Goldberg, Harrison Vow Tax Reform Fight
NAR CEO Bob Goldberg, who assumed his role on Aug. 1, told the NAR Board of Directors at its Nov. 6 meeting in Chicago that the tax reform plan under consideration by federal lawmakers represents a "clear and present danger" to the real estate industry. During the meeting, Goldberg invited Iona Harrison, 2017 chair of NAR's Federal Taxation Committee, to the podium to outline the reasons NAR opposes the tax plan in its current form. Goldberg also discussed the steps he has taken during his first three months in office to make the organization more efficient and connected to members. Details.
NAR Board Eases MLS Participation Requirement
At the meeting NAR directors adopted a policy that will give added flexibility in the way brokerages and agents use their MLS. It prohibits multiple listing services from compelling participation by all offices of a real estate firm within the jurisdiction of the shareholder association. For licensees affiliated with a brokerage that is a participant in more than one MLS, MLSs will be required to provide a no-cost waiver option of MLS fees, dues, and charges if those licensees can show they have a subscription to another MLS in which their broker participates. Going forward, NAR will use the term "service area" in place of "jurisdiction" or "territory." These changes are effective as of July 1, 2018.
Other MLS policy changes that go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2018:
- Brokers will have access to MLS sold data from Jan. 1, 2012. The previous policy required MLSs to make sold data from the past three years available to brokers.
- Brokers will be authorized to provide, in IDX feeds and VOWs, results to online consumer searches with no less than 500 listings or 50 percent of the listings in the MLS database, whichever is less.
- MLSs must offer remote options for training and orientation programs as a way of lowering administrative costs for brokers and agents.
The board approved an update to the criteria used by NAR Membership and Board Jurisdiction hearing panels to mediate jurisdictional disputes between associations. The new criteria give increased focus to advocacy and community outreach components of NAR's Core Standards.
NAR Election Rules
The board eased rules on when candidates for NAR office can obtain endorsements and financial support and gave state and local associations the freedom to choose their own time frame for vetting members of their jurisdiction running for NAR office. Other changes reinforce restrictions on when and where campaign materials can be displayed and distributed, including by state and local associations. The changes go into effect for the next election cycle, beginning on Jan. 1, 2018.
The board voted to update the Standards of Practice to make clear that members are prohibited from using misleading imagery in real estate marketing materials. The change reflects the board's position that as consumers increasingly rely on photos to assess properties, images that have been excessively altered or distorted can harm the credibility of the real estate industry and members. The directors also adopted changes to the Code of Ethics education objectives designed to help REALTORS® better understand the training they are required to take and make it easier for associations to enforce these requirements.
The Board voted to allow state and local associations to use advocacy funds and other resources provided by NAR only for activities within their territories unless an association has a written agreement that allows it to engage in advocacy within another association's jurisdiction. The new policy is intended make sure REALTORS® speak with one voice on advocacy issue, promote cooperation among all levels of the REALTOR® organization, and ensure that REALTOR® advocacy resources are used efficiently.
Anonymous shell companies are increasingly being used to launder money via real estate purchases. Currently, there are no federal laws that require the identification of these companies' "beneficial owners," i.e., the individuals who control and benefit from these companies. The board passed a policy supporting requiring disclosure of beneficial owners of a shell company when it's formed and registered with its home state. The disclosure is aimed at helping the federal government identify use of real estate transactions in the U.S. to launder money from illicit activities.
Natural Disaster Insurance
The Board approved spending $174,000 to have an actuarial study conducted on the creation of a nationwide natural disaster insurance program. Currently, the federal government spends billions of dollars annually on disaster relief. NAR's Insurance Committee believes it would be less expensive to pool the risk, charge a nominal fee on each homeowner's insurance policy, and build up a national insurance reserve fund to pay for the losses.
The Board approved awarding $16,666 to the Washington REALTORS® for a case involving underground culverts, $300,000 to the Texas Association of REALTORS® for a trademark infringement case, and $20,000 to the South Carolina Association of REALTORS® for an arbitration award challenge involving a procuring-cause case.
NAR Treasurer Tom Riley told the board that the association is in strong financial shape. There are currently 1,292,000 members, 50,000 more than the association anticipated. NAR processed more than $1 billion in ecommerce transactions during the past year, saving state and local associations $30 million. Riley also reported that NAR has seen strong interest in leasing the unoccupied floor in the association's building in Washington, D.C.
Top-Level Domains: .realtor, .realestate
Ken Burlington, chief operating officer of the REALTORS® Information Network, said registration for the .realestate top-level domain, which NAR controls, would begin in 2018. Unlike NAR's .realtor domain, which is available only to NAR members, there will be no restrictions on who may use .realestate domain names. Individuals or businesses that have signed up for a .realtor top-level domain will be able to begin applying for .realestate addresses 60 days before the general public. More than 100,000 members of NAR and the Canadian Real Estate Association have registered for .realtor addresses.
Kenny Parcell, REALTOR® Party fundraising liaison, told the board that the number of RPAC investors rose in 2017 by 23,000, or 6 percent, to 390,988, compared with the previous year. The participation rate remained at 32 percent. President's Circle membership grew to 1,200, exceeding expectations.
William R. Magel Award of Excellence
Ginger Downs, RCE, CAE, chief executive officer of the Chicago Association of REALTORS®, was recognized with the 2017 William R. Magel Award of Excellence for Association Executives. The award is the highest honor NAR presents to AEs.
Distinguished Service Award
NAR presented Distinguished Service Awards to REALTORS® Jack Woodcock, GRI, CCIM, CRS, SRES, of Las Vegas, and Robert (Bob) Kulick, GRI, CCIM, of Monte Sereno, Calif. The award recognizes REALTORS® who have shown exceptional service to the association at all levels for 25 years or longer.