Technology Studies Track Member, AE Trends

Tech Study Links Spending to Productivity
The most productive real estate practitioners have their own business Web sites and spend more money maintaining them than their less productive counterparts, according to the 2004 NAR Technology Impact Survey Report. The report found that 62 percent of Realtors® who close more than 20 sides a year have their own site for business, compared with 30 percent of those with five or fewer sides. Respondents who close more than 20 sides a year spend an average of $512 annually on their Web sites. That’s more than double the $222 that Realtors® with only five or fewer sides spend.

The report is based on e-mail responses of 11,800 NAR members who were surveyed in December 2003. For more information on this study, visit www.REALTOR .org/research.

Survey Sheds Light on MLS and Brokerage Use of IDX Data

An NAR study into how MLS executives and brokers use their Web site and IDX data revealed that:
* 64 percent of MLSs deliver IDX data to their broker-owner participants via an FTP download.

* 45 percent of MLSs deliver IDX to their MLS subscriber agents through frameable MLS solutions.

* The majority of MLSs and associations do not require a license agreement to download or use IDX data.

* 87 percent of MLSs and associations do not have a preferred vendor program or other incentive to promote working with certain vendors.

* Nearly all (99 percent) MLSs and associations participating in this survey limit IDX to exclusive right to sell.

* 26 percent of MLSs and associations allow IDX listings to be commingled with listings from another MLS on an IDX site.

* 56 percent of MLSs and associations devote staff to proactive enforcement of IDX rules.

* All responding MLSs and associations look for MLS rules compliance when reviewing a participant’s Web site.

National Association
Lereah Book: Real Estate Boom is Here to Stay
In his new book, Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom? (Currency/Doubleday), NAR Chief Economist David Lereah predicts that the real estate market will continue to expand at a healthy clip into the next decade. Why? According to Lereah, a host of demographic and economic factors have created a “phenomenon that takes place only once every other generation.”

Historically low interest rates, low inflation, more immigrants, baby boomers’ kids with buying power, along with a lean housing in­ventory add up to a sizzling market for years to come, says Lereah. The consumer-focused book identifies smart investment oppor­tunities. Lereah recommends trading up, making home renovations, and buying a vacation home or a rental property to increase wealth.

New Server Software Streamlines MLS Operation
NAR’s Center for Realtor® Technology offers new, free server software that allows associations and MLSs to use business rules when implementing Real Estate Transaction Standards (RETS) for ex­changing real estate information. Business rules maintain administrative management over listing information downloaded to members, vendors, and other third parties. The program, called Variman, is the second generation of NAR’s RETS server software and allows MLS participants and third parties to see different views of listing data according to the MLS’s policies or business rules.

Because of the way it works with RETS, Variman can be used to access many MLS systems, thus lowering the total cost of ownership to the brokerage. In addition, staff needs to be trained in only one application. That is particularly important if an MLS changes vendors or a brokerage requires listing information from various MLS systems, said Mark Lesswing, director of the center.

Variman is the second RETS server software distributed by CRT in two years. Most of its specifications were based on member feedback about the earlier version. CRT’s original RETS server is currently in use at some of the largest MLS systems in the country. For more information, visit http://www.crt

New Guide to Promoting Homeownership Month
There are plenty of opportunities at both the state and local levels for associations to “Open the Door” to homeownership; the theme of this June’s National Homeownership Month celebration.

NAR’s Homewonership Month toolkit, which was sent to all association executives in April, features tips on planning activities and awareness campaigns. The kit in­cludes presentations associations can customize to host workshops for new homebuyers, sellers, and retirees; solicitation letters to help associations contact groups that might be interested in having a Realtor® or association representative speak to their members; and a press release and article template to help associations promote their efforts. In addition, the kits features information on NAR and association home­ownership, housing opportunity, and diversity, programs. For more information on National Homeownership Month ac­tivities, visit

Greater Capital Area Association
Predatory Lending Gets Personal
The Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors® hopes personal stories from its members will persuade the Maryland Legislature to pass a stricter law on predatory lending. The association is asking members who’ve witnessed instances of predatory lending to submit their stories in writing to Meredith Weisel, legal counsel and vice president of Maryland public policy. Weisel will forward the information to Maryland’s Montgomery County Council to provide momentum for the passage of anti-predatory lending Bill 36-04.

The bill would expand Montgomery County’s law to apply not only to lending institutions, but also to individuals such as loan brokers and other third parties who engage in predatory lending. It would increase the damages the Commission on Human Rights can award to victims of predatory lending, and would require the commission to provide an annual report on discriminatory lending activity in Montgomery County. Members can e-mail their stories to Weisel at—Pat Taylor

Iowa Association
Realtor® Road Trip for Minimum Standards
About 450 Iowa Realtors® traveled to Des Moines in February to lobby legislators for the passage of a law that would set minimum standards for services that real estate licensees provide to clients.

Similar to an Illinois law enacted last year, and legislation recently approved by the Oklahoma Senate, the bill would require brokers who have an exclusive listing to present offers and counteroffers on clients’ behalf. In addition, the Iowa law would require brokers to provide access to a property for sale.

“We thought it was very important that the law stipulate that the broker must provide access to the property,” says Marty Lee, chief executive of the Iowa Associa­tion of Realtors®. “We’ve seen too many companies that listed properties on the Internet for a fee but provided no way to show it to potential buyers.”

This is the third year the association has taken members to the state capital. “Our bus-in day was an excellent opportunity for our members to meet directly with their representatives,” Lee says.—Jane Adler

Michigan Association
A Team Effort for Efficient State Budget
Michigan Realtors® and business leaders have teamed up to develop an alternative state budget that prioritizes government goals and assesses the tools the state would need to run efficiently, without any additional revenue, such as a sales tax on services.

The Michigan association has allocated $300,000 from its Issues Mobilization Fund—a third of which came from NAR’s Issues Mobilization Fund—to pay for the project. The goal is to create an efficient budget that reduces state debt and eliminated unnecessary programs.

The association is working closely with Public Strategies Group, a Minnesota-based consulting company led by David Osborne and Peter Hutchinson, who are also the authors of The Price of Government: Getting the Results We Need in an Age of Permanent Fiscal Crisis.
The budget would be an alternative to the one recently proposed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, which calls for an increase in development permit fees as well as a sales tax on food.—Jane Adler

New York Association
Bill Would Make Property Condition Disclosure Optional
The New York State Association of Realtors® opposes a bill that would give single-family homebuyers the option of retaining the services of a licensed home inspector in lieu of receiving a property condition disclosure form from the seller.

Mike Kelly, NYSAR’s government and political affairs representative, says that although NYSAR urges homebuyers to seek the assistance of professional home inspectors when considering a purchase, there are often conditions of a home that are known only to the sellers and that may not be discovered by home inspectors. NYSAR was successful in helping defeat similar legislation last year.—Pat Taylor

New Jersey Association
Push to Amend Do-Not-Fax Bill
The New Jersey Association of Realtors® has helped secure two amendments to a state bill that prohibits unsolicited advertisements to business and residential fax machines, says Amanda Sacco, the association’s director of communications.

The first amendment allows an unsolicited fax to be sent in instances where an existing business relationship has been established. The second amendment allows nonprofit organizations, such as NJAR, to send unsolicited advertisements to new and existing members to further the organization’s purpose, as long as recipients have the ability to opt out of receiving future faxes. The bill passed the state Assembly on Jan. 24 by a vote of 77-0, and is now in a Senate committee.—Pat Taylor

New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut Associations
Proposed Tax Increases Bring Associations to Action
Two East Coast associations are trying to head off transfer tax increases, while a third is urging lawmakers to keep their word and roll back a conveyance tax that’s scheduled to expire by June.

The New Jersey Association of Realtors® is asking its members and the public to contact state legislators and voice opposition to an increased residential real estate transfer fee that’s included in acting New Jersey Gov. Richard Codey’s fiscal 2006 budget proposal.

If the measure passes, it will be the third straight year the state has increased the fee, says Amanda Sacco, director of communications for NJAR. The proposal would raise the fee on homes sold for less than $350,000, undoing an exemption on additional transfer fees for homes in that price range. NJAR helped secure that exemption last year.

NJAR says the fee squeezes the home equity that sellers have earned and makes it harder for low- and middle-income families to afford a home.

The Pennsylvania Association, meanwhile, has formed a coalition with housing and business groups to defeat a bill that would raise the state’s real estate transfer tax from 1 percent to 1.5 percent to fund mass transit.

James Mentzer, PAR’s director of communications, says PAR has a policy to oppose any effort to raise the real estate transfer tax to fund state programs. Other coalition groups argue that the legislation would hurt the housing market and the state’s economy.

PAR plans to send educational material, including audiovisual content, to local Realtor® associations to help them reach out at the grassroots level. The bill is ex­pected to come up for discussion in the state Legislature before the end of June.

In Connecticut, the state association of Realtors® is mounting a campaign in conjunction with mortgage brokers, home inspectors, and homebuilders to see that a real estate conveyance tax is rolled back, as promised, on May 31, says Lisa Governale, the association’s vice president of communications.

The group is urging state legislators to sponsor bills that ensure that the tax increase expires. The Legislature voted in spring 2003 to temporarily authorize an increase in the amount of the residential and commercial conveyance tax that local governments can collect. Lawmakers promised the increase would expire on June 30, 2004, but later extended the measure through May 31, 2005—despite a vigorous advocacy campaign by the Connecticut Association.—Pat Taylor

Wisconsin Association
License Law Update Recommended
A proposal by the Wisconsin Realtors® Association to modernize state real estate license laws has been approved by the association’s board and can now advance to the state Legislature for consideration.

The plan attempts to bring outdated licensing regulations that govern customer and agent relationships in line with current practices. “Some parts of our current law don’t match consumer expectations or actual practices,” says Debbi Conrad, director of legal services at WRA.

For example, a consumer who walks into a real estate office and asks to look at properties must decide immediately whether or not the licensee should act as a buyer’s agent or subagent of the seller. “That’s not very realistic,” says Conrad. “We’d like to change the law so that the licensee could provide a few services without committing to a formal arrangement right away.”

A state lawmaker will have to sponsor the proposal before it becomes a bill that the Wisconsin Legislature can pass.—Jane Adler

Virginia Association
Unlicensed Activity Crackdown
The Virginia Association of Realtors® is backing a bill that would crack down on unlicensed real estate activity. The bill would authorize the state’s Real Estate Board to investigate and issue cease-and-desist orders. Under current law, only a commonwealth’s attorney can prosecute unlicensed activity.

Martin Johnson, VAR’s assistant director of public policy, says complaints go untouched because police departments and prosecutors don’t have the time or resources to handle them. This bill would allow the state commission to step in. The problem has grown in urban areas, such as Richmond and Newport, where the strong real estate market has made it easier for unlicensed people to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers, Johnson says.—Pat Taylor

Virginia, West Virginia Associations
Tackling Tricky Insurance Issues
The Virginia Association of Realtors® sent out an alert to its members asking them to urge state legislators to vote in favor of a bill that would allow real estate practitioners and homeowners to negotiate insurance rates with title insurance companies. Title insurance rates had been negotiable in Virginia since 1985, but the state’s Bureau of Insurance recently ruled that title insurance companies no longer have to negotiate their rates. The proposed bill, H.B. 2821, would overturn that ruling.

Meanwhile, in West Virginia, the state association of Realtors® is backing a bill that would prohibit insurers from using credit scores to raise homeowners’ insurance premiums. P.C. Pancake, chair of WVAR’s Government Affairs Committee, says the association believes that the bill would hurt consumers who had no control over an event, such as a medical emergency, that lowered their credit score, and ultimately has nothing to do with their ability to make mortgage payments.—Pat Taylor

New York Association
Centennial Party Starts With Habitat
To kick off a year-long celebration of its 100th anniversary, the New York State Asso­ciation of Realtors® will embark on a mas­sive Habitat for Humanity project to build homes in eight areas of New York: Albany, Buffalo, Long Island, Newburgh, Rochester, Syracuse, Ulster County, and Watertown.

The association has committed more than $100,000 to the project, and local associations are making financial and manpower contributions, says Salvatore Prividera Jr., communications director. In celebration of its landmark anniversary, NYSAR also created a special “Centennial” page on its Web site,, featuring a history of the association. Habitat project updates and information on other centennial events will be posted on the site throughout the year.—Pat Taylor

Search is on for new NAR CEO
NAR expects to name a successor later this year for its top staff executive, Terrence M. McDermott, who’s scheduled to depart at the end of 2005.

McDermott has served as NAR’s executive vice president and CEO for the past eight years. During his tenure, he grew the membership by more than 300,000 and increased ­benefits to members. Today there are more than 1.1 million members.

“Terry has made an indelible mark on NAR that leaves great challenges for anybody to exceed,” says NAR Treasurer Mike Brodie, search committee chair.

All association executives and friends are invited to a reception for McDermott to be held during the Midyear Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, May 11, 6–8 p.m. at the Marriott Wardman Park.

To be considered for NAR’s chief executive position, contact executive recruiting firm Leonard Pfeiffer & Co., at (202) 737-6327, ext. 24, Launches New Listing Program President and CEO Alan Dalton and Homestore CEO Mike Long announced a new ­ advertising program for members during the Association Executives Institute in Vancouver in March. The program gives members a choice to pay for ­ listing enhancements on a monthly per-inquiry basis or upfront.

Thousands of practitioners enhance their listings by adding up to five additional ­photos, a descriptive paragraph on the selling points of the property, and other features, such as ­scrolling text. Currently, these enhancements are available on an annual subscription basis, paid either annually in one lump sum at the beginning of the contract, or monthly. But the new program, expected to launch in the fall, lets practitioners choose to pay no upfront fees to enhance their listings.

“Instead, we will track the number of consumers who send an e-mail or call the phone number posted on the agent’s own enhanced listings, and at the end of each month, we send an invoice based on the number of inquiries generated,” said Dalton. The program includes a cap on the amount of money that can be charged on an annual contract, and once that cap is reached, there will be no ­additional billing during the contract term, even though inquiries will continue to be sent and tracked.

“This new product provides a more sophisticated, efficient, and trackable way for members to ­correlate the consumer traffic that they get as a result of having their listings posted on to what they pay for the service,” Dalton added.

Beta tests of the program will take place in several markets this spring and early summer, after which time pricing will be determined. A Q&A on the program is posted at

After 50-year Career, AE Preares to Leave
Polly Hamm, who was fresh out of high school in 1955 when she started her career with the Bakersfield Association of Realtors®, Calif., has announced she will retire after a successor is found. Hamm, 67, has served as the association executive for the past 15 years. “I think I’ll really miss the challenges that come daily, if not hourly, in this line of work,” she says.
Hamm joined the association when it had a membership of less than 350. Today there are more than 1,800, “and most of that growth has happened in just the last five years,” according to Hamm. Hamm departs as the association celebrates its 100th year in business.

AE Professional Development: Successful Students
The following students successfully completed Realtor® Association Management Self-Study Courses between Jan. 19 and March 31, 2005. Students are eligible to receive points toward their Realtor® association Certified Executive (rce) designation. For more info, visit

Derrick Adams, Assoc. of Greater Ft. Lauderdale, Fla,
Sheri Boeckman, Oklahoma Assoc.
Donnie Brown, Minneapolis Area Assoc., Minn.
Keri Dahlquist, Assoc. of Pioneer Valley, Mass.
Stacie Davis, Washington Assoc.
Dorothy Desvousges, Flagler County Assoc., Fla.
Carol Fisher, Calhoun County Assoc., Ala.
Allan Hetkowski, Greater Scranton Board, Pa.
Patti Hicks, Portage County Assoc., Ohio
Lizbeth Kohler, Medina County Board, Ohio
Mary Leidy, Collin County Assoc., Texas
April Ling, Key West Assoc., Fla.
Kathy Lore, North Central Massachusetts Assoc., Mass.
Kathaleen Mathews, Knox County Board, Ohio
Janet Matzke, Tacoma Pierce County Assoc., Wash.
Bruce McLaird, Kansas City Regional Assoc., Kan.
Vanessa Nedd-Mitchell, Arizona Assoc.
Michael Page, Ann Arbor Area Board, Mich.
Lisa Pericic, Washington Assoc.
Patty Renstrom, Portland Metropolitan Assoc., Ore.
Carole Ridley, Arizona Assoc.
Christine Seitz, Pennsylvania Assoc.
Libby Sheard, Little Rock Assoc., Ark.
Jennifer Shockley, Pennsylvania Assoc.
Rita Thoman, Pennsylvania Assoc.
Kimberly Trimmel, Chicago Assoc., Ill.
Shannon Wilkey, Commercial Assoc., Ore.
Advanced Administrative
Concepts Self-Study Course
Professional Standards Module
Laticia Newbold, REALTOR® Assoc. of Gr. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Renate Senior, South Carolina Assoc.

Advanced Realtor® Association Management Self-Study Course: Successful Students
Tori Chriestenson, Montrose Assoc., Colo.
Kevan Lyons, Chaffee County Board, Colo.
Colleen Porter, Oakland Assoc., Calif.
Nicholas Sabatine, Greater Greenville Assoc., S.C.

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