Anne H. Bedlington
The key to understanding the behavior of the Realtors' Political Action Committee (RPAC) is the character of its contributors. As anyone who has bought a home knows, a realtor has an accountant's attention to economic and legal detail and a risk-taker's penchant for creating imaginative, nonlinear solutions. Realtors are smart, competent people who are economic activists. They understand the impact of public policy on their sector of the economy.
Since the late 1970s RPAC has pursued essentially the same goal--government policy that produces an economic climate favorable to real estate. The tactics used to achieve that goal, however, have varied. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, realtors assumed that the many detailed federal policies that benefited the real estate industry were secure. They felt free, therefore, to help candidates who supported more general economic policies that might lower mortgage interest rates, such as deficit reduction, tax cuts, and cuts in government spending. In 1986, their assumptions were shaken to the core by the Tax Reform Act, which eliminated many important real estate tax breaks. Since then, realtors have worked to reclaim their industry's special tax advantages and have shifted their campaign tactics accordingly. This tactical shift is consistent with their character as pragmatic yet creative activists.
RPAC's parent organization, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), was founded in 1908. The NAR, the major trade association for real estate brokers