For National Association of REALTORS® CEO Bob Goldberg, “face time” is more than just the name of a video calling app. In a flurry of interviews and public appearances since starting the chief staff job on Aug. 1, Goldberg has been clear: He loves technology—he’s a heavy social media user and says he’ll embrace innovation that brings business value to REALTORS®—but he won’t depend on tech when it comes to the all-important task of connecting with members. In his own words, Goldberg outlines four of his key priorities for the coming months.
1. Listen, listen, listen.
“There’s a perception that NAR resides in an ivory tower, disconnected from the practical concerns of our members. While this is a complete misconception, as CEO, I’m ready to take a sledgehammer and knock down the ivory tower facade. I’m assigning each of our top executives a region of the country, and they will take responsibility for member engagement and member satisfaction in that region. In fact, the entire 350-member staff will spend time in the field to ensure they understand what’s on the minds of agents, brokers, association executives, and opinion leaders. We’ve got to be high touch and high impact.”
2. Engage property owners in advocacy efforts.
“In a meeting with NAR’s leadership, Gary Cohn [director of the National Economic Council under President Donald Trump] said the mortgage interest deduction is in trouble because they don’t necessarily believe it’s as important as other tax considerations. We’ve got to keep that fight strong. It is paramount that our REALTOR® Party resources and REALTORS® Political Action Committee remain at the strongest competitive position possible. As part of our strategy, we will begin investigating the viability of creating a homeowners’ coalition. There’s strength in numbers. The more consumers we bring in, the more our voice is elevated.”
3. Turn disruption into opportunity.
“Call it innovation. Call it disruption. It has always been here, and it’s not going away. Venture capitalists spent $1.7 billion last year on startup investments that impact how brokers, agents, lenders, and other industry professionals manage their business. We can put our head in the sand, or we can invite disrupters into our tent and have some influence over how they participate in our industry. I am a big believer in ‘N.I.H.’—not invented here. NAR does not need to be in the business of building every technology solution ourselves. That’s why we are establishing a new team within NAR, the Strategic Business and Technology Group, and that team will focus on forging strategic partnerships and ensuring that NAR and our industry remain at the forefront of business and technology solutions.”
4. Stop talking about raising the bar, and start raising it.
“Portals are competing with our members for consumer mindshare. New broker models are challenging profitability. The demographics of the country are changing. We need to examine how these factors impact a REALTOR®’s value proposition. The status quo is not an option. To stay ahead of industry evolution, we must all agree this industry is not the same as it was when NAR was founded 109 years ago. It’s not the same as it was nine years ago. I am eager to work with leadership to make tough decisions and determine solutions on the issue of professionalism.” But if new standards of professionalism are going to have any impact, NAR itself will have to change, too, Goldberg says. Sending staff into the field is just one step. “We have to make sure our organizational structure serves our intent of being a member-centric organization. The goal is to flip the pyramid, with our members on top. We have engaged a firm and have already started an organizational review of the internal structure and operation so that we can optimize our efficiency in serving our members.”