The Politics of Real Estate


By Travis Close, ABR, GREEN, GRI, e-PRO
President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

This past week, several of our Georgia Realtors participated in the state association’s legislative conference, which included spending time meeting with Georgia legislators. Later this month, Tennessee Realtors will have similar meetings with our Tennessee legislators. And in May, Realtors from our local Association will join more than 8,000 Realtors in Washington, D.C. to meet with legislators, congressional and regulatory staff. Many have asked me why we do this and what it has to do with real estate. Everything.

In Realtor circles it’s often said. “If real estate is your career, then politics is your business.” Not all of our members are “into” politics. Yet, Realtors spend almost as much time on real estate transactions as we do in meetings about issues impacting real estate.

We engage in these conversations not to protect our careers and commission but rather to protect the right to own real property. Consumers and Realtors alike seek to work and live in thriving communities, which are the result of fostering a solid real estate market.

On the national level, Realtors comprise the largest professional trade association in the United States and represent more than one million members. As outlined in the Realtor Code of Ethics, Realtors include those members practicing residential real estate brokerage, real property management, commercial and industrial real estate brokerage, land brokerage, real estate appraisal, real estate counseling, real estate syndication, real estate auction, and international real estate brokers. As a result of this large and diverse membership, the Realtor organization is a strong voice for or against proposed policies and laws that would impact the real estate market.

The National Association of Realtors recently published its 2015 Legislative and Regulatory Priorities. In 2015, Realtors will be focused on the following public policy initiatives:

· Homeownership & Real Estate Investment Tax Policies. The growing federal debt, weak economic recovery, and continued growth of tax complexity have kept tax reform near the top of the national agenda. Members of Congress from both Houses and both parties have expressed a high level of interest in reforming the tax system, and President Obama has also expressed qualified support, especially for corporate or business tax reform. This ongoing debate places a variety of tax laws, including those affecting commercial and residential real estate, under increased scrutiny.

· Credit & Lending Policies. Overly stringent lending standards have continued to limit the availability of affordable mortgage financing for credit worthy consumers. Federal policymakers are weighing a number of proposals aimed at creating healthier housing and mortgage markets.

· Business Operations. Protecting the business operations of members is always a priority for NAR. There are a number of issues before Congress and the Federal Regulatory Agencies that could have a significant impact on the business operations of real estate firms.

· Commercial Real Estate. More than $1.2 trillion in commercial real estate loans will come due over the next few years, and many of these deals will have trouble getting financing. NAR supports consideration of legislation and regulations to protect and enhance the flow of capital to commercial real estate.

As you can see from the above list of items, Realtors have a variety of concerns and seek to partner with legislators, whether at the local, state or national level. These issues affect much more than a Realtor’s commission for aiding a client in making what is probably the biggest invest of their lifetime. When you see a “call to action” from the Association, we hope that you will take them time to learn more and then join us in communicating with our legislators by clicking the button in support or against specific proposed policies and laws.

The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors is “The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga.” The Association is a regional organization with more than 1,500 members and is one of more than 1,400 local boards and associations of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors services Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit http://www.gcar.net.

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