Get Into Politics or Get Out of the Business

Published: January 29, 2010

I just read an excellent post from Nestor & Katerina on ActiveRain (do they write any other kind) entitled: Active Rain Should NOT Ban Political Posts – Real Estate Is Political.

In my travels I’m always amazed by Realtors® who are unaware of the political nature of our business. Even worse are those who proudly proclaim they ‘are above that’ or ‘we have no interest in that’. To them I say – Good Luck Making a Living, Schmuck. You can work 20 hours a day to make a living but if somebody in Sacramento or Washington DC decides to reach into your pocket, you’re now going to be working 22 hours a day to make that same living. UNLESS your state and national association is there to prevent it.

politicsOur state association has understood the nature of, and the need for, our political involvement for years. Our Chief Lobbyist, Alex Creel, has been fighting the good fight for over 20 years on our behalf in Sacramento, and his staff and support organization is awesome. I first got a copy of this button over a decade ago and it wasn’t new then. We still hand them out today.

Realtors® need to understand that we are a special interest group. That’s not a dirty word. As NAR members we are part of the largest grassroots political action group in this country. That’s something to be proud of.

And we not only fight for Realtor® issues but we are the last bastion of defense between government intervention and the private property rights of our clients. That is a point we should always convey to our customers – and another differentiation between a Realtor® and a real estate agent.

You may not always agree with either your state position on an issue or with NAR’s position. But anybody who has ever met NAR’s Chief Lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello cannot fail but be impressed by his knowledge and track record on Realtor® issues. He and his staff fight the good fight for us daily. If not for their efforts our business would be substantially different and even more difficult than it is today.

Nationwide more and more of our local associations are hiring GAD’s, or Government Affairs Directors. As we see more local efforts by municipalities to raise revenue on the backs of Realtors® and property owners, more point-of-sale mandates, more transfer taxes and business license fees, the need for local political advocacy has become critical, as has the need to financially support city council and water board and county supervisor candidates. These are the people who not only make those local decision but will eventually migrate to state and federal legislative offices. As former NAR President Dick Gaylord is fond of saying – ‘We must make our friends before we need them.’ You can’t just waltz into these people’s offices when you need something – you’ve got to be there when they need you as well.

I understand that many of you are working twice as hard to make half as much right now. You may not have either the time or the inclination to become involved in the day-to-day of the political process. That’s far different that proclaiming you are above it or choose not to be involved. You simply have too much on your plate, a family to feed, house payments to make and that’s understandable.

But if you are in that position, I encourage you at the very least to make an investment in your state’s political action fund. In California that’s $49 a year. Unbelievable that we only get about 20% participation at that minimal level. The equivalent of one dinner out to support legislative efforts and help elect legislators who understand real estate reality. The remaining 80% just enjoy the free ride and reap the benefits. That’s got to change.

As you formulate your business plan for 2010, please include a small expense item for your political future and business success. It’s less than a single ad in the local paper and the return on that investment is priceless. To quote Nestor & Katerina,:

A Realtor® who does not get involved with the political process does not understand real estate.

I hope you understand.

Last modified: January 29, 2010 at 11:52 am | Originally published: January 29, 2010 at 11:52 am
Printed: September 27, 2020