One of the greatest things about our system of government is the amount of lawmaking done in public. The texts of bills, and speeches on bills of all kinds is public information. When proposed laws come up, we have a chance to see what they are, where they came from, who they will benefit, who they will impact and why, and when the votes are coming.
But because of all the work involved, it’s still a only a slim chance. Being allowed access to this information is merely the first step. For example, NAR Commercial’s efforts on Capitol Hill include this exhaustive work of staying on top of the congressional record, watching carefully for issues that relate to commercial real estate when they arise, tracking their progress through the chambers and replicating all of this for all 50 states in addition to DC.
Before action comes alert, filtering, progress monitoring. So when a free software tool comes along to allow individuals to help out with the legwork needed before action, you bet we’re going to talk about it.
The Sunlight Foundation is a non-partisan, non-profit based in DC dedicated to making government transparent and accountable. They’ve rolled out Scout, which is an awesome new tool that alerts you when Congress or your state house proposes legislation that affects you or your commercial real estate clients. You set up keywords such as “retail” or “commercial real estate” or “property tax” and the site will alert you when these terms appear in pending legislation — including in your state house!
Scout’s uses for commercial real estate pros are many. All real estate is local, and so is all state legislation. Since Scout works with state houses and not just DC, there are numerous opportunities to use it to directly add value to your relationships. Early warning about legislation coming down the pike in the state house about road construction in a given area can be a great subject of discussion between you and your retail clientele. Bills proposing anything touching financial issues probably matter to your clients – Scout lets you be the one to bring them up.
Similarly, when Congress in DC kicks around changes in REIT accounting, it can help those of you in the investment side know what’s coming tax-wise and adjust accordingly.
Check out Scout. Watch the short tutorial video below and share with us what you find. Help us keep government working for you.
- Scout: get notified every time Congress proposes legislation with keywords you care about (boingboing.net)
- Five Great Tips For Doing More Commercial Business From Bret Hunsaker (commercialsource.com)
- Importance of Knowing the Common Used Terms in Florida Commercial Real Estate – Real Estate (rawbusinesslaw.com)