Kansas City Regional REALTORS® Work Towards Fair Landlord-Tenant Solutions

The REALTORS® of Kansas City, Missouri had no desire to engage in an ‘us vs. them’ battle with the local tenants’ rights organization, but something had to be done to oppose a proposed ordinance forcing extreme and expensive regulations on the region’s landlords.  With help from the REALTOR® Party’s Advocacy Everywhere program, they launched a campaign focused on the need to make rental housing more affordable – not less.

Derek Ramsay, Senior Vice President of REALTOR® Advocacy for the ® (KCRAR,) roughly half of whose 11,000 members live and work in Missouri, explains that the local political environment had become sharply polarized in recent years, with a powerful and organized tenants’ rights group and a progressive new mayor and City Council. Last summer, voters approved an expensive annual inspection/registration requirement for rental properties. The next proposed housing ordinance focused on increasing rental access for tenants typically considered more challenging to house, including those with a history of previous evictions or felony convictions. While the REALTORS® are fully supportive of Fair Housing, says Ramsay, not being allowed to screen tenants greatly increases their risk of default, adding cost and reducing affordability in the rental market. He adds, “As we say, ‘A good landlord with a bad tenant goes bankrupt; vice versa, and a tenant goes homeless.’ We don’t oppose tenants’ rights; we want to work together to improve things for everyone involved.”

Rather than launch an issues mobilization campaign on negative footing, KCRAR made its message prior to the City Council vote a resounding call to ‘Support More Affordable Housing.’  “We had terrific support from the REALTOR® Party, whose team put together a great CFA that engaged 14% of our members in just three days. We got the attention of the new City Council, who are now starting out with a strong sense that the REALTORS® are a voice for affordable housing.” Though the vote didn’t go their way, he is not daunted. “It puts us in a strong position for future debates on these issues, which are coming soon.”

He notes that participation in the REALTOR® Party Mobile Alert program among KCRAR members is growing, along with a significant increase in membership that’s accompanying the strong housing market in Kansas City. “We push the program in our new member orientation, and in all continuing education classes. It’s a simple thing, to have everyone in the room take out mobile phones and push a few keys – done!” Moving forward, the REALTORS® plan to be advocating for fairness in future ordinances governing landlord-tenant issues – and they’ll be ready, when needed, with Calls For Action. Ramsay notes that KCRAR is also looking to propose other positive, pro-active solutions, such as an up-front Tenant Emergency Fund.  “Doesn’t it make more sense,” he asks, “to spend money to help people stay in their homes, instead of on legal fees in eviction court?”

To learn more about how the REALTORS® of Kansas City, Missouri are working to maintain the rights of property owners and keep a lid on the cost of rental housing, contact Derek Ramsay, Senior Vice President of REALTOR® Advocacy of the Kansas City Regional Association of REALTORS®, at 913-266-5910.

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Bay East REALTORS® Mobilize on Short Notice to Fight Just-Cause Evictions

California’s Bay East Association of REALTORS® had numerous reasons to oppose the city of Hayward’s proposed just-cause eviction ordinance, but less than a week to get an opposition campaign underway. Although the emergency legislation passed, support from the REALTOR® Party’s Advocacy Everywhere program helped raise awareness of the serious downsides of the ordinance and put City Hall on notice that REALTORS® are paying attention to all the housing and property rights policies coming to the table.

David Stark, Public Affairs Director of the 5,800-member association, explains that its philosophical stance on just-cause eviction stems from its belief that property owners should be able to do what they want with their property – including ending a lease. He notes that the members of the Hayward City Council had been under intense pressure from tenants-rights advocates, but, as he points out, the outcome has been short-sighted and detrimental to an already fraught housing situation. “Hayward is not far from Silicon Valley, and has a robust economy of its own, so the demand for housing is huge and spans a broad demographic — from tech executives to college students. Unfortunately, the city has a history of inhibiting development, and hasn’t adequately planned for the housing needs of its growing population. That failure to plan has created a crisis.”

“As a practical matter,” he continues, “we support affordable housing in many forms, but the just-cause eviction ordinance actually erodes the strength of rental housing. Property owners who own rental housing now must be concerned about this new limitation the city has imposed on their freedoms, and if they choose to sell or otherwise withdraw those units from the rental market, that will actually force rental prices up.” REALTORS® have to care about rental housing rules, he adds, because they directly affect families who are buying and selling homes, and the way REALTORS® do their jobs.

The Bay East Association of REALTORS®, together with the rest of the public, learned about Hayward’s proposed rental ordinance less than a week before it went to vote. Springing in to action, they designed a REALTOR® Party Mobile Alert text campaign, and a targeted email campaign: more than 175 messages of opposition were sent to the City Council in a 48-hour span.

Prior to the vote on the ordinance, 2019 Bay East Association President Nancie Allen testified before the City Council. In addition to citing the need for better planning and the additional burden of liability that the just-cause eviction requirement places on her members, she respectfully asked the Council to provide the public with more notice when such important issues come up in the future. Though the ordinance was passed, Stark points out that engaging members through Advocacy Everywhere was a big step in the right direction. “This has just been one chapter in a much longer story, in which the REALTOR® Party is going to be an important character,” he says. “I can’t say enough about working with the staff at the National Association of REALTORS®, and the incredible systems they’ve established. We were able to set up the robust campaign we needed in less than 90 minutes,” he adds, noting, “In the midst of these challenging issues, it’s nice to know we’ve got NAR behind us with resources and expertise.”

To learn more about how the Bay East Association of REALTORS® is protecting private property rights and safeguarding the region’s vulnerable rental housing market, contact Public Affairs Director David Stark at 925-730-4068.




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Illinois REALTORS® Use Broker Involvement Program to Meet REALTOR® Party Mobile Alert Text Goals

When the Illinois REALTORS® identified the President’s Cup as a goal for 2017, manager of Grassroots and Political Programs Neil Malone knew it would be a steep challenge. The trophy, presented annually to state associations that accomplish four significant advocacy goals and meet five additional RPAC goals, is an especially ambitious reach for larger states, he notes.  “It’s a pretty hefty list, and some of those percentage goals are really big numbers.  Even though we’re not actually competing against our fellow state associations, we’re always competing with ourselves.  So we’ve made a concerted effort to do our best—with some help from the REALTOR® Party.”  

One of the President’s Cup goals is using the REALTOR® Party’s Broker Involvement Program for a state Call for Action.  Illinois, the state with the largest number of brokers and the forth-largest number of agents enrolled in the Broker Involvement Program, understood its power; they had had great success in the past when they used it for voter registration efforts. “We’ve learned that when members get an email from their broker, they’re going to open it, and what’s more, they’ll typically respond,” says Malone. So he and his team decided to kill two birds with one stone:  they would use the Broker Involvement Program to stimulate an increase in the number of REALTOR® Party Mobile Alert subscribers, another goal of the President’s Cup.

“The national association made it super-easy for us,” reports Malone, explaining that, in addition to sending out the Call for Action, NAR’s Online Advocacy team bounced ideas about messaging back and forth with the Illinois REALTORS®.  They tested two: one was an informational, big picture message, and the other was tighter, more concise, and asked directly for help; the latter was overwhelmingly more effective. “That test spoke to how well-informed our members are,” says Malone, adding, “they don’t need much baseline information, and they’re ready to respond when asked!”

When Illinois’ latest State Broker Call for Action was launched, respond they did.  Nearly 500 new subscribers signed up for the REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts texting program, pushing the state goal over the top at 105%.

Malone is quick to credit others with the success:  “Our REALTORS® and our leadership have seen the value of this program, and are committed to it.”  The culture of the state association is completely supportive of the REALTOR® advocacy goals, as well, he says:  “Gary Clayton, our CEO, and Greg St. Aubin, our Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs, have always made it clear that advocacy is a real priority.  They’ve put together a great team and given us the tools we need to be successful.”  One such tool is the Illinois REALTORS®‘ State Legislative Contact program, modeled on NAR’s Federal Political Coordinator system, which matches a REALTOR® with each of Illinois’ 118 representatives and 59 state senators. Another organizational advantage is that all of the local government affairs staff in Illinois field offices are employees of the state association.  “I’m in touch with them on a daily basis,” says Malone. “With an organization this size, sometimes progress feels like turning an oil tanker, so it’s good that we’re a tight ship.”   

Another recent Call for Action to which Illinois REALTOR® members responded at a rate of over 22%, making their voices heard regarding the National Flood Insurance Program, checked yet another box for the President’s Cup.  “One of our local associations got a response rate of more than 40%,” says Malone, with pride.  “We’re doing well, but that’s where I’d like to get them all!”

To learn more about how Illinois REALTORS® are using REALTOR® Party tools to meet and exceed their advocacy goals, contact Neil Malone, Manager of Grassroots and Political Programs, at 217-529-2600.

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REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts (RPMA)

REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts, NAR’s advocacy texting platform, offers REALTOR® Associations and REALTORS® a way to stay connected directly from their cell phone or tablet. When a national or state legislative call for action is launched, subscribers get a short text message, containing information to take action.

Sign Up for REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts

We value your privacy. You will receive periodic text alerts from the NAR and its affiliates. You can unsubscribe at any time, just send a text message with only the word ‘STOP’ in reply to any text message from us.

The Small Print:

Message & Data Rates May Apply. If you need help with text messaging, please contact your carrier (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon) directly for information on text messaging costs and plans and how to use the text messaging features of your phone. NAR can’t answer these questions for you.

Text ‘Help’ to 30644 for help, or email comments@realtoractioncenter.com.

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Delaware REALTORS® Use REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts to Save Itemized Deductions

But with the recent loss of GM and Dupont jobs, and casino profits dwindling, the deficit on the state of Delaware’s $4 billion budget this past fiscal year was close to $400 million. Something had to be done to help fill the gap.  The Delaware Association of REALTORS® had managed to dissuade the legislature from pursuing a statewide property tax, and had received a strong indication from the Joint Finance Committee that it would not be looking to eliminate itemized deductions from the state tax code.  But then it did.  And the REALTORS® responded in force.

Maria Evans, Government Affairs Director of the 3,800-member association, explains that the bill, which threatened both mortgage interest and property tax deductions, was introduced just under the wire, and the association issued a Call for Action in short order. This was the first time that Evans, a veteran GAD, had used REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts.  It couldn’t have been simpler, she says.  “It was easy for me to set up, and easy for our members to take action.  I drafted the text message to our members, and a basic form letter that could accommodate additional personal comments.  The REALTOR® Party team talked me through the set-up; I was working on this fairly late-night, and they were right there with me. We had to get it out ASAP.  With just a few clicks, constituents were voicing their opposition to the bill.”  The fact that the system is address-based means that legislators are only hearing from their own constituents, which has a much stronger impact on the receiving end, she notes.

What really amazed Evans is that the REALTOR® Party followed up with a finely targeted text message alert to those who had not yet responded, and then another, after a calculated amount of time.  Before the dust had cleared, more than 1,100 REALTORS® had taken action: a remarkable response rate of 31%, the highest, by far, for Delaware.  The click-through rate, according to the National Association of REALTORS, was an astonishing 87%—a national record, and far above the average state CFA click-through rate of about 15%.  The REALTORS® also reached out to the general public through the Consumer Advocacy Outreach Program, which generated a modest but helpful response.

“The volume of emails from our REALTOR® members was amazing!” says Evans. “We had a caucus across the aisle, and needed just one more vote, and we got it.  The emails to legislators also allowed us to hold on to the votes we had.  There is no doubt in my mind that it was our initiative, with the help of the REALTOR® Party, that carried the vote.”  The Speaker of the House had no doubts either, as Evans and the President and General Counsel of the Delaware REALTORS® learned when he called them in to his office.  “He was livid that the state had been forced into an unprecedented extraordinary session, and placed the blame squarely on the REALTORS®.  For my part,” reports Evans, “I was happy to accept that credit!”

The REALTORS®‘ success in defending the mortgage interest and property tax deductions came at a cost, however: in the three-day extraordinary session, the legislators hiked the transfer tax by 1%, a whopping 33% increase. Evans got right to work, and is hopeful that in January, it will be amended to exempt first-time home buyers and possibly primary dwellings, as well.  “We need to make sure the legislators understand that not all prospective buyers are investing in beach houses,” she says.  “This is going to hurt kids living in their parents’ basements, and working people scraping their pennies together for a first home.”

To learn more about how the Delaware REALTORS® are using REALTOR® Party tools to protect property rights by engaging members in the legislative process, contact Government Affairs Director Maria Evans at 302-734-4444.

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