NAR Mid-Year Wrap-Up

REALTORS® Property Resource. Despite the tough economy, NAR continues to focus resources on keeping its members central to the transaction well into the future by moving forward with two Second Century Initiatives, the REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR) and REALTOR® University. RPR will contain deep information on every property and parcel of land in the country. About 1,000 NAR members are currently testing the software in 12 beta markets, said RPR CEO Dale Ross. Members are also testing the applications that will deploy the data on handheld devices. Once testing is completed, those 12 markets will be the first in which the database is rolled out. NAR continues to buy and license the public record data that will comprise the core of the database. The goal is to overlay all that data with data from MLSs. Ross emphasized that RPR will not license or syndicate MLS data. The information will be used solely for creating deep analytical reports – the hallmark of the product – for use by REALTORS®. Full roll-out is expected to take five to six years.

Many other agenda items also were discussed and acted upon at the board meeting. Here’s a roundup of the highlights:

REALTOR® University. REALTOR® University is NAR’s initiative for raising the bar in the profession by undertaking an accredited, degree-granting university. A blue-ribbon panel started work earlier this year on the initiative, which will result in a master’s degree program with majors in real estate sales and marketing, real estate brokerage, and appraisal, among others. It’s expected to take two to three years for the institution to become accredited. “If you want the ‘university’ attached to REALTOR®, you have to play by (academia’s) rules,” said Richard Rosenthal, CRE, of Venice, Calif., NAR’s liaison for special projects. Students will access the REALTOR® University curriculum online. In addition to master’s degrees, the university will eventually feature internship and job-placement programs, as well as an applied research center.

NAR financials strong. Although it’s been a difficult two years, NAR remains in strong financial shape. The association’s 2009 financial statements received an unqualified opinion of conformance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles from accounting firm Crowe Horwath LLP, according to Treasurer James L. Helsel Jr. In addition, 2010 membership stands at 1,079,000, nearly 2 percent above budget. Against this backdrop, the Board voted to maintain NAR dues at $80 and keep the Public Awareness Campaign special assessment at $35 for the three-year budget cycle, 2011-13.

2011 Leadership. The board recognized the association’s 2011 slate of officers:

  • President: Ronald Phipps, Warwick, R.I.
  • President-elect: Maurice “Moe” Veissi, South Miami, Fla.
  • First Vice President: Gary Thomas, Aliso Viejo, Calif.
  • Treasurer: Bill Armstrong, Damascas, Md.
    The Treasurer seat was contested: Armstrong was elected over Mike McGrew of Lawrence, Kan., by ballot during the meeting.

Professional standards, MLS policy changes. In addition to the vote to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the Board passed a number of policy changes.

  • Established authority of MLSs to require, as a matter of local discretion, submission of photographs, drawings, or renderings of listed property as a condition of inclusion in MLS.
  • Established authority of MLSs to require, as a matter of local discretion, submission of legally required seller disclosure forms as a condition of inclusion in the MLS.
  • Clarified that, if time on market and price change information are collected by the MLS, those fields cannot be treated as confidential and may be provided to clients and customers; however, MLSs may prohibit inclusion of time on market and price changes in advertising, including IDX, by other participants.
  • Amended the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual to give associations discretionary authority to refund portions of parties’ filing fees if the dispute is successfully resolved through mediation.
  • The directors also amended MLS policy statement 7.23. MLSs that permit listing participants to communicate to other participants how reductions in gross commissions will be apportioned between listing and cooperating participants in a short sale will now have additional discretionary authority to require listing participants to give cooperating participants written notice of the total reduction in gross commissions, and the resulting reduction in cooperative compensation.
  • Work group will be formed to look at two IDX-related issues: whether national franchise organizations should be permitted to index IDX listings and whether RSS feeds can include IDX listings.

Keeping ethical standards high. In a separate measure, the Board took action to apply the same ethical standards to REALTOR® association that apply to their members. Under the change, associations are prohibited from making false or misleading statements about other associations. The board also approved procedures for addressing accusations of violations.

Board Approves Sexual-Orientation Protections. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ Board of Directors, which met on Saturday at the tail end of the Midyear Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., approved a rule that bans REALTORS® from denying equal professional services to a customer on the basis of sexual orientation.

The board amended Article 10 of the Code of Ethics, which addresses “duties to the public.” That part of the Code already prohibits REALTORS® from discriminating against customers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. Standard of Practice 10-3 was also amended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in any advertisements for selling or renting property.

The change, met with applause, was passed unanimously by the Professional Standards Committee earlier in the week. The measure will now go before the NAR Delegate Body for approval at NAR’s annual conference in November.

Distinguished Service Awards. The 2010 Distinguished Service Award recipients were announced. Joe Hanauer, CIPS, CRE, of Laguna Beach, Calif., and Fred Prassas, CPM, GRI, of La Crosse, Wis., will be formally recognized at the 2010 Annual Meeting in New Orleans in November.

Legal action funding. Funding of $178,983 was approved for four cases involving a commission dispute, whether administrative fees charged by a brokerage violates RESPA, the legality of a brokerage’s mortgage lending and title operations, and defense of a patent-infringement case.

REALTORS® Federal Credit Union. The REALTORS® Federal Credit Union, launched last year, has $60 million in deposits, making it bigger than almost 80 percent of all credit unions after just one year, reported Tom Glatt, CEO. Other stats: 133 local associations, 24 state associations, and 18 MLS have their funds on deposit with the credit union, accounting for about $30 million. Update. The official property listing site remains far above its competition in site traffic, recording 12 million unique users in April. That was a record in the 14-year site history, according to NAR’s Move Inc. board representative Cathy Whatley. (Move Inc. operates on behalf of NAR.) The site enjoyed 24 percent growth over last year. With 17.5 million visits and 400 million page views each month, the site is seeing serious engagement, says President Errol Samuelson said in a report to the board.’s iPhone app, the fastest growing iPhone app in the real estate space with more than 700,000 downloads, gives mobile users access to all listings at the site. Consumers can add their own notes on each property, share properties with their listing agent, and post listings to Twitter and Facebook.

REALTORS® Political Action Committee. Donations are more than halfway toward the association’s goal for 2010 and stand at 9 percent over where donations were at this time last year, said Chris Polychron, CRS, GRI, NAR’s political fundraising liaison. The number of major donors is up 3 percent, said Phil Smaby, GRI, RPAC Major Donor Council chair. Smaby announced a goal of having 1 percent of members reach major donor status by 2015.

Broker Involvement Program. Membership in the program-which enables real estate agents to learn about legislative Calls for Action directly through their broker-has increased to more than 4,000, with 400 applications for brokers pending, said Bob McMillan, Member Mobilization liaison. The goal is to sign up 6,000 brokers by the end of the year.

Call for Action. The Board was advised of an NAR Call for Action today on two issues of concern mainly to practitioners working with investors. NAR will be asking members to urge their members of Congress not to penalize real estate partnerships in proposed tax changes to the carried interest of general partners in investment partnerships, and to vote against changes to Form 1099 filing requirements that could impose a substantial administrative burden on rental property owners.

President Vicki Cox Golder exhorted members to participate in the CFA even if the issue doesn’t concern them directly. “Just because an issue doesn’t impact you,” she said, “it’s still important you respond because the next issue that comes up could impact you.”

Source: Robert Freedman, Stacey Moncrieff, and Brian Summerfield, REALTOR® Magazine