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OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Daily Real Estate News  |  May 19, 2007  |   NAR Board Passes Second Century Initiative, Dues Increase
The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Board of Directors voted to fund the association’s “Second Century Initiative” with a $16 per member national dues increase, the first such increase since 1994. Dues will be $80 a year beginning in 2008. Among the programs that are part of the initiative:
  • A major consumer outreach effort that will allow NAR to leverage the natural alliances that exist between REALTORS® and real property owners;
  • Planning for a national property data “gateway,” a repository containing detailed current and historical information on all real property in the United States;
  • A credit union for NAR members;
  • Creation of an investment company that would fund technology initiatives that would benefit REALTORS®.

Visit REALTOR.org for more information on the Second Century Initiative.

Directors also voted to:
  • Extend the 10-year-old public awareness campaign for three years and increase the special assessment to $35 in 2009 and 2010. The assessment will remain at $30 for 2008.
  • Allocate $250,000 to sponsor an exhibition at the National Building Museum on the central place of homeownership in the United States called House and Home: 400 Years of the American Dream.

2008 Officers

Directors elected Dick Gaylord of Long Beach, Calif., president; Charles McMillan of Irving, Texas, president-elect; Vicki Cox Golder of Tucson, Ariz., first vice president; and James Helsel Jr., treasurer of NAR for 2008. McMillan, who ran against Chris McElroy of Fort Collins, Colo., for the president-elect spot, will be the first African-American president of NAR.

National Policy Issues

The directors positioned NAR as an advocate for:
Competitive, “net neutral” telecommunications legislation before Congress;
More open and transparent patent application processes to help ensure that patents are issued only for truly unique ideas;
Tax incentives that encourage owners to make properties more energy efficient or satisfy other environmental goals and mitigate potential damage from natural disasters;

Enhancements to federal housing programs that encourage financing of manufactured, modular, and other systematically built housing.

The board also took a position opposing a “blind draw” selection system for choosing property appraisers in federal housing programs, but supported stronger penalties for those who improperly influence the appraisal process.

Legal Support

Directors approved $559,000 to fund 10 legal cases. Among the cases is one involving alleged patent infringement by an online mapping technology and one testing the constitutionality of a municipal requirement for a property inspection at the point of sale. The funds will also be used to help defray costs incurred by local associations involved in federal antitrust action against them or against NAR.

Association Policy

Directors stiffened qualification criteria that boards may consider for membership. New language was added enabling boards to consider certain criminal convictions in assessing a membership applicant. The new policy applies equally to principals in a real estate company and non-principal licensees.

A new Standard of Practice was added to Article 12 of the Code of Ethics to clarify that the obligation to present “a true picture in advertising, marketing, and representations” includes the proper use and display of certificates, designations, and other REALTOR® credentials.

Directors called for more transparency in the arbitration process. They required that grievance committees, when dismissing arbitration requests, explain the basis for dismissals and enable complainants to initiate meaningful appeals.

An amendment to MLS policy establishes the requirement that listing brokers report status changes (including sales) to the MLS, even when direct negotiations are conducted—with the listing broker’s consent—between the seller and the cooperating broker. The amendment addresses concerns that MLS status changes weren’t always being made in a timely manner where cooperating brokers weren’t authorized to change listing broker–loaded listings.

The directors approved a plan by the Association Executives Committee Mediation Work Group to implement a three-tiered dispute resolution process. The process will replace existing Standards of Conduct for REALTOR® Associations, Unacceptable Business Practices, and related mandatory mediation procedures.

Other Reports

The directors heard reports from the REALTORS® Political Action Committee, the treasurer, and representatives of Move.com and REALTOR.com.

RPAC is poised to surpass its $6.1 million fair-share goal for 2007. As of April 30, RPAC had reached $4.4 million in donations, and committee chair Carol Frick of Michigan said she expects to reach $7 million by the end of the year. Sixteen states and territories have already met their RPAC goal for the year.

Treasurer Bruce Wolf gave an upbeat report, noting that NAR is approaching $340 million in assets. Membership for 2007 is 1.321 million members, a small retreat from 2006, when membership reached 1.357 million members, an all-time high, he said.

Under REALTOR.com President Errol Samuelson, NAR’s property listing web site is unveiling a number of innovations, including new mapping and satellite imaging capabilities; an increase in the maximum number of photos per enhanced listing to 25 from six; and the addition of videos. The site will also have detailed neighborhood information and will provide a blog platform free to all REALTORS®. Samuelson also demonstrated how consumers can now download to their computer desktops a window into REALTOR.com that will allow consumers to continually monitor the latest listings that meet their criteria.

Awards

The 2007 Distinguished Service Award recipients are Henry Ray of Birmingham, Ala., and George Peek of Reno, Nev. The DSA recipients will accept their awards at the 2007 Annual Conference in Las Vegas in November. Benny McMahan, executive officer of the Texas Association of REALTORS®, was named the 2007 winner of the William R. Magel Award of Excellence in association management. His award will also be officially presented in Las Vegas.

By Robert Freedman and Stacey Moncrieff for REALTOR® Magazine Online

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