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Updated: 40 min 21 sec ago

Standing Room Only at the St. Louis REALTORS® Broker Conference, Future Shock

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:12

In front of an audience of some 300 brokers at the St. Louis Association of REALTORS® Future Shock (#SLARshock14) event Oct. 16, NAR President-elect Chris Polychron enjoyed the opportunity to participate on a panel that included other industry and REALTOR® experts.  The question at hand: to syndicate or not to syndicate? The panel helped bring clarity to the ongoing syndication debate.  At the event, Chris reiterated the need for a Bill of Rights to help protect REALTOR® interests in listing data, saying “We must continue to stand up and remind everyone that the service we provide in accumulating property information is very valuable.” 

NAR President-elect Chris Polychron speaks at the St. Louis AOR event, Future Shock


“Every broker has a choice. They have models that can fit your choice. Take advantage of that.” – Chris Polychron, NAR #SLARshock14

— STL REALTORS® (@STLRealtors) October 16, 2014


The other panelists who participated were:

Russ Cofano | Senior VP of Industry Relations, Move, Inc.
Rene Galvan | Executive Vice President, HAR.com
Saul Klein | CEO, Point2 Technologies Inc.
Elizabeth Mendenhall | 2018 President, NAR
Chris Polychron | 2015 President, NAR
Joe Pryor | NAR MLS Committee Member
Paul Prince | President, MARIS
John Whitney | Director of Business Development, Trulia

More images and tweets from the event below…


Future Shock 2014


Future Shock at SLAR! Incredible discussion about syndication, Zillow, and the future of the industry. #SLARShock14

— Maureen McDonnell (@mem421) October 16, 2014


Full house future shock here at SLAR #slarshock14 pic.twitter.com/mnNKdc8Il9

— Carolyn Mantia (@carolynmantia) October 16, 2014


Panelists at Future Shock 2014


Elizabeth Mendenhall at Future Shock 2014

Steve Brown Hosts Election Preview

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 15:27

Last week, NAR President Steve Brown hosted the election preview webcast, “Getting Out The REALTOR® Vote.” The webcast looked at key races in both the House and Senate for the midterm elections, when turnout is traditionally lower and voter participation more urgent.

Joining Brown for the webcast were Jerry Giovaniello, NAR’s Chief Lobbyist and Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, as well as Scott Reiter, Shannon Burke, and April Brown from the political field team.

Some of the issues covered were:

  • The process that NAR uses to select candidates its supports
  • How NAR’s participation in individual races affects RPAC fundraising
  • What independent expenditures are and why they are used in certain races

Remember, REALTORS® should go to the polls on November 4, before joining NAR in New Orleans for the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo!

If you need to register to vote, or if you are already registered and need to find your polling place, please visit www.realtoractioncenter.com/pollfinder.

Chris Polychron Interviewed by Washington Post About REALTOR® Safety

Wed, 10/01/2014 - 10:58

In an interview with The Washington Post, 2014 President Elect Chris Polychron discusses risks REALTORS® face on the job, and emphasizes safety training going forward.

The association’s incoming president, Chris Polychron, pledged in an interview with The Post on Tuesday that he would make safety a top priority when he is installed in his post in November.

“My heart goes out to her family, friends, her co-workers,” said Polychron, himself a longtime Arkansas real estate agent. “The sad part is that when you work in real estate, it does involve risk. But as an industry we have got to promote better safety awareness.”

Polychron said making training mandatory might require convincing licensing boards in all 50 states to make changes to their rules. At the association, he said, amending ethics regulations to include safety requirements would require a board vote.

“Is it worth it if it saves one life? Absolutely,” he said.





Statement From NAR 2014 President Elect Chris Polychron on Beverly Carter Tragedy:

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 12:39

“As both a REALTOR® and an Arkansan, I am saddened by this morning’s news of Beverly Carter’s untimely death. My heart goes out to her family, her friends, her co-workers, and everyone whose life Beverly touched in her 49 years with us.

Working in real estate involves risk and, unfortunately, that risk takes many forms. As an industry, we collectively work very hard to promote safety awareness among our members. We are fully committed to educating REALTORS® about potential threats and providing them with resources to protect themselves.

I urge all REALTORS® to honor Beverly Carter by keeping safe and looking out for each other.”


The Arkansas REALTORS® Association is collecting donations in Beverly Carter’s name through their Hearts & Homes program. For more information, visit arkansasrealtors.com.

NAR’s REALTOR® Safety resources include articles and blog posts, presentations and videos, webinars and training courses, and tools at realtor.org/safety.

News Corp To Acquire Move, Inc.

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 09:50

News Corp is staking a claim in the online real estate world, and betting on the REALTOR® brand. From REALTOR® Magazine:

The global media and information services company that owns such venerated titles as The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s announced Monday its intent to purchase Move Inc., operator of realtor.com®.

The company is News Corp, a top-in-class media and publishing business with experience in real estate through its newspapers and its majority ownership of the REA Group Ltd, the leading Australian residential property website, which also has a presence in Europe and Asia. With Monday’s announcement, News Corp made clear its intent to plant a major stake in the U.S. online real estate space. And the company is putting its considerable weight behind the REALTOR® brand.

“This partnership will help shape the future of real estate,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Steve Brown. “News Corp’s ability to reach and engage consumers, combined with realtor.com®’s quality content and the real insights REALTORS® provide will transform the current landscape.”


5 Reasons to Attend the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 16:22

Join us November 7-10 in the Big Easy, New Orleans, for the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo!

Over 17,000 of your REALTOR® colleagues will be there. Why should YOU attend?  Industry trends? Best practices? Great city with even better entertainment?

2014 NAR President Steve Brown shares his top 5 reasons for heading to the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

See the full lineup of events at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo

Check out great rates on hotels

Steve Brown Speaks at Housing Summit

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 09:30

This week, 2014 NAR President Steve Brown joined hundreds of private-sector experts, elected officials, scholars, and industry leaders gathered in Washington, DC to discuss and debate America’s housing policy. Presented by the Bipartisan Policy Center, Housing America’s Future: New Directions for National Policy 2014 Housing Summit focused on three key themes: housing finance reform, affordable rental housing, and homeownership.

Brown joined six other panelists for the session “Why is it So Difficult for Creditworthy Borrowers to Secure a Mortgage?” to discuss the state of credit and lending in the U.S. Questions for the panel centered the current regulatory market, how it impacts homeownership among different populations, and the effect of housing policy on a community’s overall strength and sustainability.

New HUD Secretary Julian Castro headlined the event with a closing keynote address. Secretary Castro appeared with Steve Brown as the first guest of NAR’s new webinar series, Conversations with Real Insight.



NAR Leadership Team Hits the Road

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 08:00

Coming off the Leadership Summit last month in Chicago, and with the summer coming to a close, NAR leadership will be hitting the road this fall. Promoting the critical role REALTORS® play as the first point of contact with consumers, board members will highlight efforts to strengthen communities at more than a dozen state and local conferences and events in September and October.

NAR President Steve Brown will discuss the Core Standards with Dayton Board of Realtors AE Gavin Blair at his home state association—the Ohio Association of REALTORS® conference in Cleveland, Ohio. NAR President-Elect Chris Polychron returns to Chicago one month after delivering a well-received speech at the Leadership Summit to install Jim Kinney as President of the Illinois Association of REALTORS®.

Here’s a partial list of upcoming events across the country, with others still being added:


Illinois AoR Inaugural Installation  (Chris Polychron)

Ohio AoR Annual Convention (Steve Brown)

Maryland AoR Conference and Expo (Joanne Poole)

Convention of the Dakotas (Chris Polychron)

Northern Kentucky AoR 100th Celebration (Steve Brown)

Arkansas AoR Annual Convention (Chris Polychron)

Montana AoR Fall Biz Meeting & Conference (Chris Polychron)

Georgia AoR Annual Conference & Expo (Tom Salomone)

Iowa AoR Annual Convention (Steve Brown)


Alabama AoR Annual Convention (Steve Brown)

Michigan AoR Convention & Expo (Chris Polychron)

Idaho AoR Business Conference (Bill Brown)

Maine AoR Annual Convention & Trade Show (Steve Brown)

Colorado AoR Convention (Steve Brown)

Connecticut AoR Leadership Conference (Chris Polychron)


In addition to the state and regional meetings, NAR President Steve Brown will be appearing at such events as the Bipartisan Housing Summit in Washington D.C.

Conversations with Real Insight Launches with Secretary Julian Castro

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 10:08

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

I’m excited to announce the launch of our new campaign, Conversations with Real Insight. This new initiative is a series of live and online events that feature REALTORS®, policymakers, and various industry leaders who will discuss the important issues affecting real estate today.

Our first guest was Julián Castro, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


Watch the Conversation with Real Insight with Secretary Julián Castro now.

During our conversation, Secretary Castro and I discussed a number of topics:
• How the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and HUD are instituting policies to help make the dream of homeownership a reality for Americans.
• The impact of access to credit, mortgage insurance premiums, and strict and costly condo regulations.
• How to ensure further funding for housing counseling at every turn in the home buying process.
• Making sure that programs like HAWK (Homeowners Armed With Knowledge) continue to grow, expanding the pool of qualified buyers.

The conversation with Secretary Castro drew close to 1,000 registrants, as well as questions on Twitter through the #RealInsightNAR hashtag.

I was impressed by Secretary Castro’s knowledge of the issues and his ability to understand and communicate the complex issues our industry faces. I’m really looking forward to more of these Conversations, knowing that they create an exciting platform for our members and consumers to engage in important dialogue with industry leaders.

August Recess Isn’t Slowing Down NAR

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 13:47

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

Congress has adjourned for the rest of the summer, but that isn’t stopping REALTORS® from staying in touch with our representatives. NAR’s hardworking Federal Political Coordinators are meeting with Congress in their home districts.

The meetings are focused on two legislative priorities vital to NAR members and consumers – reinstating mortgage debt cancellation and reauthorizing terrorism risk insurance for businesses. NAR President Steve Brown provides the latest on both of these issues in the video below.

August Recess Isn’t Slowing Down NAR

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 12:15

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

Congress has adjourned for the rest of the summer, but that isn’t stopping REALTORS® from staying in touch with our representatives. NAR’s hardworking Federal Political Coordinators are meeting with Congress in their home districts.

The meetings are focused on two legislative priorities vital to NAR members and consumers – reinstating mortgage debt cancellation and reauthorizing terrorism risk insurance for businesses. NAR President Steve Brown provides the latest on both of these issues in the video below.

Fix the Cap

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 10:05

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

Because of NAR’s efforts and the REALTOR® Party‘s diligence, I am pleased to report that the United States House of Representatives passed the Mortgage Choice Act this past month. This bill would return many options to consumers as they shop for mortgages and other settlement services.

As a broker with affiliated companies, I know first hand how the current definition of points and fees for affiliated services in the qualified mortgage regulation has limited consumer options and healthy competition.

The opponents of the service fee cap reform say that the cap protects the consumer. This argument is based on assumptions that simply find no merit in practice. Rather the current cap can force consumers to use less than desirable title and insurance providers, at rates and/or services not as good as can be offered by an affiliate service provider.

The bill passed by the House would end the current 3% cap on fees and points paid to joint venture services and bring them under similar rules applicable to non affiliated services, such as title and insurance. Under the Mortgage Choice Act, affiliated and non affiliated service providers are treated the same, while still protecting borrows from risky loan products.

We applaud the House for listening to the concerns of consumers by passing this important piece of legislation. Now the Senate must take action.

Thank you to all — both our professional lobbying staff and our members who communicated with Congress about this legislation.

We will keep you posted on the progress of the bill.

A Nation that Captured a Dream

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 14:22

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago, this July 4th, a new nation was conceived, different from all others — a nation that could and would capture the imagination of the world for centuries to come…a nation that captured a dream.

As REALTORS®, we have dedicated our professional lives to helping those around us help achieve one part of the dream, the right to own property. But today, helping our fellow Americans achieve that dream is not easy.

Facing a less than robust economy, lending restrictions and growing concerns in regards to both regulatory and legislative reform, our work is challenging. It requires persistent, ongoing effort to protect the right of property ownership, and to ensure access to achieve property ownership. But I believe with all my heart, that it is our American duty to do so.

As REALTORS®, we may not serve in uniform but we serve America and her people in a profound way.

This July 4th I hope all of us would feel a sense of pride in our work as REALTORS®, and feel a sense of duty in promoting and protecting that which our forefathers 238 years ago envisioned as one of the key elements of this new nation. In doing so, we will be able to help generations of future Americans realize an important part of that “American” dream.

Have a great 4th!

Yes to GSE Reform

Tue, 06/10/2014 - 07:52


By 2014 President Steve Brown


NAR recognizes that the current system for secondary mortgages is unsustainable. We fully support moving forward with legislative reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. NAR, however, insists than any specific legislative proposals must protect the interests of all consumers.


That’s why we created the Housing Finance Work Group.  It will examine the reform bill introduced by Senators Johnson and Crapo.  The Work Group members represent a broad sector of our association’s membership, including those who are concerned that the current legislation will have a negative impact on underserved communities. 


It is vital that we have many voices in this discussion so as to develop policies that have wide support from our membership.  The Work Group met in April to review the pending legislation and they already have begun to develop policy recommendations for our Leadership Team.  


As the Work Group re-affirmed, NAR believes the secondary mortgage market must be reformed to protect taxpayers, yet reform must also guarantee that the government plays a role in ensuring access to credit during all economic conditions.


Therefore, we urge lawmakers to move forward on comprehensive, bipartisan legislation that will protect both taxpayers and the flow of capital to our markets including a 30-year fixed rate mortgage product.  


We believe the bill introduced by Senators Johnson and Crapo is a solid starting point.  It phases out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but retains the federal government as an insurer of last resort, much like the FDIC is the insurer of last resort for troubled banks.


The bill continues the current conforming loan limits and a lower down payment for first-time homebuyers.  It also ensures that private investors have “skin in the game” and would bear their share of any losses.


We do remain concerned that the Johnson-Crapo’s proposal may raise overall mortgage costs for consumers, and this legislation could lead to a market dominated by large financial institutions.  NAR strongly supports equal and competitive access for financial institutions of all sizes.


I will have more to report in a few weeks about the progress of our Work Group and an update on the legislative discussions.

Progress on the 3% Cap

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 10:39

NAR President Steve Brown talks about a positive development on NAR’s concerns over how the 3% cap on points and fees in the qualified mortgage (QM) rule has been interpreted.


NAR Presents Four Action Items to FEMA

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 12:55

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

With the passage of the NAR-supported Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act in early April, REALTORS® were able to help bring property buyers and owners relief from exorbitant rate shocks and potentially inaccurate rate quotes that were causing uncertainty in the real estate market.

But, the story doesn’t end there.  In fact, that is only the first half.  Now, the new legislation must be implemented and there are both concerns and questions that remain unanswered.

Last week, I met with David Walker. He is a Director of the National Flood Insurance Program at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

We discussed four critical issues that need to be implemented immediately because of their importance to our members and property owners.

Implement Rate Relief

The first issue dealt with immediate and desperately-needed rate relief to home buyers by preventing an immediate jump to full-risk premiums at the time of purchase. Buyers of property will be allowed to “assume” the policies and current rates of sellers. However, to deliver this relief, FEMA must act immediately to implement this provision. I asked the director when FEMA will issue the appropriate instructions and guidance to “Write Your Own” insurance companies allowing for the assumption of current rates and policies.

Deliver Refunds

The second issue we discussed was the refund provision. It is vital that refunds to property owners who paid the full actuarial premium, between July 2012 and when this new legislation was passed, happen as soon as possible.

Establish Flood Insurance Advocate

The third issue we discussed was the establishment of an office of the Flood Insurance Advocate within FEMA to help consumers with concerns related to flood insurance rates, quotes and appealing flood zone determinations.  This office is an idea created by NAR, and we were thrilled it made into the final passage of the bill.  Now, we want to make sure the office is established and fully funded.

Create Technical Mapping Advisory Council

The final issue requires that FEMA implement a Technical Mapping Advisory Council. It is critical to ensure the flood maps are accurate. I asked the director if they have developed a timeline to re-establish the Technical Mapping Council so it can begin reviewing and improving the accuracy of FEMA’s flood maps.

As the meeting progressed, I was struck by the fact that Mr. Miller seemed to be that rare federal government official who had a grasp of how well-intentioned policies enacted in Washington, D.C. could have negative impacts on real estate markets across the nation.

The challenge, Mr. Miller said, is to implement the law as required by Congress, while mitigating the impacts on people who can least afford expensive flood insurance premiums – low and middle-income property owners.

The other good news coming out of the meeting is that the director told me that FEMA understood the urgency to implement these provisions and are working “aggressively” to develop and circulate the appropriate guidance and information.

Still from our perspective, this new legislation does not solve the challenges created by the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program in 2012.  It only gradually phases in rate increases; it does not prevent them from occurring.

Because this is still a continuing issue for our members and consumers, I recently created a President’s Advisory Group to develop further recommendations about how NAR should proceed as the changes are implemented.  Our concern is simple;  what will be the impact on the value and marketability of properties that require flood insurance  at the new rate premiums?

I promise we will keep you updated on further developments as they come out of FEMA and the President’s Advisory Group.  But, for now, I am pleased to report the good news that FEMA heard our concerns and is working hard to resolve them.

REALTORS® Running for a Cause

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 12:05

NAR President Steve Brown encourages REALTORS® across the country to support charities of REALTORS® running in the 2014 Boston Marathon in remembrance of last year’s bombing victims.


FHA Bounces Back

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 13:15

By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

Just as the winter snows melt, and spring begins to bloom, there are also signs of renewal for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

The White House released its fiscal 2015 budget proposal last week, and it indicates that the FHA should not need additional taxpayer funding in the coming year. This excellent news couldn’t have come at a better time. This announcement puts the FHA on the right path not only towards achieving compliance, but being positioned to cover any future losses without seeking additional funds from the federal government.

When private lenders fled the market after the 2008 financial crash, the FHA was left carrying an oversized burden. I saw this up close in my own company in Dayton, Ohio. During the depths of the Great Recession, FHA-backed loans were more than 60 percent of my affiliated mortgage company’s business. Even today, FHA-backed loans are nearly 30 percent of my book. There is no question that my business would not have survived without the FHA. In fact, the housing recovery we are now experiencing would not have happened if the FHA had not been there when times were tough.

Understandably, FHA paid a price for this commitment. It suffered financial losses and needed additional funding to cover an accounting shortfall in its emergency reserve account. For the first time in the agency’s 80-year history, the FHA drew $1.7 billion from the Treasury Department last year.

To ensure the agency does not need additional funds, the FHA made significant changes. The White House budget announcement indicates these reforms are producing positive results.

NAR continues to be a strong supporter of the FHA. We are pleased that Congress allowed the FHA to put its house in order without enacting hasty reforms that would have stalled the real estate market’s fragile recovery.

Of course, we aren’t out of the woods, yet. This is why we support needed housing finance reforms, especially the Senate’s Johnson-Crapo “FHA Solvency Act of 2013.” This bill is a strong step forward in strengthening the FHA.

But, for now, everyone across the political spectrum should welcome the news that the FHA is on the path to financial solvency. It demonstrates that the FHA’s mission of providing low cost loans to qualified borrowers—particularly low- and middle-income buyers – does not have to come at the expense of America’s taxpayers.

Mortgage Debt Forgiveness: It’s All About Fairness

Wed, 02/26/2014 - 10:45

In his latest video, NAR President Steve Brown explains why NAR supports an extension on mortgage debt cancellation relief. Take a look.

A Win for Rural Housing

Wed, 02/12/2014 - 14:12

NAR President Steve Brown outlines an important win for rural communities that was just signed into law. See more in Steve’s video below.