A quick look at the U.S. housing market earlier this winter indicated some cooling from the early days of the pandemic. In February, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reported that existing home sales were down 7.2%. This came on the heels of a 5.7% month-over-month drop in January, as limited inventory and rising mortgage rates continued to hamstring affordability.
Much of NAR’s advocacy efforts are focused on these persisting, nationwide supply constraints. Fortunately, $25 billion for affordable housing production was recently secured in legislation moving through Congress, as was $1.75 billion in grants for other key inventory-related priorities, like zoning reform.
But while NAR’s advocacy team continues its work in Washington to ensure Americans from every background have access to homeownership, U.S. consumers are still seeking out property at historic levels. And, as monthly sales levels rise and fall, a lack of demand or desire is not to blame. There were, in fact, nearly five offers for every home sold in February, according to a recent REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey that exceeded numbers recorded in the months prior.
On top of that, NAR reported in March that middle-income Americans gained more than $2 trillion in household wealth over the past decade. Indeed, millions of younger Americans and first-time buyers continue to show an unrelenting appetite to capitalize on all the long-term benefits of property ownership.
Ultimately, REALTORS® exist to serve consumers; to remain the trusted source of real estate information at the center of every transaction; to hold unparalleled levels of community knowledge; and to serve as some of the most invested, engaged members of those communities.
REALTORS® work tirelessly in an unrelenting and ultra-competitive market to make the American Dream a reality for their clients. But that mission can only be executed if agents have every possible tool to secure and stabilize their own professional and personal lives. Here, too, is where NAR’s engagement is critical.
As part of a comprehensive toolkit of resources offered to REALTORS® through various association- and industry-wide initiatives, NAR has created the Center for REALTOR® Financial Wellness (CRFW). This offering was designed specifically to meet our members’ unique financial planning needs and to ensure their focus—day in and day out—remains on serving the clients who have put so much trust in their hands.
Nearly 25,000 REALTORS® are currently enrolled in the CRFW platform, which includes educational materials and resources for wealth building, business planning and investing in real estate—all at no additional cost. An added partnership with Morgan Stanley helps NAR members access discounted planning and consulting services in the pursuit of a stable financial future.
And while brokers can take advantage of these benefits in their own right, they also play an essential role in ensuring individual agents are positioned for success.
The FinancialWellness.realtor platform offers an onboarding tool for brokers with customizable budgeting spreadsheets and financial calculators. NAR also hosts monthly financial webinars that can take the place of brokerages’ team meetings or training sessions. A recent Tax Summit webinar, which provided in-depth guidance on the unique tax situations REALTORS® face, was attended live by some 2,000 NAR members.
If any single issue is particularly relevant or impactful to an individual brokerage, those brokers can also request to host their own virtual CRFW educational session by emailing FinancialWellness@nar.realtor.
Nearly nine out of 10 REALTORS® are independent contractors who face complex personal finance situations. Fluctuating income, complex taxation issues and the lack of salary cap require a different perspective. That’s why the opportunities offered to REALTORS® through CRFW—to assess their current financial profile, receive personalized retirement planning goals and practice financial planning decisions in a risk-free environment—are so critical. Brokers and agents can access the Center’s full library at FinancialWellness.realtor.
A March study from the National Association of Home Builders found that some 87.5 million U.S. households were unable to afford a median-priced new home in the opening months of 2022. Budgeting and prudent decision-making, of course, play a key role in helping people find freedom and achieve all of their long-term financial goals. And that’s true for REALTORS®, just as it is for every potential homebuyer in America.
Bob Goldberg is the chief executive officer of the National Association of REALTORS®.
For more information, visit https://www.financialwellness.realtor/?redirect=%2Fhome