NAR Raises the Bar on Associations

May 16, 2016

The Board of Directors for the National Association of REALTORS® voted Saturday for a series of changes to the organizational alignment/core standards requirements for local and state associations that will enhance oversight and improve the professional development opportunities for members and staff.

Core standards ensure that associations across the country have the capabilities and programs to effectively serve and advocate on behalf of REALTORS®. Associations that can’t meet the standards can merge with other associations or face having their charter revoked. Since the first compliance deadline in June 2015, there have been 85 mergers involving 194 associations, resulting in an 11 percent decrease in the number of local associations.

The revised standards will go into effect July 1, the beginning of a new core standards compliance cycle that ends Dec. 31, 2017. After that, compliance cycles will run on calendar years.

Among the enhancements, associations will need to do at least two political advocacy and two consumer outreach activities each cycle. In addition, associations will be required to:

  • Provide members with at least one professional development opportunity.
  • Certify that they’ve conducted a REALTOR® safety activity.
  • Extend the six-hour professional development requirement for chief staff to boards without paid staff by making the requirement applicable to the individual who carries out the functions normally performed by a paid staffer.
  • Conduct annual performance reviews of chief staff.

In addition to raising the bar for REALTOR® associations, the directors voted for a change to MLS policy regarding the use of images and data submitted by agents that will protect brokers and MLSs from liability. The new language reflects the importance of brokers and associates having the necessary licenses for the photos and other content that they put into the MLS and transfer to other sites.

Improper use of listing data — photos, audio, video, virtual tours, drawings, descriptions, remarks, narratives, pricing information, and other details — by third parties can create legal problems for agents, brokerages, and MLSs. The issue has grown in importance as the use of photos and videos has increased.

New Leadership

The board elected John Smaby, CRB, GRI, of Edina, Minn., as 2017 first vice president and Tom Riley, CCIM, CRB, of Bedford, N.H., as treasurer for a two-year term, 2017-18. Other 2017 officers are Bill Brown of Oakland, Calif., president, and Elizabeth Mendenhall, CIPS, CRB, of Columbia, Mo., president-elect. In the first vice president election, Smaby edged out JoAnne Poole of Glen Burnie, Md., emphasizing the theme of togetherness in a brief speech before the directors. Rounding out the 2017 Leadership Team, Brown announced Mabel Guzman, AHWD, of Chicago and Kevin Sears of Springfield, Mass., as his appointed vice presidents.

The board also voted to keep member dues at $120 for 2017 and extended the national consumer advertising campaign special assessment of $35 per year for 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Saturday’s Board of Directors meeting wrapped up the 2016 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. More than 8,000 REALTORS® and guests were in town to meet with their members of Congress on Capitol Hill, attend education sessions and NAR committee meetings, and see what new products and services are available in the industry. For a complete rundown of the meeting, read the Internal News Service Special Report.

Here are some other highlights from the board meeting:

  • #GetRealtor: The ad campaign, themed “Get Realtor®” focuses on disrupting the do-it-yourself culture spawned by the Internet. The campaign aims to teach consumers that REALTORS® provide professional representation and a competitive edge. REALTORS® at the meeting learned about the campaign’s work with ABC sitcom “Modern Family,” which includes an integration into an episode of the show that aired May 4 and ads featuring actor Ty Burrell, who portrays REALTOR® Phil Dunphy. In the May 4 integration, Dunphy wears a REALTOR® pin, explains the difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent, and uses his real estate expertise to heroic effect. Media critics have called the “Modern Family” partnership one of the best ad integrations ever. Ad Week called Phil Dunphy NAR’s “perfect pitchman,” and the show’s co-executive producer Christopher Lloyd told Ad Week it was a win for the show, too. “People see Phil, and they remember to watch ‘Modern Family,’” he said. Burrell, who has won two Emmy awards for his portrayal of Dunphy, will make an appearance at NAR’s annual meeting in Orlando, Nov. 4–7.
  • Attention on Student Debt: In other key actions, the directors voted to put NAR on record about the growing problem of student loan debt, advocating for laws that allow borrowers to refinance their federally backed student loans and seeking mortgage underwriting guidelines that don’t impair home ownership.
  • Professional Standards Boost: Directors approved changes to the Standards of Practice to improve enforcement of the NAR Code of Ethics. Among the changes are provisions to boost accountability for members who resign prior to facing an ethics complaint, improve transparency by specifying consequences if someone fails to comply with discipline, and protect members’ right to appeal if their discipline is increased after review. The changes go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.
  • Recognizing Extraordinary Service: Patricia Kaplan, GRI, GREEN,  of Portland, Ore., and Barbara Lach, ABR, CRB, CRS, GRI, PMN,  of Columbus, Ohio, were named recipients of NAR’s prestigious Distinguished Service Award. Andrea Bushnell, RCE, CAE, association executive of the North Carolina Association of REALTORS®, received the 2016 William R. Magel Award for outstanding association executive. All three will be formally recognized at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in November.

—Stacey Moncrieff, REALTOR® Magazine