In March 2020, when the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic was just sinking in, many government officials and business leaders, particularly REALTORS®, struggled with how to deal with the situation. Tough choices were made to shut down significant portions of the economy that directly impacted tens of millions of Americans.
Virginia REALTORS® partnered with the Governor’s office, the Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade, and the Department of Health in the initial days of the pandemic to create professional best practices to keep real estate OPEN FOR BUSINESS. While other states severely restricted or outright prohibited the business of real estate, Virginia cautiously permitted YOU to continue working with your clients. From CDC cleaning guidelines to virtual showings and more remote interaction, you adjusted to the circumstances like you always do.
Virginia REALTORS® worked with stakeholders and the Virginia Department and Community Development to establish and continue to streamline the Virginia Rent Relief Program to help keep tenants in stable housing and provide relief to housing providers.
Throughout the entire year, Virginia REALTORS® received feedback from you on how these efforts were working and provided that information to state leaders to make programs more effective. Our best asset as an Association is our nearly 35,000 members who represent virtually every community throughout the Commonwealth.
That effort has led to real estate being one of the bright spots in Virginia’s economy in the last year. With strong performances in home sales and increased home values, the real estate industry has been a boon to the state’s economy, including Virginia’s tax coffers. According to Commonwealth’s February 2021 revenue numbers, collections of wills, suits, deeds, and contracts–mainly recordation tax collections–were $44.8 million in February, compared with $30.7 million in February of last year, an increase of 45.9 percent. On a year-to-date basis, collections are up 38.3 percent, ahead of the annual forecast of 24.4 percent growth.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges and opportunities for the Virginia REALTORS® advocacy efforts in the past year. Like many of us, the legislature met mostly virtually this past year. Our team mounted a remote lobbying effort, which presented challenges when educating legislators about complex policy issues, particularly those related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many members of the House of Delegates did not come to Richmond for legislative meetings, opting instead to participate from their hometowns. That meant lots of virtual meetings, phone calls, e-mails, and text messages to legislators to spread our message.
And once again, you, our members, stepped up to the challenge and boosted our advocacy efforts this year. In the 2021 General Assembly Session, more than 300 REALTORS® participated in virtual meetings and you sent nearly 9,000 call for action messages to legislators on issues important to our industry.
Thank you all for your dedication to our industry and those you represent over this difficult year. If you have questions or thoughts about our advocacy efforts, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.