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Updated: 24 min 29 sec ago

HEAR US ROAR!

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 09:15

By NAR 2017 First Vice President John Smaby

Last week, nearly 9600 Realtors®came to Washington to make our voices heard on protecting homeownership.  If you haven’t had the chance to come to one of our national conferences, you are really missing out!  It’s tremendous to see so many Realtors®come to Washington, D.C. from all over the country ready to learn the latest on what’s happening in our industry and to connect with other Realtors®.

Let me give you a few of the highlights:

The Board of Directors (BOD) meet to take action on important NAR business

The Board voted by overwhelming support—an 85 percent majority—to support Upstream technology and improving the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) experience.  Earlier in the week, UpstreamRE announced a new “broker of choice” model, which will enable listing data to be input directly into Upstream or flow to Upstream from the MLS.  This will benefit small brokerages because they aren’t able to build a platform the way large brokerages can, and it will allow all brokerages greater control over their data.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson received a standing ovation after giving his thoughts on homeownership, the Federal Housing Administration’s condo rule, mortgage insurance premiums, energy efficiency loans, and public-private partnerships.

Recognizing that homeownership is the foundation of wealth for most American families he said, “We need to make sure that everybody has a chance to become a homeowner.

Realtors® met with Members of Congress and regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  We delivered our message on national flood insurance, tax reform, and sustainable homeownership.

Our members urged Congress to pass a multiyear reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program before it expires on September 30. We also reminded legislators that while Realtors® support a fairer and simpler tax code, it cannot happen by diminishing the real estate tax provisions that are crucial to a vibrant housing market and are a key driver of the economy.  President Bill Brown punctuated his remarks at 360 with a few inspiring words.  He said tax reform, “shouldn’t come at the expense of current and prospective homeowners.”

Realtors® also want to protect sustainable homeownership by advocating for responsible reform of the secondary mortgage market, prohibiting the use of mortgage guarantee fees for any purposes other than credit-risk management, and improving consumer protections for energy efficiency improvement loans.

On the business side, NAR’s strategic investment arm, Second Century Ventures, added seven organizations to its 2017 class of REach®, which encourages the growth of new technology companies into the real estate, financial services, banking, home services and insurance industries.  Two more were announced during the conference.  They include Adwerx, a digital advertising provider and immoviewer, a 3-D virtual tour technology company.

NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Partner Placester is offering free websites to all Realtors®.  Last year, Realtors® spent a median of $70 maintaining a website. To help reduce business costs, Placester, a real estate website and marketing platform, is extending its partnership with us to provide a basic “NAR Edition” website to the association’s 1.2 million members at no charge.  NAR members will also receive discounts on advanced website features and products.

President Bill ended his remarks at 360 by quoting Oakland Raiders coach Al Davis, telling us, “Just win, baby!”  That’s how we will protect homeownership, consumers and the future of the real estate industry we love.  Hope to see you all in Chicago, November 3-6, at the 2017 Realtors Conference & Expo!

You’re Invited! Join us in celebrating the REALTOR® Party this May

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 10:22

[A guest blog post from 2017 REALTOR® Party Director Charlie Oppler.]

The National Association of REALTORS® is excited to announce the month of May as REALTOR® Party Month.  What does this mean exactly?  Each week during the month of May, associations are encouraged to promote REALTOR activities that highlight the main components of the REALTOR® Party—Vote, Act, and Invest.

Here’s some examples of REALTOR targeted activities Associations can promote each week to help us celebrate REALTOR® Party Month:

VOTE Week: May 7 – May 13

  • Register REALTORS® to vote and educate them on pro-real estate ballot issues and the success of REALTOR® Party candidates.

ACT Week: May 14 – May 20

  • Engage REALTORS® in community outreach projects and ask them to visit members of Congress during the REALTOR® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo or their elected officials back home in their state and local districts.

INVEST Week: May 21 – May 27

  • Educate REALTORS® about the numerous benefits of RPAC and encourage them to invest through individual contributions or by attending RPAC events.

To provide more information surrounding each weekly theme, NAR has created a website that will link to available REALTOR® Party resources and provide a space where associations can contribute activity ideas to promote REALTOR® Party accomplishments and any current initiatives. Visit  www.realtoractioncenter.com/rpmonth to learn more about how your association can get involved!

It is our hope that promoting the REALTOR® Party this May will create excitement and increase member engagement in REALTOR® Party programs and activities while highlighting the great work of state and local associations.

For more information on REALTOR® Party Month, please contact Melissa Horn at realtorparty@realtors.org or 202-383-1026.

Beat Bill Brown’s Bracket: And Then There Were 16

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 08:44

Well, we certainly had a wild, wacky, and wonderful first weekend of the NCAA Basketball Championships, now didn’t we? After the dust settled, only sixteen teams remained to vie for the men’s and women’s national championship. Seems like a good time to check in on Bill Brown’s Brackets. (and for you to see if you are indeed beating those brackets!)

Men’s Bracket Leaders – Seven entries are tied for first, with two more right on their heels. Bill Brown’s Bracket? Currently sitting 30th.

Women’s Bracket Leaders – Bill Brown’s Bracket sits atop the standings, with a slim lead over the second place entry.

Remember to use the hashtag #BillsBrackets as you follow along with the bracket fun on social media.

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 09:46

by William E. Brown, 2017 NAR President

In the words of one of one of rock’s greatest hits, we didn’t mean to cause a big sensation…but NAR recently released its 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study.  This is fascinating research, not only because generation trends impact home buying activity, but because there’s been plenty of angst about the Millennial Generation and whether they will enter the home market at the same rate as previous generations.

Those fears were pretty well abated by the survey.  Millennial buyers, at 85 percent, were the most likely generation to view their home purchase as a good financial investment.  As parents of young children, they’re prioritizing affordability and looking to buy homes in the suburbs.

There was also good news about Generation X.  This was the generation who bought their first home, started a family and were mid-career when the Great Recession wreaked havoc on their finances.  Many of them bought at the peak of the market and didn’t necessarily develop a great deal of equity in their home.  On top of that, they carry the most student loan debt—an average of $30,000. 

Finally, the stronger job market and 41 percent cumulative rise in home prices since 2011 have bolstered home equities.  That, plus a growing job market, has created enough equity that more homeowners can now trade up to a larger home.

My own generation, believe it or not, is also held back by student debt.  The report showed that student loans delayed saving for a down payment or a home purchase for people as old as 62 to 70.  Much of this is debt taken on to support family members, but many older individuals have also decided to go back to school themselves.

 I was thrilled to see that the survey also said that, while they go online to shop, millennial and Gen X buyers and sellers overwhelmingly use a real estate agent to complete their transaction.

 In fact, 90 percent of respondents said they worked with a real estate agent to buy or sell a home.  This resulted in the lowest number of for-sale-by-owner transactions ever at 8 percent, which means there’s no danger that the Realtor®-consumer relationship will fade away any time soon.

To the contrary, this vital generational information can help us be more successful in our businesses as we work to meet the needs of consumers of all different ages.  It’s all groovy, baby!

 

 

Beat Bill Brown’s Brackets

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 09:14

The NCAA Basketball Championships are upon us, and NAR President Bill Brown has caught bracket fever. Think you’ve got the prognostication chops to top NAR’s President? Then head to the links below to make your picks, for both the Men’s and Women’s 2017 NCAA Tournament Brackets.

To enter either Tournament Challenge group, click “Create a Bracket Now”. If you do not already have an ESPN.com account, you’ll be asked to create one. You’ll have a bracket completed in less time than it took me to write this post.

Be sure to get your brackets filled out by noon ET this Thursday, the 16th. Winner earns…bragging rights for a year!

Good luck to all, and May the Brackets Be With You.

Magic of the Season

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 08:07

by William E. Brown, 2017 NAR President

I was a “spirited” child growing up. Perhaps my family would choose a different adjective… let’s just say I had a lot of energy. However, in 1963, when I was eleven years old, either I got my act together, or Santa Claus turned a blind eye, because that year for Christmas I received the ultimate present – a 6-string Gibson guitar.

This wasn’t just a guitar; it was a work of art. Not only did it look smooth with its hand-buffed and high-gloss wood finish, but, put in the right hands, I thought that this 6-string guitar could sound like no other. This was a rock star’s guitar− many rock legends played either Gibson or Fender.

I imagine the exhilaration I felt that Christmas morning, holding the guitar in my adolescent hands, was on par with how John Lennon felt the first time the Beatles walked on stage to play the Ed Sullivan Show. Simply put, Christmas morning 1963 was pure magic!

While no Christmas gift has ever, or will ever, compare, the holiday season remains a magical time for me. As REALTORS®, we enjoy the greatest profession, but there is a tradeoff − we work tirelessly all year long. For most of our members, weekends and evenings are often spent with clients, and not at home with our loved ones. Thankfully, my wife, Heather, is more than understanding; she too is a REALTOR®.

In the Brown household the holiday season brings a welcomed lull. Our cell phones aren’t ringing, there are very few e-mails to return, and for a few brief but magical days, we spend time hunkered down in our own home, enjoying the peace that accompanies this special time of year.

Memories of my 6-string Gibson guitar still bring great joy, but these days, holiday magic is not found in a wrapped present under the tree. Instead, it’s about spending time with those that matter the most.

On behalf of the National Association of REALTORS® 2017 Leadership Team, I wish you and your loved ones a peaceful holiday season and a happy and healthy year ahead.

Take this time to appreciate and to enjoy the magic of the season!

2015 NAR President Chris Polychron honored with Walton College’s Lifetime Acheivement Award

Thu, 04/21/2016 - 09:34

The REALTOR® Community congratulates 2015 NAR President Chris Polychron, the 2016 recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas.

Chris’ tremendous accomplishments as the 2015 NAR President were highlighted during the 23rd annual Walton Awards Banquet on Thursday, April 14, at the Fayetteville Town Center. The Award is presented annually to an exceptional and accomplished Walton alum. Past recipients include William T. Dillard, Sr., founder of the Dillard’s Department Stores chain, and Jerry Jones, owner, president, and general manager of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.

Chris received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in marketing from the Walton College in 1967.

Congratulations, Chris, on this extraordinary accomplishment!

2015 NAR President Chris Polychron, accompanied by Walton Dean Matt Waller, and Associate Dean Anne O’Leary-Kelly

Evidence Points to Improving TRID Landscape

Tue, 04/05/2016 - 13:15

by Tom Salomone, 2016 NAR President

This time last year, everyone in our industry was talking about the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule. Also known as “Know Before You Owe,” the new rule meant new forms were coming to consumers – and with them, big changes to the mortgage process.

The idea was to make financing a home more transparent for consumers, aiding comparison shopping and preventing surprises at the closing table.

NAR worked hard in advance of the rule to ensure a clear path to success. We pushed for an implementation date that avoided the busy buying-and-selling season, and worked with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to roll out an online toolkit that walked consumers through the new disclosures.

Now six months into implementation, the industry is moving forward. There are still challenges to address, with Realtors® reporting some delayed and a few even cancelled transactions. That’s no surprise, and NAR said from the beginning that there would be bumps in the road and we continue to work with the CFPB to provide additional clarity in order to smooth out those bumps

But more and more we’re also hearing from brokers and agents who see “Know Before You Owe” rules putting consumers in the driver’s seat and helping avoid problems at the closing table. In an op-ed at Banker and Tradesman, broker/owner Anthony Lamacchia had this to say:

“While the extra time has certainly helped alleviate closing delays, the real reason is that, due to TRID, everyone is working together in a more proactive fashion. It had a trickledown effect; Realtors have been asked to negotiate longer closing dates, buyers are reminded more often to get their mortgage brokers what they want, when they want it. Real estate attorneys are contacting each other sooner and working together by pulling title earlier and doing whatever they can to be prepared for closing. Buyers seeing their numbers earlier has prevented last-minute freak-outs and fire drills, which in turn decreases closing delays. Now when there is a problem or a question, it is worked out days in advance instead of the morning of or even at the closing.”

That’s the kind of optimism and can-do spirit that I like to see as the industry continues to adjust.

We know there will continue to be short-term challenges, but the average consumer doesn’t spend their time thinking about regulatory constraints the way we do. They simply want a smooth ride on the road to homeownership.

As an industry, we have the tools and the talent to deliver. As professionals, that’s what we do.

 

New Phishing Scam: Don’t Get Hooked

Mon, 03/28/2016 - 13:17

By NAR 2016 President Tom Salomone

One member of the National Association of REALTORS® recently told how a client was scammed by a “phishing scheme.”  That’s when hackers lure unsuspecting consumers into giving up their hard-earned money.

In this case, criminals hacked the other agent’s account and sent a request to wire funds.  The scammer even diverted the client’s responses from the broker’s inbox!  The client wired upwards of $20,000 overseas right into the criminal’s hands.

This incident drove home to the REALTOR® that you should always tell your client you will never send an email asking them to wire funds.  It also illustrates the wisdom of using the brokerage firms’ firewall by going through the company’s domain.

Phishing scams can be hard to recognize because criminals build their phony sites to look like real sites.  About two years ago, Google did a study that showed phishing scams continue to work about 45 percent of the time.

According to experts, phishing attacks worldwide are happening more often than ever and hackers continue to go where the money is.  When hackers pose as agents or title companies, their target is someone’s down payment on a house.  If the buyer takes the bait, their bank account can be wiped out within minutes!

To avoid being scammed by phishing schemes, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers these tips:

  • Never e-mail your financial information.  E-mail is not considered secure.
  • Check the security of the website.  For any financial information you provide over the web, check that the site is secure.  The URL should begin with https.
  • Be careful what you click on.  Don’t click a link in an e-mail to an organization’s site.  Instead, look up the real URL, and type it in yourself.
  • Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading any files from e-mails.
  • Make sure your operating system, browser, and security software are up-to-date.

Buying a new home should be an exciting and happy event.  To keep it that way, REALTORS® should remind their clients to be extra cautious about the dangers of sending financial information over email, downloading attachments or responding to email requests to wire money.  When it comes to phishing scams, greater awareness of the threat is the best protection!

 

A Note of Support

Wed, 03/23/2016 - 13:15

By: Tom Salomone 2016 NAR President

A few thoughts from last night…

REALTORS® build and strengthen communities. It’s what we do day in and day out. Helping a young family find the perfect starter home, assisting a developer scout a location for a new office development; we are helping to provide bright futures not only for ourselves, but more importantly, for our families, for our neighbors, and for generations to come.

When you’re stuck in traffic and rushing to get to an open house, or when you’re on the phone talking to a disappointed client, you may not be thinking big picture. You’re tired, you’re frustrated, but at the end of the day, you’re always making a difference. I’ll be honest, this job, the role of NAR president, can be exhausting…but in the best way possible. To serve REALTORS® who serve communities is an honor. Other than being a father and a husband, this is the most important role I will have in my lifetime. Most nights when it’s finally time to go bed, I hit the pillow, and I’m out. But last night was different. I struggled to find sleep.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the people of Belgium, the people of Turkey, the people of the Ivory Coast- communities all over our beautiful world who are grieving. In this time of tragedy, I am struck for words. But on behalf of the entire NAR Community, 1.1 million strong, we offer our sympathy, our prayers, and our support to all those impacted by these horrific events.

As REALTORS®, we build and strengthen communities. And we will continue to do so. No matter what. It’s just what we do.

March Winds

Tue, 03/22/2016 - 09:04

By NAR 2016 President Tom Salomone

They say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  While that may be true for the weather, the spring real estate market is indicating more of a mixture.

We see a steady headwind for real estate causing the number of existing home sales to fall in February by 7.1 percent to 5.08 million.  In 2016, existing-home sales are expected to increase around 2.5 percent in 2016, whereas over the past year, they increased 6.3 percent.

Prices have climbed in many markets, while the supply of houses and new construction remains low. In fact, low supply levels pushed prices up for the 48th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.  This year, we expect home prices to increase between 4 and 5 percent, following a 6.8 percent increase in 2015.

There’s also a perceived difficulty in getting a mortgage.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new disclosure rule—TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure, or TRID—has been tough for real estate agents, lenders and settlement agents.

According to a survey by ClosingCorp,consumers who are supposed to be helped by the rule find that TRID makes it easier for them to understand closing costs and fees.  However, the new rules are adding anxiety to the closing process.  National Association of REALTORS® Research finds that closings are being delayed about eight days.

Looking ahead, we’re hoping to catch a tailwind on consumer confidence and the economy.

A high number of homeowners are expressing that they believe it’s a good time to buy.  This sentiment is likely being fueled by the $4.4 trillion in housing equity accumulation in the past three years.

Seventy-nine percent of renters would choose to move outside an urban area.  This is expressed most often by millennials, who are now looking to move to the suburbs, something no one thought would ever happen!

Looking back, the housing market has done reasonably well over the past few months, showing surprising resiliency.  The U.S. economy is forecast to grow around 2 to 3 percent in 2016, although prices are still rising too fast, due to decreased supply levels.

REALTORS® are incredibly dedicated to helping their customers find the home of their dreams.  And like the weather, the market is changeable.

This is a good time to take stock and see what you can do to be more effective, whether it’s adopting the latest technology or growing your network.  Let’s all take a deep breath and recommit our efforts to doing the very best work we can, and then some!

It’s spring, the weather is fair, and we’re looking for business to grow.

 

 

 

A LIFE WORTHWHILE

Fri, 03/04/2016 - 14:04

By NAR 2015 President Chris Polychron

A year and-a-half ago, the untimely death of Realtor® Beverly Carter brought home to me that a person’s livelihood as a Realtor® should not put them in mortal danger.

As 2015 President of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), I made the safety of Realtors® a priority.  Since then, the Realtor® community has come together to increase job safety for real estate professionals.

I also sought to express gratitude to our nation’s police officers for their contribution toward keeping our neighborhoods safe.  During the 2015 Realtors® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, NAR honored police officers and made a donation to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

This week, we’ve witnessed the terrible shooting of three Virginia police officers and the death of 28-year-old Ashley Guindon the day after she was sworn in for duty.  Ashley bravely entered a domestic dispute situation because there was a child in the house.  Her decision was fatal, reminding us that many special people willingly put themselves in harm’s way to ensure our safety.

During her funeral service Prince William County Police Chief Stephan Hudson said that she lived and died for the service that meant so much to her.  He said, “That was her desire; to serve, to be involved in the things that mattered, to give her life to something worth giving it to.  And that’s exactly what she did.”

Her short life sets a truly inspiring example.  We, at NAR, would like to express our deepest appreciation to Ashley and her fellow officers for their service.   Our sympathy and our prayers go out to the families, the survivors, and all those impacted by this tragedy.

NAR will continue working diligently to make sure members have the information and training they need to stay safe on the job.

Nothing in life is certain, but those who dedicate themselves to serving their communities, whether by opening the door to homeownership or protecting our neighborhoods, will know the satisfaction that comes from giving their lives to something worthwhile.

 

2016 Advocacy Agenda

Mon, 02/22/2016 - 14:36

Working together we can be great!!

By: Tom Salomone 2016 NAR President

Earlier this month, REALTOR® federal policy leaders, from around the United States, gathered in Washington, DC to discuss our Association’s policy agenda. Facilitated by 2016 NAR Vice President Sherri Meadows, from Ocala, FL, in conjunction with NAR’s dedicated staff, this meeting of the minds proved to be tremendously beneficial.  Its key takeaways will help guide the Associations’ advocacy initiatives throughout 2016.

The meeting’s agenda was ambitious, yet well-constructed. Leading housing and real estate industry stakeholders, political prognosticators, and policy and research experts provided incredible insight on issues impacting homeownership and commercial investment, as well as conversations focused on the future of the housing market. These discussions provided attendees with a comprehensive industry outlook. Additionally, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun shared results from NAR’s 2016 Public Policy Survey which gauged Realtors® views on various federal policy issues.

Based on REALTORS® feedback and priorities, NAR will focus the Association’s 2016 advocacy efforts on the following public policy initiatives:

HOMEOWNERSHIP & REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TAX POLICIES

  • State and Local Tax Deductions
  • Mortgage Interest Deduction
  • Mortgage Debt Cancellation Tax Relief
  • Capital Gains

CREDIT, LENDING AND INSURANCE POLICIES

  • Credit Availability
  • GSE (Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac) Restructuring, Liquidity and Lending
  • FHA Lifetime Mortgage Insurance Premiums
  • FHA Condominium Requirements & Financing
  • National Flood Insurance Reauthorization

BUSINESS OPERATIONS

  • Dodd-Frank Act Regulations (TRID Implementation)
  • Technology Issues (Patent Reform, Net Neutrality, Data Privacy & Security)
  • Appraiser Independence Regulations

COMMERCIAL

  • 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges
  • Basel III
  • Lease Accounting
  • Waters of the United States

From an advocacy perspective, 2016 is going to be an important year for REALTORS®─ we have a lot of work ahead of us. More often than not, during an election year, policymakers tend to focus on the election, rather than the issues. But we have to keep pushing. It is critical for REALTORS® to come together and have our opinions heard. We need to speak with one voice, loudly and clearly, about the stability a sound and dynamic real estate market brings to our communities.

I need your help! While our REALTOR® federal policy leaders and NAR staff make an incredible team, we need the backing and involvement of our grassroots to ensure that issues important to REALTORS® stay first and foremost in the minds of legislators.

How YOU can help:

The good news is that the REALTOR® Action Center makes participation simple.

1.  Register to Vote.

If you are not already a registered voter, the REALTOR® Action Center will link you to the voter registration form for your state. Each state has different registration deadlines; don’t delay!

2.  Elect REALTOR® Champions.

Property ownership is not a partisan issue. Before you cast your vote, understand the key issues  impacting our industry. Support candidates that support REALTOR® issues!

3.  Act on REALTOR® Party Issues. 

When Congress is considering legislation that affects the real estate industry, NAR calls on its members to act, ensuring that the REALTOR® voice is heard. Through the REALTOR® Action Center, you can respond to our call, and with just a few quick clicks of your mouse, you can communicate directly with your member of Congress.  Sign up for REALTOR Party Mobile Alerts, and in mere seconds, you can respond to a Call for Action from anywhere.

4.  Invest in RPAC.

RPAC’s mission is to identify candidates for elected office on the local, state and national levels who will work with REALTORS® to promote and protect the American Dream of property ownership. Candidates that receive support from RPAC are not selected based on their political party or ideology, but solely on their support of real estate issues. While a third of NAR’s 1.1 million members contribute to RPAC, I know we can do better. Your participation is crucial─ especially in this important election year. Today is the day to invest in your future!

It has been said that America is the indispensable nation. The same can be said about real estate. We are the indispensable sector of the American economy.  As such, we cannot afford to have any harm done to homeownership and commercial investment. Our communities and our nation depend on the success of the real estate sector─ our communities and our nation depend on you.  Working together we can be great!!

 

Honoring Beverly Carter

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:13

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

MLK & Fair Housing

Fri, 01/15/2016 - 08:57

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!  

Global Opportunities – French Connections

Wed, 01/06/2016 - 06:57

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.

Home for the Holidays [Hold the tripe]

Thu, 12/17/2015 - 13:40

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!

Social media highlights from NAR 360

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 15:13

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]

Polychron testifies in House on RESPA/TILA

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 11:46

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.”

You can read the full oral testimony here.

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