NAR President Charlie Oppler at the REALTORS Conference & Expo

© Brant Bender/National Association of REALTORS®

REALTORS® have adopted—and adapted to—new ways of doing business safely in the global pandemic, emerged as community forces for doing good, and advocated for furthering the American dream of homeownership, Charlie Oppler, 2021 president of the National Association of REALTORS®, said during the General Session kickoff event on Friday at the 2021 REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

2021 REALTORS Conference & Expo logo

The conference, held Nov. 12-15, has drawn about 10,000 REALTORS® in person to San Diego and also features a virtual component for those who can’t attend in-person this year.

The membership of NAR has bloomed to 1.5 million REALTORS® as more people enter the real estate business while the housing market is thriving. Oppler cited numerous ways the industry has grown over the past year through a multitude of efforts, including:

Becoming mentors. NAR launched a new mentoring program, NAR Spire, to help real estate professionals in underserved areas grow their real estate business while expanding homeownership opportunities in their communities. The program provides mentorship in many real estate discipline, such as sales, mortgages, appraisals, and property management. Piloting the program this year in nine locations, NAR matched more than 60 mentors and mentees and provided 10 live education sessions to offer insights into the various real estate career paths.

NAR plans to expand NAR Spire and also has launched a website,, which promotes real estate career paths, provides assessments to determine skills and interests, and offers insights into building generational wealth through property ownership.

Fostering commercial connections. This fall, NAR hosted its inaugural C5 Summit in New York City, a real estate conference geared to the commercial sector. (C5 stands for Capital, Connect, Commerce, Community, and Commercial.) The conference brought together commercial investors and industry leaders, REALTOR® associations, economic development corporations, government officials, REITs, and more. More than 250 companies were represented at the event. NAR is planning to host the second C5 event in August 2022 in New York City.

Serving as good neighbors. REALTORS® volunteer in their communities at a rate more than double the general population—72%, according to NAR data. NAR features many of these stories on social media and in its national consumer ad campaign. This year, REALTORS® have been encouraged to share those stories and log volunteer hours at “From a single act of kindness to communitywide initiatives, we want to celebrate REALTORS® who volunteer their time and talents,” he says.

Making a difference in disaster relief. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the REALTORS® Relief Foundation, which provides housing assistance for victims of disaster and catastrophes. RRF was founded hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Since then, RRF has donated $34 million and helped more than 17,000 families.

This year, RRF has taken steps to establish a sustainable reserve fund to ensure that it will be prepared to help during future times of crisis, setting a goal of $8.5 million to have the capacity to mobilize immediately whenever disaster strikes. To date, it has raised more than $8.3 million toward that goal.

Ensuring inclusivity and fair housing adherence. NAR continues to take steps to build on the momentum around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Last year, NAR launched an online fair housing simulation training called Fairhaven, which places real estate professionals in realistic scenarios where they confront housing discrimination. NAR also offers an implicit bias training video to help real estate professionals overcome hidden biases. So far, nearly 30,000 members have completed Fairhaven training, and 28,000 have viewed the implicit bias video.

But Oppler said that, with 1.5 million REALTORS®, there is still a long way to go in urging more colleagues to take part in the training. “Diversity is more than just a word, and it needs to be more than just an occasional conversation,” Oppler said. “It has to become part of our culture … and woven into everything that we do.”

He also talked about the broader message of showing REALTORS®’ commitment to inclusivity and fair housing beyond local communities. “We need to use our voice in Washington to advocate for racial equity to ensure Americans of every color can pursue their American dream,” he said. “Our work to tackle housing discrimination will go on for a long time. But hopefully, we can make progress to close that racial wealth gap.”