Jarrod C. Grasso, RCE, joined New Jersey REALTORS® in 1999, serving as vice president of government affairs for nine years before accepting the role of CEO. Following the belief that association executives can help each other and the industry succeed, he continues to advocate for private property rights, his members, and the real estate industry.
Grasso has also taken an active role at the national level, serving as a National Association of REALTORS® director and chair of the Association Executives Committee in 2015. He has been honored on numerous occasions for his work in the association and in the community, and last year received the William R. Magel Award of Excellence from NAR.
REALTOR® AE asked Grasso about advocating for the industry and how fellow AEs can get involved.
Q: How has your experience as NJAR’s chief lobbyist informed your tenure as AE?
Grasso: That role gave me the opportunity to have firsthand knowledge of the issues that impact the industry. Government affairs is one of the most important member services our organization provides, if not the most important. When a member asks, “What have you done lately?,” we are proud to answer with a recent legislative victory or accomplishment.
Q: What are the emerging issues you see affecting REALTORS® over the next decade?
Grasso: In New Jersey, protecting an agent’s ability to be classified as an independent contractor is No. 1 on our priority list. Our New Jersey lobbying team is also focused on updating some of the state’s more antiquated real estate statutes and regulations. Operating during a pandemic has opened our eyes to the fact that our laws need to reflect today’s digital business.
Honesty is the key to any relationship, whether with members or elected officials.
Q: How has NAR’s support aided your efforts on behalf of New Jersey REALTORS®?
Grasso: Whether it’s the availability of funding through the Issues Mobilization Committee to assist us in our fight to defeat an additional realty transfer fee or giving us matching funds to help protect agents’ independent contractor status, NAR is always ready to help. Colleagues at associations outside the REALTOR® family are envious of the resources we have available.
Q: What do you feel is the biggest advocacy moment, or “win,” of your career?
Grasso: One of the biggest wins for our team was when we defeated a proposal to extend the state’s sales tax to seasonal rentals in New Jersey. We immediately went into action, actively lobbying against the proposal, and we pulled out all the stops—calls, emails, meetings. Less than 48 hours from when the proposals were put forward, they were no longer a part of the budget process. It was a moment we saw the true power of the New Jersey REALTOR® voice.
Q: What advice can you offer AEs who want to build relationships with local and state officials?
Grasso: Honesty is key to any relationship, whether it’s with your membership or elected officials. The second part is follow-through; if you say you are going to do something or find a piece of information for an elected official, you must follow up. It doesn’t have to be right away, but trust me: The elected official or their staff will remember if you don’t follow up.