The NAR Board of Directors—led by 2018 President Elizabeth Mendenhall—adopted a five-year strategic framework to provide a more visionary, holistic, and business-oriented approach reflective of NAR’s expanding role in technology and other arenas critical to real estate.
“The new strategic framework represents a common focus and direction for NAR leaders, volunteers, and staff,” Heather Ozur, chair of the Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee, told the Board. “It provides clear answers to several fundamental questions: Where are we going? What do we stand for? How do we agree to operate? And it captures the essence of both who the organization is and who it seeks to become, and what unique, core value it delivers.”
Also at the meeting, the Board approved policies supporting remote notarization, Opportunity Zones, and inflation indexing for capital assets. It also passed Core Standards changes for commercial boards, changes to enhance cooperation among brokers, and a rule change on evaluating ethics complaints while a criminal action is pending.
NAR Strategic Framework for 2019-2023
The NAR Strategic Framework for 2019-2023 replaces the strategic plan launched in 2014. Among the framework’s values:
- People have a right to safe, decent, and affordable housing.
- Thriving commercial and residential markets are critical economic engines of the country and key to healthy communities.
- Private property rights are foundational to the country.
- The opportunity for homeownership should be as broadly shared as possible.
- Entrepreneurs should have the freedom to pursue their business goals and succeed in creating the quality of life they desire.
- All REALTORS® ascribe to the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.
In 2019, NAR will develop a new vision statement.
The Board took a number of other actions to align the association with the challenges facing its members in the years ahead:
Customization of Core Standards for Commercial Overlay Boards
Commercial associations are given some flexibility in how they meet their Core Standards requirements to reflect the unique services they provide to their members. The change reflects the fact that the examples and terminology in the Core Standards certification form apply to residential real estate. Core Standards ensure that state and local associations maintain a standard level of professionalism in their service to members.
New Policy Supporting Remote Notarization
NAR Directors went on record in support of laws, regulations, and standards that advance notarization. The policy calls for rules that focus on the completion of the notarial act, regardless of the technology used, and support the adoption of remote notarization across all U.S. states and territories, while protecting consumers’ personal information. The policy also urges federal agencies to facilitate the adoption of remote notary services across the mortgage system.
Proceeding With Ethics Complaints When Criminal Litigation is Also Involved
Associations are allowed to continue to process ethics complaints when there is criminal litigation pending that involves the same facts and circumstances.
Enforcing Cooperation via MLS Through Written Certification of Offer Presentations
The Board amended MLS Policy Statement 7.73 regarding the rights of cooperating brokers in the presentation of offers. The policy reinforces cooperation and brings MLS policy in line with the Code of Ethics. Under the rule, listing brokers will be required to provide written affirmation or notification to cooperating brokers on the disposition of their offer. The requirement gives associations the ability to impose disciplinary action against a listing broker who fails to present either written confirmation that the offer was presented or evidence that the seller waived the obligation to have the offer presented.
Patent Infringement Liability Policy
The Board approved purchase of insurance for 2019 to protect the association, state and local associations, and association-owned MLSs from patent infringement actions, typically brought by so-called patent trolls that use overly generalized patents to extract fees from businesses.
New Policy Supporting Indexing of Tax Bases of Capital Assets
The new policy puts NAR on record in support of indexing the tax bases of capital assets, including real estate, for inflation. Doing so could lower capital gains taxes due on sale of the asset.
New Policy Supporting Opportunity Zones
NAR went on record in support of the Opportunity Zones tax incentive that was included in the 2017 tax reform act. Opportunity Zones have the potential to have a large impact on economically depressed areas by using capital gain tax reductions to attract long-term investment capital. The zones are designated by states and approved the U.S. Treasury Department.
Strengthened Credentials and Campaign Rules
NAR Directors strengthened and broadened the requirements for candidates for elected NAR office, which were established in 2013. Going forward, candidates must now have a credit score of at least 650, up from 580. In addition, candidates may not display campaign materials on television channels distributed to hotel rooms or on video screens in public areas of hotels during NAR events. The Credentials and Campaign Rules Committee will provide all responses to campaign-related questions regarding rules—but not campaign strategy—to all candidates.
Legal Case Funded to Defend Allegations of Copyright Infringement
Approved $60,000 to help defray legal expenses incurred by several brokerages and listing agents to defend themselves against a lawsuit filed by a firm that owns copyright registrations for architectural home designs and related technical drawings. The defendants created or hired a third party to create floor plans for the properties and submitted those drawings to the MLS and realtor.com®, and the plaintiff alleges that those floor plans violate its copyrights.
Issues Mobilization Reforms
The Mobilization Program policy was amended to:
- Increase from $50,000 to $100,000 the limit on grant requests that are eligible for consideration through the consent agenda process. The change will enable associations to move more quickly on fast-advancing local government policy actions.
- Increase the association contribution requirements to ensure associations have “skin in the game” when using mobilization funds.
- Limit grants for coalition campaigns to no more than 50 percent of the total campaign budget unless the applicant association is active in the coalition campaign, and set expectations that associations will take an active role in coalition campaigns, regardless of the level of funding.
- Require grant applicants to provide more detailed guidance to help the Issues Mobilization Committee determine whether the requested funds will serve REALTORS®’ interests. To date in 2018, NAR has awarded 36 grants of $50,000 or less and 10 grants between $50,000 and $100,000.
Financial Education in Schools
State and local associations are encouraged to support financial education for school-age children and young adults. The plan is an opportunity for NAR to show its commitment to ensuring greater access to the tools needed for financial stability and, ultimately, sustainable homeownership.
Reports to the Board
Broad Review of NAR Governance
A new presidential advisory group (PAG) will look at what changes, if any, should be made to the structure of NAR’s governance system. The PAG’s work covers only governance at the national level and will not delve into state and local association governance.
NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall established the Governance Game Changer Presidential Advisory Group (PAG) to ensure NAR retains its industry leadership position into its second century. More than 50 members and association executives have been appointed to look at the structure, process, people, resources, and operating environment of NAR’s governance system.
The goal is to ensure NAR’s structure supports the efficient, nimble, and transparent operation of the association; fully engages the experience, expertise, and talent of its members; and positions the association to act effectively in the years ahead.
"Governance is how NAR makes decisions," says Sharon Millett, former NAR president and chair of the PAG. "We need to ensure NAR has the right people at the table, with the right information, and working under the right process, so decisions are made that will help our members be successful at providing the best service to their clients."
NAR’s 2019 President John Smaby, 2019 President-elect Vince Malta, and 2019 First Vice President Charlie Oppler will work with the PAG as it carries out its work.
Top-level Internet Domains
Ken Burlington, chief operating officer of REALTORS® Information Network, reported that NAR and Second Generation Ltd. have registered more than 13,000 .realestate addresses during the member pre-sale for the new top-level internet domain, which launched Sept. 18. Members of the general public will be able to purchase .realestate addresses beginning Nov. 26 through more than 30 registrars. Burlington also reported that more than 150,000 .realtor™ addresses have been registered since that top-level domain was launched.
Suzanne Mueller of Move, Inc., reported on consumers’ growing use of realtor.com, the only consumer-facing listing site that partners with NAR. She said monthly unique user traffic has doubled since 2014, to 63 million people each month visiting and viewing two billion pages. The site also has industry-high engagement, with consumers visiting 1.5 times more pages and spending 1.3 times more time on the site than other sites.
- The Board recognized JoAnne Poole, CRS, GRI, of Baltimore, Md., and Peyton Norville, CRS, GRI, of Birmingham, Ala., this year’s Distinguished Service Award recipients.
- Walter T. Baczkowski, RCE, CAE, chief executive officer of the San Francisco Association of REALTORS®, was awarded the William R. Magel Award of Excellence. The award is presented annually to a REALTOR® association executive who has excelled in his or her role.
- The Board gave a standing ovation to NAR Chief Lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello, who is retiring after 38 years with the association.
NAR Directors took a moment to pay condolences to the families of three leaders who recently passed away:
- Frank Dickens was a former president of the Arizona Association of REALTORS® and longtime Federal Political Coordinator and committee volunteer for NAR.
- Almon R. “Bud” Smith served as chief executive of NAR from 1991 to 1997. Before that, he was executive officer of the Ohio Association of REALTORS® for more than 13 years. From 1970 to 1978, he headed the Cleveland Area Board of REALTORS®, and from 1967 to 1970, he served as executive officer of the Cincinnati Board of REALTORS®.
- Alan Yassky was NAR treasurer from 1997 to 2000. In 2003 he received NAR's Distinguished Service Award, and in 2008 he was inducted into the REALTORS® Political Action Committee Hall of Fame.