July 8, 2018

NETAR legislative lunch highlights importance of political engagement


While some Realtors® are not political by nature, it's a fact of life that the real estate profession and transactions are very much a part of the political dynamic.

Aaron Taylor
2018 NETAR President

Last month Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors®(NETAR) members participated in events where they invested in the Realtor® Political Action Committee (RPAC) and received a personal briefing on what their investments accomplished. A large number of them are also participating in a nationwide call to action urging Congress to reauthorize and reform the National Flood Insurance Program. NETAR members invested $10,590 in RPAC during a state-wide RPAC-A-Thon last month. It also recently received the 2017 Local Realtor® Association President's Cup for "outstanding advocacy and RPAC achievements.

During the association's annual Legislative Luncheon Tennessee Realtors® lobbyist Russ Farrar explained some of the realities of lobbying efforts at the State Legislature. He also gave members a quick roundup to illustrate what RPAC's and Tennessee Realtors' efforts have done and how it promoted relationships with lawmakers to understand the issues of small businesses and Realtors®. During that event, former Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, a Realtor® and NETAR member, shared the podium since he's now a member of Farrar's firm.

Before his briefing, Farrar said NETAR members should watch what's happening at their County Commissions because that's the starting point for some bills that are not real estate or property rights friendly. "You need to get involved at the front end because when it gets to Nashville that bill has gone through two readings at a County Commission and passed by a two-thirds vote. So, you have a state representative and senator sitting between the Realtors® and the County Commission. "We don't need that to happen. If you hear of something, work with your commission and let us know. We have an issue mobilization fund we can draw from. You need to utilize that."

Examples of lobbying accomplishments Farrar cited included:

  • A bill that permits a Realtor® who wants to appeal a commission hearing decision can now have that appeal heard in their county Chancery Court instead of having to file in Davidson County.
  • A bill supporting landlords that allows them to serve an eviction notice anywhere they see the tenant instead of having to serve it at the place where the tenant lives.
  • A short-term rental bill now allows a city to set and enforce reasonable regulations on short-term rentals. If there are three instances of a nuisance or other violation in a year the rental privilege can be removed. And, if an owner has a rental property and sells it, the fact that it was a short-term rental does not go with the property. He also said that if a home or residence that is now a short-term rental in a subdivision or community with a Home Owners' Association, the association can vote to ban short-term rentals. "In other words, an HOA can put you out of the short-term rental business."

Northeast Tennessee short-term rentals hosts earned $1.2 million in supplemental income after welcoming 12,000 Airbnb guests to the region in 2017. Johnson City, Mountain City, Erwin and Roan Mountain had 100% - or better - year-over-year growth. Bristol was a distant second place to Johnson City in the number of guests and income for hosts according to Airbnb.

The full list of Tennessee Realtors® legislative activities is longer than the space allotted for this column, but this abbreviated collection shows how important RPAC investments and Realtor® involvement in the political process is for both the real estate profession and property rights.

Tennessee Realtors® President Leon Dickson, Sr. asked that the group, “Challenge your brokers to have 100 percent participation (in RPAC). Don’t have agents in your office who are on welfare. If they can’t afford a $25-dollar investment in their career, ask yourself is that really is the agent you want in your company?

Aaron Taylor is the 2018 president of the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors®. The real estate education and trade group is the voice for real estate in the Tri-Cities and has over 1,200 local Realtor® members and over 100 affiliates