Colorado Association of REALTORS® President and CEO Tyrone Adams, RCE, CAE, has a motto: “There are always opportunities in challenges!”
To mark the association’s centenary in 2021, he and his staff knew they wanted to make an impact. So, the association teamed up with Habitat for Humanity, achieving four legislative victories to improve homeownership access for all Coloradans. They named the effort “A Century of Opportunity.”
REALTOR® AE asked Adams about the challenges of homeownership access and how an opportunity-focused mindset can help overcome most roadblocks.
Q: Successful passage of this legislation required both confidence and creativity. How do you instill that kind of culture?
Adams: By encouraging and reminding my team to take calculated risks, without repercussions if they don’t pan out; to get creative with solutions; and to participate in industry coalitions. We believe the challenges that the real estate industry and REALTOR® associations are facing today call for innovative solutions. This is exactly what our government affairs team—led by Elizabeth Peetz and our lobbyists—did this past year, which resulted in the successful passage of our Century of Opportunity legislation.
Q: How did you develop the proposed legislation?
Adams: We looked at the Century of Opportunity legislation through the lens of consumers who are looking to buy a home now or in the future. It was developed and based on research from the National Association of REALTORS® and diverse REALTOR® housing groups showing that in diverse populations of color, there were barriers to accessing affordable homeownership. We wanted to take the conversations that we were all having about racial justice during the pandemic and turn that energy into impactful public policy that can positively open doors to homeownership for all Coloradans. We worked side by side with an amazing thought leader at Habitat for Humanity who was working on related issues and who became our Century of Opportunity partner.
Q: What were the keys to getting this legislation passed?
Adams: We succeeded by doing four things: 1) Selecting a strong REALTOR® champion bill sponsor to carry the legislation; 2) working directly with a consultant who does affordable housing development to build out the menu of grant options; 3) working very dynamically behind the scenes with the governor’s office; and 4) in addition to our normal industry partners, working with new, nontraditional partners—such as the credit-building alliance—to mobilize a broad, bipartisan coalition of support behind all four pieces of legislation.
Q: What advice do you have for other state associations eager to take on more advocacy?
Adams: Work proactively to build and enhance relationships with industry partners and community housing organizations. We realized a long time ago that these issues and challenges are bigger than just the REALTOR® associations. It is going to take a unified effort, uncomfortable conversations and realizations, and bipartisan support to make short-term and long-term changes to advance our housing challenges.
Q: During 28 years with CAR, you moved up the ranks from communications director to CEO. How did that role help prepare you to become CEO, and what required an adjustment?
Adams: Like a few other areas—such as finances and technology—strong, thoughtful, and well-crafted communications are one of the core tenets of associations. You learn about each area of the association, determine how to communicate and promote your association’s value proposition, gather data and facts to support your decision-making, and, most importantly, become a good listener. The required adjustment for me was to build a stable, trustworthy, professional, and productive team that enhances the value proposition of the association, allowing me to work with the leadership team and board and focus on the future of the association, external communications, and participation in coalitions and events while representing CAR.