Environmental Urgencies

NAR President Chris Polychron explains how various environmental and safety issues are impacting the real estate industry.

July 15, 2015

Johnnie Rosenauer, a broker-owner in Spring Branch, Texas, knows the impact an environmental issue can have on the real estate business. His community is wrestling over the effects of fracking: the expanded oil and gas extraction that is responsible for substantial economic benefits along with concerns about health risks. Balancing these competing issues is an everyday challenge for REALTORS® like Rosenauer, who admirably navigates this tricky terrain. You can read more about how he and other practitioners manage such worries in "Ground Forces."

As REALTORS®, we all know our business is intimately tied to the environment. After all, the preamble to our Code of Ethics begins, "Under all is the land . . ." There's no way around the fact that development affects the land—along with the water and air. I suspect most of you are like me: someone whose respect for the environment matches his love for our industry. But that doesn't mean our priorities are identical. To you, environmental stewardship might mean imposing strict caps on development, but your trusted colleague three desks away might hold a more expansive view.

Here at the federal level, the association is working hard to strike the right balance. Last year we tried to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency keep its National Flood Insurance Program solvent without forcing home owners to shoulder unsustainable insurance premiums. And this year we want to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers follow the best science in determining which waters of the United States are subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. How those jurisdictions are determined influences the regulatory processes that developers will go through to meet the demands of growing communities across the country.

Of course, you can't take a cookie-cutter approach to environmental regulation. So we work hard to ensure any federal policies that affect land use reflect local differences.

Safety Always

I want to close with a reminder about safety in the wake of recent attacks against real estate pros. In May, an agent in Valencia, Calif., was reportedly raped by a prospective client, and in June, a man was charged with forcible rape of an agent during an apartment showing in Rolla, Mo. Meanwhile, two agents in St. Petersburg, Fla., were robbed at gunpoint, and also in June, an agent was missing after going to show a property in Arizona. In the latter incident, the agent is a man. Complacency on the job isn't an option for either gender. Please consult our resources at realtor.org/safety. We need each of you to work toward staying safe on the job.