Hear what inspired Richmond area REALTOR® Philip Innes to begin contributing to RPAC of Virginia.
What is RPAC?
By supporting the campaigns of candidates who understand your business, the Virginia REALTOR® Political Action Committee ensures that your interests are represented when laws, ordinances, and regulations are being enacted. Through voluntary monetary contributions of Realtors®, RPAC supports the campaigns of candidates whose outlooks, decisions, and stances are compatible with those of Realtors® and property owners.
This isn’t personal; this is business. When RPAC decides whether to contribute to candidates, the only consideration is how supportive they are on real estate issues property rights issues. As an organization that represents Realtors®, we don’t consider any other kinds of issues. Party affiliation doesn’t matter, either; RPAC funds have helped Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
Spending is decided by its Trustees—Realtors® from across Virginia who track candidates’ voting records, send questionnaires to candidates, and conduct interviews to identify the candidates who support you.
The REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) collects voluntary contributions from members just like you who care about the future of your real-estate business. RPAC gives money to candidates who support REALTOR-friendly issues.
Funding House of Delegate and Senate Candidates
Every spring, the RPAC of Virginia Trustees evaluate all current state legislators (RPAC of Virginia does not contribute to local candidates) on their performances in the preceding General Assembly session. Funding is based on these resulting points.
These points are awarded (and deducted) with both objective and subjective means. No one category is weighted differently than another. These include:
- how often the legislator did or did not vote with VAR bills (these set of bills are pre-approved by the Public Policy Committee);
- if the legislator was the patron of a REALTOR®-friendly bill (and, conversely, if the legislator was the patron of a REALTOR®-unfriendly bill);
- if the legislator serves on a “key committee” (those that directly affect the outcome of bills and issues);
- whether or not the legislator is a REALTOR® or affiliated with the real-estate industry; and
- if the legislator is a leader (Speaker, Majority/Minority Leader, etc).
The RPAC of Virginia Trustees are able to approve more money for a legislator at any time; most commonly, this is done in an election year where the legislator is in a tight race.
Funding Statewide Office Candidates
The RPAC of Virginia Trustees consider past voting records and a history of working with the real-estate industry when deciding which statewide candidates to fund. Additionally, several months out from the election, the Trustees invite all statewide candidates to join them for in-person interviews after completing a questionnaire. The interviews allow the candidate to clarify or expound on his or her answers from the questionnaire. It also gives the Trustees an opportunity to ask follow-up questions.
Just like when funding House of Delegate and Senate candidates, the RPAC of Virginia Trustees endorse the candidate whom they believe to be the best for your real estate business.
Funding Local Office Candidates
Local associations also have RPAC Trustees. They have their own PAC accounts out of which they are able to fund both local and state lawmakers, provided that the candidates support issues that are REALTOR®-friendly.
Where does your contribution go?
Your RPAC contribution is divided three ways:
- Nationally, RPAC supports Congressional candidates;
- RPAC of Virginia endorses candidates for the House of Delegates, state Senate and Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor and Governor; and
- RPAC supports candidates for local elected offices.
RPAC and VAR lobbying go hand in hand
VAR’s Law and Policy team, including our lobbyists, focuses on actual legislation. They inform public officials of the implications of their decisions on your business, and make sure new laws and ordinances don’t hurt Realtors® and property owners. The relationships created by RPAC help this process along.
What kind of policies do VAR and RPAC candidates support?
VAR and RPAC-endorsed candidates support policies that:
- Improve the quality of life in Virginia neighborhoods,
- Protect state property values and homeowner rights, and
- Help Realtors® sustain and expand their business in a healthy manner.
What does RPAC support accomplish?
You may not always see RPAC, but it’s always working for you. During election season, it’s busy backing candidates who are friendly to the needs of Realtors® and property owners. RPAC has a solid track record of endorsing winning candidates, proving that Realtor® priorities are in line with the public’s priorities. But there’s no time when RPAC’s impact is felt more than during General Assembly sessions. Check out VAR’s Standing Positions to understand what we stand for, and read on to see what we’ve done for you lately.
- Civil penalties for unlicensed real estate practices
Many local Commonwealth’s attorneys do not have the time or resources to prosecute unlicensed activity, and the Real Estate Board may now issue “cease and desist” orders, as well as civil fines for violators.
- Fair standards for investment in mortgage companies
Realtors® have supported fair opportunities for licensees to invest in lenders, providing more resources for loans.
- Passed Brownfields revitalization legislation
This provides financial incentives for investments to return industrial sites to clean, useful, and productive status.
- State-chartered banks entering the real estate industry
Realtors® supported very restrictive standards, which have helped to protect our industry from unfair competition by large corporate entities.
- Fought increased court costs for suit filing
The General Assembly increasingly looks to add-on fees as a funding mechanism for a variety of projects – but those who need to use the courts to enforce leases and contracts should not bear the costs of their “hot projects.”
- Backed “Affordable Housing Trust Fund”
We are constantly looking for ways to assist those who want to own homes to find affordable financing, and grants from this fund may assist.
- Supported online recordation of land records
Some wanted to restrict the use of modern technologies in recording and storing deeds, which would keep the costs of closing up, and keep Virginia behind.
- Widespread immunity for mold claims
Complaints of mold are increasingly common, and property managers and agents mnust be kept out of harm’s way when people sue to have the mold remediated.
- Supported title insurance freedom to set rates
Like other insurance products, title insurance rates have responded favorably for our clients when priced by the marketplace.
- Defeated transfer tax legislation (year after year)
The General Assembly often looks to the Grantor’s Tax as another “pot” of funds for transportation, and we must continue to fight this fight.
- Defeated recordation tax legislation (year after year)
Likewise, the state and local recordation taxes are targets for the General Assembly, and we have fought efforts to increase those taxes for a myriad of purposes unrelated to their collection.
- Defeated “flush tax”
Efforts to improve water quality in Virginia’s waters and the Bay, and to repair and rebuild older sewage treatment facilities must not be born solely by one segment of our economy – homeowners.
- Limits for disclosure packet fees in POAs
Some Property Owner Associations try to charge fees that are not permitted by the law, or to charge them more than once.
- Defeated Impact Fee legislation (year after year)
In an effort to eliminate or reduce local real estate taxes, some localities would like to shift the burden to developers, and charge extremely high Impact Fees for new homes.
- Addressed Chinese Drywall issues
Realtors® recognize that Chinese Drywall is a material adverse condition in property. and notice must be given to purchasers and tenants wherever it is found.
- Defeat Private Transfer Fees
Developers will not be able to charge a 1% fee each time property is sold, in perpetuity.