After a two-year virtual layover, the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) annual REALTOR® “fly-in” to our nation’s capital is back in-person this month during our annual legislative meetings being held in National Harbor, Maryland from May1-6.
While the remote meeting format in 2020 and 2021 allowed for more participation, there is no substitute for thousands of REALTORS® walking the halls of Congress to meet with their elected officials. Most of America’s 1.5 million REALTORS® are small business owners, and our profession makes up nearly 20% of the entire U.S. economy. Lawmakers are eager to hear what we have to say in this time of unprecedented uncertainty.
REALTORS® work in every congressional district and zip code of the country every day. Guided by enhanced training, earned expertise and a Code of Ethics, their services play a critical role in helping more people achieve the American Dream. When we talk to lawmakers, our top concern is improving access to homeownership for their constituents. Homeownership is the primary way most Americans build wealth, and millions more dream of joining America’s 82 million existing homeowners.
This goal begins with increasing housing inventory and encouraging adaptive reuse of commercial properties. A historic 50-year record shortage of affordable homes has severely limited access to the residential real estate market. Even relatively modest steps to reduce the gap will unleash tremendous economic activity and create millions of new jobs.
The pandemic also created shifts in the commercial real estate market, especially in the office and retail sectors. Policies that support repurposing underutilized or vacant commercial properties can revitalize communities by creating new commercial uses and housing.
Our second focus this year is ensuring fair housing for all. More than 50 years after passage of the Fair Housing Act, the homeownership rates for African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans continue to lag behind White Americans.
Our economy, communities and the American people suffer when discrimination and segregation artificially constrain homeownership and limit the intergenerational wealth it builds. REALTORS® are firmly committed to enforcing fair housing laws and policies that remove historic 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 support the effort, dubbed 3by30.
Our third focus is urging lawmakers to use original NAR research products and surveys when crafting policy and legislation. Our skilled economists produce and analyze a wide range of data, providing the best real estate-specific resources to each state and congressional district. These resources contain vital information for lawmakers. No other organization can pool data from every community across America about a single sector of the economy in such a timely and accurate fashion.
The past two years brought significant challenges and also great victories. We fought back a pandemic and still moved the real estate market and U.S. 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 chief advocacy officer for the National Association of REALTORS®.