On May 19, Realogy CEO Ryan Schneider hosted a virtual franchise owner meeting with guest New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez.
The Q&A-style discussion covered the latest in housing advocacy as it relates to COVID-19 financial relief, as well as the biggest challenges and opportunities the industry is facing today.
“The scale of the crisis is unlike anything we have ever seen,” said Menandez, kicking off the discussion. “Every industry is feeling the pain, and our towns and cities are reeling from lost revenue.”
And while significant assistance and relief has been provided through the CARES Act, Menandez believes that shouldn’t be the end.
“I believe there is more that we need to do. I am going to keep fighting for priorities that keep our families and communities safe,” said Menandez. “It is critical that Congress build on the CARES Act to address housing issues and keep our housing finance system intact.”
Currently, Sen. Menandez is advocating for several initiatives, including $75 billion in targeted assistance to keep people in their homes while they seek new employment.
“This can be used for mortgage payments, utilities, to prevent evictions and foreclosures, etc.,” said Menandez.
In addition, he seeks to promote liquidity in the mortgage industry, and is advocating for $100 billion in rental assistance to help families pay their rent and to help property owners cover costs and stabilize the rental market overall.
“We have several opportunities,” said Menandez “Housing is a big driver of our economy and an essential part of building wealth for American families. We need to preserve that.”
Schneider thanked Sen. Menandez for the various initiatives that have already come to pass, which Realogy was strongly supporting.
“We all appreciate your leadership,” said Schneider. “When we went into this crisis, our primary message to our elective representative was around the need for small business relief and to include independent contractors in unemployment insurance—and that was all accomplished and we appreciate it.”
Schneider ended the meeting by emphasizing Realogy’s commitment to agents’ and consumers’ well-being.
“We continue to put health and safety first in everything that we are doing,” said Schneider. “We are frankly discouraging people from coming into the office unless it is absolutely critical. We are keeping safety and social distancing in mind.”
“Everything changed pretty dramatically in the first quarter,” he added. “While it was not an easy ride, in April most declines seem to have peaked. I don’t declare our industry out of woods, but it is something to watch.”