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Success Story

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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Kaua`i REALTORS® Use Grant to Engage More Brokers in Advocacy

If brokerages don’t understand the value of the Broker Involvement Program, they’re not likely to join. If agents don’t realize the importance of RPAC, they’re probably not investing. That’s why Hawaii’s Kaua’i Board of REALTORS® (KBR) set out to educate and engage broker-members at a recent information-packed breakfast presentation. Supported by a REALTOR® Party Broker Involvement Program Grant, the event spelled out the importance of supporting the REALTOR® Party, and the critical role that brokerages play, as the key point of contact with their agents. By 10 a.m., 15 firms had newly signed on, representing a significant percentage of KBR’s membership of 584 REALTORS®.

KBR Government Affairs Director Chad Deal, who understands brokers’ reluctance to crowd their colleagues’ in-boxes with automated messages, developed the morning program to dispel such concerns. “We needed to assure our broker-members that the Broker Involvement Program only issues communiqués and calls for action (CFA) for major, time-sensitive, real estate issues, and doesn’t ever abuse the privilege. It was also an important opportunity for us to emphasize the way issues advocacy benefits all members,” he explains.

The program fell within the normal scheduling of KBR’s Brokers’ meetings that take place three-to-four times a year. It featured the President Elect of the Hawaii Association of REALTORS® (HAR), as well as its RPAC Chair, who had everyone in stitches with their joint comic presentation on the importance of Broker Involvement and RPAC. Deal, who himself served on the Government Affairs Committee at the state level for many years, reported on federal, state, and local issues affecting private property and the real estate industry. Shining a spotlight on a serious situation of the sort that could imminently spur a CFA, a Coastal Land Use Extension agent from the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Foundation gave a sobering update on coastal erosion. In a region where properties are already being affected by rising sea levels, the timely topic held significant interest for all program participants.

The brokers in attendance were given a video on RPAC investing produced by HAR, as well as two PowerPoint pdfs to bring back to share with their agents: one on Government Affairs, and another on the affect of the rising sea level on coastal properties. The REALTOR® Party grant also provided for gift cards that were awarded to Major Investors, and to brokers who’d already secured 100% agent participation.

The feedback after the event was fabulous, reports Deal; he has already been invited to attend several upcoming Broker Caravans to appeal to agents directly. “Our brokers were clearly surprised and impressed by their board’s level of involvement in local and state legislation,” he notes. “Many more of them now realize how necessary their involvement is, in advancing real estate issues. Our goal is to sign 100% of our broker-members on to the Broker Involvement Program, so we’ll certainly be doing this again. We’re very grateful to the REALTOR® Party for all it does — and for helping us drum up business, in return, so to speak.”

To learn more about how the Kaua`i Board of REALTORS® is engaging its members in political advocacy, contact Government Affairs Director Chad Deal, at 808-245-4049.

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Residential Real Estate Council Invests in RPAC at Record Levels in 2017

You see the letters “CRS” and you know it identifies sales agents who’ve met the exacting standards of experience and education set by the Residential Real Estate Council (RRC).  So, it might not surprise you to learn that the more than 34,000 active REALTORS® who are members of the organization are also engaged at a high rate in industry advocacy: in fact, in 2017, their collective RPAC investment reached $4.5 million, up from $3.9 million in 2016.

This dramatic increase can be credited to a movement RRC (formerly known as the Council of Residential Specialists) calls Building the Complete REALTOR®, whose hashtag #morethanhouses refers to all those ancillary activities, like volunteering and civic involvement, by which its members improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods and strengthen and protect the real estate industry. The energetic movement, says Michelle Huffman, RRC’s Director of Communication, can, in turn, be credited to Leigh Brown, last year’s RRC President.

Brown, who is now 2018 RPAC Fundraising Trustees Chair, says “One of the biggest and most successful undertakings of the National Association of REALTORS® is our advocacy efforts. The members of RRC are already leaders in so many regards, when it comes to professionalism, education, achievement, etc., that it was a natural progression to examine and improve our efforts on the advocacy front as well,” she says, adding, “The members of RRC represent a large portion of the investment and volunteerism that leads to success. The focus on improving our reach among members is that of outreach and education:  I have personally found that many members WANT to do more once they know WHAT is being accomplished.”

In addition to emphasizing RPAC awareness at meetings and in email and social media campaigns, Brown also addressed the importance of investing in her President’s Letter at the front of The Residential Specialist, the group’s every-other-monthly magazine. Also in the magazine, RRC began celebrating its Major Investors in a high-profile list that’s become a popular bi-annual feature. Brown also initiated a new icon on the CRS.com website’s Find a CRS page, identifying RPAC Major Investors:

“There’s a growing movement among RPAC Major Investors to refer to one another, as that means the end consumer is more likely to be served by a REALTOR® who is involved in more than just their transaction. As such, we added a filter to the Find a CRS app, to help members locate CRS Designees who are also Major Investors. It’s been well received and becomes an ongoing effort to reach more members, so they can belong to the group and also use the app!” she says.

Huffman notes that “Leigh’s efforts were focused and tireless, and her message of investing in and protecting the industry really took hold with our members. Raising the visibility of those who invest has also been a successful strategy:  not only are they strong advocates, but great role models for their peers.” Says Brown, “Nothing makes me prouder as a REALTOR® than to know how many of my peers are engaged in changing this profession forever, while we also protect it from unnecessary and damaging regulation.”

To learn more about how the Residential Real Estate Council encouraged record investment in advocacy last year, contact Michelle Huffman at or 312-321-4428.

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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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Miami REALTORS® Create Better Block in West Coconut Grove

 

In Miami’s West Coconut Grove, the need was great, the timing was right, and the partnerships were in perfect alignment: the Miami REALTORS® were seeking a neighborhood in which to conduct a Better Block project with funding from the REALTOR® Party; the University of Miami School of Architecture was planning to create a marketplace for local vendors; and the residents, while lacking resources, had plenty of entrepreneurial zeal and neighborhood pride.

Miami REALTORS®’ 2018 Chairman George Jalil identified West Coconut Grove as an area in need. Known for its colorful, deep-rooted Bahamian heritage, the area had fallen on hard times. In fact, Miami’s downtown Business Improvement District fell just one block short of the once-vibrant area, and adverse gentrification issues were also in play, says Danielle Blake, Miami REALTORS®’ Senior Vice President of Housing & Government Affairs. A team from Miami REALTORS® walked through the area with a staff member of the local city commissioner; going door-to-door, they talked with local business owners and residents and listened to what they wanted for West Coconut Grove. The answer? A strong return of Bahamian culture.

Scouting prospective locations, the REALTORS® came across an abandoned building with a blank wall overlooking an overgrown green space that seemed ripe with potential. Investigating the property, they discovered that the University of Miami’s School of Architecture was already developing a plan for it, with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The two groups joined forces. Sharing their information and resources, the University focused on creating the marketplace for both established vendors and incubator spaces, and the REALTORS® took the lead on developing a landmark mural and launching the vibrant new market with a Better Block celebration.  The REALTORS® also provided considerable volunteer manpower, assembling Bahamian-inspired market structures designed by the School of Architecture.

Early on, YPN Chair Jorge Fernandez had suggested a mural as a feature for the Better Block project. “The mural design was a way for us to bring the community together, most especially the kids,” says Fernandez. As a local vendor served a group of neighborhood children a Bahamian lunch, a team of YPN volunteers had them draw representations of the flavors they were tasting. The artist, Wendell McShine, then adapted elements from these crayoned pictures into his final design for the bright and colorful mural. “It feels true to the neighborhood, celebrating its heritage, its flavors, and its children,” says Fernandez. A plaque on the painted wall recognizes the Miami REALTORS® and its partners in the project.

On February 3, 2018, Miami REALTORS® hosted a festive Better Block celebration launching the new ‘MKTPlace at Goombay Plaza.’ From 4:00 to 7:30 p.m., locals, visitors, and elected officials enjoyed Bahamian food, reggae music, dancing, and a dramatic light show on the new site, where every Saturday, local vendors now have a place to sell their wares and perpetuate the beloved local Bahamian culture.

Associate Professor and Director Chuck Bohl of The University of Miami School of Architecture says, “There’s really a thousand things that have to happen to get a simple market like this up and running, and there’s never enough hands, so to have a group as resourceful as the REALTORS® Association to come in and help us has been really instrumental.” Forging a strong relationship with Bohl’s department has been a great benefit for the REALTORS®, notes Blake. New partnerships with the local community and strengthened connections with elected officials will also be invaluable moving forward.

“Here at Miami REALTORS®, we are very excited about our community outreach program,” says Chairman George Jalil. “The West Coconut Grove neighborhood is rich in history and the residents are very welcoming. The Goombay Plaza project, a great success, raised critical awareness that REALTORS® care, and are very involved in the growth of their communities. We look forward to many more such projects in the future.”

To learn more about how the Miami REALTORS® are serving their communities with REALTOR® Party resources and a strong culture of volunteer man-power, contact Danielle Blake, Senior Vice President of Housing & Government Affairs, at 305-468-7015.

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Cape Fear REALTORS® Top the Broker Involvement Chart with 99% Coverage

Cape Fear REALTORS®’ Shane Johnson

Working to increase Broker Involvement Program (BIP) enrollment from 19 brokers in 2013, Cape Fear REALTORS® (CFR) COO Shane Johnson set a goal.

“We knew that enrollment drives response rates to Calls for Action,” said Johnson. “So, we set a goal of 50% enrollment for multi-agent offices.” Flash forward, after consistent effort, last fall CFR achieved 94% enrollment of all multi-office brokers, which covers 99% of all agent members. “We thought maintaining that level of involvement would be difficult, but by adding enrollment as part of the Designated Realtor® Application Form, it’s been easy. We’ve had 100% enrollment with new brokers.”

CFR was awarded a Broker Involvement Grant in 2017, and hosted a broker reception on September 5, 2017, keynoted by Susie Helm, NAR’s Vice President of State and Local Services and Advocacy Operations. At the event, speaking to the gathered brokers, she said, “based on the information I’ve seen, Cape Fear REALTORS® has one of the highest level of participation in the Broker Involvement Program nationwide I’ve seen. Great job!”

“Best of all, we’ve proven that BIP works,” said Johnson. “Due to high broker enrollment, CFR had a 41% response rate to the Tax Reform Call for Action at the end of 2017—no other association with more than 1,000 members came close to that level.”

Today, CFR has 200 brokers enrolled in BIP, which encompasses more than 29 states and U.S. territories. Anyone interested in getting a copy of the campaign and strategies used by CFR can contact Shane Johnson.

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Phoenix REALTORS®’ Creativity Leads to Sweeping RPAC Investments

With more than 9,200 members, the only sure-fire way for a mega-board like the Phoenix Association of REALTORS® (PAR) to get the attention of its full membership is to tie information to its dues renewal mailing. Several years ago, PAR launched a sweepstakes to encourage investment in RPAC during the December-January dues-renewal season; three years in, the event has gained such momentum that an RPAC Fundraising Grant recently earned back more than nine-times its value in RPAC investment.

PAR Vice President of Government Affairs Marc Scher explains the necessity of having such a ‘sweeping’ effort. “We never have the opportunity of seeing the whole membership at any given meeting, and we understand that not everyone’s paying attention to each and every newsletter we issue. Our billing statement, emailed December 1, is the only universally viewed vehicle we have. It’s our best opportunity to reach our members, educate them, and encourage investment in RPAC.” It’s in the best interest of RPAC to make that opportunity interesting, exciting, and completely convenient, he notes, adding that members now look forward to the annual RPAC sweepstakes, making the whole event a win-win.

That means Scher is always thinking of the most attractive prizes to offer in the upcoming sweepstakes. This year, the $7,000 REALTOR® Party grant was used to purchase prizes for four RPAC investment levels: $30 Arizona Fair Share; $50 Bronze; $100 Copper; and Major Investors of $1,000 and up. Investors were automatically entered into the drawing for prizes such as an Apple iPhone 8+, an airline gift card, an Apple Watch, an Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon Signature Massage, a professional chef cooking an in-home dinner for four, a round of golf at an exclusive local club — even an indoor sky-diving session.

In total, Phoenix REALTORS® invested $63,919: an increase of $10,000 over the previous year. Just as significant, says Scher, is the fact that more than 300 members joined the ranks as first-time RPAC investors this year, and a number of existing investors increased their investment amount to correspond to higher sweepstake categories.

An easy-read “What is RPAC?” lesson was linked to the billing statement, to help all members understand the importance of the fund. “We introduce RPAC in all of our classes, meetings, and new member orientations,” says Scher, “but we want to make sure that this information is also connected to the exciting prospect of entering the sweepstakes. It’s important that members understand not only that they should invest, but what RPAC does. It’s that understanding that will make them become repeat investors.

Scher cautions that, although the RPAC Sweepstakes isn’t a live event like a chili cook-off or an auction, it still takes a great many hours of preparation and behind-the-scenes work.  “And while PAR’s budget covers the intensive marketing, there’s no way we could do this without the REALTOR® Party grant that allows us to offer so many great prizes. We’re so pleased that working together with the REALTOR® Party, we’re able to spur such robust RPAC investment from our members.”

To learn more about how the Phoenix Association is having great success encouraging RPAC fundraising with a billing statement sweepstakes, contact Marc Scher, Vice President of Government Affairs, at 602-246-1012.

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Wisconsin REALTORS® Help Lower Property Taxes, Strengthen School Budgets, and Protect Property Rights

2017 was a year full of issues campaigns for the REALTORS® of Wisconsin, resulting in success on all fronts:  a new state budget with substantial increases for school and university funding; the permanent elimination of a property tax that’s been on the books since the Great Depression; and the creation of a new law overturning an old one, severely detrimental to property rights, that had recently been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The victories were achieved through two issues mobilization campaigns, both of which had a strong grassroots component, explains Joe Murray, Director of Political Affairs of the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA). In each case, a generous REALTOR® Party Issues Mobilization Grant provided WRA with the voter profiling expertise of NAR consultants, and funding for an advocacy campaign involving billboards, bumper stickers, extensive mailings, phone banks, radio and online advertising, and a website.

The first two triumphs, the elimination of a decades-old property tax and the increase in education spending, were the result of the passage of the 2017 state budget proposed by Governor Scott Walker. WRA had advocated with the governor to get rid of the old tax, which only amounted to an average of about $27 per year for most property owners, but which went a long way to supporting the state’s Forestry Division; the budget transferred responsibility for the forestry programs to the general fund of income and sales taxes.  The governor’s budget also proposed a record amount of spending for K-12 public schools, as well Wisconsin’s university system. “We strongly supported the budget, as great schools are important to homeowners with kids, and because high property taxes hurt affordability. Both issues are vitally important to the Wisconsin real estate market, so mounting a campaign to persuade the legislature to pass it was really a no-brainer,” states Murray. The new budget passed in September, and a replica of one of WRA’s colorful billboards from its successful campaign now graces the governor’s desk.

The second effort effectively reversed a local ordinance in effect in 52 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties that sapped the value of adjacent parcels of lakefront properties belonging to a single owner.  In a state of more than 15,000 lakes, notes Murray, “that’s a lot of property owners affected!” In the case known as Murr v. Wisconsin, a property owner supported by the Pacific Legal Foundation argued that because the ordinance took away her family’s right to sell an adjacent property, it amounted to an unconstitutional taking. The Wisconsin Supreme  Court denied her claim, and its decision was then upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  “Not only did the ordinance deprive her of her property rights,” says Murray, “it deprived her of her property’s value. We had submitted an amicus brief to the high court on her behalf, and when her case was denied, we set to work changing the law.” A second Issues Mobilization Grant in July funded a campaign that convinced lawmakers to create a new ordinance that returned rights to Wisconsin’s lakefront property owners. WRA named it ‘The Homeowner Bill of Rights.’  “Property rights are the very core of what we exist for,” asserts Murray. “We’re very proud to have achieved this result for Wisconsin.”

They couldn’t have done it alone, he says: “The tools that the National Association of REALTORS® provides for grassroots issues campaigns are invaluable. Where else would we be able to get such sophisticated voter-household models, and tracking technology for calls and mailings, and expert campaign guidance?  The REALTOR® Party is what makes these successes possible — for property owners across the state.”

To learn more about how Wisconsin REALTORS® are using Issues Mobilization Grants to protect property rights, support school funding, and help reduce property taxes throughout the state, contact Joe Murray, Director of Political Affairs, at 608-575-0023.

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Greater Boston Board Works toward Zoning Reform

The Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB) may technically be a local association, but as it serves the capital city, what it does at City Hall often sets precedent for the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. For the past few decades, in partnership with the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, GBREB has been wrestling with the complicated and often thorny issue of zoning, with a goal of removing barriers to housing production and economic development. With them all the way was NAR consultant Robinson & Cole, LLC, the law firm retained to provide expert analysis of land-use proposals.

Patricia Baumer, GBREB Director of Government Affairs, explains the tremendous value that this Land Use Initiative brings to her board’s efforts to reform the antiquated zoning act governing the region. “It’s a difficult issue to begin with, made more so by the fact that it’s largely a matter of case law, at this point. There’s a lot of apprehension in the REALTOR® community about opening it up to change, as that could invite considerable political risk,” she observes. “But developers require predictability when it comes to zoning. So, it’s a delicate issue, and we’re very lucky to have NAR’s team of consultants navigating the necessary reforms with us, step-by-step. They’re nationally respected, smart, responsive and very hard-working; over the years, I’ve known them to work late to get us answers, and more than once, they’ve held our hands through tough negotiations in the State House. Hands-down, they are the single most indispensable tool in our toolbox.”

Last session, with Robinson & Cole facilitating, a joint GBREB/Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® working group dlooked at how existing zoning regulations contribute to the housing crisis by impeding the production of the quantity and variety of housing types; it became an omnibus bill sponsored in January 2015 by State Senator Michael Rodrigues, a REALTOR® Champion from the Boston suburb of Westport. From allowing multifamily housing construction by right and promoting smart growth with cluster development to reducing red tape on existing permits and reducing costs and permit denials by applying established federal law, the bill sought to dissolve obstacles to the development of much-needed housing stock, the lack of which hinders economic development in the region. While portions of the HOME bill were incorporated into an omnibus bill in the Senate, REALTORS® opposed the final version that came up for a vote, because of some other, highly objectionable, sections of the bill.  “On balance, it would have done more harm than good,” says Baumer.

“We are so grateful that the National Association of REALTORS® understands that this is such a complicated, nuanced issue, and one that we’re not going to resolve overnight,” says Baumer. The fact that they provide this invaluable resource, and that they stick with us with this continued support, will make the difference between Massachusetts achieving zoning reform or not.”

To learn more about how the REALTORS® of the Greater Boston Area are using the REALTOR® Party’s Land Use Initiative to address barriers to housing production across the Massachusetts, contact Patricia Baumer, GBREB Director of Government Affairs, at (617) 423-8700.

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Creativity Help Associations Keep RPAC Investments at an All-time High

“Vote. Act. Invest.”  It’s the rallying cry of the REALTOR® Party, and REALTORS® are increasingly taking it to heart, investing in record numbers in 2017.  With 35% of the membership investing in RPAC in the past year, NAR’s ability to support REALTOR® Champions in campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels is stronger than ever.

This record-level investment, from the $15 investors (whose ranks have grown 11% in the past year) to the Major Investors (who’ve increased by 14%,) yielded a national fundraising total for RPAC that represents a whopping 108% of its goal for 2017.  Beyond RPAC investments, last year saw the President’s Circle, which contributes directly to REALTOR® Champions who support NAR’s public policy agenda, had a record 1,207 participants in the program.

According to Lauren Facemire, NAR’s Managing Director for RPAC & Political Fundraising, the key to the steady growth of the REALTOR® Party’s political fundraising is the ongoing effort by state and local associations to promote a culture of investment.  “It’s tried and true” she says: “when associations demonstrate the value of investing in RPAC, they inevitably see a rise in member participation.”

This might mean arranging visits from the dedicated volunteer leaders on NAR’s various RPAC Committees, who are especially effective with its peer-to-peer appeals. Many smaller associations are beginning to use the PAC Management System, a user-friendly platform that helps them to create online fundraising campaigns that are designed by NAR and allow for custom messaging. Facemire adds that RPAC Fundraising Grants are being used at an all-time high, as associations across the country discover that events that bring members together for professional camaraderie and networking can also be a good way to engage them in RPAC investing.  According to the RPAC team chili cook-offs and raffles are perennially popular, too, but less conventional event ideas are also gaining a foothold among many fun-loving boards:

In Hampton Roads, Virginia, the 3,400-member board hosted an outdoor RPAC ‘Yappy Hour’ raising $3,722 in investments from its dog-loving members and affiliates.  Held on the association’s own property, and featuring a splash pool, obedience contests, games of canine skill, and a dog-food donation drive for the local animal shelter, the event targeted first-time investors and was underwritten by more than seventeen affiliate sponsors.

In Scottsdale, Arizona, an ‘Epic Water Battle’ brought in $11,550 for RPAC from the local mega-association’s Young Professional Network (YPN). It was a sporting day in the desert, where higher investments meant larger water-weapons, and spectators could support players with investments in gear ranging from ponchos to water balloon ammunition.

The Ohio Association of REALTORS® transformed an existing event into an RPAC fundraiser when incoming President Tiffany Myer hosted a riverboat cruise to celebrate her inauguration. The $100-ticket event was the high point of the annual state convention, and featured a presentation by national RPAC volunteer Charlie Oppler, together with the state leadership, encouraging guests to step up to Major Investor status.  All proceeds from the $39,100 raised went to RPAC.

To learn more about the increasing success of RPAC fundraising, contact Lauren Facemire, NAR’s Managing Director for RPAC Fundraising, at 202-383-1080.

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