Smart Growth

The healthier a community, the better the environment for REALTORS®. Keeping a community attractive, livable and functioning well is a complex task. Who better to be stewards of their community than REALTORS®? Whether your community is grappling with transportation and land use issues, crowded schools or open space, or working to bring vacant properties back to productive use, NAR's Smart Growth program has resources to help your association plant seeds that will pay dividends for your members for years to come.

NAR's Smart Growth program offers resources specifically for association staff, including smart growth grants, placemaking grants, issue research and assistance, publications and polling and surveys. 

Frequently Asked Questions about the NAR Smart Growth Program

Expand all

What are the Smart Growth Principles?

Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement.  Based on the experience of communities around the nation that have used smart growth approaches to create and maintain great neighborhoods, the Smart Growth Network developed a set of ten basic principles:

  • Mix land uses
  • Take advantage of compact building design
  • Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
  • Create walkable neighborhoods
  • Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place
  • Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas
  • Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities
  • Provide a variety of transportation choices
  • Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective
  • Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions

Is NAR taking a pro- or anti-development position?

NAR's position is pro-community. How governments meet the challenge of growth affects the livelihood of America's REALTORS® and the interests of their customers, America's homeowners, property owners, and tenants. Our role is to help communities successfully manage the challenge of growth through local decision making, research, sharing of expertise, creative problem solving, and building community consensus.

What can we expect local REALTORS® to do as a result of this initiative?

Our goal is to raise awareness among REALTORS® nationally; to urge them to become active in the local land use planning process; and, through their local, state, and national associations, to provide resources to help policy makers solve growth-related issues.

How did NAR get involved with Smart Growth?

Individually and through their state and local associations and boards, REALTORS® have been active in growth and land use issues for decades. In hundreds of communities and dozens of states, REALTORS® have become outspoken advocates for policies that maintain the integrity of housing markets by preserving choice and affordability without compromising the qualities that make communities desirable. In the late 1990s, the National Association of REALTORS® spent more than a year working on the question of growth and how communities are responding. The NAR Smart Growth program, established in 2000, focuses on providing education and advocacy resources to support REALTOR® associations at the state and local levels. Through the REALTOR® network of 1,600 state and local associations and boards, NAR serves as a catalyst and resource to share expertise, research, training, and other forms of assistance to participating state and local associations.

How can communities resolve the conflicting concerns of first-time home buyers who want affordability and choice and those of existing homeowners who want a quality of life untouched by the negative aspects of growth?

These concerns are not necessarily in conflict. Our research shows that both homeowners and renters share virtually the same concerns. They want affordability, choice, and a high quality of life. We believe most communities can reach consensus on these issues through public education, discussion, and planning. The key is to begin early in order to anticipate growth pressures before they polarize attitudes and spawn such extreme policies as moratoria on development.

Will you continue to measure public attitudes?

Yes. We will conduct national public opinion surveys annually. We will also assist state and local REALTOR® associations in surveying voters in their jurisdictions on growth and quality of life issues.

What are the important elements of the NAR initiative?

Through the REALTOR® network of 1,600 state and local associations and boards, NAR serves as a catalyst and resource to assist interested state and local associations. Elements include:

  • A program to measure and track public attitudes nationally on issues pertaining to responsible land-use.
  • A customized survey research program for participating state associations to use with state and local public officials and opinion leaders. Surveys will focus on measuring public attitudes on sensible development and implementation of land-use policies.
  • On Common Ground, a REALTOR® magazine on land use issues targeted to state and local public officials and opinion leaders in participating state/local boards.
  • A "quality of life" federal lobbying and communications program.
  • Research on growth management and related issues and a land use information clearinghouse on
  • Establishing NAR as the leading land use voice and authority among private and public official groups.
  • Implementing a long-term plan for the expansion of NAR's Land Use program, which provides REALTOR® associations with expert analysis of land use measures.
  • Providing customized state smart growth legislation, at the request of a state association, modeled to their specific legislative needs.
  • Providing information to assist local boards in identifying their Government Affairs representation needs.
  • Providing small grants to REALTOR® associations to help them accelerate their efforts at becoming leaders in smart growth.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions about the NAR Smart Growth Program?

Hugh Morris
National Association of REALTORS®
Smart Growth Policy Representative
Phone: 202/383-1278
Fax: 202/383-7580