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Realtor Party? Count me out

One Realtor’s editorial column with her formerly private, controversial thoughts on the Realtor Party.

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Realtor Party

Realtor Party

I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member

I’ve been reading and sitting on the sidelines for months, contemplating this “Realtor Party” movement and wondering why I am not at all a card carrying member of this. After some soul searching and research on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) press, below are my problem(s) with this political movement:

What is the Realtor Party? According to their website, “We are the REALTOR® Party: An energized movement of real estate professionals fighting to keep the dream of homeownership alive for this country. Now more than ever, it is critical for REALTORS® across America to come together and speak with one voice about the stability a sound and dynamic real estate market brings to our communities. From city hall to the state house to the U.S. Capitol, our elected officials are making decisions that have a huge impact on the bottom line of REALTORS® and their customers. Through the support of REALTORS® like you, the REALTOR® Party represents your interests.”

The site continues, “As a member of the REALTOR® Party, you…

  • Vote for REALTOR® Party Candidates.
  • Act on REALTOR® Party Issues.
  • Invest in RPAC.”

Why I do not support the Party

While I am for homeownership, I don’ t believe that every red-white-and-blue American needs to or deserves to buy a house. Oh my God! Blasphemy! A Realtor stating she is not for homeownership for each and every American! Yes, you have that right, some Americans don’t want to or don’t need to buy a house. Some shouldn’t. And many don’t have the economic means to do purchase and support the house once it is owned. So there. As a Realtor I make my living my helping people buy and sell houses. But that does not mean that it is a God-given right for every single American to buy one.

Homeownership is a priviledge and unless you have a bag of cash to pay for this purchase outright, you will be beholden to banks and underwriters and appraisers. You will have to prove your worthiness to purchase and repay this debt. And if you don’t have the financial stability to do this, then you may not be able to buy a house. Period.

Voting with the REALTOR Party

As for the points above “As a member of the REALTOR Party, you…” let me address these one at a time.

I will vote for who I want to, whether or not they are the REALTOR Party Candidate of choice. I vote with my head and I vote for who I think the best candidate is, no matter what their party affiliation or whether or not they are the “union endorsed candidate” or not. I do my research and never vote straight party line, Democrat, Republican or REALTOR.

This reminds me too much of when my father, a teacher, would come home from school and hand out little wallet cards telling my mother and grandmother who to vote for. The wallet cards were a cheat sheet filled with teacher’s union candidates. As far as I knew, my father, mother and grandmother walked into the polls and voted for whoever was listed on that wallet card. They didn’t think or question. The card was all knowing. The union was God. That is until the union forsook the teachers in my father’s district in the 1980s and sold them out to another school district. Today I wonder who my father now votes for, without the union to guide him. He probably votes straight party.

Not me. I do my research and vote for the candidates who I believe will do the best job, no matter what the REALTOR party says. So no, I won’t be marching into the polling station and voting for your REALTOR party candidates. I have a brain and an opinion and I’ll be using it.

Acting on REALTOR Party issues

ACT on REALTOR Party Issues…. Okay, that’s an interesting one. The REALTOR Party expects me to contact my local, state and national politicians to spout the party line and urge them to vote for issues that support homeownership and our business. That makes sense.

A few years ago I worked side by side with one of our state representatives to change the way our school districts were handling tax assessments and appeals. I worked with him for several years. Nothing changed. This politician beat his head against the wall and we were so close to fixing something that is very wrong with our state system. Twice, the state’s governor promised us if we got support passed in the senate and house he’d sign the bill into law. Twice, he lied. I got a very up close and personal view of how our government (on a state level at least) works. Those few years of me being at the forefront of this movement were enough.

I will never run for any government office — and I’ve been asked. I’ve been asked to run for school board and turned it down twice. I was asked to run for county positions and ran for the hills (including one very important political position running the county). And I was asked to help recently with a state initiative and I refused. I am burned out. I see how the inside works and it is ugly (uglier than seeing sausage being made).

God bless anyone who wants to attempt this thankless job. I will lend my verbal support but will no longer serve in the trenches. It’s a thankless job where those who are idealistic are beat into the ground and those who have ulterior motives step all over the rest of the soldiers.

Promising to contribute to RPAC as a Party member

And finally, if you are a true REALTOR Party member you will contribute to RPAC. Nope, never going to happen in my world.

I donate each year to our United Way (I am a Pacesetter and send a significant contribution in before the campaign officially starts) which goes to support 13 local agencies. I am a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow (Sapphire) and donate every year to the annual fund for our fundraisers. I send individual contribution checks to the politicians of MY choice.

Why don’t I contribute to RPAC? I choose where my money goes. I send charitable contributions to the charities I choose. I send political contributions to the politicians I choose. I don’t want to send money to some bit PAC or slush fund to allow someone else to decide who deserves my funds. I am sorry if that sounds anal or controlling, but a few years ago, I read a piece about a monument that a group I belonged to had donated millions to. I realized that the millions could have gone to feed the hungry or clothe the homeless in my area, not to this piece of bronze or steel in a park. At that point, I decided to give contributions to the parties and the groups I want to support, not some general fund that I don’t have a say in.

The Groucho Marx quote is appropriate here: “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” I am my own person with my own mind. Nobody defines me in one word — not a party affiliation as Republican or Democrat or REALTOR.

I am a REALTOR. I am a wife, mother, daughter. I am a registered Democrat, yet ask me to define my political beliefs and I am a Blue Dog Democrat like my cousin Tim Holden. I am a photographer, reader, writer and blogger. I am an entrepreneur and multiple business owner. I am multi-faceted. I will vote for who I want, who I believe in. I will give money to who I want, who I want to support… No matter who likes it or doesn’t like it.

Erica Ramus is the Broker/Owner of Ramus Realty Group in Pottsville, PA. She also teaches real estate licensing courses at Penn State Schuylkill and is extremely active in her community, especially the Rotary Club of Pottsville and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Her background is writing, marketing and publishing, and she is the founder of Schuylkill Living Magazine, the area's regional publication. She lives near Pottsville with her husband and two teenage sons, and an occasional exchange student passing thru who needs a place to stay.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Jay Thompson

    July 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Hear that? It’s a small, one-man standing ovation in Seattle… 

  2. ericaramus

    July 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    I will take that as a compliment @Jay Thompson 

  3. drewfristoe

    July 12, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Erica, I agree with a lot if not all of what you have said.  It is your right not to want to be a member of “The Realtor Party”  BUT I do see that it has its place.  Having been involved on the State and Local level, working with The Party, I have seen my work be helpful.  From a national level with Flood Insurance, to a local issue we had with Septics.  

  4. Roland Estrada

    July 12, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I vote Conservative, period! If some the The Realtor Party agenda happens to fall into that slot, fine. 

  5. JayMyers

    July 12, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Love, Love, LOVE this. I agree with almost everything.
     
    This RPAC stuff is getting out-of-hand and downright ridiculous. I really pity the members who sit and complain about special interest groups and lobbyist and wanting smaller government but are either ignorant or blind to the fact they are continually fueling the fire with their contribution to one of the more powerful -lobbyist, or PAC groups in D.C. 
     
    With technology where it is now all members should be able to give their input where this money is used, if they are even interested in doing so is a whole other issue.

  6. JuliaOdom

    July 12, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I could have sworn I was the only one! What is good for Realtors is not necessarily good for the country and I’m not going to advocate for my interests over the greater good.

  7. Jeff Brown

    July 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    As a second generation Reelitor, I’ve watched every level of their so-called ‘leadership’ for over four decades. I’d compare it to the Keystone Kops, but don’t wanna insult the Kops. This new ‘party’ is merely another example. 
     
    I’ve never solved the dilemma: Are they that stoopid, or do they think we are? Or both? At least they’re somewhat entertaining at times.

  8. joemspake

    July 12, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    I am with you 100% Erica.  I have built my business on doing what is best for consumers and not what is best for NAR.

  9. denise.hamlin

    July 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Nicely put Erica. I don’t agree with putting us all in one sack either. We’re as diverse in our thoughts, ideas and motivation as the rest of the nation. Being members of NAR doesn’t mean they get to tell us what to think. We can do that all on our own. @JuliaOdom Nice to see you chime in. Exactly what I would have expected. I’ve missed seeing you around lately.

  10. TAR_bca

    July 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    If you don’t think political advocacy is important to our industry, just ask an appraiser how it’s worked out for them …
     
    The appraisal-industry trade groups were unwilling or unable to have any effect on the implementation of HVCC … and it’s turned their business upside down and put a lot of them out of business.
     
    I don’t agree with straight-ticket voting either, but I know that the Realtor Party, Realtor associations, and RPAC. are all critical parts of the political advocacy game … a game the real estate industry MUST play. @laniar

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Opinion Editorials

Can we combat grind culture and injustice with a nap?

(OPINION EDITORIALS) A global pandemic and a climate of racial injustice may require fresh thinking and a new approach from what grind culture has taught us.

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Sleeping cat with plant, fighting grind culture.

Information is delivered to us at warp speed with access to television, radio, and the internet (and more specifically, social media). We are inundated with messages. Oftentimes they’re personalized by something that a friend or family shared. Other times we manage them for work, school, or just keeping up with news. Many entrepreneurs already wear many hats and burn the midnight oil.

During this global pandemic, COVID-19, we have also seen a rise in awareness and attention to social injustice and systemic racism. This is not a new concept, as we all know. But it did feel like the attention was advanced exponentially by the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020. Many people and entrepreneurs felt called to action (or at least experienced self-reflection). And yet they were working at all hours to evolve their businesses to survive. All of this happening simultaneously may have felt like a struggle while they tried to figure out exactly they can do.

There are some incredible thought leaders – and with limited time, it can be as simple as checking them out on Instagram. These public figures give ideas around what to be aware of and how to make sure you are leveling up your awareness.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Center for Antiracist Research – he has been studying anti-racism and has several books and interviews that help give language to what has been happening in our country for centuries. His content also delves into why and how white people have believed they are more than people of color. Here is a great interview he did with Brené Brown on her Unlocking Us podcast.

Tamika Mallory – American activist and one of the leading organizers of the 2017 Women’s March. She has been fighting for justice to be brought upon the officers that killed Breonna Taylor on March 13. These are among other efforts around the country to push back on gun control, feminist issues, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Brené Brown – research professor at the University of Houston and has spent the last two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She has been listening and engaging on how racism and our shame intersect. She also speaks about how people can reflect on themselves and where they can take action to better our society. She has some antiracism resources on her website.

With all of this information and the change in our daily routines and work habits (or business adjustments), what is a fresh approach or possibly a new angle that you haven’t been able to consider?

There is one social channel against grind culture that may not be as well-known. At an initial glance, you may even perceive this place as a spoof Twitter and Instagram that is just telling you to take a nap. But hold on, it’s actually much smarter than that. The description says “We examine the liberating power of naps. We believe rest is a form of resistance and reparations. We install Nap Experiences. Founding in 2016.”

It might be a great time for you to check out The Nap Ministry, inspired by Tricia Hersey. White people are called to action, and people of color are expressly told to give time to taking care of themselves. Ultimately, it goes both ways – everyone needs the time to recharge and recuperate. But people of color especially are being told to value their rest more than the grind culture. Yes, you’re being told you need to manage your mental health and include self-care in your schedule.

Through The Nap Ministry, Tricia “examines rest as a form of resistance by curating safe spaces for the community to rest via Collective Napping Experiences, immersive workshops, and performance art installations.”

“In this incredibly rich offering, we speak with Tricia on the myths of grind culture, rest as resistance, and reclaiming our imaginative power through sleep. Capitalism and white supremacy have tricked us into believing that our self-worth is tied to our productivity. Tricia shares with us the revolutionary power of rest.” They have even explored embracing sleep as a political act.

Let this allow you to take a deep breath and sigh – it is a must that you take care of yourself to take care of your business as well as you customers and your community. And yes, keep your drive and desire to “get to work”. But not at your expense for the old grind culture narrative.

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Opinion Editorials

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?

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Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are may be a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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Opinion Editorials

How Peloton has developed a cult-following

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has Peloton gotten so popular? Turns out there are some clear takeaways from the bike company’s wildly successful model.

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Man riding Peloton bike with instructor pointing encouragingly during workout.

Peloton is certainly not the first company to gain a cult-like following–in the past we’ve talked about other brands with similar levels of devotion, like Crossfit and Yeti. Now, full disclosure: I’m not an exercise buff, so while I’d vaguely heard of Peloton–a company that sells stationary bikes–I had no idea it was such a big deal.

I mean, it’s not really surprising that an at-home bike that offers the option for cycling classes has grown so much during the pandemic era (a sales growth of 172% to be exact). But Peloton has been highly popular within its fanbase for years now. So, what gives? A few factors, actually.

Vertical Integration

If your company really wants to guarantee the vision and quality you’re aiming for, one of the best ways to enact it is through vertical integration, where a company owns or controls more than one part of its supply chain. Take Netflix, for example, which not only distributes media, but creates original media. Vertical integration lets companies bypass areas that are otherwise left to chance with third-party suppliers.

Peloton uses vertical integration–everything from the bike to its Wi-Fi connected tablet to the classes taught are created by Peloton. Although this may have made the bike more expensive than other at-home exercise bikes, it has also allowed Peloton to create higher quality products. And it’s worked. Many people who start on a Peloton bike comment on how the machine itself is well-built.

Takeaway: Are there any parts of your business process that you can improve in-house, rather than outsourcing?

Going Live

But with people also shelling out $40 a month for access to the training regimen Peloton provides, there’s more going on than simply high-quality craftsmanship.

Hey, plenty of cults have charismatic leaders, and Peloton is no exception. Okay, joking about the cult leader part, but really, people love their trainers. Just listen to this blogger chat about some of her favorites; people are connecting with this very human element of training. So much so that many people face blowback when suggesting they might like training without the trainers!

The trainers are only part of this puzzle though–attending live classes is a large draw. Well, as live as something can be when streamed into your house. Still, with classmate usernames and stats available while you ride, and teachers able to respond in real time to your “class,” this can simulate an in-person class without the struggle of a commute.

Takeaway: People want to see the human side of a business! Are there any ways your company could go live and provide that connection?

Getting Competitive

Pandemic aside, you can get a decent bike and workout class at an actual gym. But the folks at Peloton have one other major trick up their sleeve: Competition. Whether you’re attending a live session or catching up on a pre-recorded ride, you’re constantly competing against each other and your own records.

These leaderboards provide a constant stream of goals while you’re working out. Small accomplishments like these can help boost your dopamine, which can be the burst of good feeling you need while your legs are burning mid-workout. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Peloton fans might be into it.

Takeaway: Is there a way to cater to your audience’s competitive side?

Conclusion

At the end of the day, of course, Peloton also has the advantage of taking a unique idea (live-streamed cycle classes built into your at-home bike) and doing it first. Plus, they just happened to be poised to succeed during a quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what Peloton is doing right to build your own community of fanatics. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to get excited about a brand like yours!

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