CCIM Feature

Advocating for Commercial Realtors

Jim Helsel, CCIM, SIOR, CPM, a commercial Realtor from Camp Hill, Pa., wants CCIMs to understand why the Realtors Political Action Committee and the Realtor Party matter to their businesses. “While CCIMs are earning a living in today’s challenging commercial real estate market, RPAC and the Realtor Party are covering our backs,” says Helsel, who is also the National Association of Realtors 2013 Liaison to Commercial and Business Specialties. “Sometimes commercial members have the misconception that Realtor Party and RPAC only work on behalf of residential practitioners. That’s just not true,” he says.

“Actually, more than half of the lobbying and policy work NAR does for its members benefits commercial practitioners,” adds Cindy Chandler, CCIM, CRE, a Realtor in Charlotte, N.C., who serves as 2013 chair of NAR’s Legislation and Regulatory Advisory Board.

Since 1969, RPAC has promoted the election of pro-Realtor candidates across the United States. The money to accomplish this comes from voluntary contributions made by Realtors.

The Realtor Party was launched in August 2011. Cathy Whatley, NAR’s 2003 president from Jacksonville, Fla., who chaired the advisory group that proposed the initiative, stressed that RPAC and the Realtor Party are not mutually exclusive.“They work in tandem,” she explained just before NAR’s Board of Directors approved the plan in May 2011. “We use RPAC dollars to make direct contributions to candidates who champion our causes on Capitol Hill.”

The party’s initiatives include an extensive menu of advocacy, community outreach, and RPAC fundraising tools for state and local Realtor associations –- including for commercial boards and structures. Among the resources that commercial Realtors find especially useful are the smart growth grants and various land use advocacy tools.

Commercial-related issues the party supports include protecting depreciation schedules and favorable capital gains laws, advancing policies to assist holders of underwater commercial mortgages and to help credit unions get into commercial finance, and extending the national flood insurance program.

“Advancing policies for a healthy housing market also benefits the commercial market,” Chandler says. “You can’t develop a shopping center if there are no houses and if there are no jobs.” Advocating for the mortgage interest deduction, affordable insurance, accessible financing, and tax incentives for real estate investment benefits all Realtors, she adds.

The Local Angle

“So many CCIMs are active in local politics because they need to influence zoning policies and ordinances in order to pave the way for commercial development and leasing,” Chandler explains. “They ‘get’ that local angle. It’s our challenge at the national level to help commercial Realtors understand the importance of investing in RPAC to advance federal policies that help our business.”

“I’m really hoping that our commercial boards will take a look at how they could incorporate RPAC fundraising grants and tools into their 2013 political strategic plans,” Chandler adds.

Most importantly, “each and every Realtor –- residential and commercial, alike –- should make an investment in RPAC this year,” Helsel says. “It’s the best investment you'll ever make in your business and yourself.”

Learn more about RPAC and the Realtor Party at www.Realtoractioncenter.com/rpi .

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