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The PAC that packs a punch

Our elected officials can’t be expected to know every issue. IREM® and our affiliates, such as the National Association of REALTORS®, are familiar with these gaps in legislators’ repertoire and apply advocacy tools to bring lawmakers up-to-speed. One of the more effective channels for many industries, from pharmaceuticals and oil to banking and real estate, is the Political Action Committee, or PAC.

PACs have been around since 1944 – the very first one was organized to raise money for the re-election campaign of Franklin D. Roosevelt. And while many early PACs were intended to support political candidates, today’s PACs represent many corporate, labor, and industrial efforts. The REALTORS® Political Action Committee, or RPAC, uses voluntary contributions made by PAC members to help elect political candidates who understand and support the interests of the real estate industry, and many of its closely related businesses, including real estate management. In fact, since the RPAC’s founding in 1969, RPAC members include not only realtors, but professionals from CCIM, SIOR, ALC, CRE, and IREM!

Candidates who receive support from RPAC are not selected based on their political party or ideology, but solely on their support of real estate issues, because a vibrant real estate market, commercial and residential, is the heartbeat of vital communities and a strong economy.

How are RPAC funds used?

As the nation’s largest trade association in a highly-regulated industry, the issues supported by RPAC funds have a national, state, and local reach. For example, in Illinois RPAC efforts have helped to maintain the mortgage interest deduction and avoid mandatory fire sprinklers in new and rehabbed homes. The RPAC is currently focusing on a number of federal legislative issues that impact realtors everywhere:

  • Preserve Community Development Tools Like 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges and Opportunity Zones:Since 1921, U.S. tax law has recognized that the exchange of one investment or business-use property for another of like-kind results in no change in the economic position of the taxpayer, and therefore should not result in the immediate imposition of income tax. Like-kind exchanges provide the flexibility to shift investments to the most promising uses and retain capital for expansion and job creation. This flexibility is badly needed at this time of crisis for commercial real estate.

    However, some have suggested that the 1031 like-kind exchange is an unwarranted loophole and should be repealed. NAR will continue to work with other interested stakeholders to oppose the repeal or limitation of the like-kind exchange provision and to educate Members of Congress and their staffs on the importance of this provision to the economy. NAR also supports the bold new initiative to encourage investment in economically depressed areas throughout the U.S. through Opportunity Zones (OZs). OZs are especially attractive to real property investments by providing significant deferral and exclusions in capital gains that are reinvested in qualified areas
  • Reauthorize and Reform the National Flood Insurance Program and Reduce Barriers to Private Flood Insurance Options: Congress must pass a long-term reauthorization of the NFIP and include meaningful reforms that open the door to private market flood insurance and modernize flood mapping and mitigation investments. Flood insurance is required for a mortgage in more than 20,000 communities nationwide.

    While there is a growing private market for flood insurance, millions of small businesses and homeowners currently depend on the NFIP to protect their property against flooding, the most costly and common natural disaster in the United States. Without flood insurance, property owners would have to rely on the Federal government for taxpayer-funded disaster relief after major floods.
  • Support Solutions That Spur New Housing Supply: The strong residential real estate market has helped keep our nation’s economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, this boon to our economy has been severely limited by the current shortage of homes available for purchase. If more residential housing were made available, there would be increased opportunity for Americans to access the wealth building benefits of homeownership, and greater employment and economic activity for federal, state, and local economies.

    NAR supports a multi-pronged approach to incentivize the creation of more housing units. These could include a rehabilitation and commercial-to residential tax credit, incentives to train and hire more residential construction workers, and even tax credit bonds to encourage local governments to speed up the approval of zoning and other decisions that result in the creation of more residential units.
  • Support Increased Resources for Fair Housing Enforcement: REALTORS® support additional funding for HUD’s fair housing enforcement and education efforts, including HUD’s grant programs for private fair housing organizations and state civil rights agencies. Because discrimination in real estate is often hidden, NAR supports increased housing discrimination testing.
  • Rent Control: Prevents property owners, who should have the right to from being able to establish rent based on market conditions and can make properties less desirable to investors, and minimizes funds available for building upgrades, or keep up with routine maintenance. Ultimately, rent control is a lose-lose for everyone.
  • Data Security: While the RPAC supports government efforts aimed at sharing information about possible cyber threats, establishing reasonable data security standards, and helping avert security breaches and their aftermath, RPAC members oppose legislation that would be overly onerous on property owners and managers or their clients.

Political Action Committees are not the only arrow in the real estate industry’s advocacy quiver, but they pack a punch. And they make a difference. Every year, in fact, every term, there are more legislative issues that have very real impacts on the real estate industry. And the RPAC will be there to keep the wheels of real estate turning.

Comments

Thanks so much for the context and thorough explanation of how important supporting RPAC is to our industry!

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