REALTORS® Embrace Chance to Work With New Congress
May 14, 2019
REALTORS® have a fresh opportunity this week to influence the future of housing policy on Capitol Hill, as more than 100 newly elected members of Congress hear about the needs of homeowners in their districts. “Congress knows we mean business,” John Smaby, president of the National Association of REALTORS®, said Tuesday at the kickoff event for the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. He added that, with more than 9,000 real estate professionals arriving in the nation’s capital for the conference, “this is the perfect time to let Congress know who REALTORS® are.”
Playing off NAR’s current consumer ad campaign, “That’s Who We R,” Smaby and 2019 NAR Immediate Past President Elizabeth Mendenhall encouraged attendees at the event, known as NAR 360, to tell their stories to their Congressional representatives. “Our Hill messages are directly tied to our consumer campaign,” Mendenhall said. “You need to talk about the trust and integrity you bring to the industry and your communities.”
Flood insurance, qualified opportunity zones, and fair housing are among the pressing topics REALTORS® will discuss with their Congressional representatives. But practitioners stand to have an even more powerful audience, with President Donald Trump scheduled to address the conference Friday. “We have the attention of the Oval Office,” Smaby said.
Mendenhall noted that many U.S. presidents, dating back to Herbert Hoover in the early 1930s, have either attended or spoken at the annual conference. “The clout REALTORS® have gained on Capitol Hill opens doors for all of us,” she said. Additionally, NAR fuels media coverage of the real estate industry, serving as a source for 74% of published or broadcast real estate news, according to research presented at the NAR 360 forum.
Still, political divisiveness in Washington has been challenging on the legislative front. REALTORS® must show patience and strength in pushing for change. Artist Phil Hansen, who presented at NAR 360, drove that message home. Hansen once feared that his career would end when he developed a tremor in his drawing hand. But “I embraced the shake,” he said, adding that he learned new ways to make art in spite of his condition. He was inspired to collect people’s stories of limitations in their lives and created artwork using descriptions of their experiences.
He surprised the crowd by revealing the names of 10,000 major investors in the REALTORS® Political Action Committee woven into an intricate drawing of NAR’s D.C. headquarters. “Limitations can become passageways to creativity,” Hansen said. “When we invite ourselves to see limitations as opportunities, we can recraft our future.”