A Successful Legislative Days EventThank you to all who attended the Washington REALTORS® Legislative Days Event! We held our event at the Little Creek Casino and would like to extend our gratitude to the Squaxin Island Tribe for their warm welcome.
The two-day event was packed with meetings, networking events, a gorgeous installation banquet, guest speakers and more. Our members met with 119 Legislators to help further REALTOR Legislative Priorities. See below for a full recap of the event...
COMMITTEE DAY, JANUARY 17
The 2024 RPAC Committee Chair, Hailey Rarden, delivered the Chair’s Report and an update on RPAC Fundraising results from 2023. The RPAC Trustees approved the following 2024 RPAC Fundraising Goals:
- 330 Major Investors
- 35% Participation Rate
- 55 President's Circle Members
- 100 Realtor Champion's Club Members
Kitty Wallace, NAR’s 2024 REALTOR® Party Fundraising Liaison, led the Trustee Committee Training. Mary Hull-Drury, Washington REALTORS® Government Affairs Director, discussed the Legislative Priority bills for 2024.
The Membership Core Committee, which oversees education, communications, awards, and member benefits, heard presentations on current legal issues from WR Legal Hotline Lawyer Annie Fitzsimmons and Attorney Mike Spence. Updates were also shared by the Awards Task Force, Communications Committee, and Education Committee on the upcoming WR Member Benefit, Photofy.
LEGISLATIVE STEERING COMMITTEEThe purpose of the Legislative Steering Committee is to coordinate and promote legislation that aligns with our policies, which recognize both the interests of the real estate industry and consumers, and the importance of homeownership and property rights. It also aims to defend against legislation that is detrimental to those rights and interests.
The committee is involved in promoting campaigns, directing lobbying efforts, and prioritizing legislation. During this meeting, the committee heard updates on new and returning housing supply legislation from the WR Advocacy team. Committee members, and attendees, also engaged in robust discussion about a new real estate sales tax proposal (HB 2276 & SB 6191), culminating in a motion to oppose the new tax measure.
WR maintains a list of REALTOR® priorities, available here, and is currently tracking close to 300 bills this session. Stay tuned for more updates throughout the session.
OPERATIONS COMMITTEEThe Operations Core Committee heard an overview of WR’s new partnership with Junior Achievement. WR is sponsoring the housing segment of the Mobile Finance Park experience which will travel statewide to present education on financial literacy. The partnership will also offer our members volunteer opportunities. Junior Achievement is dedicated to giving youth skills and knowledge needed to own their financial success. For more information, visit https://washington.ja.org/. In addition the committee heard reports from the Young Professionals Network, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Professional Standards.
DEI COMMITTEEThe Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is committed to promoting diversity through the real estate industry, fair housing and Washington REALTORS®. We take pride in developing strategic relations for diverse partnerships locally and internationally, through education, events, volunteer services, scholarships and leadership opportunities. During this meeting, we heard a presentation on the Covenant Homeownership Program and DPA Programs from Lisa DeBrock, Director Homeownership Division Washington State Housing Finance Commission.
RPAC AWARDSHelp us thank and congratulate the 2024 RPAC Award winners announced during our Legislative Days Event! View the winners of the RPAC Awards here.
INSTALLATION BANQUETThe 2024 President, Leadership, and State Directors of Washington REALTORS® were installed on Wednesday, January 17th. A silent auction was held, raising over $15,000 for the REALTORS® Relief Foundation!
HILL DAY, JANUARY 18
BOARD OF DIRECTORSThe Board of Directors held a brief meeting to approve the selection of Eric Johnson as the Eastern Washington Regional Representative. Eric will serve on the 2024 Washington REALTORS® Executive Committee.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: STATE SENATOR MARK MULLETSenator Mullet is widely recognized as a collaborative legislator highly skilled at bringing people together from across the aisle to work on major issues like affordable housing, access to college, and public safety. The Senator was recently named a REALTOR® champion for his hard work toward maintaining, and passing, pragmatic policies and bills. Last, but not at all least, he is running for Governor of the great State of Washington and our RPAC Trustee Committee very recently endorsed his candidacy for his friendship to the real estate industry and REALTORS®.
CONSUMER AGENCY CAMPAIGNWashington REALTORS® CEO Nathan Gorton and WR Communications Chair Lori Sinclair discussed the Buyer Agency Consumer Campaign, focused on educating consumers about recent legal changes requiring buyers to sign an agency agreement at the outset of real estate services. Initiated in December, the campaign includes a task force to shape its direction and aims to inform consumers about the law change while setting expectations. The campaign will feature a TV ad and social media efforts, highlighting how REALTORS® have incorporated a best practice into state law, thereby enhancing the industry. This campaign will also be available for REALTORS® to use in their marketing and client communications. Preview a DRAFT of the TV Ad here.
LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIESVolunteer leaders, staff, and member survey results established our Legislative Priorities for 2024 and we’re constantly monitoring for new information or developments to ensure we’re supporting our members and industry. The 2024 Session began January 8th and is scheduled for 60 days with a projected end date of March 7th. The Washington Realtors® Legislative Steering Committee and leadership developed a large list of priorities for the ‘23-‘24 cycle to increase supply and made amazing strides with most of our bills passing in 2023.
Like last year, there are numerous bills on housing supply and affordability; many of these bills we like and will support; some of them need work; others we will oppose. We’re encouraged that the Legislature fully recognizes the importance of the housing supply and affordability issues that Washington REALTORS® have been advocating for at the state and local level for decades.
- LOT SPLITTING
HB 1245 (Barkis) - This bill was introduced last year and in essence creates an administrative process for cities to create additional residential buildable lots through a lot-split. The determination would be made by cities similar to boundary line adjustments, so they can ensure the new lot meets various requirements such as size, utility services, legal access and easements, and comply with any environmental constraints. Consistent with the fast pace of a short session, this bill passed off the House Floor on the 1st day of session 94-4 and is on its way to the Senate.
- RURAL DETACHED ADUs
HB 1133 (Rep Chapman) / SB 5357 (Sen Gildon); HB 2126 (Rep Low); and SB 6029 (Sen Braun) - For background, King County allows Detached Accessory Dwelling Units outside of Urban Growth Areas, but Growth Board decisions have prevented other counties from allowing this same type of housing. This has led to illegally converted garages, barns, or sheds – AND an inequity in housing supply for rural areas. Detached ADUs are less expensive, smaller, and easier to build – the Legislature should correct this by allowing either, (within limits) Detached ADUs, or give all counties the option of implementing King County’s Detached ADU ordinance.
- Limits lots to one (1) ADU.
- Must have access to utilities that can support the ADU.
- Water must be metered and have water rights.
- Floor are limitations (1296 sft).
- Must use the same driveway as the primary dwelling.
- Sited to prevent loss of agricultural land or forestland.
- TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT
HB 2160 (Reed) / SB 6024 (Trudeau) - Washington REALTORS® positions can, and do, change as a bill travels through the legislative process. This bill is an example of that. The State will be investing billions of dollars in transit projects, and these areas lend to opportunities for new housing supply and commercial services. However, since last year when the original bills were introduced, there have been some changes creating tension between the need for housing supply and mandated affordability policies. WR supports housing affordability, but we have talked with many who develop affordable housing projects and they believe that in the current version of the bill, zoning levels are too low, and affordability mandates are too high…the result of which makes these projects un-feasible from a development perspective.
Though we support the concept of adding supply and density to these areas that are affordable, if projects aren’t developed because of the affordability mandates then it’s a lost opportunity.
So our position on this bill has changed… but we will continue to work the bill and ask that instead of mandating affordability, the policy defers to local policies and programs [like MFTE - Multi-family Tax exemptions] and offers state support.
- DO NO HARM TO REAL ESTATE!
It is not news to anyone that the real estate market faces unique and broad challenges. We have added a fourth category to our Legislative Priorities called ‘Do No Harm’ which serves as a catch-all for bills that might negatively affect housing.
A few examples we’ve heard from members are:
- Declining investments in new single and multifamily housing construction.
- Cancellation or delay of development projects.
- Reduction in new building permits.
- Competition against other regions to attract investments in housing and real estate.
This is an opportunity for you to be the expert on your local market area and share information about local issues. Contact email@example.com if you have questions or would like to share local information with WR’s Advocacy Team.
THE HILL CLIMBDespite a rainy day, our members ascended the Hill to meet with 119 Legislators…that’s 85% of Legislators on the Hill! WR members met to represent issues unique to their area and to discuss REALTOR® Legislative Priorities.
Thank you again for attending the 2024 Legislative Days event and we look forward to seeing you again at our 2024 Spring Business Conference - view the WR Calendar here.