WASHINGTON, — Today, at the National Association of Realtors®‘ 2019 Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, former Governors Terry McAuliffe and Haley Barbour examined how policies implemented by state and local governments can impact regional real estate markets. McAuliffe and Barbour also offered predictions for the 2020 Presidential Election and discussed how Realtor® participation in local government could impact policies important to the real estate industry.
NAR’s 2019 Chair of Federal Legislative and Political Forum Adam Ruiz moderated Tuesday’s event. “The number one issue facing America right now is housing affordability,” Ruiz told hundreds of Realtors® and industry stakeholders at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. “The vast majority of regulatory costs that influence this issue come at the state and local level.”
Barbour is the former Governor of Mississippi and the former Chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association. He is one of the most highly regarded political strategists in the nation, and was also recently recognized by Politico as “the most powerful Republican in politics.”
In addition to serving as Virginia’s 72nd Governor, McAuliffe was Chairman of both the National Governors Association and the Democratic National Committee. As the head of the DNC, Governor McAuliffe built the Democratic Party’s new, state-of-the-art national headquarters and its first national voter file.
Although Virginia prohibits its governors from running for consecutive terms, Governor McAuliffe noted that housing affordability concerns linger in his mind, particularly as the issue continues to impact many of his former constituents.
“If I did run for Governor again, affordable housing would be my number one issue,” McAuliffe said. He emphasized long commutes that have become commonplace in Virginia as families seek homes that fall within their price range.
Governor Barbour reiterated affordable housing shortage concerns, and underscored the point that state and local governments must take the lead in promoting policies that create additional opportunities for aspiring homeowners.
“The idea that the federal government’s solution is going to work everywhere is a crazy idea. The answer to this is in state and local government,” Governor Barbour said.
Ruiz asked Governors McAuliffe and Barbour for their predictions on the 2020 elections, specifically addressing issues that will resonate next year and how the political environment is different today than it was in 2016.
“We talk about Trump, and the biggest piece for him is going to be the economy,” Governor McAuliffe said. “We are now in our tenth year of economic recovery and growth, and that’s relatively unprecedented. But if you have a strong real estate business, you have a strong economy.”
Governor Barbour agreed that the economy will be a deciding factor in 2020, noting that the economic realities across Middle America have been vastly different in the past two years than in the years immediately following the Great Recession.
“This idea of a ten-year recovery is different in the Heartland,” Governor Barbour said. “When the national economy grows 2.1%, it doesn’t grow at that same rate in the Heartland. In the Heartland, [that] is often a declining economy. Today, you can tell the [economic] difference in the Midwest, in the mountain states and in small-town America. If the economy mirrors next October or November what it is today, that is a big plus for President Trump.”
Governor Barbour noted that 18 presidents have run for reelection since 1900, with 13 securing another term. “That’s about 70%,” Governor Barbour continued. “If the  election is about the economy, then I think that trend can hold.”
While pointing out that Governor McAuliffe has been called the “greatest fundraiser in the history of the universe” by a former Vice President, Ruiz asked how Realtors® can ensure the value of real estate resonates in today’s political environment.
“The real estate business is so powerful in politics because it touches everybody’s lives,” Virginia’s former Governor said. “Everything we do somehow has a connection to the real estate industry.”
Governor McAuliffe concluded by emphasizing the importance of Realtor® participation in the political process as NAR members return home from Washington at the end of the week.
“I can’t stress to you enough to make sure you stay active in local politics. Make sure your voices are continuing to be heard, and don’t let them come up with foolish legislation that can in any way impact the real estate industry in a negative way.”
The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.