Advocating For You: May 2018

ACAR members and staff continued efforts to promote #HomeForAll throughout northeast Ohio.  Covering topics from vacant building registrations to Fair Housing and tax reform, we are reminded how the government is involved in every part of the real estate transaction.

The month kicked off with a tremendous roundtable discussion on finance challenges that some of our inner ring suburbs are still experiencing. In addition to ACAR, representatives from the Greater Cleveland Reinvestment Coalition, the lending community, and area mayors (Euclid, South Euclid, Maple Heights), joined together for this open and candid conversation. In addition to identifying challenges with loans under the $50,000 mark and even up to $100,000, the group also shared concerns about some appraisal issues. Lenders in the audience shared that Realtors or their clients should be sure to talk to the Community Reinvestment Act officer at the bank they are using. The CRA officer is there to ensure that the lender is meeting “the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, including low and moderate-income neighborhoods.” (FDIC, Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection, 2018)  This group will reconvene to continue the discussion in the coming months.

Several members of ACAR attended the annual Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Dinner in Cleveland. In addition to gaining insight about the upcoming elections, being present at community meetings like this, allows ACAR to connect with many community leaders and elected officials. This, in turn, helps us promote not only the association’s work and policy positions, but also shines light on the important role Realtors® play in all our municipalities.

ACAR applied for and received a Realtor Party grant to help offset costs associated with its annual Broker forum, which featured mediation as the topic. Prior to the presentation on mediation, John Lynch, NAR’s Region 6 Vice President, spoke about the important role of the Broker Involvement Program and encouraged those present to sign up for the free advocacy driven resource. At least 11 brokers have signed up joining the other 25 enrollees from ACAR. To learn more about this program, click here.

Next, ACAR took its Suburban Road Show – also known as our Becoming Familiar With (insert city name) series – to South Euclid for the city’s Real Estate Professionals Day. Approximately 90 agents heard from Mayor Welo and others about the City’s developments, amenities, and why South Euclid is a great place to call home.

The week of May 14, 2018 took several members of ACAR to our nation’s capital for the NAR Legislative Conference and Expo. Throughout the week, members participated in and learned from a variety of speakers on topics impacting the industry. They also met with members of our congressional delegation (or their housing staff), including Reps. Tim Ryan, Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur, Dave Joyce, and Jim Renacci; and Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman. Realtors encouraged the continuation of the National Flood Insurance Program; approving the next FHA administrator; supporting strong net neutrality protections; and protecting Americans from housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Thanks to a Housing Opportunity Grant from the Realtor Party, ACAR was able to host its annual Pancakes & Politics breakfast, with a topic of “Schools Beyond the Test Score.” Ohio Education Association Vice President, Scott DiMauro, addressed the crowd on a variety of issues such as school safety, diversity in the classroom, impact of local support and funding, and more. There was also a mini-expo featuring area schools. To learn more about the participating schools, visit these websites:

Next, ACAR’s Vice President of Government Affairs, Jamie McMillen along with a handful of commercial real estate brokers (John Chlebina, Mike Pappas, and Tom Fox), met with Akron City Councilman Jeff Fusco, Director John Valle, and representatives from the City’s law department regarding a proposed Vacant Building Registry for commercial/industrial properties. While the registry itself and wanting to hold owners accountable for the condition of their property is not a problem, ACAR did raise several concerns with the proposed ordinance including but not limited to the following: clarification of what triggers a vacant property registration, especially where the structure has multiple units; requested an increase in the number of days a property can be vacant before the registration is triggered (proposal had 60 days as the mark); asked for clarification of who would or could be held responsible for an owner’s missteps – real estate agents should never be liable in our opinion; the ordinance proposed a $400 fee for the registry – we asked that that be reconsidered if the property is being renovated or actively listed for sale; there will be a C/I Appeals Board established – we asked that someone with subject matter expertise be appointed as the only requirements were that the appointees be a resident of Akron and a US citizen.  The City pledged to review our comments and recommendations and will likely reintroduce the legislation in early June.

Giving back to our communities is key to our advocacy efforts. ACAR was pleased to support the placemaking project in Maple Heights at the corner of Lee & Libby Roads. The site was formerly home to a gas station and has since been used as a cut-through. Now, thanks to partnerships between the City, the SWCD, ACAR, and many others, the site is being transformed into a pocket park. ACAR members joined in for phase 1 and helped plant several trees. The next phase of the project should be completed in Fall 2018.

In addition to the Maple Heights placemaking project, ACAR learned that it was approved for a $3,000 placemaking grant from the NAR to assist with the creation of an “Art Alley Activation,” in Euclid. Several community partners are joining together to turn this unused alley into a gathering space for the community.  Watch for more details as we’ll need Realtors to help with the project this summer.

ACAR hosted a meet and greet with Richard Cordray, former CFBP Director and current gubernatorial candidate, on May 30th. About a dozen members of ACAR rallied for the event and asked several questions relating to how Cordray would make Ohio more business friendly and support homeownership.

We wrapped up the month by hosting the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association’s meeting. As a result, McMillen was able to share information with those present about how ACAR is a resource for the cities by providing everything from market data to partnerships via grant opportunities, polling, and more.  Approximately 2 dozen area mayors attended, and a few have already followed up to learn more.  It truly was a fantastic opportunity for ACAR to shed light on our efforts to encourage and support strong, vibrant neighborhoods in all our communities.

For more information, or if you are interested in joining the Legislative Committee and/or serving as a Community Watchdog, please contact our Government Affairs Department.

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