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As we navigate the second year of the pandemic, our advocacy operation is stronger than ever. You might say we have hit our virtual stride.

Last winter, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) moved quickly to protect the real estate industry from a catastrophic collapse as legislation sped through Congress.

The benefits secured for REALTORS® were unprecedented. Three magic phrases in the COVID relief bills brought a raft of benefits to our members: self-employed, independent contractors and sole proprietors.

This year, we will continue to keep an eye on COVID while also looking eagerly to the future.

Hopefully, this is the last all-virtual year for the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. Our two virtual programs were a huge success. Typically, 10,000 REALTORS® fly to D.C. for the event, but instead, we were able to host more than three times as many online. NAR members will be hard at work throughout May and June advancing issues through virtual Capitol Hill visits, special forums and committee meetings.

Our focus for the new 117th Congress is on improving access to homeownership, enabling a quick recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring fair housing for all and building resilient communities and businesses.

To improve access to homeownership, REALTORS® will support legislative and regulatory proposals that spur new housing supply, increase inventory, encourage tax benefits for property ownership, provide tax fairness, protect the availability of the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and ensure Americans have access to the credit they need to become homeowners.

Homeownership is not just an American Dream. It is the cornerstone to economic well-being and long-term wealth building.

To continue our economic recovery after COVID, REALTORS® will continue to fight for both the real estate industry and its consumers. This includes additional economic relief related to rental and mortgage assistance and support for small businesses.

The residential real estate market is helping drive our national economic recovery, but the job is far from done. As vaccines are administered and Americans return to work, some sectors and the broader real estate economy, which makes up nearly one-fifth of the entire American economy, will need additional assistance.

Our economy, our communities and Americans suffer when discrimination artificially constrains homeownership opportunities, which thereby limits intergenerational wealth.

To ensure fair housing for all, NAR is committed to the enforcement of fair housing laws and policies that remove barriers to homeownership, including policies that help close racial wealth gaps and provide increased resources for fair housing enforcement.

To build strong, resilient communities and businesses, NAR will continue the fight to preserve commercial and community development tools like 1031 like-kind exchanges and opportunity zones; advocate for the reauthorization and reform of the National Flood Insurance Program; advocate to protect the independent contractor status for real estate professionals; support state and local governments; and promote investments in infrastructure.

With the virus on its heels and better economic times ahead, I am excited to see where our 1.4 million members will lead us and the country.

To find out more about NAR’s federal advocacy agenda, visit www.nar.realtor/political-advocacy/federal-advocacy/nars-federal-advocacy-agenda.

Shannon McGahn is the National Association of REALTORS®’ chief advocacy officer.

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