NAR President: We Need One Another

Elizabeth Mendenhall talks tax reform, time management, and gratitude coins with REALTOR® Magazine Editor Wendy Cole.
NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall

Our profile of you was written before you took office. A month into your tenure, how is the role of NAR president different than you expected?

I’ve always known that REALTORS® are passionate about bettering our associations, our industry, and our communities. However, since being installed as president, my eyes have opened even wider at the magnitude of this allegiance. I am astounded by how many members have reached out to share their thoughts and to offer support. Never before have I gotten so many emails and text messages—it’s incredible. I promise to keep listening. Our best work is the product of collaboration. We need one another.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

In December, tax reform was front and center. Thanks to REALTORS®’ engagement, we positively influenced the new law in some key areas. More than 300,000 contacts over two Calls for Action to members of Congress enabled us to improve on the original blueprint, For example, we pushed to maintain deductibility of state and local income and property taxes up to $10,000 and to keep Section 1031 tax-deferred exchanges in their present form for real estate investments. And we will continue to advocate on behalf of the industry and property owners. Whatever their views on the legislation, REALTORS® are united in the belief that homeownership matters.

How do you balance your time between supporting national, state, and local concerns?

Our three-way agreement gives us a powerful voice in shaping public policy. Issues important at one level are important at all levels; balancing my time between organizational tiers is a nonissue. Trickier is juggling work and personal time, but REALTORS® navigate this balancing act on a daily basis.

Have any conversations with members specifically shaped your outlook as president?

The respect for the role of the NAR president is humbling. Almost every day, I have at least one conversation with a member who reminds me of the great responsibility this title bears. From tax reform to natural disasters, REALTORS® are facing change and challenges. Members’ livelihoods are at stake, and inaction can lead to serious consequences.

What response are you getting to the “Own It” mantra?

Within the REALTOR® community, “Own It” has gone viral. People are sharing their “Own It” moments across social media, and it’s amazing to watch as “Own It” gratitude coins circulate the country. The coins, unveiled last summer at the NAR Leadership Summit, are tokens of appreciation, and recipients are regifting them to colleagues who embody the “Own It” spirit. This movement has exceeded all expectations. I hope it’s an indicator for our year ahead.