NAR Reaffirms Support of Project Upstream
The NAR Board of Directors voted to continue its support of Upstream, the technology developed to give brokers and agents a better way to manage their listing data and direct its distribution to MLSs, vendors, and third-party listing aggregators.
Spearheaded by the broker-run UpstreamRE LLC, the technology has been successfully demonstrated by RMLS, a REALTOR® owned MLS operating in the Portland, Ore., area. Several other demonstrations are planned for this summer with brokers and MLSs around the country.
In comments to the Board, Upstream Chairman Dan Elsea likened Upstream to technologies that exist in other industries, including ATPCO, the source of airline fare-related data. Elsea heads one of the nation's largest independent brokerages, Real Estate One, but said Upstream will benefit large and small brokerages alike.
The vote authorizes NAR to fund $1.5 million for administrative costs through 2018, as well as up to $7.5 million to support deployment of the technology by REALTORS® Property Resource, the NAR subsidiary that developed the technology. 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.
The Board's decision came at its May 20 meeting, which capped off the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington. Nearly 10,000 REALTORS® and others attended the meetings and made visits to their members of Congress to advocate on behalf of homeowners, commercial property investors, and strong communities.
The board also approved measures dealing with federal policy, MLS policy, and credentialing of officer candidates. Here are highlights.
CFPB Structure Change Sought
The Board supported a proposal to restructure the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by replacing the current single-director arrangement with a five-member board whose members would be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Under the proposal, no more than three CFPB board members would come from one political party. The existing independent agency structure and funding sources would remain unchanged.
ADA Lawsuits Should Be Last Resort
The Board called for legislation requiring that parties who claim violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) notify the person or organization responsible for the alleged violation and give them an opportunity to remedy it before filing a lawsuit.
FHA Fund Calculations
The Board supported the exclusion of reverse mortgages when HUD calculates the minimum capital reserve required for the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF). While the FHA's insurance program for single-family mortgages is growing and financially stable, the FHA's Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program has been unstable. Keeping the programs separate would help provide a more realistic picture of the FHA's financial health.
Opposition to Rent Control
In response to the growing number of rent control programs that have been implemented by states and localities in recent years, the Board adopted an updated rent control policy statement to replace the one that has been in place since 1997. The new statement reiterates NAR's position that government programs that limit rent increases or impose other rent-related restrictions on landlords unfairly restrict private property rights. Under the policy, NAR encourages local and state associations to oppose legislative measures that allow for rent control or rent stabilization programs.
The board allocated $500,000 to support two state REALTOR® associations and two other organizations in the following legal cases:
- A copyright-infringement suit filed by the California Association of REALTORS® against a website that has posted copyrighted CAR forms and refused to remove them.
- A suit that an organization in Oregon intends to file against the National Marine Fisheries Service in response to the service's decision that FEMA's implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program violates the Endangered Species Act.
- A suit filed against the city of Portland, Ore., seeking to invalidate an ordinance that requires landlords to provide relocation assistance to tenants in certain cases. NAR funds will be used to reimburse the Oregon Association of REALTORS® for expenses related to its support for the case.
- A suit filed by a Guam organization claiming that the federal government's decision to sharply reduce the percentage of requests for H2B temporary worker visas it approves is arbitrary and harmful to Guam's economy.
MLS Policy Changes
The Board updated the NAR Lockbox Security Requirements to reflect technology changes, particularly the increasing use of mobile devices. In addition, the Board approved the use of voice-activated services to deliver IDX listing information. Finally, the Board changed the model IDX rules to require that listing brokers be identified in all IDX displays; previously, listing broker attribution was optional.
As the federal government considers reform of the secondary mortgage market, the Board reaffirmed NAR's position that any successor to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac maintain an explicit government guarantee to ensure that mortgage funds remain available to credit-worthy homebuyers, even during economic downturns. In an addition to NAR’s Housing Finance Reform Principles, the board took the position that loans syndicated through government-guaranteed mortgage-backed securities should be assumable.
The board also heard the following reports.
The REALTORS® Information Network
Bob Goldberg, president and CEO of the REALTORS® Information Network and a senior vice president for NAR, said more than 100,000 members had registered for a .realtor top-level domain.
Luke Glass, executive vice president of Move Inc., told the Board that consumer awareness of realtor.com® is at 88 percent and said that the site now ranks third across the internet (behind just YouTube and Facebook) in terms of how much time users spend per session. Glass also described a variety of innovations, including virtual reality tours, a service that will allow people to get neighborhood information using the camera on their mobile device, and a new resource section that enables members to easily share realtor.com content with consumers.
Realtors Property Resource®
About 98 percent of multiple-listing services now provide data to Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®), according to RPR® CEO Dale Ross. About 700,000 real estate professionals now use RPR® on an annual basis, and 158,000 "power users" tap the service regularly.
Distinguished Service Awards
Jack Woodcock, GRI, CCIM, CRS, SRES, of Las Vegas, and Robert (Bob) Kulick, GRI, CCIM, of Monte Sereno, Calif., were announced as NAR Distinguished Service Award recipients. Woodcock and Kulick will receive their awards during the at the next Board meeting, Nov. 6 in Chicago.
RPAC has raised more than $17.5 million so far in 2017, more than half of its 2017 goal of $31.3 million. The number of major investors is up 19 percent.
NAR dues will remain at $120 for 2018, with $40 of this amount allocated for REALTOR® Party programs. The association membership stands at 1.23 million, and NAR forecasts 1.24 million members in 2018.