Real Estate's 'True North'

The strength of the association comes from our joining together to overcome obstacles to our REALTOR® Party Values.

May 9, 2013

There’s a line in the movie “Lincoln” in which Abraham Lincoln talks about the difficulty of gaining passage of the 13th amendment: “A compass, I learned when I was surveying, . . . [will] point you true north from where you’re standing,” Lincoln says in the movie, “but it’s got no advice about the swamps and deserts and chasms that you’ll encounter along the way.”

Besides being a great lesson on the history of abolition, “Lincoln” shows us that politics has never been an easy business. Even when you know your “true north,” there are obstacles that may require you to alter the path toward your destination. But that doesn’t mean you change your destination.

As real estate professionals, our true north has always pointed us toward the values of home owner-ship, strong communities, and private property rights. In recent years, we’ve faced a number of challenges—the financial crisis, tightened lending standards, increased foreclosures, and slow-moving short sales, to name a few. Fortunately, there have also been some opportunities: historically low interest rates, continued availability of FHA-backed loans, and tax policies that encourage real estate investment.

These opportunities were earned by REALTORS® through their advocacy. There are some who’ve used the financial crisis and recession to argue for goals they’ve long sought: elimination of the government role in the secondary mortgage market and changes to tax policies. Their ideas are misguided at best, as Federal Home Loan Bank of New York President and CEO (and former HUD Deputy Secretary) Al DelliBovi explains on page 38 of this issue.

The National Association of REALTORS® is doing everything it can to ensure that REALTORS®’ voices continue to be heard on these important issues. On April 10, I testified before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing, and Community Opportunity, reiterating NAR’s strong support for the FHA. On April 25, I met with the House Ways and Means Committee to ask that powerful committee to do no harm to housing and America’s 75 million home owners.

Be Prepared for Action

In Lincoln’s day, every vote on the 13th amendment was important. Likewise, every REALTOR® Party member’s is important. My voice alone is far less effective than all our voices together. So if you aren’t already a registered user of, I urge you to register and explore the site today. Read the REALTOR® Party e-newsletter sent on the second Thursday of each month. And, when we reach crucial moments and ask for your help in sending a message to Congress, take a few moments to act on our calls for action. Thank you! Together, let’s reach for success.

Gary Thomas was 2013 president of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.