Nonpartisan REALTOR® Party advocates for homeownership, sensible public policies and candidates who share Realtor values

by Taylor Shanaman

REALTORS® are keenly aware of the importance of engaging in politics to ensure the real estate industry has a voice during the policymaking process. For more than five decades, the Realtor association has been recognized as one of the strongest and most successful advocacy organizations, not only nationally but also at state and local levels.

Advocacy activities are unified under the non-partisan REALTOR® Party umbrella. This powerful alliance of Realtors and Realtor Associations works to protect and promote homeownership and property investment and to speak with one voice to advance candidates and public policies that contribute to the stability of a sound and dynamic real estate market.

The Governmental and Public Affairs Committee (GAC) at Seattle King County Realtors is respected as one of the most effective trade association advocacy teams in the country. Much of its success is because of a broad-based, involved constituency. Grassroots involvement proves to be fulfilling — and effective.

Committee volunteers don’t just attend meetings. They are appointed or reappointed each year because they commit to an array of “calls to action,” such as serving on task forces and as designated points of contact with lawmakers. Volunteers also attend training to become familiar with issues, and they interact with policymakers to develop meaningful relationships. Participating in the candidate endorsement process is also an important service of our GAC volunteers.

The association’s Governmental and Public Affairs Committee is also asked to endorse funding measures from various school districts in King County. Realtors understand the value clients place on quality schools. SKCR has a history of supporting well-reasoned requests from districts that demonstrate responsible stewardship and a focus on helping students thrive.

An association member must initiate the request for a levy or bond endorsement on behalf of the district. School district officials are then asked to complete a questionnaire for the committee’s review and have one or more representatives meet with the committee.

In addition to schools, many candidates for public office seek Realtor endorsement. Each year, volunteer Realtors devote countless hours to the endorsement process.

One essential function of the committee is interviewing candidates using a questionnaire that yields comparable information about those who are seeking office. Questions uncover candidates’ commitment to economic vitality, housing affordability and availability, housing options, tax policies, healthy neighborhoods, and vibrant communities. For incumbents, voting records are considered.

Following the Q&A exchanges, interview panelists use a numeric system for scoring. This method enables comparisons of candidates and eligibility for funding.

A candidate must attain a score of 80 or higher (on a 100-point scale) to be eligible for endorsement. The interview sessions and subsequent ratings are also used to determine Realtor funding.

The governmental affairs committee takes formal action on recommendations from the panelists, often discussing how scores were derived for a particular candidate. Endorsements require a two-thirds approval vote of the full committee.

Candidates who earn the association’s endorsement based on their voting record and/or responses to the candidate interview questionnaire are identified in election guides published by SKCR and circulated to the association’s 7,200-plus members and beyond. Guides for both primary and general elections are also posted in the public-facing section of SKCR’s website.

Our surveys indicate both endorsed candidates and members place high value on the voting guides.

In 2021, nearly three dozen members participated in local candidate interviews. Collectively, 49 candidates were endorsed, and 78% of them won their races.

From city halls to state chambers and the U.S. Capitol, elected officials make decisions that have significant implications on the bottom line for Realtors and their buyers and sellers. Our successes in government and public affairs ultimately make homebuilding less expensive, prevent point-of-sale mandates and increase housing options and inventory.

Taylor Shanaman is the director of governmental and public affairs for Seattle King County REALTORS®.

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