NAR Board Enhances Core Standards, Adopts Policy on Student Loan Debt
The National Association of REALTORS®’ Board of Directors at its May 14 meeting in Washington voted to add several requirements to the Organizational Alignment/Core Standards for REALTOR® associations and adopted a policy that seeks to ease student debt burdens that threaten to make it harder for people to become home buyers.
The board kept NAR dues at $120 for 2017, approved a three-year extension of the $35 special assessment that funds the consumer advertising campaign, and approved creation of a uniform communications platform for NAR's committees, advisory boards, and forums.
Among other changes, for the compliance cycle starting July 1, 2016, associations must do the following:
- Engage in at least two activities per year that demonstrate how the association is the “Voice for Real Estate" in its market, and at least two activities demonstrating the association’s investment in the community.
- Require six hours of professional development for volunteers who carry out responsibilities that would otherwise be handled by paid staff.
- Offer, promote, or provide at least one professional development opportunity for members every year.
- Annually certify that they have conducted an activity promoting REALTOR® safety.
- Provide resources for or access to leadership development education or training for their elected REALTOR® leaders, and document those resources.
- Include a voluntary political action committee or political advocacy fund contribution on their dues statements, unless prohibited by law.
The board decided to transition to a calendar-year compliance cycle for the standards. As a result, the next compliance cycle will last 18 months, from July 1, 2016, through Dec. 31, 2017. Watch for a complete list of updates at nar.realtor’s Core Standards page.
With concerns growing over copyright infringement, the board approved changes to the Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy to reflect the importance of MLS users granting the MLS the licenses necessary to store, reproduce, compile and distribute listing information. In addition, the board is taking steps to increase cooperation and information sharing between NAR and the Council of Multiple Listing Services, a professional trade organization for multiple listing services.
Student loan debt
In response to growing concerns over the impact of student debt on the ability to buy a home, the board adopted a policy that seeks to allow student borrowers to refinance their loans and streamline income-based repayment programs. Additionally, NAR supports proposals that promote student loan simplification, clarity, and education. And NAR will take steps to ensure that mortgage underwriting guidelines related to student loan debt are standardized and do not impair home ownership.
Consumer advertising campaign
The board continued for three years the annual $35 special assessment to fund the consumer advertising campaign. Results of a member survey conducted in April 2016 show that 87% of REALTORS® favor NAR's advertising program and 88% of REALTORS® would like to see more NAR advertising that promotes real estate activity and advances the REALTOR® profession.
REALTORS® at the meetings learned about NAR’s partnership with ABC sitcom “Modern Family,” which includes integration into an episode (original air date: May 4) and ads featuring actor Ty Burrell, who portrays REALTOR® Phil Dunphy on the popular show. Burrell, who has won two Emmy awards for his portrayal of Dunphy, will make an appearance at NAR’s annual meeting in Orlando, Nov. 4–7.
The board elected its 2017 first vice president, John Smaby, CRB, GRI, of Edina, Minn., and its 2017-18 treasurer, Tom Riley, CCIM, CRB, of Bedford, N.H. JoAnne Poole of Glen Burnie, Md., also ran for the first vice president position.
The other 2017 officers are Bill Brown of Oakland, Calif., president; Elizabeth Mendenhall, CIPS, CRB, of Columbia, Mo., president-elect; Mabel Guzman, AHWD, of Chicago, vice president; and Kevin Sears of Springfield, Mass., vice president.
The board approved a proposal for NAR to acquire a dedicated communications platform for use by NAR committees, advisory groups, advisory boards, forums, and councils. The system will encourage greater dialogue among committee members and provide more security than email and public social networks. Its use will be mandatory.
In response to homelessness and rising housing insecurity, the board adopted a policy urging state and local REALTOR® associations to work with their communities’ stakeholders to develop innovative and proactive strategies to aid citizens experiencing homelessness or facing problems paying for housing.
Association name changes
The board voted to authorize association staff to approve name change applications when the state name is being shortened to the abbreviation for that state.
The board approved an increase in the RPAC fundraising goal from $4.77 to $6.36 per member, which would raise $24.5 million for the 2017-18 election cycle.
In addition, the board voted to phase out the Large Firm Involvement Advisory Board because its activities are covered under the REALTOR® Party.
Grants to REALTOR® associations
The board and Leadership Team approved grants to a number of local and state associations for campaigns and ballot initiatives. For example, NAR is supporting the Puerto Rico Association of REALTORS®’ efforts to repeal a sales tax on real estate services, a Metropolitan Indianapolis Association of REALTORS®’ campaign to pass a ballot resolution to increase funding for public transportation, a Texas Association of REALTORS® effort to lower local property taxes, and a Missouri Association of REALTORS®’ initiative campaign to pass a state constitutional amendment preemptively prohibiting a sales tax on real estate services.
Homebuyer savings accounts
The board voted to support tax-advantaged programs to allow people to save money for home down payments, and encourage more states to implement these types of plans.
To improve Code of Ethics enforcement, the board voted on the following changes to the Standards of Practice, to take effect Jan. 1, 2017:
- Ensure accountability on the part of terminated or resigned respondents so they may not circumvent their obligations under the REALTOR® Code of Ethics by resigning or otherwise causing membership to terminate prior to an ethics complaint being filed or prior to an ethics hearing being held.
- Require ethics hearing panels to specify consequences for failure to comply with discipline imposed in ethics cases, thereby increasing the association's ethics enforcement capabilities.
- Protect a respondent's right to appeal increased discipline imposed by an ethics hearing panel subsequent to Board of Directors review.
- Provide complainants with additional time, until adjournment of an ethics hearing, to withdraw their complaint should they choose to do so.
- Expedite delivery of an ethics respondent's reply to the complainant, consistent with parallel provisions in the arbitration section of the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual.
- Begin the process leading to the selection of an ethics hearing date within five days after a complaint is forwarded for a hearing. While a final hearing date will likely not be selected during this time, involving the parties in a discussion of a time frame greatly reduces requests for continuances closer to the hearing date.
The board heard a report from Dale Ross, CEO of REALTORS Property Resource® (RPR®). Ross said Advanced Multi-List Platform™ (AMP™) testing will take place in five markets across the United States by the end of 2016, and multiple listing services in four additional markets will begin in the first quarter of 2017. Separately, Ross said that Project Upstream testing will begin with brokers in several markets later this year.
Bob Goldberg, president and CEO of the REALTORS® Information Network and a senior vice president of NAR, said the .realtor™ top-level domain (TLD) remains among the fastest-growing TLDs in the history of the Internet. The period for members to claim a free .realtor™ domain, which was to have ended in 2016, has been extended for several more years. Goldberg added that NAR plans to launch the .realestate top level domain in late 2016.
Luke Glass, executive vice president of Move Inc., which operates realtor.com®, said traffic to the website has expanded significantly since News Corp purchased Move. News Corp owns a number of media properties, including The Wall Street Journal.
NAR presented Distinguished Service Awards to two REALTORS®: Pat Kaplan, GRI, GREEN, Portland, Ore., and Barbara Lach, ABR, CRB, CRS, GRI, PMN, of Columbus, Ohio. The award recognizes people who have shown meritorious service to the association for at least 25 years.
In addition, Andrea Bushnell, RCE, CAE, chief executive officer of the North Carolina Association of REALTORS®, is the recipient of the 2016 William R. Magel Award of Excellence. She will be formally recognized at the 2016 REALTORS® Conference and Expo Orlando, Fla.
Finally, the board passed resolutions honoring longtime REALTORS® Owen V. Hall of Celina, Ohio, and William P. Thomas of Manahawkin, N.J., who passed away recently.