Voices of Real Estate
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.”
Shortly after it ended, 2015 NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., offered some remarks on the success of this year’s Federal Policy Conference in Washington DC.
Today marks the debut of ”Unscripted”, a monthly audio podcast featuring conversations with members of the NAR Leadership Team. A mix of personal storytelling and advice, the podcast centers on a different theme each episode and offers a look into the lives of NAR’s elected leaders.
You can listen to the first episode, “Leadership”, on the Leadership Team Podcast page. 2015 President Chris Polychron talks about what leadership means to him, his first forays into being a leader (including a bookstore and the school republican club), and advice for aspiring REALTORS seeking leadership opportunities.
NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., has released a statement on FHFA Director Mel Watt’s efforts to promote affordable homeownership:
“Realtors® support responsible lending to qualified buyers, which is essential for building strong communities. The new low down payment mortgage program introduced last month by Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt will safely serve creditworthy borrowers who lack the resources for substantial downpayments plus closing costs while mitigating risk with strong underwriting.
“NAR research shows that saving for a down payment is the biggest hurdle to homeownership for many first-time buyers, who have been entering the market at lower than normal rates. Improved access to safe, affordable mortgage credit through FHFA’s 3 percent down payment program will help new borrowers achieve the dream of homeownership.”
NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., has released a statement on REALTORS® joining a new coalition to pass patent litigation reform and protect the real estate industry from frivolous lawsuits:
“NAR has joined the United for Patent Reform coalition along with a diverse group of American businesses to pursue comprehensive solutions to abusive patent litigation, which costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars every year.
“As a member of United for Patent Reform, NAR reinforces our efforts to protect Realtors® from so-called patent trolls who can drag unsuspecting real estate professionals into expensive and time-consuming litigation.
“Reform is crucial to our industry because Realtors® have become targets of frivolous patent infringement lawsuits for their everyday business practices such as using scanner-copiers and adding user-friendly online search features to their websites. Many businesses are forced to choose between not offering new features or potentially paying tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and displacing other activities like hiring people, research or expansion.
“Trolls are exploiting the patent system at the expense of Realtors® and other professionals who provide services that fuel the American economy; the problem has grown out of control.
“Along with the United for Patent Reform coalition, NAR will continue to advocate for commonsense patent litigation reform that fosters innovation and investment while benefitting the entire American economy.”
You can read more about the issue and the coalition in Thursday’s Washington Post.
Swanepoel has released its annual “SP 200″, a list of thought leaders that influence, impact, and lead the residential real estate brokerage industry. NAR 2015 President Chris Polychron placed #51 on the list:
Polychron is the 2015 President of NAR. He has served on the NAR’s Board of Directors since 2002, served as President of the Arkansas REALTORS® Association in 2003 and President of the Hot Springs Board of REALTORS® in 1996. He has over 25 years of industry experience and is an Executive Broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Joining Polychron on the list are 8 NAR staff as well as numerous CEOs, and state and local REALTOR® leaders.
You can view the full list here.
Writing an opinion piece for Housing Wire, NAR 2015 President Chris Polychron discusses the Obama administration’s decision to reduce the price of its mortgage insurance by 0.50 percent.
“Realtors support responsible lending to qualified buyers; this is essential for building strong communities.
“This mortgage insurance reduction is not about repeating the mistakes of the past, in which underqualified buyers received loans they could never repay. This 0.5% reduction is a good balance – it is the right policy at the right time.”
Read the full post on the REwired blog.
On Thursday, NAR President Chris Polychron flew to Phoenix, Arizona, as an invited guest to President Barack Obama’s speech on housing and the middle class. Before the speech, Polychron had the opportunity to meet the President one-on-one with a handful of other VIPs. So, what was it like?
“It’s a pretty efficient operation backstage,” said Polychron. “I was in a short line of folks and when my turn came, he knew who I was. I shook his hand and he said ‘You must be happy with how things are going right now.’ I told him ‘Yes, but we still have plenty of important work to do.’ He and I exchanged a few quick thoughts on policy and then I thanked him.”
Polychron is no stranger to meeting presidents, of course. Former President Bill Clinton installed Polychron as NAR President in New Orleans last November. In his own speech, Polychron recalled his first meeting with President Clinton after the former Arkansas governor took the Oval Office – a meeting that ended with Polychron riding with President Clinton to the NAR Midyear event near the White House.
But, this was his first time meeting the current president. Polychron said there were maybe 800 people in the room and a pretty diverse crowd overall, including a lot of students and young folks. “The suits were outnumbered,” Polychron said.
Speaking-wise, he saw Obama’s skills on full display. “He started very relaxed, but by the end, his vocal inflection rose and he really captivated the room. I’ve noticed he likes to lose the jacket when he speaks and even roll up his sleeves. I think that’s symbolic. Not sure I’ve seen a president do that before, at least not as much as he does.
“My impression of him was that he gets us as REALTORS®, and he understands that homeownership is vital to American families and to building wealth through equity. He led off his speech by talking a lot about his family, not just in personal terms, but also tying family stability to economic stability. Overall, I believe he wants to help the middle class and that it’s high on his list. I expect we’ll see these themes reoccur in his State of the Union address.”