Philadelphia has the ninth largest municipal economy in the world, by some measures, but despite its size, it’s struggling with budget matters like many major cities. Among other things, it has some 40,000 buildings and 10,000 lots that are vacant and off the taxpayer rolls.
In the past year or so, the Greater Philadelphia Association of REALTORS® (GPAR) has tried to step up with concrete proposals to help the city improve its financial picture, and by extension the quality of life in the city, exemplifying what NAR’s “Power of R” campaign is all about.
If you’re not familiar with “The Power of R” (or #PowerofR for tweeting purposes), it’s a campaign that NAR launched a few months ago to show how REALTORS® use their expertise in real estate and knowledge of their community to help bring about positive change that benefits everyone.
In Philadelphia, the association worked with other organizations on a proposal for a land bank, which brings in a single entity to handle the sale of the city’s 50,000 vacant properties. The idea is to let this entity evaluate at each property and get it back onto the market in the best way possible, maximizing the return to the city but also improving the value of the property and the surrounding area.
The association has a number of other ideas it’s discussing with city officials, including one to help the city sell some two dozen schools that were closed last year. Depending on factors that real estate professionals are well-suited to determine, the city would sell each school based on its highest and best use. That might be as a new hall for one of the city’s many world-class universities or as a condo development or as something else. The point is that determining what that best use is is something REALTORS® know a lot about, and so by leveraging their expertise, the city can benefit itself and the market.
Taken together, the association’s many proposals are exactly what the “Power of R” campaign is all about: it’s REALTORS® using their expertise to improve their community for everyone’s benefit. In the 5-minute video above, GPAR President Allan Domb talks about his association’s ideas for helping Philadelphia leverage its assets. There might be ideas there to take back to your association.