By Michelle Flaherty Philbrook
This is my fourth year taking an active role in one of the most exciting aspects of the NAR Midyear meetings – personally meeting with our congressional delegation on Capitol Hill to discuss issues important to the real estate industry and homeownership. Each year, a group of 20 or so REALTORS(R) from the Maine Association come along, with 8-10 taking speaking roles in one or more of the meetings. We’re briefed on the topics in advance by NAR Government Affairs staff, and given official talking points to guide our conversations.
Effectively presenting a topic to our leaders requires knowledge of the topic, articulate delivery, and lots of confidence – the same qualities that serve us well when giving listing presentations, reviewing buyer agency agreements, and negotiating with fellow practitioners. Really, with the types of issues we deal with on a daily basis (short sales, anyone?), lobbying Congress is a piece of cake.
This year, I was asked to present the topic of GSE (Fannie & Freddie) reform and GSE loan limits to Congresswoman Chellie Pingree at our meeting with her yesterday. To prepare, I went through my normal ritual:
1. Read the talking points from NAR to gain a strong understanding of the issue and its effect our industry.
2. Research the issue on my own, and read the bill if applicable – that way, I gain a well-rounded perspective and can present the topic in my own words.
3. Write an outline on a piece of paper, with super-basic headlines to keep my presentation on track. Writing a script out in advance can be counter-productive in my experience and can really throw you off if you miss a word or two. This year my scrap of notebook paper read:
-Restructure Fannie & Freddie in a responsible way w/strong government presence
-Make higher loan limits which expire Dec. 30 permanent
-HR 2483 “Increasing Homeownership Opportunities Act”
-Also gives flexibility to the Director to adjust limits in metro areas
4. Smile, breathe, and be conscious of “ums” and “y’knows”.
This year, it went well – especially since I got asked at the last minute to sub in and present to Senator Susan Collins this morning. Senator Collins is one of the most powerful members of the Senate, so I couldn’t help but be nervous – but since I’d done the prep work (and luckily my outline from yesterday was still in my bag), the presentation was a breeze!
Michelle Flaherty is an associate broker with Prudential Northeast Properties, serving Greater Portland, Maine. Visit her Web site at www.michelleflaherty.com.