PAR president gives overview of 2018 accomplishments

By Todd Umbenhauer | Dec. 28, 2018 | 4 min. read

When previous leaders of PAR warned me that my year as president would go by quickly, I ­­­wasn’t aware of just how fast it would pass. I’d like to take the time to review some of our accomplishments in 2018.

In the legislative arena, we experienced success in passing changes to the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act and are seeing those changes being implemented.

The association also made tremendous strides in working to pass the First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account program. We know legislators were and are very supportive of this program and anticipate reintroducing the bill in the new session. The program would allow Pennsylvanians to save money toward the purchase of a first home and the money saved would qualify as a tax deduction on their state income tax returns. Parents and grandparents would be eligible to save for children and grandchildren as well and receive the same benefits.

A first-time homebuyers savings account program in Pennsylvania could result in an increase of home purchases of up to 4,000 annually. According to the Anderson Economic Group, this increase in the number of home purchases would have an overall positive impact on Pennsylvania’s economy by as much as $70 million, by spurring additional economic activity, job creation and earnings for households.

Throughout the summer, Pennsylvania Realtors® resoundingly told Congress to renew the National Flood Insurance Program. NAR continues to support long-term authorization of the NFIP, along with reforms to improve the program. I am happy to report that our voices were heard. On Dec. 21, Congress passed an extension of the NFIP until May 31 of next year, avoiding a lapse that would have begun at midnight on Dec. 21. Our work on NFIP is not finished, but we will take this victory for now.

During PAR’s Summer Business Meetings, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act, with numerous NAR representatives in attendance, including now President John Smaby. Zeke Morris, chair of NAR’s Fair Housing Act Anniversary Work Group, spoke to the Commercial, Investment and Industrial Committee and led a table conversation during the Diversity Committee’s Roundtable Discussion session. We also welcomed Tim Hur, this year’s chair of NAR’s Diversity Committee, who spoke about changing demographics and working with culturally diverse clients.

I’m also pleased to say that you all have helped Pennsylvania RPAC exceed its goal and raise more than $825,000 this year. This is a record-breaking total for our fundraising efforts. In addition, PAR achieved its participation goal with more than 40% of members investing. Congratulations to the RPAC Fundraising Committee for this landmark achievement!

The association was delighted to see PAR Past President Todd Polinchock elected to serve as the representative for the 144th House District. He won his election for this open seat in November and three Realtors® were re-elected to serve in the General Assembly, including Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) and Reps. Sue Helm (R-Dauphin) and Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland).

A special task force was appointed in the fall to work on a new strategic plan for the association. They’re evaluating goals for PAR to help meet the needs of our 40 local associations and 34,000 members for the next two years. We expect that the plan will be introduced at PAR’s Winter Business Meetings in January.

Hats off to the many local associations that participated in our annual Realtors® Reach Out events. Realtors® consistently work to make their communities a better place to live, but in October, you collectively raised more than $61,000, collected more than 2,700 pounds of food, provided 445 Thanksgiving dinner bags of food and donated hundreds of coats. Not to mention, those Realtors® who volunteered to raise money for the Salvation Army during its Red Kettle campaign.

I also wanted to remind you to take advantage of the discounts and benefits offered to members through our Preferred PARtners program. For example, Home Depot is now offering 5 percent off gift cards for PAR members through Booking Community is another great PARtner – if you reserve a few nights in a hotel through this program, you’ll likely have recovered your dues investment. Visit PAR’s website today to learn how you can save money on multiple business services.

It has been my great honor to have served as PAR president this year and to have met so many of you while I traveled more than 22,000 miles and visited 38 local associations. I have so many fond memories and have genuinely enjoyed working with numerous phenomenal volunteer leaders. Special thanks to my talented and devoted leadership team for their tireless efforts, and to PAR’s outstanding staff, without whom our success would not be possible.

As my term and this year draw to a close, I wish you all a very happy holiday and a prosperous new year!

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