Real Estate in Brief: Record-high lobbying spending driven by midterm elections, and more

by Morgan Mereday

The amount of third quarter spending on political lobbying is at a record high since 2010, with $2.6 billion spent and the National Association of Realtors is one of the top spenders. The total amount of money expended is up by approximately $30 million over last year and is $100 million more than at this same point in 2017.  

Investing $26.4 million on lobbying in the months of July through September, $11.1 million over the budget of the same three month period of last year, NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall said the boost in lobbying is due to the upcoming midterm election and an increase in candidates’ support for real estate investment and homeownership.  

In the third quarter, $400 million dollars was spent by groups relating to finance, insurance and real estate. With NAR in first place, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked No. 2 in highest spending with a budget of $25 million. Other noteworthy high expenders this third quarter included The George Soros-backed Open Society Policy Center with $7.7 million invested, and the California energy giant PG&E Corp with $6.1 million spent.  

In other real estate news:  

  • With the Trump administration contemplating new guidelines through U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to define a person’s gender and solve disputes surrounding gender with genetic exams, conversations surrounding the protection and discrimination of the transgender community has erupted throughout the nation. Groups within the real estate community have vocalized their concerns on the issue. “This is cruel and potentially has major negative implications towards the entire LGBT community. It’s disappointing to see any attempt to roll back the incredible gains we have made. Our entire industry should continue to be supportive of transgender agents, others in the real estate industry and consumers,” said Jeff Berger, founder National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals.
  • Realtors predict a turnaround in the housing market, with improvement over the next six months. Although home sales fell in September due to interest rates and low inventory,  The National Association of Realtors Confidence Index collected monthly information on the local real estate market, factors of buyers and sellers, and concerns affecting homeownership and real estate activity to find that single-family housing market conditions will improve. 
  • LendingTree reports that the average down payment amount has decreased by almost 10 percent in the third quarter, while the average down payment percentages for typical 30-year, fixed rate mortgages remained mostly stagnant from the second to third quarter. Additionally, the average loan amount granted to buyers fell by about $28,000 from the second quarter to the third.  
  • The 2018 Weichert Sellebration had a turnout of over 900 attendees. The brand’s national conference was hosted on Oct. 16-18 at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, attracting owners, brokers, managers and agents from its network of company-owned and franchised Weichert offices. The convention consisted of networking opportunities, events of dynamic content and inspirational speakers.