Voices of Real Estate
A Note from 2015 NAR President Chris Polychron
As many of you may already know, on Friday, January 15, 2016, Arron Lewis was found guilty of abducting and killing a Realtor® from Arkansas, a beloved member of our community, Beverly Carter. Justice has been served, and Lewis will spend the rest of his life behind bars, with no hope of parole. I pray Beverly’s family, friends, and community will find peace with this closure.
I pen this note to you, my fellow Realtors®, with bittersweet sentiments. We owe so much to the Carter family, who despite their unfathomable grief, have done a tremendous job bringing safety to the forefront of our industry. In the 16 months since Beverly Carter’s murder, NAR; local and state Realtor® associations; and, brokers and agents from all across the country, have worked together to develop professional safety protocols. I want to thank, personally, all those who have helped to create and promote the resources now available through the REALTOR® Safety Program. Your contributions are making a real difference.
I urge all REALTORS® to honor Beverly Carter’s memory by remaining vigilant. Ours is the best profession in the world, yet there are some real risks associated with it. Please take the time to understand potential dangers, and take precautions to protect yourself and your colleagues.
Learn more about the REALTOR® Safety Program by visiting www.realtor.org/safety.
By: Tom Salomone, 2016 President
Monday, Jan 18th 2016, marks MLK Day, honoring the memory of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In thinking about Dr. King’s many, many heroic contributions, I am reminded of the tremendous impact he had on our industry, including our Association.
In the summer of 1966, Dr. King moved to Chicago and engaged in a series of marches, appealing to the city’s real estate practitioners to end discriminatory housing practices. King’s demand for open housing led to the 1968 passage of the Fair Housing Act. The Act declared a national policy of fair housing throughout the United States. The law makes illegal any discrimination in the sale, lease or rental of housing, or making housing otherwise unavailable, because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
Demonstrating the National Association of REALTORS® commitment to civil rights and making property ownership viable for all Americans, King’s call for fair housing was incorporated into the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. Article 10 states,
“REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS®, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
Let Dr. King’s legacy be an inspiration to us all- to work even harder – both in our businesses and in our communities.
In the words of Dr. King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
If you are looking for ways to get more involved and make a difference within your community, I encourage you to check out the incredible work REALTORS®, from across the country, are doing in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club of America!
By: Chris Polychron, 2016 Immediate Past President
Bonjour et Bonne Année! Hello and Happy New Year, my fellow REALTORS®!
Just before the holiday, I had the privilege of representing NAR, and speaking at the Federation Nationale de l’Immobilier’s (FNAIM) General Assembly. FNAIM, NAR’s bilateral partner in France, is the premier association for French real estate professionals. The association’s mission is similar to NAR’s mission. Working on behalf of French real estate practitioners and property owners, FNAIM is committed to ensuring that real estate is practiced professionally and ethically throughout France. Like REALTORS®, members of FNAIM must adhere to a strict code of ethics, setting FNAIM members apart from other French real estate practitioners.
The NAR – FNAIM partnership was established in 1999. As associations laboring towards similar goals, our collegial alliance has strengthened over the years and our organizations have collaborated globally on a number of occasions. When the heinous terrorist attacks in Paris occurred this past November, there were a number of FNAIM delegates attending the REALTORS® Conference and Expo in San Diego. Our French colleagues commented that being far away from home during a national crisis was extremely difficult, but the outpouring of support REALTORS® displayed to the FNAIM delegates, was overwhelming. Living in post 9/11 America, naturally, we could all sympathize. But if you attended the General Session during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo, you can attest that the bond we share with our French colleagues moved us beyond mere sympathy. As part of the NAR Global Alliances Flag Ceremony which opened the General Session, Yves Boussard, Past President of FNAIM, carried the French flag onto stage. Spontaneously, all 6000 general session attendees stood up and gave a boisterous and extended standing ovation. From my vantage point, back stage, looking out, I couldn’t see one dry eye. Mine certainly weren’t. The NAR community stood in solidarity- a gesture illustrating how ours is so much more than just a profession, it’s a brotherhood.
The 2015 FNAIM General Assembly in Paris was scheduled for the second week of December, hardly a month after the attack. I wondered if FNAIM would cancel. News stations predicted that there were more attacks to come, and Parisians, rightfully so, were on edge. If I am honest, I too was a little bit nervous at the idea of traveling abroad. But FNAIM persevered; they made the decision to proceed as planned. And I am so glad they did! The conference was tremendous.
Every day the world continues to get smaller. We live in a day and age where our next business deal may not be in the next neighborhood or town, but an ocean or continent away. Consumers are more mobile than ever before. And technology has connected us in ways we never imagined possible.
Similar to the relationship that NAR has established with FNAIM, NAR has built alliances with prestigious real estate associations worldwide. These relationships can help REALTORS® tap into, and profit from, this growing global market.
If you are interested in learning more about global real estate, I encourage you to look into NAR’s Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation. The designation taught me how to explore global opportunities in my home state, Arkansas. You may not think of Arkansas as being an international destination, but as they say in France, L’habit ne fait pas le moine. Literally- Don’t judge a monk by his clothes, or as we say it here in the US, Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Global business is everywhere- New York, Miami, Paris, Hot Springs, Arkansas. You just need to know how to look for it. NAR has resources to help you.
No matter which holiday you celebrate, or even if you don’t celebrate any holiday at all, the end of the year provides most of us with a well-deserved opportunity to slow down and reflect. Lightening your foot off the gas pedal isn’t easy– after all, as a Realtor, it’s your strong work ethic and unwavering commitment to customer service that sets you apart. But now as the year is winding down, it’s your turn to unwind with it- even if only for a short while.
This year I’m going to do my best to avoid the hustle and bustle that often accompanies the holiday season. It’s been a wonderfully busy year with the US real estate market in full recovery mode, but now I’m ready to hunker down at home. It’s time to relish in a brief, but acceptable, moment of being unplugged. For me, discovering the magic of the holiday season means being able to enjoy undistracted, quality time with those that matter most- my family and close friends.
When I was child growing up in New Jersey during the 1960’s, times were different. My universe was encompassed in a one mile radius. We weren’t connected to the world via internet or cell phone; if your mom was looking for you, she’d open the door and shout.
Christmas celebrations, along with every other holiday, including birthdays and Sunday dinners, were spent at my grandparent’s house, just down the street. As a child, the magic of the holidays had less to do with Grandma’s house, and more to do with waiting in line to take a Polaroid picture with Santa. But as an adult looking back, my fondest memories are focused inside my grandparent’s home.
I grew up in a traditional New Jersey Italian Family where every Christmas Eve my grandmother would cook an old-style La Vigilia dinner. My parents, my older brother, my cousins, my aunts & uncles, and I would all cram around the dining room table. And over the commotion that accompanies any family gathering, talking, laughing, occasionally- shouting, my grandmother would serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Don’t let the name fool you, there were many more than seven fishes served- anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, dried salt cod, smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels, clams, etc. Her menu also included pastas, vegetables, and the kid’s least favorite course-tripe. (If you’re not familiar with tripe, google it; you’ll understand my aversion.) As a kid it felt like Christmas Eve dinner was endless. Why couldn’t we have turkey and potatoes like the Murphy Family next door?
It’s becoming less and less common for generations of families to live in the same neighborhood, more or less, the same town. As the world gets smaller, opportunities get wider, and geographically, we are now more spread out. For real estate professionals, this is a great thing; movement keeps us in business. But distance makes it hard to recreate those holiday memories we hold so dear.
They say home is where the heart is and while I’m in Florida now, my heart is spread around the United States. It’s back home in NJ with my father and my extended family, and it spreads between Las Vegas and Pittsburgh where my grown children live. This holiday season it’s unlikely that I’ll dine on seven (thousand) fishes, but I will make time to reconnect with my loved ones.
It’s been a tremendous year both personally and professionally, and there is a lot to be thankful for. Last month I was sworn in as your 2016 President of the National Association of REALTORS. Last week, on December 13th, my wife Diana and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. And in just a few weeks, my family will welcome to the world a new generation of Salomone’s. What a privilege it is to hold these humbling titles, 2016 NAR President, Husband, and Grandfather.
On behalf of the National Association of REALTORS 2016 Leadership Team, I want to wish you and your families a peaceful and happy holiday season.
All year long you have helped others find the homes and businesses of their dreams. Now is the time for you to relax and recharge. Savor this holiday season!
At the 2015 REALTOR Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo, NAR360 provided a one-hour showcase of the hottest issues affecting the industry.
The program featured NAR’s legislative talking points, RPAC, HUD Secretary Julian Castro, the new promotional campaign from realtor.com (starring Elizabeth Banks), and Realtor Safety with a surprise appearance by the family of Beverly Carter.
Courtesy of Twitter and Storify, here are some highlights of NAR 360.[View the story "NAR 360 at the 2015 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, in Washington D.C." on Storify]
On Thursday, May 14, 2015 NAR President Chris Polychron testified before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance on the need for a grace period before enforcing the new regulations on the real estate settlement process.
The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and Truth in Lending Act (RESPA/TILA) integrated disclosure rule is set to take effect August 1. A trial period with restrained enforcement and liability would allow the industry and CFPB to address implementation issues and minimize costly home closing delays for consumers
First and foremost, NAR has asked that the CFPB make August 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015 a trial implementation period of restrained enforcement,” said Polychron in his oral statement. “During this period, industry will operate under the rule and new forms, but be held harmless in terms of enforcement and liability as long as they act in good faith.”
“Unscripted”, a monthly audio podcast featuring conversations with members of the NAR Leadership Team, returns with an episode on selling your first house. For Spring homebuying season, NAR 2015 President Chris Polychron, along with Immediate Past President Steve Brown and Treasurer Mike McGrew, look back on the first house they ever sold and what lessons they learned from those experiences.
You can listen to the all episodes on the Leadership Team Podcast page.
On April 20th, “Real Estate Safety Matters”, a new safety course for Realtors was presented publicly for the first time through the Arkansas Realtors Association.
NAR 2015 President Chris Polychron called for the creation of the course after North Little Rock Realtor Beverly Carter was killed last Fall showing a listing. The course will have its official unveiling at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo on May 12. (To attend, registration is required and the class is filling up fast.)
“If you can attend the May Meetings this year in Washington DC, I urge you to see the showing of this new Realtor Safety program,” says Polychron. “It will be available to all of your associations and boards this year.”
The 3-hour course was developed in partnership with NAR’s REALTOR® Safety program, and serves as an essential primer on how real estate professionals can limit risk to preserve safety—their safety, their clients’ safety—and for positive business outcomes.
For the latest on safety, visit the Realtor Safety Program page.
On Thursday, April 16, 2015 NAR President Chris Polychron testified before the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on the need for regulatory reform and increased access to credit.
“Since 2008, we’ve seen good-intentioned but over-corrective policies severely hamper the ability of millions of qualified buyers to purchase a home,” said Polychron in his opening statement. “We have yet to strike the right balance between regulation and opportunity.”
Polychron outlined solutions related to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, specialty markets, short sales and foreclosures, and lending policies
You can read the full oral testimony here.
On April 21, NAR is offering a webinar on safety awareness, REALTOR® Safety from a Law Enforcement Perspective. The course will be led by Adrian Manzanares, a REALTOR® in Colorado with more than 20 years of law enforcement experience. Prior to leaving law enforcement, he was a certified instructor in Field Training, Interview & Interrogation and Firearms.
Signup for the free webinar here.
Today is Opening Day 2015 for Major League Baseball. According to the Baseball Almanac, Open Day dates back to 1876 and the game’s first officially recognized franchise, the Cincinnati Reds. It’s also become an occasion intertwined with the U.S. Presidency:
A national event, Opening Day has also become a “political pitcher’s” arena for U.S. Presidents to show their “stuff.” On April 14, 1910, President, and baseball enthusiast, William Howard Taft attended the home opener in Washington D.C. Since then, eleven sitting U.S. presidents have tossed out the season’s ceremonial first pitch. One standout, Harry S. Truman, showcased his ambidextrous talent when he threw out balls with both his right and left arm in 1950.
For NAR 2015 President Chris Polychron, throwing out the first pitch offered a lesson in decisiveness last year at the NAR Leadership Summit. Polychron got the chance at the White Sox — Orioles game last August during the Leadership Summit:
“I’d never done anything like that before. I was told, ‘whatever you do, make sure you don’t bounce the pitch. If you bounce it, you’ll get booed.’ Booed? I’ve never been booed in my life. So, I told myself “let’s do this and do it fast.”
I walked quickly out to the mound, waved a bit to the crowd, and as soon as I got into position, I let my pitch fly. I’m not sure the catcher was even ready yet. But, he caught my pitch – CHEST HIGH. It was fastest 50 mile-an-hour fastball you’ve ever seen.
You can plan for a lot of things, you can think and overthink every decision, but at some point, you just have to do it. You have to let it rip.”
Check out @NARleadership on twitter for more about Opening Day and Presidents.
Chris Polychron, 2015 NAR President, hosted a Credit Access Symposium today at NAR headquarters in Washington DC.
A diverse group of housing industry stakeholders came together to discuss how alternative credit scoring models could expand access to mortgage credit for responsible borrowers who may have thin credit histories or extenuating circumstances like medical debts.
The event was organized by NAR, the Asian Real Estate Association of America and the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. It included two roundtable discussions and a keynote address from Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.
NAR first called on federal regulators and the credit and lending communities in 2011 to reassess the entire credit structure and look for ways to increase the availability of credit to qualified borrowers who are good credit risks.
Polychron praised the efforts of NAR’s partners, pressed Secretary Castro on new FHA regulations for condos, and encouraged more discussion to maintain momentum for credit access reform in Washington.
“We still have hurdles to clear,” said Polychron. “Constrained supply and supply mismatch continue to hold us back. Government-sponsored enterprises have to open up their book of business to more qualified buyers. We also need more research on the impact that current credit scoring policies impact the availability of credit to consumers with “thin” credit files. And finally, we need to better evaluate scoring models and methods that rely on non-traditional credit histories.”
Last week, NAR released a report on generational homebuying trends. NAR 2015 President Chris Polychron offers his thoughts on the report:
“Generations come and go. The author George Orwell one pointed out that ‘Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that came before it and wiser than the one that comes after it.’
That’s why it’s so great when NAR Research sets us straight by providing “just the facts.” Their latest report, the 2015 National Association of Realtors® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends, examines the generational differences among recent home buyers and sellers.
It’s enlightening. Just when we thought the millennial generation was going to ring the death knell of the housing market by opting out of it, the latest generation of breadwinners is defying our expectations by jumping into homeownership with both feet. (SPOILER ALERT: In fact, millennials, who are 34 years old and younger, were the largest group of buyers for the second year in a row.)
We thought the American Dream of homeownership might be fading for this younger generation. Instead the desire to own their own home was cited most often by millennials at 39 percent.
We thought they didn’t believe housing was a good financial investment. Yet 79 percent of homebuyers considered their home purchase to be a good investment, led by millennials at 84 percent.
And we thought millennials weren’t using Realtors®. While they join the majority of buyers in shopping for homes online, they still choose an agent to help them close the deal. Actually, millennials lead all buyers in being most likely to use a real estate agent.
So thank you to NAR Research for throwing some much-needed light on the subject.”
You can find the full report at: http://www.realtor.org/reports/home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends.
“Unscripted”, a monthly audio podcast featuring conversations with members of the NAR Leadership Team, returns with an episode on mentorship. NAR 2015 President Chris Polychron, along with Vice President Mike Ford, and a special appearance by a past president of NAR, discuss the idea of mentoring up-and-coming leaders and recall early figures of influence in their careers.
You can listen to the all episodes on the Leadership Team Podcast page.
Beyond being the winning bidder, how do you make sure you are working with the best REALTOR® for you?
2015 President Chris Polychron talked to Men’s Health Live recently, and provides tips for finding a REALTOR® just in time for the spring market. Here are some highlights:
- Seeking advice on finding a REALTOR®? Sixty-eight percent of all REALTOR® business comes from personal referrals, so ask friends, family, and neighbors.
- Interview several REALTORS® to find someone you are comfortable with. “If you interview them for any length of time you’re going to figure out their sincerity and how well prepared they are,” says Chris.
- How many transactions has a REALTOR® done? “I would certainly want them to have 8-10 transactions in the area that you’re considering,” says Chris. “They’ll have the experience necessary.”
- Ask a REALTOR® how often they will communicate throughout the home buying process. “That’s probably a key point for me,” Chris adds.
- Do business with a REALTOR® that understands how to use technology. “Listings come on the market quickly. A good REALTOR® will have access to see listings that come on first.”
This week, NAR released the 2015 Member Safety Report, an index of responses to a recent survey of members about concerns, procedures, and self-defense on the job.
“When I became NAR president last year, I pledged to make Realtor® safety a priority and develop new education and resources for the industry,” said NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark. “It is important to know how safe or unsafe our members feel, what causes them to feel unsafe, and what steps they are taking to keep themselves out of harm’s way, so that we can respond and provide the best tools tailored to our members’ personal safety needs.”
The report revealed that, while 96 percent of Realtors® have never been the victim of crime, 40 percent have found themselves in situations where they have feared for their safety or the safety of their personal information. Recently, the California Association of Realtors® showed a video at a recent meeting of a male agent recounting a story of how he eluded a dangerous situation, while ABC News interviewed a female agent who was assaulted while showing a home in San Antonio.
The survey is part of Polychron’s call to examine the state of Realtor® safety and to roll out new education and resources throughout 2015.
“I want to thank each and every respondent to this survey,” writes Polychron in the introduction to the report. “Your honesty and willingness to offer your thoughts are the keys to us taking the right road.”
Follow the discussion on Twitter at #RealtorSafety
On Thursday, February 26, NAR offered testimony on patent troll demand letter practices and solutions in front of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.
Testifying on behalf of NAR and its Leadership Team was Vincent Malta, broker of record for Malta & Company in San Francisco, and the NAR Liaison for Law and Policy.
In the real estate industry, patent trolls have targeted REALTOR® brokers, agents, and multiple listing services for implementing simple website technologies. In 2013, more than 2,600 companies were sued by patent trolls, representing 67 percent of all patent infringement cases brought that year.
You can read Malta’s full testimony here.
NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Arkansas, has released a new statement via video on the FHA policy change that will result in lowing the cost of the FHA’s mortgage insurance premiums.
In the video, Polychron highlights four reasons why the move is a win for REALTORS® and homebuyers. He also thanks Keith Lynam, the 2015 President of the Las Vegas Association of REALTORS for penning an op-ed in the Las Vegas Review Journal.
NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Arkansas, issued the following statement on an upcoming news segment on safety:
“Friday night, safety in the real estate industry will be a focus of one national news program. ABC News’ 20/20 will feature a segment (Feb 13, 10 p.m.) on San Antonio-area agent Janice Tisdale, who recounts a story about how she nearly lost her life at a house showing.”
Here’s an excerpt from the story on abcnews.com:
Tisdale took some precautions in the moments before meeting Maldonado. She removed her diamond jewelry and opened the doors of the house so she would have an escape route. Even though she’d shown him several homes in the recent months, she felt inexplicably uneasy around him.
As Tisdale and Maldonado toured the vacant house, Tisdale said her instincts were telling her to bolt.
“The hair on the back of my neck was standing up, and I just was feeling really uncomfortable,” Tisdale recalled. “And finally I said, we really need to go. So, we started out the door, and I reached down to pick up the lock box. That’s when he struck me over the head.”
“I urge every REALTOR and real estate professional to watch this segment. Ms. Tisdale’s brave story of survival is both an inspiration and a reminder to us all that we need to be prepared for threats in our profession.”
NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Arkansas, issued the following statement at the conclusion of today’s hearing of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, The Future of Housing in America: Oversight of the Federal Housing Administration:
“The new mortgage insurance premium reduction policy implemented last month by the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, will help more first-time borrowers achieve homeownership without increasing the risk of mortgage defaults or of another taxpayer bailout.
“Realtors® support safe lending practices based on strong underwriting requirements, and the Federal Housing Administration’s new prices encourage sustainable homeownership for creditworthy borrowers. FHA is not lowering its underwriting standards or luring irresponsible borrowers into homeownership, instead it is resetting its fees to appropriately balance anticipated risk while still making a profit to support its funds.
“After four years of increases, the fees had become so expensive that last year alone, roughly 234,000 creditworthy borrowers were priced out of the market.
“For first-time buyers in particular, the premium reduction could not have come at a better time. As the cost of FHA premiums increased, the percent share of first-time buyers using FHA-backed loans shrank from 56 percent to 39 percent. Meanwhile, an NAR survey released in late 2014 revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers fell to its lowest level in nearly three decades.
“The new policy lowers the cost of FHA’s mortgage insurance premiums by 50 basis points, which translates into an average savings of $900 a year for future homeowners and current borrowers who refinance. NAR estimates that the reduction will price-in an additional 1.6 million to 2.1 million renters, along with many trade-up buyers, and could result in 90,000 to 140,000 additional annual home purchases.
“FHA’s new pricing is not going to magically bring all of the missing millennials to the closing table, but they, and the housing market, will certainly benefit from the reduction.”