Graham Wood is senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Capitol Hill Comes to Illinois REALTORS®
The Illinois Association of REALTORS® has started a program where members get regular face time with their Congressional leaders to talk real estate.
May 9, 2014
REALTORS® from around the country descended on the REALTOR® Party Convention & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. — and it was the one time of the year that many had the chance to get face time with their elected leaders in Congress.
But for members of the Illinois Association of REALTORS®, it was just one of many throughout the year.
“Congressman and congresswomen typically see REALTORS® once a year at the meetings in D.C., and that’s good,” says IAR President Phil Chiles. “But when we can put 50, 60, or 70 people in a room with them and say, ‘Congressman, here are REALTORS® from your district, and here’s what we want you to understand,’ that congressman understands that we’re not just talking about 6 or 7 people. We’re talking about whole communities.”
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That’s the motivation behind IAR’s new program Let’s Talk Real Estate, which sets up breakfast chats throughout the year between U.S. representatives and senators from Illinois and REALTORS® from their districts. Since last fall, IAR has been coordinating the meetings with elected officials whenever they come to their home districts.
During the Let’s Talk Real Estate meetings, the elected officials spend about 45 minutes fielding questions from attendees and explaining their positions on real estate matters, Chiles says. One of the best parts of these meetings is that it gives REALTORS® an opportunity to provide market reports to their congressmen and congresswomen so that they have the most up-to-date data about the real estate market in their areas.
Here's a video from IAR's Let's Talk Real Estate meeting with U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis last August:
But these meeting don’t just provide an opportunity for REALTORS® to educate their elected officials. Lessons can be learned on both sides.
“It’s easy for REALTORS® to look at the issue of real estate as black and white,” Chiles says. “But our elected leaders can talk about the difficulty of the issue in the political spectrum. It gives REALTORS® an opportunity to hear the opposing side.”
Most of all, though, the Let’s Talk Real Estate meetings impress upon Illinois’ congressional leaders just how powerful the REALTOR® movement is. IAR, in particular, is a very politically active association. It has government affairs representatives following the dealings of municipalities around the state who identify opportunities for the association to get involved with local affairs. Through RPAC, the association vets local, state, and national political candidates.
“We also have the ability to put some boots on the ground to canvas for pro-REALTOR® candidates,” Chiles says. “They know that REALTORS® vote. It’s important to let politicians know that we care and keep track. We’re the only industry that’s out there fighting for private-property rights.”