Margaret Meade said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” This quote resonates this time of year especially as NAR wraps up its annual Midyear Meetings in Washington, D.C. with the focal point being visits to Capitol Hill. Each year, a select group of REALTORS® meet with their respective members of Congress to discuss issues that REALTORS® throughout North America face.
“Overall, this was a successful year,” said AAR Vice President of Government Affairs Nicole LaSlavic. “We met with some key members of the Congress that we typically don’t see.” This year, AAR members were given the opportunity to meet with Arizona Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick, Kyrsten Sinema, Trent Franks, Matt Salmon, Ron Barber, Raul Grijalva and Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, and congressional staff members for Representatives Paul Gosar and David Schweikert.
NAR provided members with three prepared talking points:
- Preserve the Mission and Purpose of the FHA Program
- Preserve Homeownership Tax Policies
- Restructure Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac and Encourage the Return of Private Capital
Evan Fuchs, ABR, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, AAR president-elect, said of the overall meeting, “We had a very productive week in Washington D.C. In addition to meeting with our congressmen and senators on property rights issues, we had many members participate on NAR committees. Those members reported to the caucus at the end of the week before the Board of Directors meeting, which helped our NAR directors from Arizona prepare for the meeting the following day. That process put Arizona in a good position to contribute and help shape national decisions that impact our industry back home.”
J. T. Tsighis, federal political coordinator to Congressman Ron Barber, gave this re-cap of his meeting with the congressman: “After introductions were made we presented hard copies of the information including: 2013 Midyear Meeting Legislative Talking Points brochure; 113th Congressional District Report for Arizona District 2; and the State-by-State Economic Impact of Real Estate Activity in Arizona. The setting for sharing the three crucial talking points was relaxed, cordial and conversational.” Tsighis said that they stayed on message and “left the meeting with a sense that our purpose to educate and enlighten had been achieved.”
Holly Mabery, ABR, GRI, rCRMS, who serves as a federal political coordinator to Representative Paul Gosar, said of her meetings, ”with our political representatives, top-of-mind is protecting the fragile housing market, as it really leads all economic recoveries. Of the many items important to us the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID). The loss of MID could be terribly harmful to the economy especially in Arizona. The discussion is looking at second and investment homes. Arizona is in the top 10 of second homes in the nation, this loss could be devastating.” Fuchs also added that in their meetings, AAR members, “encouraged their respective [Congressmen’s] committees to hold hearings to discuss the secondary mortgage market. We also encouraged them to ensure FHA would continue to provide access to safe, affordable financing.”
Paula Monthofer, GRI, ABR, AAR treasurer-elect, attended the hill visits for the first time this year, also as a federal political coordinator, and was able to meet with Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, as well as Representative Kirkpatrick. She was impressed with the enormous impact that REALTORS® can make through the REALTOR® Party and said, “There is a power in numbers and large groups that can only be accessed through outlets like these. By not participating [in political activism] you are not fully utilizing the benefits which you have already paid for by being a member.”
Clark Jones, a REALTOR® with ERA Realty in Payson and president of his local association, also agreed that this was an incredible experience. He encourages members of AAR to get in touch with their representatives to “tell us what you’re having trouble with and how we can help.”
Mabery said that her overall take-away from the 2013 Midyear Meeting was that, “The landscape of organized real estate is changing. NAR is working to change with the demands and needs of the members, we had hard, thoughtful discussions on this subject. Additionally, the challenge then becomes as agents how are we going to adapt to the needs/demands of the consumers. [It’s] time to evolve and grow.”