Future of the Industry: This Week's Hot Topics

The REALTORS® conference in SF this weekend brings discussions on MLS cooperation and possibly a new, simplified mission for your association.

It’s conference week!

Thousands of REALTORS®, exhibitors, speakers, and guests are arriving in to San Francisco this week for the REALTORS® Conference & Expo, which officially starts Friday, Nov. 8.

Plenty has been written about all the education, entertainment, and inspirational activities planned for the three-day event, and REALTOR® Magazine will be on hand to cover highlights. But there will also be meaty discussions about the future of the industry. Whether you’re attending the conference or not, here are some topics you’ll want to pay attention to:

Who’s Buying and Selling?

On Friday, NAR will release its latest Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers. How will the characteristics of buyers and sellers, their transactions, and their use of real estate professionals differ from 2018? Look for highlights in the REALTOR® Magazine daily news on Friday. Members can preorder a copy of the report now to be uploaded to their REALTOR® Store account on Nov. 8 at 3 p.m. Eastern time.

Bolstering Cooperation via MLS

The growth of off-MLS listings will be the subject of an MLS Issues and Policies Committee discussion on Saturday, Nov. 9 (Moscone West, Room 2014, Level 2). The 150-member committee will consider an advisory board policy proposal that would require all MLS participants to input any listing they market publicly (via websites, yard signs, mailers, Instagram, etc.) into their local MLSs within 24 hours. If the committee approves the recommendation, it’ll go forward (with any amendments) for a vote by NAR’s board of directors on Monday, Nov. 11.

The proposal, known as the Clear Cooperation policy, came from an NAR advisory board charged with looking at MLS technology and emerging issues. The proposal has drawn hundreds of member comments since it was released in September. Critics claim prohibiting off-MLS listings detracts from their ability to serve their clients. Proponents counter that off-MLS listings skew market data and that serving clients’ interests starts with ensuring homes for sale are marketed to the widest possible pool of buyers. Potential objections, they say, are addressed in the proposal, which allows for exclusive and private listings at sellers’ request. “Both sides appear to be after the same goal,” says NAR General Counsel Katie Johnson. “It seems they just differ on the best way of achieving that.”

A similar policy, put in place by the regional Bright MLS, became the subject of media scrutiny after real estate brokerage Compass threatened litigation to block the policy. Bright executives defended the rule in a strongly worded response, saying that off-MLS listings are “antithetical to the core of Bright’s mission” and that they “foment exclusion and discrimination.”

“The practice of marketing properties off the MLS, known as 'pocket listings,' puts brokers’ own interests before consumers while creating the appearance of (and enabling) fair housing law violations,” said the letter, signed by Bright’s president and CEO Brian Donnellan. “At Bright MLS, we believe full transparency of and access to what is available on the market allows buyers and sellers to make the best decision possible.”

Code of Ethics Training

Among the recommendations that will be discussed at three NAR meetings this weekends is a proposed change to the Code of Ethics training requirement for all REALTORS®.

Since 2001, REALTORS® have been required to take Code of Ethics training to retain their membership. Originally, the training was required every four years, but in 2017, NAR changed the requirement to every two years. A presidential advisory group, appointed in 2018 to review the requirement, recommended lengthening the training requirement to every three years to give local associations adequate time between cycles to administer the program.

The three groups discussing the proposed change are the Association Executives Committee (Friday, Nov. 8, 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m. Moscone West, Room 2008, Level 2); the Professional Standards Committee (Saturday, Nov. 9, 1–4 p.m., Moscone West, Room 2014, Level 2); and the Professional Development Committee (Saturday, Nov. 9, 10 a.m.–12 p.m., Moscone West, Room 2002, Level 2). The committees will not vote on the proposal but will report on their discussions to NAR’s Leadership Team.

REALTORS® and the Environment

In the face of extreme weather events such as fires and floods in communities around the country, what role does NAR have in promoting sustainability? For NAR’s Sustainability Advisory Group, the answer is clear. At a meeting in New Orleans in October, the group recommended that NAR create a 2030 climate change action plan. But a decision on moving forward is delayed by ongoing concerns that such an action plan could clash with NAR’s existing environmental and other policies.

It’s unclear whether the NAR Leadership Team will consider the recommendation at the meetings this weekend. In the meantime, at the Sustainability Advisory Group meeting on Saturday, Nov. 9 (1–2:30 p.m., Marriott Marquis, Nob Hill A, Lower B2 Level), working groups will be delivering recommendations on how to help make information about sustainability and high-performance homes available to members and state and local REALTOR® associations. Another working group is proposing changes to existing NAR policies on climate change and energy.

Why NAR Exists

Each year, NAR’s Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee takes a broad look at the landscape and helps define the strategic focus for the association in the coming years. This year’s advisory committee took that work one step further, recommending a redefined mission and vision for NAR. (Find the current mission and vision here.)

Proposed mission: to empower REALTORS® as they preserve, protect, and advance the right to real property for all.

Proposed vision: to be a trusted ally, guiding our members and those they serve through the ever-evolving real estate landscape.

REALTORS® attending the conference will have an opportunity to learn more and voice their opinions at the Strategic Thinking Forum, Sunday at 1:30 p.m., Moscone North/South, Esplanade Room 151, Upper Mezzanine Level. From there, NAR’s Leadership Team will determine whether to adopt the new mission and vision statements and present them to the NAR Board of Directors at its Monday meeting.