National Association of Realtors buying radio ads for Chris Diebel

For the first time yesterday, I heard radio commercials supporting Chris Diebel’s campaign for the at-large Des Moines City Council seat. The National Association of Realtors Fund paid for the radio spots. I managed to tape one this morning and have posted the transcript after the jump, along with a comment from Diebel.

Both Diebel and Skip Moore, the incumbent he is challenging, are Democrats, but the realtors’ ad seems designed to appeal to Republican-leaning voters. The election will take place on November 5.

Commercial running on some Des Moines-area radio stations, beginning around October 22:

[Sound of door closing] Man’s voice: Oh, good morning, Hon. Here, I got the morning paper. Hey, did the Millers sell their house?

Woman’s voice: No, they’re caught up in red tape. Buying and selling a home in Des Moines is always slowed down by over-regulation.

Man: Yeah, tell me about it. But what can we do?

Woman: Vote for Chris.

Man: Vote for Chris who?

Woman: Chris Diebel. He’s running for Des Moines City Council.

Professional female voice-over [music in background]: Chris Diebel will cut through that red tape that can slow the process of buying and selling your home. Chris cares about our communities, because he’s an active community leader, with experience helping Des Moines businesses grow and prosper. Helping expand our economy. Improving our quality of life. Protecting the American dream of home ownership. Chris Diebel.

Woman: Where are you going, honey?

Man: Well, I’m going to go over and tell the Millers to vote for Chris Diebel. He’ll cut through the red tape.

Voice-over: How can you prepare Des Moines for a more prosperous future? Chris Diebel, City Council. Paid for by National Association of Realtors Fund. Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.

Groups making independent expenditures can’t coordinate their message with candidates, but Diebel has spoken frequently about improving the business climate in Des Moines. Labor unions are among the key supporters of Moore’s re-election bid.

I sought comment from Diebel on what “red tape” might be impeding home sales in Des Moines, and how he might address the issue as a City Council member. He sent me a public post he previously wrote regarding new home construction in the city.

Affordable Housing

Des Moines has a diverse housing stock of existing homes. However, it is important that we attract new home developments at every price point to help grow our tax base organically, infuse our school systems with renewed energy and provide support to local businesses striving to stay in the city proper.

If we want to compete with the suburbs, we must look for ways to reduce red-tape and make it easier on homebuilders to do business within our city. Central Iowa home building statistics are staggering. While business is booming in the burbs, our new home numbers continue to shrink each year.

Some argue that Des Moines has more stringent building requirements that may turn off developers, but ensures a higher quality product. I would suggest there is middle ground that can be covered without sacrificing quality if we make a concerted effort. One of my top priorities will be to spur growth in this sector.

New home development helps everyone. It can rejuvenate struggling areas by adding new life to in-fill parcels of land, inject new energy to schools, support neighborhood businesses and grow our city’s tax base without adding further burden to existing home owners.

The realtors’ ad is talking about sales of existing homes rather than new home construction. Diebel said he wasn’t involved in producing that spot, “but I do appreciate their support.”

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. I’ve never bought or sold a home in Des Moines, but if you have, please share your perspective on any “red tape” that isn’t a factor in the central Iowa suburbs.

UPDATE: At this point, I assume the claims made in this ad are a smokescreen for some undisclosed reason the realtors’ association prefers Diebel. No one has been able to give me a single example of how the city council could remove alleged “red tape” that affects home sales in the city of Des Moines. Real estate attorney Tom Fisher provided this comment:

There is no additional red tape in existing home sales in Des Moines, nor could there be. Real estate transfers are completed according to state law and filed in county offices. There is no difference between closing a sale in Des Moines or any Polk County suburb. In the suburbs in other counties, the only difference is that the filings are made in different offices. Developing housing is different in different cities, though not hugely different. Comparing the ease of development is somewhat subjective, but Des Moines is (my opinion) not harder and arguably easier than some. Some developers like the suburban markets better, but that is not due to ease of regulation.

Realtor and Democratic activist Joe Henry, who has endorsed Moore in the at-large city council race, commented,

There is no red tape! I am a realtor and that statement about problems was a lie! The only red tape that we have has to do with the mortgage companies. […]

I would also like to state that as a realtor, I am ashamed of that National Association of Realtors for promoting falsehoods about alleged red tape in the selling and buying of homes in Des Moines. The decision to endorse Chris Diebel was made by a group of realtors that don’t even live in Des Moines.

  • Getting testy

    Reportedly, an unhappy Skip Moore waved around a Chris Diebel mail piece at the Polk Dem Central Committee meeting Thursday night which blamed Moore for the franchise fee fiasco. Moore pointed out that the matter was already with the Supremes when he joined the Council. Moore wondered who the real Democrat was. Of course, the city council election is non partisan.  

  • I think it's a legitimate question

    Diebel said during a forum that the top homebuilder in Des Moines in last year was Habitat for Humanity. If true, that’s a problem.

    However, construction doesn’t really relate to existing sales. If anything, streamlining the construction process (assuming it needs reasonable streamlining) could hurt existing home sales since you’d have a larger market of places to choose in DSM.

    I suspect it has more to do with demand (and lack of interest in living in Des Moines other than downtown). The council has things they can do to improve the outlying neighborhoods (and their perception), although I suspect that the lagging sales have more to do with DSM schools’ reputation. Not surprising that most of the limited new developments have been in the Johnston or SEP districts.

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