Greater Chattanooga Realtors this month joined more than 9,000 Realtors from across the nation in Washington. 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.
The trip was very productive for everyone involved as we finally met in person after two years of virtual sessions and saw firsthand how being together furthered our engagement in the legislative discussions and deepened the knowledge we gleaned from the classes and information sessions in which we participated.
Our advocacy as Realtors on the state and national level is 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 an historic 50-year record shortage of available homes severely limits access to the residential real estate market. Realtors believe 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.
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 and the events that continue to occur in Ukraine.
It seems these concerns are not just being experienced at our local and 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
• The Revitalizing Downtowns Act
Shedding light on our industry’s support of the above-referenced bills were insights shared during meetings with the NAR’s economists and researchers. These sessions revealed that 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.
In addition, for middle income households, there’s only one affordable listing for every 125 households – a stark decrease from one listing for every 46 households in 2019.
Moreover, 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.
Finally, 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? NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith put it best during 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.
Returning to Chattanooga and spending the last few days talking with clients and colleagues about what we learned and shared with fellow Realtors from across the country has been great. The best part of being away is always coming home.
Chattanooga was certainly at the forefront of many conversations at the conference, and I was honored to represent our industry and city in Washington as the current president of Greater Chattanooga Realtors.
Realtors have been essential in the conveyance of real property as a national association for 114 years. An app doesn’t advocate for equal protection under the Fair Housing Act, nor does a website fight for access to flood insurance – Realtors do.
Realtors serve residential and commercial property buyers and sellers in every ZIP code every day. That’s Who We R.
Founded in 1912, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is a regional organization with more than 2,500 members servicing Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. The association is one of approximately 1,100 local associations and boards of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. Greater Chattanooga Realtors owns and operates a multiple listing service that’s one of approximately 600 MLSs in the country and services more than 2,700 users.