Running for Office Every Day!
John Graff is using his political background to drive his real estate career and creating the first NAGLREP LGBT Housing Policy Summit in DC
John Graff, who chairs the NAGLREP policy committee and runs the John Graff Group with eBrokers in Los Angeles, has had one of the more interesting paths to a career in real estate. It was a circuitous route from New York, Switzerland, Iowa, Washington D.C. to LA all mixed in with a Pittsburgh influence.
Born in the Bronx and wanting to escape New York, John started his journey at Franklin University in Switzerland. He then earned a summer internship following his freshman year with the 2004 Howard Dean presidential campaign in Iowa that quickly turned into a full-time position. So long Lugano.
Dean, who flamed out in dramatic fashion, eventually was named the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and his team recruited John to move to D.C. and work in the tech group charged with creating a national data base of voters.
“We were behind the Republicans on this and we were playing catchup,” John said. “Because the state committees maintained their own data bases, there was no way to keep track of voters who moved. We lost them. Once we created the national data base, we were able to target message much more effectively.”
John and his partner Matt, who he met in D.C., moved to L.A. in 2009 when Matt was offered a job in TV.
“L.A. is clearly not D.C. for political types like me,” John said. “I tried to make it work with a Policy Director job at the L.A. Unified School District. But eventually I needed a change. My father-in-law owns Prudential Realty (in existence before the national brand) in Pittsburgh, which has been in the family for 100-plus years. He got me to thinking about real estate and I made the jump.”
John quickly found real estate and politics were very similar.
“I run for office every day except there is no election,” he said. “I created and maintain a public persona and advertise to reach audiences.”
But it was his love and understanding of data that has allowed him to succeed. He is a huge proponent of targeted marketing and relies on list services like infoUSA to drill down to those he most believes would be interested in his listings and services.
Mixing politics and real estate impacted him on another front, his work with NAGLREP and founder Jeff Berger.
“There is no denying that the LGBT community is concerned with the election of Donald Trump and the nomination of Ben Carson as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,” John said. “At worst, over the next four years the administration will be openly opposed to LGBT rights and, at best unambiguous. We understand that progress is two steps forward and one step back, but we felt it was a natural progression for NAGLREP, and the right thing to do, to create our first LGBT Housing Policy Summit. I jumped at the chance to help lead the effort.”
Jeff and John will lead a NAGLREP contingent to the Human Rights Campaign Equality Center in Washington on March 13-14. Presented by Wells Fargo, the discussion will center on such critical LGBT issues as adding sexual orientation and gender identification to the Federal Fair Housing Act, fairness in lending, and addressing LGBT concerns at HUD.
“It is important for NAGLREP members to take the leadership role,” John said. “NAR is one of the largest trade groups in the world and we are the voice of the LGBT community in our industry. From a business perspective, I’ve seen throughout my professional career how people are drawn to leaders. It gives you clout. It’s a currency that allows you to make easy connections to people. NAGLREP gives us so much with networking, referrals, events, chapters and advocacy. It’s also a business driver, so make sure everyone knows you are a member.”
Along with meeting key leaders from HUD, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, NAR, and others, the NAGLREP group will visit Capitol Hill for a series of meetings with members of Congress.
“They want and need to hear from us,” John said. “In its simplest form, equal rights for the LGBT community are good business for everyone. We have money and higher disposable income. That’s why Fortune 500 companies are interested in attracting us.”
To join the NAGLREP LGBT Housing Policy Summit visit NAGLREP.com