage you to learn more about President’s Circle, and hope to continue breaking records and seeing more friendly faces at the 2019 President’s Circle Conference.

 

*This figure does not include national political party contributions.

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This is Only the Beginning…

bobGoldberg_sm.jpge_mendenhall.jpgWe are only a few weeks into legislative sessions and special and primary elections are occurring around the country. 2018 is going to be a busy year for REALTOR® advocacy. As NAR increases its influence in this uncertain legislative, regulatory and political environment, we’ll need all hands on deck.

Our first step was the reorganization of the former Community & Political Affairs and Government Affairs teams into a singular Advocacy Group. We’ve chosen Bill Malkasian to lead this new team as Chief Advocacy Officer, bringing greater synergy to the association’s federal, state, and local advocacy efforts. We are looking forward to Bill bringing his leadership and expertise as executive officer at the Wisconsin REALTOR® Association for nearly 37 years and overseeing political strategic planning for state and local advocacy outreach at NAR to his new role.

As you might remember we are coming off the heels of the last tax reform calls for action (CFAs), where more than 213,000 members took action. Our Advocacy Everywhere program, which allows state and local REALTOR® associations to better engage REALTORS® and consumers in CFAs, has hit the ground running!  We’ve had more than 10 CFAs at the state and local level since the beginning of the year, working on your behalf on issues such as sales tax on services, changes to Real Estate Broker License Law, rental restrictions, tax preemption bills that restricts voter rights and more.

This is only the beginning. With midterm elections ahead of us, we expect to see a lot of activity on all three levels of government. We’ll need your help. Be ready to take action at a moment’s notice by signing up for the REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts, NAR’s advocacy texting platform. To sign up, simply text the word REALTORS to 30644 on your mobile phone.

We are looking forward to having an exciting year.

This is Our Moment; Let’s Own It!

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