Chairman's Corner

 John Flor  |    July 08, 2010

Hello, REALTORS®. This is my favorite time of year. The weather is warm, there is lots of activity and it feels great to spend some time outdoors and on the water. This year, July brings something else to our lives: elections and politics. We are now well into the election season as things ramp up toward the primaries in September and the general election in November. Many of our members can’t wait for it to be over, while others love the action that election season brings. No matter what category you fall into, I think it is important for all of our members to understand what a crucial role politics play in our businesses. 

Whether you are aware of it or not, the real estate business is heavily regulated and potentially changed every year by new laws, administrative rules and court decisions. The Wisconsin REALTORS® Association is deeply involved in every arena that can affect our businesses and private property rights. Over the years we have successfully defended attacks on shoreland zoning, waterfront piers, transfer tax increases and much more. Just recently, our talented staff defended your right to draft contracts in relation to real estate transactions. 

This last example is a wonderful illustration of how much impact these decisions can have on your everyday business life. Without the right to draft contracts, every listing contract, offer, counter offer, amendment, addendum, etc., would have to be drafted by an attorney. I am sure many of you can envision the delays and hardships this could cause each one of you as well as your customers and clients. This issue relates to the unlicensed practice of law and has been an ongoing battle with the State Bar of Wisconsin for seven years.  On June 1, the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed with the WRA and will be drafting their new rule with the included language that will uphold our right to draft real estate contracts. 

So what does this have to do with the elections? We have a very talented staff, but you, the members, bring their efforts to life.Without the support of the 14,500 REALTORS® in the state of Wisconsin, our effectiveness in the legislature, with the governor, or in the court house, would be significantly less. You are the muscle behind the highly talented team of lobbyists at the WRA. Your voices are listened to loud and clear when you take the time to respond to our Calls to Action.  In the past, our team has actually been asked to “turn it off” because of the flood of e-mails and phone calls to legislators’ offices.

I want to thank you for your support of these calls to action, but now we need your help in other ways. The best way to ensure the right laws are passed is to ensure the right lawmakers are elected. This means we, all of us, need to support candidates who support our issues.  This support comes in several forms.  The first is monetary (that is, a financial contribution to RPAC — the REALTORS® Political Action Committee — or the Direct Giver Program) and the second is through personal involvement with a campaign. Both of these methods allow us as a group to endorse and monetarily assist candidates that support the real estate business and private property rights. I understand that many of you don’t vote on straight party lines and the WRA doesn’t endorse that way either. We support candidates that will help us pass good laws and defeat bad ones.  It is my hope that when you vote, you will take this into consideration when selecting a candidate.

Many local associations have already kicked off their RPAC fundraising for the year and the state Large Donor Council will kick off its fundraising year with a July event. I highly encourage you to take part in some of the events in your area and give what you can to RPAC. It doesn’t have to be a large sum — even $10 will help — but make a point of giving something. This is an investment in your business. I like to equate it to E&O insurance, but this is insurance that you are paying to ensure the future of your business.  I hope in this short column I was able to show you why your contributions are important to your business. I hope you have a little more understanding about how real estate and government are connected and why it is so important to each of you that we are involved in the process as a group. 

For more information on how to give or for RPAC events in your area, contact your local association or volunteer leadership. We need your help now, so get involved, give what you can and show your REALTOR® pride every day.

John R. Flor

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