Thursday
October 30, 2014

REALTORS®: On the Right Path, Ready for Action

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REALTORS®: On the Right Path, Ready for Action

REALTORS® who gathered in the nation’s capital Tuesday received reassurances from the director of the newly created Consumer Finance Protection Bureau about the vitally important place of real estate in the nation’s economic well-being.

“We are united by the desire to put financial and mortgage markets on a sustainable path,” Richard Cordray told thousands of REALTORS® at the kick-off event of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® 2013 Midyear Legislative Meetings & Expo. “The nation can’t become stronger if people can’t make sound decisions about their lives. We’re here to help people ask questions and make those decisions.” The agency is charged with educating and empowering consumers concerning a range of consumer finance matters, from bank accounts to credit reporting and mortgages. He noted that the agency must find a balance with regard to protecting consumers and ensuring access to credit. “The American consumer is better protected today. The market has cleaned up its bad practices and bad actors,” but he noted, “They could come back. The rules we make will restore confidence in the housing and mortgage markets.”

NAR President Gary Thomas, in his welcoming remarks, rallied the attendees, acknowledging that their perseverance through difficult times has paid off. “You earned your stripes by ensuring that the American dream of home ownership was not buried in the wake of the financial collapse,” he said.

Many of the 9,000 REALTORS® attending this week’s meetings will meet with members of Congress and federal regulators to address real estate issues that are critical to the economic health of their communities. They will be advocating for improving the safety and soundness of the FHA without hurting the consumers it was established to help, encouraging the return of private capital to mortgage markets while ensuring a continued role for the federal government, and protecting tax incentives for home ownership.  To reinforce the message on the Hill, REALTORS® will be wearing lanyards that include the message “Home ownership is not a loophole.”

At the forum, REALTORS® learned they will soon able to respond to legislative Calls for Action from their mobile devices, making it easier than ever to stay politically engaged. NAR is launching an improved REALTOR® Action Center mobile app that takes advocacy to a new level as members can ensure on a moment’s notice that their voices are heard on critical real estate issues.  The app, currently available for iPhones, contains timely information about NAR public policy efforts and can also be used to make RPAC investments. The app’s Android version should be ready by the end of May, while tablet versions for Apple and Android products should be available in early summer. Find out more at REALTORActionCenter.com.

NAR leaders also recognized two of the association’s federal political coordinators for their outstanding work representing REALTORS®’ interests before their members of Congress:  Fran Davis of Minneapolis, who is the FPC for both U.S. Senators from Minnesota, Al Franken (D) and Amy Klobuchar (D); and Gail Hartnett of Boise, Idaho, who is the FPC for Rep. Mike Simpson (R).

Before wrapping up, NAR leaders shared some key findings so far from the association’s REThink strategic planning initiative, which was launched last year to gather input from a wide array of members on the association’s future vision. Among the issues that members would like to see opened up for further discussion are the three-way agreement among the local, state, and national associations, pathways to leadership, and the role of MLSs. A REThink workshop held earlier in the day was filled to capacity and in response to the enthusiasm in the room, NAR leaders scheduled a second workshop for Wednesday to give more members a chance to participate. The new session will be held at 1:30 p.m., Eastern Time, at the Blue Room in the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

—Wendy Cole, REALTOR® Magazine