Fact vs Fiction

When we conduct HAR member surveys, we always receive high marks from the vast majority of our members. In fact, our most recent figures from the last quarter show that more than 93% of members said they were extremely or very satisfied with HAR.

While we are quite proud of the level of service we provide to our members, we can always do better. We actively seek input and feedback from our members, and some of the recent comments that have come up several times have been based on misinformation.

We wanted to take this opportunity to separate the facts from the fiction so that you will know what’s really going on and can share this when you hear someone else saying something that you will know isn’t accurate.

HAR Membership

Fiction: I have to be a member of HAR (and therefore TAR and NAR) to have access to the MLS.

Fact: You may subscribe to the MLS without being an HAR member as long as you are with a brokerage that is not a member of HAR. You must still have your real estate license and may not call yourself a REALTOR® (unless you are a member of another local association that is your primary association), but we uncoupled HAR membership from the MLS subscription many years ago.

HAR Decision Process

Fiction: “HAR” makes decisions without asking the membership.

Fact: Each year, there is an election for the HAR Board of Directors and any member in good standing may run on the ballot. The election for the 2020 board just concluded on August 5. Those people are elected to represent the views of the membership in the decision-making process. The board is comprised of REALTOR® members from small, medium, large and largest firms; from the southwest, southeast, northwest, northeast, and central; and from commercial firms. There are also hundreds of REALTOR® members serving on one of the 16 advisory groups.

Also, all of the decisions made by “HAR” are made through the advisory groups and then approved by the Board of Directors. The staff implements the actions of the elected and appointed leaders, who are all REALTOR® members.

Listing Syndication

Fiction: HAR syndicates my listings to Zillow without my authority, and they do it because HAR makes money off sending the listings to Zillow.

Fact: We addressed this one in the magazine last month, but this is one of the most common comments. We wanted to make sure as many people see the factual answer as possible.

Syndication to Zillow (or any of the national portals) has always been a broker decision. HAR only provides the tool for the broker to send their listings, if they so choose. HAR does not receive any financial compensation from Zillow, REALTOR.com, Trulia, etc. for syndicating the listings because HAR is just providing the tool for the brokers to send their listings to Zillow (and the other national sites).

Any broker who does not wish to syndicate to these sites may send an email to idx@har.com and indicate the sites to which the broker no longer wants his or her listings sent. Note that only about six firms out of the roughly 4,600 HAR member firms have ever opted out. It is absolutely the broker’s choice though where their listings are displayed.

HAR Email Privacy

Fiction: HAR sells my email address to vendors, and that is why I receive so many spam emails.

Fact: HAR does NOT sell or give your email address to anyone. We take our members’ privacy very seriously. Due to your real estate license being issued by a public, governmental entity, anyone can go on the website for the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) and find your email address. We would advise you to maintain a business email address that is separate from your personal email address. Provide the business email address to TREC and HAR so that your personal email address will not receive as much spam. We receive it, too, and don’t like it any more than you do.

TREPAC Political Affiliation

Fiction: TREPAC only supports Democrats—OR TREPAC only supports Republicans (depending on with which political party you most affiliate) so I am not going to invest in TREPAC.

Fact: TREPAC supports those candidates and elected officials who support the REALTOR® Party. Historically speaking TREPAC has supported 51% Republicans and 49% Democrats. When the Political Affairs Advisory Group, TREPAC Trustees and HAR Board of Directors screen the candidates and approve supporting them, they look at which candidate’s positions align best with the real estate industry and the protection of private property rights. They do not take other non-real estate issues into account. Your investment in TREPAC has helped save every REALTOR® approximately $3,500 each and every year.

MLS Violations

Fiction: HAR just fines its members for MLS violations to make as much money as possible.

Fact: The HAR Quality Assurance department exists to make sure that the quality of the MLS data is as accurate as possible and conforms to MLS rules. The rules that all MLS subscribers must follow are developed and reviewed by the MLS Advisory Group, which is made up completely of members. Those rules are then approved by the HRIS Board of Directors, which is also comprised 100% of members.

The MLS rules provide 5 days for corrections to be made before a fine is issued. While 6,645 correction notices were sent out in June 2019, only 291 members were actually fined for non-compliance. That’s only 4% of the violations that actually resulted in a fine being issued. Those initial correction notices are sent to the agent, manager, broker and any administrators who are on file with HAR. This allows as many people as possible who could correct the violation to see it and get it fixed within the allowed timeframe to avoid a fine. Again, it is all about making sure the data is accurate and useful for all MLS subscribers.

Health Insurance for REALTORS®

Fiction: HAR isn’t doing anything to help secure health insurance for its members.

Fact: While Association Health Plans (AHPs) would be provided through federal law and therefore the purview of NAR, HAR has pushed for the establishment of a Texas REALTORS® association health plan, which is how it would have to be structured. Unfortunately, after the U.S. Department of Labor issued its rules regarding AHPs in early 2018, a federal lawsuit struck down the provisions that would have allowed the AHPs to be expanded to include sole proprietors (independent contractors). The lawsuit is currently under appeal, and HAR signed on to an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in support of expanding the rules to allow AHPs to be offered to REALTORS®. If the case is decided in favor of expanding AHPs to allow REALTOR® associations to provide insurance to their members, then HAR will work with TAR to make that happen in Texas.

Shannon Cobb Evans

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