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The National Association of Realtors employs a powerful lobbying arm. It spends more, lobbies more and get more done than just about anyone — and this time it is investing more than ever.
According to Alexander Bronstein-Moffly, online content manager at First Street by CQ Press, NAR started rocketing up lobbying spending in the years after the housing bubble. In 2005 and 2006, the association spent about $5.5 million a year. By 2007, that number ballooned to $14 million. In 2008, it hit $17 million, then almost $19.5 million in 2009, down to $17.5 million in 2010, and then up to more than $22 million last year.
Just in the first quarter of 2012, First Street reports NAR spent $6 million on lobbying. That’s a $3 million increase from the first quarter of 2011. Meaning, said Bronstein-Moffly, they are well on track to outspend themselves yet again — and by a large margin.
But Jamie Gregory, NAR’s deputy chief lobbyist, said the increase in spending isn’t because of increased national activity. Instead, he said, NAR focused on promoting their presence at the state and local level. Though on the national level, he does say the association has been “very aggressive for the last 10 years.”
“Very aggressive” is not an understatement. The NAR lobbyists have a record of getting what they want. They’ve got a lot of money, and a lot of people. Gregory said the latter is the biggest advantage.
“One of the most important things is that it’s the Realtors themselves. There is a Realtor in every community and they are active in every community,” he said. “Politicians know that.”
He also counts NAR’s ability to collect data and disseminate it as the reason politicians keep coming back to NAR whether they are Democrats or Republicans.
“We try very hard to be a credible resource to elected officials, so no matter what side of an issue you are on if you call us for data we will give you straight, honest data and that’s part of it,” he said.
This year will be a big year for NAR lobbyists. For example, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 is up at the end of this year. Gregory said the NAR will be doing all it can to continue the program.