The NAR Board of Directors, meeting at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Orlando on Nov. 12, 2012 approved changes to the association’s committees and forums in a broad-based restructuring that’s intended to position the association for the future. Among the changes is the reconfiguring of several committees, the creation of new groups, and the sunsetting of some forums. Read a comprehensive FAQ on the issue.
Here is a summary of all of the Board's key decisions:
To expand the association’s membership base, the board approved eligibility criteria to add as NAR affiliate members the staff of international affiliated organizations. The board also added a student category for those in post-secondary education and not yet licensed in real estate but with an interest in real estate disciplines. Meeting after the board, the Delegate Body approved both new membership categories.
On the online display of listings, the board added a policy allowing, but not requiring, MLSs to let brokerages display or distribute other brokerages’ listings electronically using communication channels other than VOWs (virtual office websites) and IDX (Internet data exchanges) displays. Even where MLSs choose to allow such displays or distribution, brokerages can’t be required to consent to such displays.
Directors made several changes to the NAR Code of Ethics. The board voted to amend Article 10 of the Code and Standard of Practice 10-3 to include gender identity as a protected class against discrimination in the provision of professional services. The vote requires approval by the NAR Delegate Body at its next meeting.
Also, the board amended the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual to:
- Provide guidance and enhance procedures on how to resolve questions of timeliness, arbitrability, legal complexity, and other administrative issues arising after a matter has been forwarded for hearing.
- Reduce the possibility that REALTORS® can avoid accountability under the Code of Ethics by resigning from membership or by allowing their membership to lapse.
- Clarify that where two or more REALTORS® are found in violation of the Code of Ethics or other membership duties as a result of the same hearing, each REALTOR® respondent can be assessed a separate administrative processing fee. Where multiple parties join in a single appeal, only one filing fee may be required.
- Enhance the value of arbitration by allowing nonmember brokers to request arbitration with REALTORS®, without obligating REALTORS® to participate in arbitration under these circumstances.
The board recognized the 100-year anniversary of the NAR Code of Ethics next year, in 2013. In a video on the Code, Ebby Halliday, founder of Ebby Halliday, REALTORS, in Dallas, and 101 years old, wished the Code a happy birthday.
The board approved $200,000 in issues mobilization funding to the Greater Boston Real Estate Board to fund a consultant research report to be used in opposing a Boston City Council proposal requiring mandatory energy audits at the point of sale and would have the city undertake thermal imaging of buildings without permission of the property owner. Point-of-sale requirements hinder real estate transactions, and energy audits and labeling can stigmatize older properties that are not as energy efficient as newer buildings. Also, thermal imaging of buildings raises privacy concerns.
Directors approved $151,000 to fund four cases, including a U.S. Supreme Court case looking at whether it amounts to an unauthorized government taking to require a property owner to pay a fee or make off-site property improvements before being granted a development permit. The other three cases involve enforcement of an association’s arbitration award, defending an appeal in an antitrust case that real estate brokerages successfully defended against at the trial level, and preventing construction project delays and denials because of reissuance of new nationwide permits under the Clean Water Act.
The board revised its policy for the Reserves Investment Subcommittee and the Finance Committee to provide additional transparency and better describe the responsibilities placed on the members. The revised policy maintains the 40 percent core reserve requirement, allowable operating and reserves investment guidelines and asset classes, and limits on investing with external advisors.
The Finance Committee reported on the purchase of a building in West Chester, Ohio, for $3.6 million plus additional funds for closing costs and building out leasing space, to house the association’s lockbox company, Sentrilock. The company lease payments and the leasing of the remaining space is expected to yield 8-10 percent annually.
Treasurer Bill Armstrong announced NAR’s 2012 membership number at 1,006,000.
The board approved a set of principles for the return of private capital into the residential mortgage market:
- The mechanism for packaging and selling mortgage-backed securities (MBS) should be safe, sound, transparent, and insured.
- Investor confidence and trust in the representations and warranties should be restored via the standardization of pooling and servicing contracts
- Solid, verifiable, and current loan level data should be available to investors in suh a way that it empowers and enables them to conduct their own risk analysis.
- Standardized, sound underwriting principles and products that provide the foundation for responsible, creditworthy borrowers to be able to achieve homeownership goals should be established.
The Nominating Committee announced its recommendations for the association’s 2014 slate of officers, to be voted on by the board next year at its May 2013 meeting in Washington, D.C.
Steve Brown, Dayton, Ohio, president
Chris Polychron, Hot Springs, Ark., vice president
Mike McGrew, Lawrence, Kan., treasurer
Tom Salomone, Coral Springs, Fla., first vice president
Jim Helsel, Camp Hill, Pa., is also running for first vice president, and the Nominating Committee determined Helsel is qualified to serve in the office.
The board presented the 2012 Distinguished Service Award (DSA) to Bruce Aydt, ABR, CRB, counsel, Prudential Alliance, REALTORS, in St. Louis, and Paula Savard, CRS, broker-owner, Paula K. Aberman Associates, Inc., in Lancaster, Mass.
The William R. Magel Award of Excellence award went to Terese, “Terry,” Penza, executive director of the North-Shore Barrington, Ill., Association of REALTORS.
Read more on the matters to come before the board at the meeting.
The board heard several reports at the meeting, including on the success of the REALTORS® Relief Foundation. Since the association announced last week it would match contributions up to $500,000, the foundation received donations of $775,000, for a total $1,275,000 when NAR’s match is factored in.
REALTOR® Party Initiative
The board heard a report on the first-year success of the REALTOR® Party Initiative, which launched last year to bring under a single umbrella all of the political advocacy and community outreach efforts that REALTORS® engage in at the national, state, and local levels. “By working together at the national, state, and local levels, we’re leveraging our greatest asset—our grassroots,” said Tom Salamone, director of REALTOR® Party Activities.
At the national level, NAR launched a consumer advocacy campaign to communicate directly to the country’s 75 million home owners and several million more households interested in becoming home owners soon. The campaign involves a series of e-mails and other communications on why home ownership matters and where to go to learn about protecting home owners’ largest financial asset.
NAR also held its REALTOR® Rally in May at the base of the Washington monument, attracting almost 14,000 members and another 16,000 members virtually. The rally sent a message to lawmakers on Capitol Hill that REALTORS® are prepared to go to the mat to protect home ownership. Twenty members of Congress came to the rally, including Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the third-ranking minority Democrat in the House, and Sen. Johnny Iaskson (R-Ga.), a key Banking Committee ally, who gave powerful remarks to the crowd.
Other national initiatives include a Corporate Investor Presidential Advisory Group to help the association expand its political donor base and a nationwide phone campaign to raise contribitions to the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC).
At the state and local level, which constitutes the biggest part of the initiative, more than 550 state, local, and territorial REALTOR associations took advantage of 3,000 NAR resources to help them achieve their political or community outreach goals. Among the program milestones:
- Awarded 132 housing opportunity, diversity, and smart growth grants, up from 99 last year, and awarded more than 45 issues mobilization grants—four times more than last year
- Conducted 59 campaign polls, up from 17 last year
- Funded 242 Independent Expenditure races in 38 states, ten times more than any other single year
- Launched 26 associations on the Convio online advocacy platform, bringing to 250 the number of associations using Convio
- Increased to 63 the number of associations using NAR’s voter registration and activation tools
- Launched the candidate training academy program, in which state and local associations host training sessions for real estate champions interested in running for local, state, or federal office. Six programs were conducted this year, in Nevada, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and New Jersey, and six are in the proposal stage.
In the RPAC report, the board heard that the association’s PAC was successful in reaching new goals despite the tough climate. RPAC raised $7.2 million in 2012, a 17 percent increase over last year, and saw a 30 percent increase in the member participation rate.
Realtors Property Resource®
The board heard an update on the Realtors Property Resource® (RPR), which launched three years ago and in November was opened to all members. RPR provides data, analytics and report tools based on its database of 150 million parcels of real estate in the United States. RPR has partnered with MLSs and associations and others, representing 425 markets and almost 70 percent of REALTORS®. Now that it’s available nationally, all members can access RPR’s database and use its analytical, valuation, and reporting tools, although the data depth is greater in markets with participating MLSs. RPR also launched a commercial version of its tools.
Directors heard a report on NAR’s new “crowdsourced” strategic planning initiative called REThink the Future of Real Estate (rethinkfuture.com; #rethinkfuture). Elizabeth Mendenhall, 2012 Strategic Planning Committee chair, encouraged members to partcipate in the coming months. Workshops will be held throughout the country, and there will also be opportunities to paticipate online. The first strategic plan incorporating the new approach will be released by the committee in November 2013.