Romeo Manzanilla

Romeo Manzanilla

2020 President, Austin Board of REALTORS®

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how we live, work and operate. What has not changed, however, is ABoR’s commitment to advocating for you and your business at all levels of government. We’re seeing the immeasurable value and strength of a REALTOR® network that supports 1.4 million members across the country. This strength in numbers has helped our advocacy efforts throughout the crisis. Here’s how REALTOR® advocacy teams at the local, state and federal levels have been working hard with elected officials on your behalf during COVID-19.

All Advocacy is Local

In Central Texas, we have been doing everything we can do to protect our industry and the livelihoods of our members and their clients. We know the impact this crisis has had on our members and that’s why we have been fighting for you at Austin City Hall and the county to ensure real estate services continue during the pandemic.

In advance of the issuance of the Stay Home – Work Safe Orders in March, ABoR was in constant communication with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, advocating on your behalf. This direct communication and advocacy resulted in real estate being listed as an essential business that could continue while following social distancing guidelines in each Stay Home order. 

But our work did not stop there. We worked directly with city leaders to ensure the ECAD requirement was waived while the Stay Home – Work Safe order is in place. None of this would have been possible without the relationships built by the important work of TREPAC and ABoR’s advocacy team. 

We have also supported our members with overall guidance, recommendations, and other resources to keep them informed throughout this crisis. You can continue staying up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 related news and resources at our Stay Home, Work Safe Resources Kit at ABoR.com/WorkSafe.

Advocacy at the Governor’s Mansion 

At the state level, Texas REALTORS® was successful in getting residential and commercial real estate services deemed essential businesses under Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide executive order. This was a huge win for Texas REALTORS®, as it created consistency and leveled the playing field across our market by allowing real estate professionals everywhere to continue serving clients safely.

Texas REALTORS® has also worked directly with the Texas Workforce Commission to provide REALTORS® with up-to-date information about how to apply for unemployment as a part of the CARES Act.

Advocacy in Washington D.C.

In addition to providing a complete analysis of each relief bill and how it impacts the market, the National Association of REALTORS®’ advocacy team has fought for key provisions at every step to protect REALTORS®, their businesses and their clients. 

In particular, NAR staff secured relief for REALTORS® which was included in the largest financial rescue package in our nation’s history. As a direct result of NAR advocacy, the CARES Act was drafted to ensure that independent contractors and those living on a commission-based income are eligible for SBA loan and grant programs.

NAR staff was also successful in making sure that self-employed and independent contractors, who are not typically covered under traditional state unemployment programs, were included in the dramatic expansion of unemployment insurance. Furthermore, NAR has advocated heavily for extensions to the IRS deadlines since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their staff continues to work closely with Congress, the Trump administration and federal agencies to ensure all COVID-19 legislation and regulatory changes bring relief to REALTORS®.

Looking Ahead: Real Estate Industry will be Key

In these uncertain times, remember that you’re not alone. You’re part of a family of more than 14,000 REALTORS® in Central Texas and we’re in this together. 

I am confident the real estate industry will play a key role in our recovery locally, statewide and nationally. Now more than ever, our clients need our expertise and knowledge — and ABoR is here for you. We will continue to advocate so that every Central Texas REALTOR® has the tools and information they need to emerge from this crisis stronger and more prepared for their future.