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WTH is RPAC, Anyway?

We had a presentation at our local Association’s Annual Meeting about RPAC, its significance and why, even in these tough financial times, it is important to support it with as many dollars as we can spare. For those who don’t know, the RPAC is an acronym for REALTORS Political Action Committee. I am sure you have folks from your local Association asking you to support RPAC, but do you know what it is and why it is so important? Why should you care about Political Action?

If you ask me, RPAC is an investment in your business. If you pay close enough attention, you will find many example of the kinds of things that RPAC influences. Nationally, and most recently, you may have received an email call to action to support NARs recent economic and housing stimulus recommendation. Hopefully you followed through and encouraged your Senators and Congressmen to support this. You can be sure that your voice will be heard because RPAC dollars and efforts have already earned the attention of many of these representatives already.

Local Issues / Local Impact

In my opinion, though, RPAC is most effective and potentially business and life-altering at the state and local levels. RPAC campaigns here in Pennsylvania have made a major impact on decisions made by municipalities, counties and states.

For example, our Pennsylvania Legislature considered a Bill to raise the real estate transfer tax (RTT) to help fund mass transit. This increased tax, which is collected upon the sale of all real estate in the state, would effectively raise the cost of the average home by $5,000 to $10,000. This is not appreciation being realized by wise investors and homeowners, mind you, this is TAX being collected by the State. Since the tax must be paid in a lump sum at settlement, closing costs for buyers and sellers would be hugely impacted, potentially doubling the amount of tax due at closing (there is already a 2% RTT in place and some municipalities, like the City of Philadelphia, charge even more). Needless to say to all you real estate types reading this, an increase like this would put a huge burden on property owners and the real estate market across the entire State.

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PAR (Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS), in conjunction with RPAC, orchestrated a massive effort to inform voters of this proposal, including calls to action, a website dedicated to the issue called, alliances with the Builders Association and other groups, and the mobilization of its 30,000+ members across the State. The result? A loud and clear message to our elected officials that this tax increase would not be tolerated. The Bill died a deserved death.

Furthermore, Representatives in Harrisburg learned a big lesson: Don’t mess with the REALTORS (this is an actual statement from a Representative from my area).


This is just one specific example of how RPAC supports the rights of homeowners and helps our business. Your RPAC contribution buys us a seat at the table in any important legislative discussion…locally, at the state level and federally. Money raised by RPAC is not used to support the Democratic Party, or the Republican Party, or any other party except the REALTOR Party. We should all be proud of RPAC because it is one of the few PACs that really helps consumers. Our issues are homeowners’ issues, and we staunchly support private property rights, advocate for issues supporting property appreciation, and look out for things which can interfere with real estate transactions, like grossly inflated RTT’s.

I’m sure if you look hard enough, you can find examples where RPAC and the power of the REALTOR Party have made a difference in your area. What kind of issues do you know of that have already been addressed? What kind of issues are coming up that could use the support of RPAC?


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Written By

Lisa sells residential real estate in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern PA, and authors The Poconos Real Estate Blog. Being a strong believer in community participation, she currently serves as President of a 1700 home Property Owners' Association and Secretary of the Board of the local REALTOR Association for 2009. Her most challenging and fulfilling role, though, is that of Mom to two teenage girls, and her main hope for them is that they learn to appreciate the abundant joys of a life lived with a positive attitude. You can connect with Lisa on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn.



  1. Missy Caulk

    November 18, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Lisa, many agents in my area donate to RPAC II, as that money goes to issues.

    Regular RPAC goes to candidates, many local elections. Yes I support the lobbying of RPAC II, as I don’t always agree with the candidates that they endorse at least in MI.

  2. Lisa Sanderson

    November 18, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Interesting, I’ve not heard of RPAC II. Is that a Michigan thing?

  3. Mark Eibner

    November 18, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    we’re at it again RPAC is ‘Our’ PAC: Get out of your feed reader and commen..

  4. sheilabragg

    November 18, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    RPAC is ‘Our’ PAC: Get out of your feed reader and comment on this post- we PROMISE that ..

  5. Mack

    November 19, 2008 at 6:52 am

    In Georgia, NAR and GAR have gotten behind Sen. Saxby Chambliss in the runoff election slated for 12-2-2008. He has a near perfect record when it comes to voting that supports real estate. It doesn’t hurt my feeling that he also supports the “Fair Tax”.

  6. Bill Lublin

    November 19, 2008 at 7:15 am

    Lisa; Well put – you know how effective PAR is and NAR as well – while I agree with Missy that I am not always in suppot fo the candidates we may support with our RPAC dollars, I know that they are generally candidates with a record of being well disposed to listen to us and address our issues. And as far as fighting unfair and restrictive regulation on every level – except for the REALTOR family, there is no one out there who cares about our ability to make a living.

    Gotta give some back – Give it to OUR Pac

  7. George McCumiskey

    November 19, 2008 at 8:42 am

    While no one expects the politicians to be in our pockets (we aren’t lobbyists after all) it is as said earlier – good to know they’ll at least listen to our ideas as realtors.

  8. Terry- Charlotte NC

    November 19, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Bigger question about Saxby might be how much does he support big bank interests? If they are in conflict, which side will he take?

  9. Terry McDonald

    November 19, 2008 at 11:37 am

    I too support RPAC- I’m on our local association’s advisory board as well, yet I do have a few concerns. I wonder if these are issues where you work and live…

    Are the local Home Builders Association and local Realtors association too closely allied? Clearly, we have many issues in common.

    However, locally we’ve combined the two separate interest groups to one public face, the perfect example was a statewide effort to prevent both transfer taxes and impact fees in the same lobbying effort. Transfer taxes that affected every transaction, and impact fees, that affected only the New Home Purchase. They have some traits in common, but are two different issues entirely, and costs and benefits accrue quite differentially.

    Are our lobbyists only interested in preserving the status quo? (That supports big brokers interests over agent and consumer interests every time?)

    I fear nationally they may have associated themselves too closely with one party, now as the political winds changed in Washington, will they have the same seats at the table? Banks still want INTO the real estate business, badly.

    Last, we need to recognize that one of the many reasons the US auto industry is in so much trouble is because they had some of the most effective lobbyists “working on their behalf.” Likewise, with similar results, lobbyists were quite effective in keeping mortgage derivatives out of the regulatory process, the same ones that threaten the collapse of our economy.

    Good lobbying does not replace good business practices, nor create a 21st century model for my business, nor get me one more closing next month… But it does affect the field we all play on.
    So the hard question is “Are they lobbying for a more transparent consumer oriented field? One that is fair to all? Or are they lobbying to protect a more narrow self-interest?

  10. Mack

    November 19, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    @ Terry – Saxby has voted against banks being allowed to enter into real estate.

  11. Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra

    November 19, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    As long as RPAC gives money to individual candidates, I will not donate to RPAC. I support their lobbying, and I recognize their purpose, but I am not willing to allow my money to be donated to candidates that I would not personally support.

    I am a citizen first, a REALTOR second. If I happen to support a candidate that RPAC also supports, then I will donate the money myself.

    We all know how important money is to the political process (like it or not), that is why I prefer to control the influence of my own money as much as I can.

  12. Ben Martin, Va Assn of REALTORS

    November 19, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    @Daniel: Respectfully (reverentially even): It may seem like hair-splitting, but RPAC doesn’t do any lobbying. Lobbying is usually done by association staff and REALTORS. RPAC is basically just a bank account with trustees.

    I can see it now: ZebraPAC. 😉

  13. Bob Wilson

    November 19, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    What the Zebra said.

  14. Bill Lublin

    November 20, 2008 at 4:32 am

    What if a candidate that you would not support was supportive of a bill you did support? I find frequently that my social agenda is served by different politicians than my business agenda. (Life is so often a series of grays rather than specific black and whites)

    Why not donate to RPAC to safeguard your business, and donate personally to specific candidates to safeguard your conscience? Sort of covers all of the bases that way.

  15. Terry McDonald

    November 20, 2008 at 6:12 am

    I’m pretty much with Bill here- I do support RPAC- but do believe their priorities are-lets just say somewhat mixed at times-so I often support another candidate personally.

    However, our state Realtor association became known for the STIFF-ARM this year. Check this out- NCAR, the NC Realtor organization, sent out a pre-election “Special Assesment” of $50 if paid by October 1, and $100 after October 1.
    This was not a request, it was specifically to “influence the upcoming election” and it is a requirement to keep your membership.
    The funds are to go to our state RPAC.

    I did not participate and will pay the $100 if necessary, though there are folks fighting against this “protection” money, and the last word may not have been spoken here.

  16. jonesy

    December 8, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    RPAC, if it really wasn’t a pyramid/ponzi scheme, should publish a list of politicians that support real estate. Then we can each support (financially) the politicians in our respective areas.

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