Wednesday, May 11, 2022 - by Derek English, president, Greater Chattanooga Realtors
Last week, Greater Chattanooga Realtors joined more than 9,000 realtors from across the nation in Washington D.C. Our purpose was to further our work with Congress to advance policy initiatives that strengthen the ability of Americans to buy, invest, own and sell commercial and residential real estate.
This trip was extremely productive for all in attendance as we were able to meet in person after two years of virtual meetings and saw firsthand the importance and impact of being together furthered our knowledge and engagement in the legislative discussions as well as the classes and informative sessions we participated in throughout the week.
Our advocacy as realtors on the state and national level are alive and well. In addition, it serves as a reminder that our business and the rights of property owners must never be taken for granted.
This year’s key legislative issues centered around access to sustainable property ownership. You don’t have to be a realtor to see that a historic 50-year record shortage of available homes severely limits access to the residential real estate market. Realtors believe that even relatively modest steps taken now to increase awareness and help bridge the gap will unleash tremendous economic activity and potentially create millions of new jobs. With realtors from across the country there was also plenty of conversations and discussions related to rising material and fuel costs, the day-to-day cost of living and inflation, continued supply chain delays, as well as the events that continue to occur in the Ukraine. Overall, it seems these concerns are not just being experienced at our local or state level, but throughout our Nation as a whole.
The pandemic created shifts in the commercial real estate market, especially in the office and retail sectors. Policies that support repurposing underutilized or vacant commercial properties can revitalize communities by creating new commercial uses and housing. Thus, during our recent legislative meetings, realtors across the country asked their elected officials to support these bills:
• The bipartisan Housing Supply and Affordability Act
• The GREATER Revitalization of Shopping Centers Act
• The bipartisan Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA)
• The Revitalizing Downtowns Act
Shedding light on our industry’s support of the above-referenced bills were insights shared during the meetings from the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) economists and researchers, including:
• The U.S. has developed an underbuilding gap of 5.5 million housing units over the last 20 years. This translates into a $4.4 trillion underinvestment in housing.
• For middle-income households, there is only 1 affordable listing for every 125 households, a stark decrease from 1 listing for every 46 households in 2019.
• Nationally there are currently 165,000 homes listed for sale that middle-income families can afford to buy, a marked decline from 450,000 homes in 2019.
• Over the last two years, the percentage of single-family homes sold below $250,000 has plummeted from 47% of sales to 28%.
So why do we take the time to make this annual visit to the nation’s capital? 2022 NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith put it best in her opening remarks, “We don’t represent an industry. We represent a profession made up of 1.5 million individuals working every day in their communities to change lives.” As a member of America’s largest trade association, realtors know the importance of making our voices and the voices of homeowners heard.
It has been great returning to Chattanooga and spending these last few days talking with clients and colleagues about what we learned and shared with fellow realtors from all over the country. The best part of being away is always coming home. Chattanooga was certainly at the forefront of many conversations over the past week, and I was honored to represent our industry and our city in Washington DC as the current President of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors.