The Realtor Lobbying Machine

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People who are aware of the considerable lobbying machine operated by Realtors get pretty hot under the collar about it. I don’t blame them. I’ve always seen this as an obviously self serving activity and the description of these organization’s purpose is pretty scary to consumers.

  • Protects your income and maintains your commissions.
  • Educates and elects policy-makers who support REALTOR issues.
  • The candidates we support make decisions that affect REALTORS’ ability to assist clients in buying and selling property.
  • RPAC ensures that we have strong and informed candidates who support our issues.

Of course, that’s what all lobbying efforts are so why should this one be any different? Which is why I’m not in favor of lobbying in general. But I guess it’s a fact of life with our political system.

I bring up the Realtor lobbying machine because I recently got the invoice for my 2009 dues for the three levels of Realtor associations: national, Illinois, and Chicago. (I have no idea why we need three levels of this stuff. I think it’s part of the bloated bureaucracy of this industry.) Just to give you an idea of what it costs to be a Realtor, those 3 total $520 – and that’s before MLS fees. But added on to the bottom of the invoice are”voluntary” charges for RPAC (REALTORS┬« Political Action Committee) and CARPAC (Chicago Association of REALTORS┬« Political Action Committee), which total an additional $75. In going through the online payment process it’s actually kind of tricky to remove these charges. However, if all of the 17,000 Realtors in Chicago (At least that’s how many there were at the end of 2007. Maybe a lot of these folks have left the business since the gravy train is gone.) were to pay this money that would amount to $1.2 MM for just Chicago. Of course, I’m sure that many Realtors, like me, chose not to pay this money. (I don’t think I’ve ever supported a PAC.) However, RPAC’s goal for the year is to raise a total of $10 MM.

As a side note, RPAC claims to be the largest bipartisan PAC in the world. In the 2006 elections they spent $12 MM supporting various candidates sympathetic to Realtors’ causes. You can check the following link to see exactly what else these Realtor PACs do.

Surprisingly, it’s actually not such a bad list after all. Sure, it has it’s share of anti-competitive initiatives, such as keeping banks out of the real estate business. However, overall, it’s dominated by activities in support of homeowners and landlords. Perhaps one of the most important pro-homeowner activities CARPAC engaged in during the last year isn’t even listed. That would be their opposition to the city of Chicago’s increase in the transfer tax. It’s not listed because CAR chose to highlight their accomplishments and this is a battle they lost. Nevertheless, I think they deserve an A for effort against what I think is a really bad idea.

If you like the list, I’m sure they would take your money – even if you’re not a Realtor.

Gary Lucido

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