Gadzooks! Government Affairs is Coming to You
For many years, REALTORS® have had robust and effective government affairs advocacy at the national level—through the National Association of REALTORS®—and at the state level—through NC REALTORS®.
REALTORS®, our clients, customers and the real estate industry all benefit from our work to promote homeownership, bolster property owners’ rights and keep regulation of our business productive.
What’s missing in this picture is NC REALTOR® advocacy engagement at the local level. We have some good news to share, however: we are in the process of expanding a program in order to change that.
In 2018, NC REALTORS® approved a strategic plan that included this goal: “Expand and fund a regional or statewide shared Government Affairs Director (GAD) program.” The idea is to ensure all our member associations have some degree of government affairs support from the state.
Until this year, there have only been two ways associations have access to a GAD. Some associations are large enough to have the resources to hire their own Local GADs who work exclusively for them. NC REALTORS® works closely with these Local GADs on issues. Currently, five associations have their own Local GADs.
For associations that have some resources to fund GADs, but not enough for a full-time employee, NC REALTORS® has offered local associations a Shared GAD arrangement since 2011. Under this plan, NC REALTORS® hires a GAD as a state employee who then works part-time for the local association. The local association pays a fee to share in the cost of the GAD. For several years, we’ve had Shared GADs who work with four associations. This year we added two more Shared GADs for a total of six associations who are served through the program.
For many of the remaining associations across the state, resources may not be available to take advantage of the Shared GAD structure. That’s where our new program—called Regional GADs—comes into play. It’s intended to offer GAD services to a wider group of associations and is entirely funded by NC REALTORS®. We started testing the service early this year and it will finish rolling out across the state in early 2020.
Since there are a lot of job titles involved here, let’s summarize:
• Local GADs work for one local association as a full-time employee of that association.
• Shared GADs are employees of NC REALTORS® who work for one or two local associations with shared costs.
• Regional GADs are employees of NC REALTORS® who work with many local associations at no cost to them.
All of them work together in conjunction with the state government affairs department to advocate for all REALTORS®.
There are some differences in the services rendered by these GADs. Because they work for one or two associations only, Local and Shared GADs become deeply involved with local regulatory issues and represent the associations in local government proceedings. Because Regional GADs work with many associations, they will concentrate instead on helping associations meet NAR’s Advocacy Core Standards, including RPAC goals and REALTOR® government affairs and election involvement. These are annual requirements for all associations designed to ensure they are active in advocacy efforts in their communities.
All GADs work to communicate state and national priorities to their associations, forward local issues to the state and build a culture of government affairs involvement.
So why was this effort included in the NC REALTORS® strategic plan?
While it is important we remain vigilant in the halls of Congress and the state legislature, many of the laws and regulations that directly impact real estate and property owners are passed by towns, cities and counties. Zoning and land use regulations restrict property rights. Taxes and fees impact housing affordability. Development approval processes and restrictions increase the cost of housing and often end up limiting supply.
What happens in your own backyard has significant impact on homeownership and your business. That’s why it’s critical for REALTORS® to be engaged in local government affairs. To accomplish this, it is now a priority for the NC REALTORS® government affairs department to help every local association with its advocacy efforts.
The 2018 strategic plan defines our advocacy efforts this way: “Aggressively defend the real estate interests of members and the public through policy advocacy, fundraising and consumer engagement.” Expanding the number of our Shared GADs and introducing our Regional GADs to the rest of the state will allow us to achieve this goal.
We need to be engaged at all levels of government. So, watch for a GAD coming to your area soon.