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RISMEDIA, April 12, 2011—The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS® and Charlie Oppler, NAR’s Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.

Charlie Oppler, Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations, NAR

Rei Mesa, President, Prudential Florida Realty, Miami
Linda Sherrer, President, Prudential Network Realty, Jacksonville, Florida
Devin Reiss, Branch Manager, Coldwell Banker Premier Realty, Las Vegas, Nevada

Charlie Oppler: There’s a lot going on in today’s world, and we all have plenty to stew about. But in the scheme of things, as REALTORS®, we need to focus on the issues that affect our industry and, by extension, perhaps the underpinnings of the American economy as a whole. One of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ most important responsibilities is taking the right messages to Washington in order to ensure economic recovery. We’ve invited a few industry veterans to discuss what those messages should be, and how broker involvement and the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) may be the key to getting us moving in the right direction. Rei, what do you think?

Rei Mesa: Housing creates jobs, and jobs are probably the biggest factor holding back a strong recovery. NAR Research estimates that one job is generated for every two home sales. Using that ratio, 1,000 home sales generate 500 jobs. To my mind, there should be a federal commitment to preserving the mortgage interest deduction (MID). Since the majority of families who take the MID are middle-income earners, we won’t be selling more houses if the MID goes away.

Linda Sherrer: I hear you, Rei. MID is critical. And so are the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE’s). Most of us agree that Fannie and Freddie may need to be reinvented. But historically, they’ve played a huge role in helping to regulate lenders. And they certainly guarantee a more level playing field for consumers. But here’s the thing: I can’t be in Washington to lobby for what I believe in. NAR can and does, and that’s why RPAC gets my wholehearted support.

Devin Reiss: And ours. As an industry, it’s not enough to yell from the sidelines. We have to hear the call to action, and we think RPAC is our best—maybe our only—resource, not just for staying on top of the issues but for influencing Capitol Hill.

CO: I’m sure you know that RPAC contributes exclusively to pro-real estate candidates.

LS: And they do get things done. There are a lot of special interest groups out there, but in the last election alone, RPAC was on the winning side of 94% of elected candidates.

DR: Anybody know what percentage of RPAC contributions stays at the local level?

LS: 70%, I believe, and the rest is used to support state and local candidates.

DR: Good to know, because we’ve got plenty of local issues at home—like legislation to help cut the time it takes to get through the huge number of short sales.

CO: So how do we get more broker involvement and more RPAC support?

RM: In some ways, it’s a grassroots issue. As brokers, we have to influence every other broker we know, everywhere in the country—to vote, to answer the calls to action and to support RPAC.

DR: And let’s not forget about the agents. There are over 7,200 brokers in the Broker Involvement Program out there, and they influence nearly 350,000 agents.

LS: If jobs mean housing, and housing means recovery, this has to be the year for more broker involvement.

CO: And I want to point out that NAR offers the Broker Involvement Program free of charge to brokers, which provides broker/owners with a simple tool to rally their agents in bringing to Congress’ attention issues of concern to the REALTOR® community. You can learn more at