Why would Realtors® need to pay attention to local and state politics? It cannot be overstated, but the adage “If real estate is your career, policy is your business,” has never been more crucial than it is today. Our elected officials make important decisions relating to zoning codes and regulations, property tax rates, infrastructure changes, and several other crucial factors that affect the way real estate professionals carry out their day-to-day business. Those politicians are also the ones who hear from their constituents about a number of different policy issues including matters that have a real impact on the value of their property.


A Realtor® advocate means having your voice heard on issues that are important to you – and staying informed on those issues is key. You can’t promote and protect your rights if you aren’t aware that they are in danger of being infringed upon. The RASM Government Affairs Department interfaces with all local government entities on behalf of RASM members. We proactively monitor local legislation and regulatory policy for the impact it may have on private property rights and the ability to freely buy, sell, and lease property. But we also rely on the volunteer efforts of our members to join us in the fight to protect and maintain these rights.

“As Realtors®, we are on the front lines,” said David Crawford, Broker/Owner with Catalist Realty and 2023 Treasurer of RASM. “We hear from our clients every day what the barriers are to moving here. Who we vote for and what positions they take have a direct impact on private property rights, on smart growth, on local municipalities and how they vote on comprehensive plans. Having Realtor® champions in local, regional, and state levels is so important not only to our industry, not only to our brokers, our agents, and our members, but even more so, it matters to our clients. We need to keep our finger on the pulse of our community, to ensure that those who are making the big decisions are Realtor®-friendly, smart growthfriendly leaders.”

“Advocacy is where the rubber meets the road in terms protecting our profession, watching out for our clients’ interests and making sure Florida’s real estate industry stays healthy,” said 2023 Florida REALTORS® President, Mike McGraw. “If we don’t have a strong advocacy presence in Tallahassee and in Washington D.C., the other voices in the room win out, and that’s when you see harmful policies takeover that make our lives harder and take away from our bottom line. But you can advocate for your interests all you want to a closed door and get nowhere. It’s RPAC that opens that door up so you can talk to the decision-maker standing behind it.”


The REALTOR® Party is a powerful alliance of Realtors® working together to advance public policies and candidates that build strong communities, protect property interests and promote a vibrant business environment. RASM, along with Florida REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), works for our members by advocating for local, state, and federal policy initiatives.


On local advocacy issues, RASM has adopted a Public Policy Guide when determining priorities for Manatee County and Sarasota County. We also follow state and national priorities as they pertain to our area. The RASM Public Policy Guide was created to collectively group RASM’s prime objectives as the local voice for real estate in our two-county area. The guide outlines the Association’s position under the following categories:

  • Land Use/Development
  • Taxation
  • Environment
  • Infrastructure
  • Landlord/Tenant
  • Government Budgets
  • General
  • Legislative Advocacy
  • Local Elections
  • Education

The RASM Public Policy Guide is continually being revised and updated to stay relevant and focused on our communities’ changing needs. The guide is available for RASM members only. To receive your own copy, email Maxwell@myrasm.com.


There are several important issues that Florida REALTORS® are watching closing during the Florida 2023 legislative session. RASM fully supports Florida REALTORS® and advocates locally for these key legislative issues.


One of the main issues that has impacted our state is the issue of affordable housing and is a top legislative priority for Florida REALTORS®. In fact, affordable housing continues to be a hot button topic both locally and nationwide as many people struggle to live where they work, dine, and worship. Florida especially faces an affordable housing crisis as more people move to the state in search of a comfortable climate and lower taxes. This growth combined with a lack of adequate housing inventory is making it difficult for many Floridians to find homes that fit their needs.

On March 29, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 102, known as the “Live Local Act,” a comprehensive, statewide, affordable housing act that expands on the successful Hometown Heroes Housing Program, builds on existing state housing programs, accelerates the development of new affordable rental units, and incentivizes multifamily apartment owners to reduce rent costs on existing units.

“Affordable housing is going to remain an issue that we need to monitor closely. While the Live Local Act provides some immediate housing relief, particularly with renters, Realtors® and others in our profession need to get the word out to our clients and business associates about many of the incentive and tax programs in the new law. If we can do a good job of bringing these programs to the attention of the business community, we can start an affordable housing boom that Florida has never seen,” added McGraw.


Our water bodies, water ways, springs and other natural wonders are the foundation of our communities and must be protected if Florida wants to remain one of the fastest growing and successful states in the nation. Both Florida REALTORS® and RASM advocates will continue to passionately fight for Florida’s natural resources and a pristine environment. We will also encourage all stakeholders, including the state of Florida, to do their part to help solve environmental problems.


The struggle for rent control reform has been ongoing and is another issue that won’t resolve itself overnight. In areas of the country that have implemented rent control, the local housing pipeline is disrupted as developers look for more stable areas to build their units.

Both Florida REALTORS® and RASM advocates are asking our lawmakers to support Housing Bill 1417 and Senate Bill 1586, which protect Landlord Tenant Law in Chapter 83 of Florida Statutes by preempting local governments from passing burdensome regulations outside of state law. Supporting these preemptions will allow long-term affordable housing strategies to take root, leading to more units being built successfully and more competition that drives rent down.


Florida REALTORS® applauds the Florida Legislature for taking unprecedented steps during the 2021 Legislative Session, May 2022 Special Session, and December 2022 Special Session to stabilize Florida’s deteriorating property insurance market. Among other reforms supported by Florida REALTORS®, lawmakers eliminated the one-way attorney fee and the Assignment of Benefits provisions that have been major contributors to rising premiums and a lack of affordable options.


Being able to rent your home is a fundamental right of private property owners. Vacation rental units have also become a critical part of Florida’s successful tourism-based economy, producing billions of dollars of economic activity each year. Despite this, many local governments continue to enact new, overly burdensome ordinances designed to discourage property owners from exercising their right to rent their property.

Additional state-wide top legislative priorities for Florida REALTORS® are listed at www. floridarealtors.org/advocacy/2023-legislative-priorities.


Some might think that most of the laws and rules that impact their business are decided at the state and federal levels, but often, rules and ordinances passed at the local level have the power to disrupt major aspects of our member’s businesses.

“I’m not sure if our members fully realize how common it is at County Commission and City Council meetings, that there will be rooms full of residents arguing in favor of ordinances that will assuredly harm the local real estate market and negatively impact our members’ bottom lines. We have strength in numbers as the largest trade organization in the area, but, like it or not, it’s hard to compete with some groups who have time on their hands to organize and complain loudly and often on these important issues. These elected officials are humans, and they’re susceptible to pressure from neighborhood groups that mobilize and fight against issues like vacation rentals, smart growth, and affordable housing,” said Max Brandow, Vice President of Advocacy and Member Programs at RASM. Here are some of the issues we are monitoring and taking positions on locally:


RASM supports this initiative to revitalize and renew a key area of downtown Bradenton with mixed-use projects. RASM, along with the business community in Bradenton have been on the front lines of this issue because the sale and redevelopment of the property has the opportunity to, as one resident put it, “take Bradenton from a town people drive through, to a town people drive to.”


After the successful passage of the Sarasota City Comprehensive Plan last year, the city will initiate zoning text amendments throughout the year that relate to the new comprehensive plan. RASM will be supporting the passage of these important amendments as they pertain to smart growth, affordable housing, and economic development.


RASM monitors and advocates on VR ordinances annually. We are always hearing of potential VR ordinances being proposed in various municipalities in our two county region.

“The vacation rental issue is one that is always on my radar as your local policy advocate,” said Brandow. “These local commissions and councils want to get their arms around issues that come with vacation rentals, but often they come in heavy handed, essentially making the practice of renting out your home overly burdensome and unprofitable for the individual property owners.”

Our goal is always to strike a fair balance between private property rights, eliminating regulations for private property usage, and the needs of the community.


Like last year with Sarasota, Manatee County is researching and updating its comprehensive land use plan. This plan is what most, if not all, land use decisions stem from. This presents a great opportunity for RASM and Realtors® in Manatee County to take part in shaping our communities for decades to come. We will be heavily advocating for Realtor® priorities during the formation and passage of these plans.

“Zoning is one issue I’m really passionate about. Our built environment, the landscape of our cities, and the efficient organization of our businesses and neighborhoods all stem from zoning. I’m of the opinion that if we can get our local zoning codes in a better and more efficient market-friendly position than it has been in the past, a lot of issues like traffic, affordable housing, economic development and the like will fall into place,” added Brandow.


Now that we can see the importance of advocacy, we might be tempted to think that one person alone can’t make a difference. It can be a daunting task to send an email or a phone call to your state representative when you don’t know where to begin, and chances are, it will get lost in the shuffle. That’s where the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) comes in.

“A lot of people don’t feel like a political advocate, and most of us started out that way,” said Crawford. “But the most powerful thing you can bring is your experience. You don’t have to go to law school or be a politician to have an impact. Every single Realtor® has experiences, and those stories can be just as important. Realtors® can put some heavy lifting behind local elections. When we show up, we make an impact. They realize the magnitude and size of our reach. We make some noise. By investing in RPAC, you become one of many.” For more information on RPAC, go to page 14.


The Great American Realtor® Days (GARD) is an annual event hosted by Florida REALTORS® that gives you the opportunity to travel to Tallahassee and shake hands and meet face-to-face with lawmakers before they weigh decisions that will impact how you do business. You don’t have to be a member of RPAC; any RASM member is encouraged to join. Attendees can make sure our elected leaders have the right information before voting on legislation that could hurt your bottom line, threaten the growth of your business, or make it harder for Floridians to buy their dream homes or sell their properties.

“As Realtors®, we are on the front lines,” added Crawford. “We hear from our clients every day what the barriers are to moving here, to obtaining the right home that will meet their needs. Affordable housing and insurance reform are major issues. We are advocating on behalf of them, taking that word of mouth from the client directly to the legislature. When you have an organized group, who is showing up in force, taking the time to be in Tallahassee in person at GARD, and talking about the issues right where the laws are made, it carries weight. At over 9,000 members, RASM can carry some heavy weight in the local elections. We have a strong impact, and our officials can see our reach. Is there an instant solution? No, but we’re moving the needle in the right direction.”


In past years, Realtors® who participated in GARD have been instrumental in legislation that:

  • Massively cuts the state sales tax on commercial leases.
  • Provides important insurance reforms to help keep premiums affordable.
  • Allocates significant funding for improved water quality throughout the state.
  • Caps certain fees charged by community associations.
  • Protects homeowners from excessive flood insurance increases.
  • Authorizes online/remote notaries for more streamlined transactions.
  • Provides new tools for closing open/expired permits.


One of the biggest, most direct impacts that we have experienced with our advocacy efforts was recognized when COVID-19 threatened to halt our economy. Because of our years of advocacy work, the relationships we’ve built with Florida REALTORS® and the legislature, our collective voices were heard. We had earned our seat at the table and even though we all had to adopt different business habits, we won the right to keep real estate as an essential service and managed to thrive even through a pandemic.

“During the pandemic, Realtors® were in danger of being forced into unemployment. RPAC stepped in and made sure the profession was deemed essential so our members could continue to work and keep the industry moving. And guess what? The real estate industry was the bright spot in our economy that year and helped Florida bounce back quicker than any other state,” said McGraw.

The essential service designation was huge for our members throughout the state, but not only that, at the federal level NAR made sure that Realtors® and independent contractors throughout the country were able to access much needed unemployment and COVID assistance, even though those programs are historically only accessible to W2 type employees.

“We heard horror stories from Realtor® associations throughout the country about their members being outright forbidden to work during the pandemic. Transactions being stopped dead in their tracks, closings going by the wayside, and agents’ livelihoods being disregarded by lawmakers,” added Brandow. “What we saw during the pandemic was a major lift by all three levels of the Realtor® Association. The ability to continue working during a global pandemic, the ability to access emergency funds for their businesses, it was because we have made ourselves a known commodity to these lawmakers. I think when we reflect back on the pandemic and look at some of things we were able to secure for our members and the industry during that uncertain time, we can all be proud that even though various aspects of society were put on hold, our advocacy efforts went into overdrive.”

Another key concern moving forward for Florida residents is the issue of property insurance.

“We need to continue to keep an eye on property insurance as the changes that were made last year will take time to bring relief,” said McGraw. “That means continuing to talk with lawmakers about insurance issues to see if anything else can be done while we wait for insurers to come back to the state.

Being a Realtor® advocate means having your voice heard on issues that are important to you and staying informed on those issues is key. Pay close attention to the RASM Advocacy Update emails that you receive in your inbox every month. They include valuable information on proposed legislation that could impact your livelihood and your clients.

“It’s easy to just sit back and complain about something, but nothing will be accomplished if we don’t collectively take action to protect private property rights,” added Crawford. “Decisions that are made today can have major consequences for the next 10-20 years, especially when you’re talking comprehensive plans or state bills. We want to make sure that we’re not faced with a complaint after the fact. We need our legislation to receive input directly from the Realtor® community.”