After a two-year virtual layover, the annual National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) realtor “flight” to the nation’s capital returns in person this month during our annual legislative meetings will be held in National Harbor, Maryland, May 1-6.
While the format of remote meetings in 2020 and 2021 has allowed for greater participation, there is no substitute for the thousands of real estate agents who roam the halls of Congress to meet with their elected officials. Most of America’s 1.5 million real estate agents are small business owners, and our profession represents nearly 20% of the entire US economy. Lawmakers are eager to hear what we have to say in this time of unprecedented uncertainty.
REALTORS® works every day in every congressional district and every zip code nationwide. Guided by enhanced training, acquired expertise, and a code of ethics, their services are playing a vital role in helping more people achieve the American Dream. When we talk to legislators, our main concern is to improve access to property for their constituents. Home ownership is the primary means by which most Americans create wealth, and millions more dream of joining the 82 million existing American homeowners.
This goal begins with increasing housing inventory and encouraging adaptive reuse of commercial properties. A 50-year record shortage of affordable housing has severely limited access to the residential real estate market. Even relatively small steps to close the gap will trigger tremendous economic activity and create millions of new jobs.
The pandemic has also led to changes in the commercial real estate market, particularly in the office and retail sectors. Policies that support the repurposing of underused or vacant commercial properties can revitalize communities by creating new commercial uses and housing.
Our second goal this year is to ensure fair housing for all. More than 50 years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, homeownership rates for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans continue to lag behind white Americans.
Our economy, our communities, and the American people suffer when discrimination and segregation artificially limit homeownership and limit the intergenerational wealth it creates. REALTORS® is strongly committed to enforcing fair housing laws and policies that remove historical and systemic barriers to homeownership for all qualified buyers. NAR is on the steering committee of the Black Homeownership Collaborative and helped develop a seven-point plan to add 3 million net new black homeowners by 2030. Many industry partners are supporting the effort, dubbed 3by30.
Our third goal is to urge legislators to use original NAR research products and surveys when developing policy and legislation. Our trained economists produce and analyze a wide range of data, providing the best real estate-specific resources for every state and congressional district. These resources contain vital information for legislators. No other organization can aggregate data from all communities across America on a single sector of the economy in such a timely and accurate manner.
The past two years have brought significant challenges and also great victories. We’ve fought a pandemic while driving the US housing market and economy forward. It’s great to be back.
For a detailed list of NAR’s policy recommendations to Congress this year, Click here.
Shannon McGahn is the Director of Advocacy for the National Association of REALTORS®.