Paula Palmer has a simple message for Realtors in 2015: Get political.
With tax reform and credit availability at the top of every Realtor’s list of concerns, it’s a good time to get involved. And Palmer has the perfect way: give to RPAC.
“RPAC” is the shorter, catchier version of “Realtors Political Action Committee.” Since 1969, RPAC has existed to promote the election of pro-Realtor candidates across the U.S. The math is easy: Realtors raise and spend money to elect candidates who understand and support their interests.
RPAC doesn’t buy votes, Palmer, the chairman of the RPAC committee at the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors, says. Rather, RPAC enables Realtors to back candidates that support the issues that are important to their profession and livelihood.
RPAC has had an impact on several such issues. According to Palmer, RPAC has helped to: pass the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act; permanently ban banks from real estate brokerage, saving the typical real estate professional about $5,400 annually; defeat the mandatory 20 percent downpayment for a Qualified Residential Mortgage; ban cash rebates in real estate transactions to prevent unfair competition; prevent requiring all new Tennessee property owners to obain a costly and time consuming survey; defeat requiring energy audits on all real estate transactions; and keep non-principal brokers from having to pay an annual $400 Professional Privilege Tax.
Palmer says the local RPAC has been meeting and exceeding the dollar quota the state RPAC sets for it each year. What she and the rest of the committee are aiming for this year is more participation. In 2014, about 35 percent of the more than 1,450 members of GCAR made a donation to RPAC. This year, Palmer and the others would like to see that number climb to 40 percent.
To meet its goals, the local RPAC in August held two fundraisers. One lively event took place at Chattanooga Brewing Company, and involved not just libations but also an informative talk by Chris Sexton, the director of governmental affairs at the Tennessee Association of Realtors. About 60 real estate professionals attended, Palmer says. The local RPAC also held a phone-a-thon in which several Realtors cold called as many Realtors as they could. They raised over $10,000, Palmer proudly says.
There’s still time to donate, Palmer says. She’s especially looking for new Realtors as well as Realtors who haven’t donated in a while to jump onboard.
Palmer says donating is easy. Simply text or call her at (423) 595-5741, and say, “Put me down.” The minimum contribution is a non-tax deductable $15. There’s no limit, though, on how much a Realtor can give.
“Every donation helps,” Palmer says. “It’s almost like insurance for your business. I know Realtors spend a lot of money on their business, but that’s another reason to donate to RPAC. You need to protect your investment.”
To see more photos, pick up a copy of the Hamilton County Herald.