A Message from President Mike Theo: Leaders Leading

 Mike Theo  |    June 08, 2018

Intense and often unpredictable. Challenging and often intimidating. Surprising and often disheartening. These adjectives describe not only the political climate in Washington, D.C., but also the weather climate this time of year. Hot and sticky would describe both as well. 

Such was the experience of REALTOR® leaders from across Wisconsin, and across the nation, who gathered in D.C. in mid-May to meet with each other and with their members of Congress to discuss key real estate-related issues pending before the federal government. This gathering in the nation’s capitol is a tradition that dates to the early days of our association but also to the early days of our nation. The right of citizens to petition their government is but a hollow phrase unless citizens, like these REALTOR® leaders, engage with their elected officials early and often.

Unlike the politics we often see played out over the air waves, there was no yelling, finger-pointing or flailing of arms last month. By contrast, it was reasonable folks making reasonable arguments regarding reasonable legislation. On the receiving side, not every member of Congress agreed with every one of our positions, but they heard us. And hopefully they’ll listen. 

So, what was discussed? We talked about net neutrality and the need for Congress to enact common-sense “rules of the road” that will ensure the internet remains an open, competitive place for consumers and businesses. We talked about national flood insurance and the need for comprehensive reforms and a five-year reauthorization of the program that helps rebuild our flood-ravaged communities. We talked about reforming tax reform to index the limitations placed on deductions for mortgage interest and state and local taxes to the rate of inflation so these important incentives for homeownership do not erode over time. And we discussed celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act by supporting sustainable, inclusive communities that cannot discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin.

When these REALTOR® leaders weren’t just on Capitol Hill lobbying, they were in hotel meeting rooms and hallways across Washington trying to improve the operations of the association, including ways to increase professionalism by adding new “teeth” for enforcing the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and in so doing, ultimately helping consumers. They debated a new operating budget that included a dues increase for the first time in eight years, and they also elected new officers, learned our longtime chief lobbyist is retiring, learned that the REALTORS® Political Action Committee is halfway to its goal of raising $34.5 million this year, and heard NAR’s plans to host a new technology summit this summer in Silicon Valley. 

These are but a few of the issues that the National Association of REALTORS® is tackling on Capitol Hill and in the operations of the world’s largest trade association. But the goal of many of these issues goes beyond protecting and advancing REALTORS®. Many of these issues are about protecting consumers and promoting property ownership across the nation. And that’s a story we need to do a better job of telling. While many consumers, be they buyers or sellers, know REALTORS® are their trusted advisors during the transaction, we need to let them know all we do for them after that transaction — while they’re living in that home or conducting business in that building. 

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