success story

Phoenix REALTORS®’ Creativity Leads to Sweeping RPAC Investments

With more than 9,200 members, the only sure-fire way for a mega-board like the Phoenix Association of REALTORS® (PAR) to get the attention of its full membership is to tie information to its dues renewal mailing. Several years ago, PAR launched a sweepstakes to encourage investment in RPAC during the December-January dues-renewal season; three years in, the event has gained such momentum that an RPAC Fundraising Grant recently earned back more than nine-times its value in RPAC investment.

PAR Vice President of Government Affairs Marc Scher explains the necessity of having such a ‘sweeping’ effort. “We never have the opportunity of seeing the whole membership at any given meeting, and we understand that not everyone’s paying attention to each and every newsletter we issue. Our billing statement, emailed December 1, is the only universally viewed vehicle we have. It’s our best opportunity to reach our members, educate them, and encourage investment in RPAC.” It’s in the best interest of RPAC to make that opportunity interesting, exciting, and completely convenient, he notes, adding that members now look forward to the annual RPAC sweepstakes, making the whole event a win-win.

That means Scher is always thinking of the most attractive prizes to offer in the upcoming sweepstakes. This year, the $7,000 REALTOR® Party grant was used to purchase prizes for four RPAC investment levels: $30 Arizona Fair Share; $50 Bronze; $100 Copper; and Major Investors of $1,000 and up. Investors were automatically entered into the drawing for prizes such as an Apple iPhone 8+, an airline gift card, an Apple Watch, an Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon Signature Massage, a professional chef cooking an in-home dinner for four, a round of golf at an exclusive local club — even an indoor sky-diving session.

In total, Phoenix REALTORS® invested $63,919: an increase of $10,000 over the previous year. Just as significant, says Scher, is the fact that more than 300 members joined the ranks as first-time RPAC investors this year, and a number of existing investors increased their investment amount to correspond to higher sweepstake categories.

An easy-read “What is RPAC?” lesson was linked to the billing statement, to help all members understand the importance of the fund. “We introduce RPAC in all of our classes, meetings, and new member orientations,” says Scher, “but we want to make sure that this information is also connected to the exciting prospect of entering the sweepstakes. It’s important that members understand not only that they should invest, but what RPAC does. It’s that understanding that will make them become repeat investors.

Scher cautions that, although the RPAC Sweepstakes isn’t a live event like a chili cook-off or an auction, it still takes a great many hours of preparation and behind-the-scenes work.  “And while PAR’s budget covers the intensive marketing, there’s no way we could do this without the REALTOR® Party grant that allows us to offer so many great prizes. We’re so pleased that working together with the REALTOR® Party, we’re able to spur such robust RPAC investment from our members.”

To learn more about how the Phoenix Association is having great success encouraging RPAC fundraising with a billing statement sweepstakes, contact Marc Scher, Vice President of Government Affairs, at 602-246-1012.

Read more

Wisconsin REALTORS® Help Lower Property Taxes, Strengthen School Budgets, and Protect Property Rights

2017 was a year full of issues campaigns for the REALTORS® of Wisconsin, resulting in success on all fronts:  a new state budget with substantial increases for school and university funding; the permanent elimination of a property tax that’s been on the books since the Great Depression; and the creation of a new law overturning an old one, severely detrimental to property rights, that had recently been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The victories were achieved through two issues mobilization campaigns, both of which had a strong grassroots component, explains Joe Murray, Director of Political Affairs of the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA). In each case, a generous REALTOR® Party Issues Mobilization Grant provided WRA with the voter profiling expertise of NAR consultants, and funding for an advocacy campaign involving billboards, bumper stickers, extensive mailings, phone banks, radio and online advertising, and a website.

The first two triumphs, the elimination of a decades-old property tax and the increase in education spending, were the result of the passage of the 2017 state budget proposed by Governor Scott Walker. WRA had advocated with the governor to get rid of the old tax, which only amounted to an average of about $27 per year for most property owners, but which went a long way to supporting the state’s Forestry Division; the budget transferred responsibility for the forestry programs to the general fund of income and sales taxes.  The governor’s budget also proposed a record amount of spending for K-12 public schools, as well Wisconsin’s university system. “We strongly supported the budget, as great schools are important to homeowners with kids, and because high property taxes hurt affordability. Both issues are vitally important to the Wisconsin real estate market, so mounting a campaign to persuade the legislature to pass it was really a no-brainer,” states Murray. The new budget passed in September, and a replica of one of WRA’s colorful billboards from its successful campaign now graces the governor’s desk.

The second effort effectively reversed a local ordinance in effect in 52 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties that sapped the value of adjacent parcels of lakefront properties belonging to a single owner.  In a state of more than 15,000 lakes, notes Murray, “that’s a lot of property owners affected!” In the case known as Murr v. Wisconsin, a property owner supported by the Pacific Legal Foundation argued that because the ordinance took away her family’s right to sell an adjacent property, it amounted to an unconstitutional taking. The Wisconsin Supreme  Court denied her claim, and its decision was then upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  “Not only did the ordinance deprive her of her property rights,” says Murray, “it deprived her of her property’s value. We had submitted an amicus brief to the high court on her behalf, and when her case was denied, we set to work changing the law.” A second Issues Mobilization Grant in July funded a campaign that convinced lawmakers to create a new ordinance that returned rights to Wisconsin’s lakefront property owners. WRA named it ‘The Homeowner Bill of Rights.’  “Property rights are the very core of what we exist for,” asserts Murray. “We’re very proud to have achieved this result for Wisconsin.”

They couldn’t have done it alone, he says: “The tools that the National Association of REALTORS® provides for grassroots issues campaigns are invaluable. Where else would we be able to get such sophisticated voter-household models, and tracking technology for calls and mailings, and expert campaign guidance?  The REALTOR® Party is what makes these successes possible — for property owners across the state.”

To learn more about how Wisconsin REALTORS® are using Issues Mobilization Grants to protect property rights, support school funding, and help reduce property taxes throughout the state, contact Joe Murray, Director of Political Affairs, at 608-575-0023.

Read more

Greater Boston Board Works toward Zoning Reform

The Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB) may technically be a local association, but as it serves the capital city, what it does at City Hall often sets precedent for the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. For the past few decades, in partnership with the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, GBREB has been wrestling with the complicated and often thorny issue of zoning, with a goal of removing barriers to housing production and economic development. With them all the way was NAR consultant Robinson & Cole, LLC, the law firm retained to provide expert analysis of land-use proposals.

Patricia Baumer, GBREB Director of Government Affairs, explains the tremendous value that this Land Use Initiative brings to her board’s efforts to reform the antiquated zoning act governing the region. “It’s a difficult issue to begin with, made more so by the fact that it’s largely a matter of case law, at this point. There’s a lot of apprehension in the REALTOR® community about opening it up to change, as that could invite considerable political risk,” she observes. “But developers require predictability when it comes to zoning. So, it’s a delicate issue, and we’re very lucky to have NAR’s team of consultants navigating the necessary reforms with us, step-by-step. They’re nationally respected, smart, responsive and very hard-working; over the years, I’ve known them to work late to get us answers, and more than once, they’ve held our hands through tough negotiations in the State House. Hands-down, they are the single most indispensable tool in our toolbox.”

Last session, with Robinson & Cole facilitating, a joint GBREB/Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® working group dlooked at how existing zoning regulations contribute to the housing crisis by impeding the production of the quantity and variety of housing types; it became an omnibus bill sponsored in January 2015 by State Senator Michael Rodrigues, a REALTOR® Champion from the Boston suburb of Westport. From allowing multifamily housing construction by right and promoting smart growth with cluster development to reducing red tape on existing permits and reducing costs and permit denials by applying established federal law, the bill sought to dissolve obstacles to the development of much-needed housing stock, the lack of which hinders economic development in the region. While portions of the HOME bill were incorporated into an omnibus bill in the Senate, REALTORS® opposed the final version that came up for a vote, because of some other, highly objectionable, sections of the bill.  “On balance, it would have done more harm than good,” says Baumer.

“We are so grateful that the National Association of REALTORS® understands that this is such a complicated, nuanced issue, and one that we’re not going to resolve overnight,” says Baumer. The fact that they provide this invaluable resource, and that they stick with us with this continued support, will make the difference between Massachusetts achieving zoning reform or not.”

To learn more about how the REALTORS® of the Greater Boston Area are using the REALTOR® Party’s Land Use Initiative to address barriers to housing production across the Massachusetts, contact Patricia Baumer, GBREB Director of Government Affairs, at (617) 423-8700.

Read more

Creativity Help Associations Keep RPAC Investments at an All-time High

“Vote. Act. Invest.”  It’s the rallying cry of the REALTOR® Party, and REALTORS® are increasingly taking it to heart, investing in record numbers in 2017.  With 35% of the membership investing in RPAC in the past year, NAR’s ability to support REALTOR® Champions in campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels is stronger than ever.

This record-level investment, from the $15 investors (whose ranks have grown 11% in the past year) to the Major Investors (who’ve increased by 14%,) yielded a national fundraising total for RPAC that represents a whopping 108% of its goal for 2017.  Beyond RPAC investments, last year saw the President’s Circle, which contributes directly to REALTOR® Champions who support NAR’s public policy agenda, had a record 1,207 participants in the program.

According to Lauren Facemire, NAR’s Managing Director for RPAC & Political Fundraising, the key to the steady growth of the REALTOR® Party’s political fundraising is the ongoing effort by state and local associations to promote a culture of investment.  “It’s tried and true” she says: “when associations demonstrate the value of investing in RPAC, they inevitably see a rise in member participation.”

This might mean arranging visits from the dedicated volunteer leaders on NAR’s various RPAC Committees, who are especially effective with its peer-to-peer appeals. Many smaller associations are beginning to use the PAC Management System, a user-friendly platform that helps them to create online fundraising campaigns that are designed by NAR and allow for custom messaging. Facemire adds that RPAC Fundraising Grants are being used at an all-time high, as associations across the country discover that events that bring members together for professional camaraderie and networking can also be a good way to engage them in RPAC investing.  According to the RPAC team chili cook-offs and raffles are perennially popular, too, but less conventional event ideas are also gaining a foothold among many fun-loving boards:

In Hampton Roads, Virginia, the 3,400-member board hosted an outdoor RPAC ‘Yappy Hour’ raising $3,722 in investments from its dog-loving members and affiliates.  Held on the association’s own property, and featuring a splash pool, obedience contests, games of canine skill, and a dog-food donation drive for the local animal shelter, the event targeted first-time investors and was underwritten by more than seventeen affiliate sponsors.

In Scottsdale, Arizona, an ‘Epic Water Battle’ brought in $11,550 for RPAC from the local mega-association’s Young Professional Network (YPN). It was a sporting day in the desert, where higher investments meant larger water-weapons, and spectators could support players with investments in gear ranging from ponchos to water balloon ammunition.

The Ohio Association of REALTORS® transformed an existing event into an RPAC fundraiser when incoming President Tiffany Myer hosted a riverboat cruise to celebrate her inauguration. The $100-ticket event was the high point of the annual state convention, and featured a presentation by national RPAC volunteer Charlie Oppler, together with the state leadership, encouraging guests to step up to Major Investor status.  All proceeds from the $39,100 raised went to RPAC.

To learn more about the increasing success of RPAC fundraising, contact Lauren Facemire, NAR’s Managing Director for RPAC Fundraising, at 202-383-1080.

Read more

Houston Association Gathers and Shares Hurricane Harvey Recovery Resources with Multicultural Associations

Hurricane Harvey wreaked Texas-sized devastation on the greater Houston region, but the larger-than-life spirit of Texas residents helping each other through the hard times is a powerful silver lining.

Being especially in tune with the complexities of destruction caused by flooding, real estate professionals are at the forefront of the ongoing aid effort:  the state association’s Disaster Relief Fund was mobilized before the storm had subsided, and the leadership of the 37,000-member Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) launched into gear while people were still being rescued. In November, with the help of a REALTOR® Party Diversity Initiative Grant, HAR brought together and shared recovery resources with its multicultural industry colleagues in a program called “Road to Recovery: Life After Harvey.”

Kenya Burrell-VanWormer of JPMorgan Chase, who is HAR’s recently installed 2018 Chair, explains point-blank: “Natural disasters do not discriminate. Harvey affected everyone!” The inspiration for the event, she continues, came from an all-day relief effort sponsored by the Houston Black Real Estate Association, in which she, her 9-year-old daughter, and a fellow HAR Director participated right after the storm. “It was such a moving experience, and it prompted us to plan a program of our own at HAR. As REALTORS®, we know that our professional value is in our information and knowledge.  As leaders, we realized that by engaging our fellow industry professionals in all the local minority associations, we could provide these valuable resources which they, in turn, could share with their clients and colleagues and friends.”

The Directors of HAR agreed that such an event was needed, and the attendance numbers bear out their vision. With the support of President and CEO Bob Hale, and the tireless staffing of TREPAC Director Karen Driscoll, HAR developed a half-day program featuring a line-up of candid, open-minded industry speakers who covered topics ranging from mold remediation, to available funding for homes and businesses, to tax relief, to dealing with the emotional aftermath.  HAR invited members of the local chapters of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB,) the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA,) the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP,) the Hispanic Mortgage Lender Organization (HMLO,) and the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP,) as well as the Houston Independent Real Estate Brokers Association (HIREBA) and the Houston Black Real Estate Association (HBREA). Nearly 300 individuals attended, enjoying a complimentary lunch and a supportive, informative, collegial afternoon. Many received door prizes of gift cards to grocery and department stores; one even won an iPad. All were heartened by a report from an industry analyst showing that despite Harvey, the outlook for the regional real estate market was stronger than expected.

“In our industry, we can all admit to short attention spans, constantly checking our phones,” laughs Burrell-VanWormer, “so I think it’s a clear measure of success that the audience was totally engaged with the speakers, and paying serious attention to all the highly relevant information.” At a simple reception for committee members following the event, she adds, the question on everyone’s lips was “Ok – what next?” The follow-up is still in development, but one thing is clear, she notes:  “Houston is the fourth largest city in the country, and we have one of the most diverse populations in the nation.  As a city, we embrace diversity, as an association we embrace diversity, and with the continued support of the REALTOR® Party, we will continue this mission as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act in 2018.”

To learn more about how REALTORS® in the Houston region are helping neighbors, clients—and each other—survive the effects of Hurricane Harvey, contact 2018 HAR Chair, Kenya Burrell-VanWormer, at 713-628-8383.

Read more

Pacific Southwest REALTORS® Advocate for Transit-oriented Smart Growth

Housing affordability is the top priority for California’s governor.  It’s the principal challenge for the mayor and the San Diego City Council.  And it’s of utmost concern to the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® (PSAR), with 2,000 members in the trenches of the local real estate industry, where rents have skyrocketed in the past decade, and would-be first-time homebuyers are struggling.  PSAR recently used a REALTOR® Party Smart Growth Action Grant to co-sponsor a report that convinced the city to adopt a handful of policy measures to help ease the crisis.

The grant was used to support the work of Circulate San Diego, the region’s leading nonprofit concerned with transportation and sustainable land use issues, as it developed recommendations for transit-oriented development. A prime focus of the plan was updating the city’s existing Density Bonus program, along with other incentives making it easier for in-fill development to move forward.

Tracy Morgan Hollingworth, Government Affairs Director at PSAR, served on the technical advisory board of Circulate San Diego’s Transit-Oriented Development report.  Its goals were to:

  • Reduce costs for new affordable and market-rate mixed-use developments near transit
  • Generate more economic development from region’s transit investments
  • Create better links between homes and jobs through transit
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions by accommodating future growth near transit

Shortly after receiving Circulate San Diego’s report, the City Council unanimously voted to adopt five new incentives based on its recommendations.  Rather than increasing density rates, the new ordinances make it faster and simpler to build housing units that are already allowed.  The incentives include: an increase in the existing Density Bonus Program, which rewards developers for including a certain number of low-income units in their building projects; reducing the parking space minimum for units built close to transit stations; and allowing low-income units to be built up to a mile away from market-rate units, within a single development project, for construction efficiency.

Hollingworth notes that the beauty of the new ordinances is that they simply remove obstacles that have discouraged building where increased density has already been approved.  “It’s about maximizing density to the allowed limits, not increasing the density rates.  This will add desperately needed housing units where there’s existing infrastructure, and give developers and builders a fair degree of flexibility. And because it covers the entire city, it takes some of the pressure off individual neighborhoods struggling to update their community plans, which can be a lengthy and tortured process.”

Rafael Perez, a PSAR member active in city politics, attended many Circulate San Diego meetings and provided testimony for the City Council.  He notes that the coalition of organizations supporting Circulate San Diego in this complex effort was highly unusual in its diversity. “You’d expect to see environmentally-focused groups getting behind transit-oriented development,” he says, “but the presence of the REALTORS® and other business groups brought valuable angles of expertise, and a critical balance, to the process.  And for the City Council to have found the recommendations acceptable on both sides of the aisle, tells you how universally beneficial they’ll be.  For REALTORS®,” he adds, “our involvement also demonstrates our vested interest in the region, and helps to disprove the all-too-common notion that we’re only interested in sales.”

To learn more about how the Pacific Southwest REALTORS® are working to help San Diego maximize housing density and implement transit oriented development initiatives, contact Government Affairs Director Tracy Morgan Hollingworth at 619-222-8155.

Read more

Texas REALTORS® Take Advocacy to Another Level Using Social Media

Headquartered across the street from the Texas Capitol and just around the corner from the Governor’s Mansion, the Texas Association of REALTORS® has never been shy about political advocacy. In recent years, it has also eagerly harnessed the power of social media to communicate with its 114,000 members. Combining its political prowess and social media savvy, in mid-December TAR upped its advocacy game by offering a preview of the state’s upcoming legislative session on Facebook Live.   

The half-hour preview and Q&A event was hosted by TAR’s Director of Legislative Affairs Daniel Gonzalez, whose depth of knowledge and engaging demeanor make him a natural spokesperson. Opening with a brief overview of his department’s work at TAR, he reminded members that the association’s legislative agenda is not driven by staff, but by REALTOR® volunteers from across the state who serve on TAR’s Public Policy Committee. Assuring viewers that TAR will read every single word of the six-to-seven thousand bills filed during the course of the session, he noted that it would be tracking roughly one third of them, including many that aren’t about real estate or private property rights, but which have a big-picture, long-term bearing on the industry.

In addition to letting viewers know what their legislators will be tackling in the session that began in January, Gonzalez took the opportunity to direct their attention to the latest issue of Texas REALTOR® magazine, and to, an educational site that TAR has launched to clarify a complex legislative issue now in play in Texas.  He also urged members to participate in the annual REALTOR® Day at the Texas Capitol this spring. With ten minutes to go, he fielded questions from the live audience on topics ranging from title insurance rates to homeowner associations.  

Brandon Alderete, TAR’s Director of Political Affairs, points out that the association is right at home with webcast technology. “We’ve been delivering CE course content to our 77 local associations via online video for several years now,” he notes. “The live feed is the exciting innovation here, allowing us to interact directly with so many members who are already right there, following us on Facebook.” Nearly 1,500 viewers tuned in to the live and recorded sessions over the first 24 hours, and the post was also shared by dozens of individual Texas REALTORS® and local associations. TAR had promoted the event with organic and paid social media, through email newsletters and via text message through the REALTOR® Party Mobile Alert system just before the webcast began, generating more than 500 click-throughs.

“Whatever we can do to enhance communication with members, we’ll pursue it,” says Gonzalez.  “Facebook Live is a fairly new phenomenon, but we thought it would be worth a shot,” he adds, noting that based on the enthusiastic feedback, his department will continue to share legislative issues with the membership via live webcasts.  “Our members really responded, and seem to want more. That’s the way we like ’em: engaged and asking questions!”

To see firsthand how the Texas Association of REALTORS® is keeping its members connected to legislative issues affecting their industry and their communities, see To learn more, contact Brandon C. Alderete, Director of Political Affairs, at 512-370-2124.

Read more

Medina County Ohio REALTORS® Improve, Invest in Community with REALTOR® Party Grants

With nearly 800 members keeping their ears to the ground, the Medina County Board of REALTORS® (MCBOR) never has to wonder what the needs of the community might be. In 2016, it met three such needs with funding assistance from the REALTOR® Party’s Housing Opportunity Grants and a Placemaking Grant. Ranging from housing for disabled veterans, to vegetable gardens for low-income citizens, to improving a bike path for the public, these projects demonstrate the deep level of investment these MCBOR REALTOR® professionals have in their community. 

Sherry Stell, MCBOR’s Association Executive, explains that her organization has strong Housing Opportunity and Legislative Committees, but that its community service issues emerge organically, without any systematic approach. “If the need is there, members will call it to our attention, and we’ll try to find out if it is possible to obtain a grant within the REALTOR® Party program,” said Stell. For example, a MCBOR committee member who serves as a trustee of one of Medina County’s townships recognized an opportunity for the REALTORS® to contribute to public fitness when a former golf course in his township was being converted to a public park and required funding to transform golf cart paths to mountain bike paths.  The Placemaking Grant program does not fund repair work on existing paths, but this fall, MCBOR succeeded in securing a $1,300 grant for a park map and information display case branded with the Medina County Board of REALTOR®S name and REALTOR® logo, along with a “Saddle Buddy” mountain bike repair and cleaning station.

Another significant community service project for MCBOR came about when one of its members handled the sale of a property to an organization that planned to convert the home to housing for disabled veterans requiring round-the-clock care. “That’s how we found out about Newbridge Veterans Place,” says Stell. “Our membership is more than happy to support our veterans.  Newbridge Veterans Place became the beneficiary of our Annual Charity Bowl-a-Thon, which attracted more than 140 participants and raised more than $3,000.” Along with a $5,000 NAR Housing Opportunity Grant and three REALTOR® Care Days, MCBOR volunteers donated their time and skill to help the organization get the property up and running. “So much was needed in this seven-bedroom home to get it ready to house low income/homeless and disabled veterans,” notes Stell. “Our members helped with painting, hanging blinds and setting up the kitchen, in addition to purchasing and moving furniture into the home.” 

Yet another project arose because of MCBOR’s longstanding support of Medina Creative Housing, an organization that promotes the development and management of permanent affordable housing for people with disabilities. In the past, the REALTORS® have received a REALTOR® Party Housing Opportunity Grant to support the programmatic goals of the charity’s Life Skills Lodge as a comprehensive occupational therapy environment. “This year,” reports Stell, “they wanted help installing raised garden beds, to help residents to grow their own produce and sell the excess at the farmers’ market for income. Our community is so fortunate to have this amazing organization, and this project, in particular, helps the broader population by providing fresh locally grown vegetables. It’s a real win-win.” On a hot day this summer, a team of MCBOR members got together and met at the site to build the garden beds, with materials paid for by a Placemaking Grant. As always, Stell put the word out among her affiliate members, who not only pitched in to help, but provided coffee, donuts and pizza. “Our members are very supportive of each other in these efforts,” she adds, “whether it’s with hard labor or coffee service.  Knowing that the REALTOR® Party is behind them with all its resources, makes all of us feel like we really can make a difference when these needs arise.”    

To learn more about how the REALTORS® of Medina County, Ohio are making an impact on their community with the help of the REALTOR® Party, contact Sherry Stell, Association Executive of the Medina County Board of REALTORS®, at 330-722-1000.

Read more

Mississippi REALTORS® Know How to Move the Vote

Any household move comes with a mile-long to-do list. Even with the best intentions, between the packing and contacting the utility companies, it’s easy to let the not-as-urgent items fall by the wayside. In a special initiative this year, building on a longstanding program, the 5,800-member Mississippi Association of REALTORS® (MAR) is taking care of one important task that clients might otherwise overlook in a move—voter registration.

Given the association’s strong culture of advocacy, and the grassroots spirit of its members, this energetic outreach is only natural, says Lisa Hollister, MAR’s 2016 President. She credits Ellen Short, MAR’s President back in 2003, with spearheading the association’s Move the Vote initiative.  “REALTORS® are the ones in the trenches, out in the community, and at every closing,” she says. “Ellen and her team recognized this great opportunity to secure the registration of incoming community members, and also of those voters who were just moving across town.” Joining forces with the Secretary of State and the State Auditor, they created the Move the Vote program, which involved getting forms approved by the legislature, making them available to the MAR membership, and encouraging all agents to fill them out and bring them to every closing, whether they were representing the buyer or the seller. The agent also takes responsibility for mailing the forms, the critical final step that could easily fall through the cracks during a household move. 

In 2015, responding to the adoption of NAR’s Core Standards, MAR sent voter registration kits to all its local boards, many of which took to the streets in their communities, setting up registration booths outside grocery stores, big box stores and in shopping malls; one even had a table at a community 5K running event.

President Hollister has made voter registration an integral component of her own initiative this year: “R.S.V.P.” invites all members to join in the efforts of the REALTOR® Party, by Registering, Supporting, Voting and Participating.  “We’re taking a very pro-active stance on voter registration,” she says.  In fact, Hollister has personally visited each of Mississippi’s 21 local boards to promote the R.S.V.P. initiative; even though the voter registration forms and an up-to-date roster of circuit clerks are available on a dedicated page of the MAR website, she urges offices to print out 100 copies of the materials and place them next to their closing folders.  “It’s all about making the process easier,” she says, “for our members, as well as our clients.”

 In addition to her tour of the state, Hollister has led MAR in hosting a series of voter registration drives at various board meetings so far this year.  At three separate events, more than 500 MAR members have had the opportunity to pick up materials for themselves and their clients at tables staffed by the MAR Grassroots Advocacy Task Force. 

Beth Hansen, MAR’s Chief Executive Officer, adds, “Many of our local boards are sponsoring Voter Registration promotions, and we are all making an especially hard push in September, through email blasts and social networking, in advance of the October 8 registration deadline for the upcoming election season.” 

“Our members have been completely receptive to the Move the Vote program for many years, and Lisa is really elevating the effort,” continues Hansen.  “REALTORS® love to help out,” she notes, “and this is just one more way to be of service to clients: not just by checking a task off their lists, but by involving them in the civic activity of their new neighborhoods.”  The benefits are far-reaching, she adds. “Increasing the voting base helps any given jurisdiction, and all these efforts have also helped MAR to build and maintain strong relationships with elected officials, who recognize and appreciate our civic-mindedness.”

To learn more about how the REALTORS® of Mississippi are moving the vote, visit; or contact Mississippi REALTORS® 2016 President Lisa Hollister at or 228-623-0746; or Beth Hansen, MAR’s Chief Executive Officer, at or 601-932-5241.

Read more

North Carolina REALTORS®’ Smart Moves Changes the Game

When the National Association of REALTORS®’ Core Standards were adopted in 2014, they were the subject of close study nationwide.  In North Carolina, Andrea Bushnell, Chief Executive Officer of the state’s REALTOR® Association, chaired the team that was assembled to address the new requirements.  She realized that if all the local associations in North Carolina needed to create individual advocacy and consumer outreach plans, they’d be re-inventing the wheel many times over.  The solution?  To create a strong single brand that conveys an identity, a message and ongoing content.  It’s called “NC REALTORS®: The Smart Move,” and it’s supported by a Game Changer Grant from the REALTOR® Party.

As Bushnell points out, North Carolina’s growth rate—one of the fastest in the nation—presents a great opportunity for REALTORS® to establish themselves as industry leaders in minds of their clients, elected officials and the general public.  The dual goal of The Smart Move initiative is to promote public understanding of the value of using a REALTOR®, and to position REALTORS® as the premier real estate resource and a key partner to communities and municipalities.

The initiative consists of a number of tactical elements including a bright,  attractive logo, branded products, promotional programming, tools and an extensive ‘library’ of distributable content that local associations and even individual offices will be able to download and brand as their own.  The centerpiece of the initiative is a consumer contest encouraging homeowners to share stories of how an NC REALTOR® brought value to their homebuying experience.  Over the course of a month this summer, their video entries will be accepted in a competition to win $7,500 for home improvements.  The winning homeowner’s REALTOR®, and that professional’s local REALTOR® Association, will also win $2,000, for professional development and association recognition, respectively.  The contest will be judged by a panel of REALTORS® and communications experts or North Carolina celebrities, and the winner will be announced at the NC REALTORS® Conference in September.

The gradual roll-out of The Smart Move initiative began early this year, and is being conducted in phases to ensure optimal market saturation.  Bushnell reports that her members love the colorful and energetic logo that expresses their new brand identity; soon, they’ll be seeing it on unused billboard space that the state association, as a not-for-profit entity, was able to secure at a steep discount.  The brand will be incorporated into all association business, including materials for Advocacy Day.   The content pieces will be produced for as long as they are effective and in-demand.  “There is no ‘end-date,’” says Bushnell, adding that her team will reassess the initiative on an ongoing basis. 

The REALTOR® Party’s Game Changer Grant projects must be broadly replicable, and The Smart Move certainly fits the bill.  “Improving the perception of REALTORS® is not a North Carolina issue, it’s a national issue,” says Bushnell.  While they were at it, the state association changed its name from ‘The North Carolina Association of REALTORS®’ to ‘NC REALTORS®.’  “It’s not about being short and sweet,” explains Bushnell.  “An association is a thing, an institution, and we want to be clear about the fact that we represent people: real, tangible, individual professionals who are a vital part of their North Carolina communities.”  

To learn more about how North Carolina REALTORS® are promoting their image in the minds of clients, elected leaders, and the general public, contact Andrea Bushnell, CEO of North Carolina REALTORS®, at or 336-808-4222.  To see The Smart Move initiative in action, visit

Read more