Realtors may sell houses and find homes for their clients, but unbeknownst to many, they’re often political powerhouses as well. The Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) is comprised of 1.3 million Realtors across the United States and is described as one of the strongest lobbying groups in America.
“RPAC raises funds to support or defeat local, state and federal legislature or policy,” said Jim DeMaio, executive officer of the Greater Owensboro REALTOR Association (GORA). “We commonly refer to ourselves as the Realtor Party,’ due to the fact that we are working to protect our industry and our clients, and not any one political party.”
DeMaio said the Realtor Party works to protect their clients across many focuses that are often confronted behind the public curtain. GORA has worked with the state association, Kentucky Realtors, in creating relationships with lawmakers across the local, state and federal spectrum. RPAC funds are also used to support political candidates that share the beliefs emphasized through RPAC.
Many Realtors hold office in local government and stand with RPAC, including City Commissioner Jeff Sanford and County Commissioner George Wathen. DeMaio said previous City Commissioner Jay Velotta, City Commissioner Deborah Nunley and previous State Representative Tommy Thompson are a few of the political figures involved with RPAC.
On Wednesday, a group of Owensboro RPAC members will travel with other Realtors from across Kentucky to Frankfort.
“We all go on the same day, in a coordinated effort to show strength in numbers,” DeMaio said. “We are headed to the Hill with about 300 other Realtors to meet with our legislators and discuss issues.”
Local RPAC members hope to address issues like saving the mortgage interest deduction so that families can benefit from tax deduction, protecting the availability for clients to secure 30-year mortgages, advocating long-term extensions of flood insurance for clients for up to five years, fair housing laws and enforcement, keeping a close eye on any infringement on a property owners rights, protecting landlord and tenant rights, fighting to keep real estate transactions exempt from taxes placed on services and advocating for finding solutions to local taxation issues placed on property owners.
Cathy Corbett, committee chair for the governmental affairs committee of GORA, says there are three or four issues she’d like to tackle while in Frankfort with state legislators.
“Flood control, home mortgage interest rates and a sales tax being placed on seller’s commissions — we’re watching all of these closely,” Corbett said. “Anything the government does, they do it big and, if given the chance, it’s quite often done incorrectly.”
Corbett said the meeting with state legislation is beneficial to everyone involved in real estate, including clients, as well as state legislators who are given the opportunity to hear a large group of educated Realtors speak on these issues.
“We have the opportunity to do something that would normally take months, but we can do it in one day,” Corbett said. “It’s helpful for them [state legislation] because they’re getting to hear a unified opinion on these topics from a large group.”