About the Consumer Advocacy Campaign
In July 2012, NAR launched Phase 1 of a communications campaign using e-mails and browser ads to educate consumers about ways in which public policies affect homeownership in this country, and begin building a network of consumers to support homeownership issues. This page answers common questions about NAR’s consumer communications outreach efforts.
Q. What is the consumer advocacy outreach e-mail campaign all about?
A. The campaign is part of a broader consumer outreach strategy that the NAR Leadership Team approved as part of the association’s long-term strategic plan. In its consumer outreach strategy, NAR uses national TV and radio ads, its consumer-facing Real Estate Today radio program and HomeOwnershipMatters.Realtor website, social media, and earned media through news stories to build a direct relationship with consumers on behalf of its members.
NAR’s consumer outreach strategy is designed to help extend REALTORS®’ relationship with consumers to the life cycle of homeownership, increase the value of the REALTOR® brand, and enhance NAR’s lobbying efforts by establishing a marriage of common interest with homeowners on federal housing-related public policy issues. This consumer outreach campaign, designed to help maintain current federal incentives for homeownership, is the first time NAR has marshaled all of its consumer-focused communications for a public advocacy cause.
At the campaign’s outset the consumer e-mail campaign was a monthly direct-to-consumer push to all approximately 75 million homeowners in the U.S. and approximately 5 million renters who aspire to become homeowners. During that time NAR emailed or messaged consumers with over 3 billion messages. NAR launched its first ever Consumer Call for Action (CFA) asking consumers to tell Congress to not change any of the federal home tax deductions associated with homeownership. Over 900,000 consumers responded to the CFA and millions more opened the emails and showed interest in our issues.
Today in Phase 2 (started in September 2015) of the campaign NAR is emailing monthly 7.5 million consumers who have either taken action on an NAR Call for Action for Consumers, been involved in one of several issue campaigns supported through NAR’s Issues Mobilization Committee, or have opened our email and shown interest in what we have had to say. These are the consumers we will call upon over time to weigh in on issues of concern to them and to Realtors®.
We continue to grow the number of consumers involved through the monthly messaging and the sharing by brokers and agents of the consumer facing website, HomeOwnershipMatters.Realtor. The site provides consumers with a holistic look at federal, state and local levels on issues of consumer concern on homeownership.
Q. Why is the consumer outreach strategy needed?
A. The NAR Leadership Team determined, after extensive study, that REALTORS® and consumers share a natural alliance on the importance of homeownership in the U.S. The consumer outreach strategy is a comprehensive, multi-year effort to cultivate this alliance, with the aim of multiplying the advocacy impact of both homeowners and REALTORS® should the federal government, either through Congress or the executive branch, propose changes that would soften the government’s historic support for homeownership.
Q. Why would the government even consider changes to its support for something as central to the American identity as homeownership?
A. Federal budget deficit pressures. The country has outstanding federal debt of more than $16 trillion. That puts enormous pressure on Congress and the president to identify ways to reduce federal spending or bring in new income to the federal treasury. Any form of incentive for homeownership thus becomes a potential source of deficit reduction. And since the real estate sector in general comprises a large portion of the U.S. gross domestic product (about 15 percent), it represents a large and largely untapped pool for funds to close the budget gap.
Q. Why shouldn’t NAR support raising taxes to help the government balance its budget? After all, each segment of the country should do its part.
A. Homeowners already pay 80-90 percent of all federal income taxes today, so they are disproportionately shouldering the burden of the federal government. What’s more, because residential real estate comprise 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, or about $2.3 trillion annually in economic activity, it creates far more in wealth for the country than it receives in assistance from the government, so changes that would increase hurdles to the development and transfer of real estate would reduce the sector’s wealth-generating ability at a time when the country can ill afford that.
More importantly, homeownership is a fundamental tenet of the United States as a society of free individuals who shape and act as stewards of their country. For that reason, the federal government has historically supported homeownership as a fundamental value of the country. To acquiesce to reductions in incentives would be to start down a road that could lead to the dismantling of this historic pact between the country and its citizens.
Q. What if the government does nothing on homeownership. Has NAR reached out to consumers for nothing?
A. No. Cultivating the natural alliance between homeowners and REALTORS® is a long-term goal that by itself is crucial to the health of the real estate industry. Homeowners and REALTORS® share common interests and that will not change regardless of what the federal government does in the near-term.
Q. What role in this campaign is envisioned for members and state and local association staff?
A. Members can reinforce NAR’s communications by sharing with their customers and clients their thoughts on the importance of homeownership and the role of federal programs and assistance in making homeownership accessible to millions of households. They can leverage the consumer-focused resources on Homeownershipmatters.Realtor and the Real Estate Today radio program, positioning themselves as advocates and information resources on behalf of their customers and clients. Sharing the web link in your newsletters or on your home or social media pages can alert consumers that they should look more closely at issues that may be developing that they may wish to engage in.
State and local association staff can continue to use the Homeownershipmatters.Realtor site, consumer advertising spots and related resources, including web videos and graphics, and other resources on the importance of homeownership, on their websites and other media and at events.
Originally appeared on Realtor.org in September, 2012. Edited: April 2016.
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