‘This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Association Anymore’

August 15, 2017

On Monday, NAR CEO Bob Goldberg and President-elect Elizabeth Mendenhall welcomed REALTOR® leaders to Chicago.

It’s time to get out of your comfort zone.

That was the rallying cry from National Association of REALTORS® President-elect Elizabeth Mendenhall and CEO Bob Goldberg to local, state, and national association leaders and staff, who gathered in Chicago on Tuesday for NAR’s 2017 Leadership Summit.

Taking the stage Tuesday morning before 1,600 REALTOR® leaders—and broadcasting over Facebook Live to more than 40,000 viewers—Mendenhall and Goldberg laid out their vision for the association in 2018 and beyond. Mendenhall delivered an emotional speech that both honored and recalled the passion of her father, 2001 NAR President Richard Mendenhall, and she implored REALTORS® to take ownership of ensuring that they remain an essential part of the consumer experience in real estate.

“It becomes overwhelming when you look at the headlines and you see Amazon is playing in real estate. ... You see a headline that says the next broker is going to be artificial intelligence. ... And now Facebook has just changed your advertising marketing campaign,” she said.

And while NAR’s strategic priorities for 2018 may seem familiar, she added, the need to act on them in the face of unrelenting technological, demographic, and political change is urgent. A sixth-generation practitioner, Mendenhall said REALTORS® would need to work collaboratively and creatively like never before to:

  • Define measurable increases in professionalism.
  • Increase influence in an uncertain legislative, regulatory, and political environment.
  • Take management of real estate data to the next level.
  • Ensure the role of the REALTOR® as essential to the consumer.

“We’re going to have to come up with better solutions, and we’re going to have to come up with better ideas,” she said. “We’ve got the jobs of 1.2 million people on our hands. It can be overwhelming. There are a lot of issues, and they are not easy. The answers are not necessarily here in this room, but they’re there for us to find. And we will find them.

“This ain’t your daddy’s association anymore,” she added. “And my daddy’s here, and I think he would agree with me. It’s time. We’ve got to own it.”

Goldberg, making his first extended public remarks since taking over as NAR CEO on Aug. 1, revealed several specifics for doing just that. His most vital priority, he said, is to change the perception that NAR is disconnected from the practical concerns of REALTORS® and of the industry. “While this is a complete misconception, as CEO, I’m going to own it,” he said. “I’m ready to take a sledgehammer and knock down the ‘ivory tower’ facade.” 

He’ll do that, he said, by listening more than talking, making sure NAR executives are engaged and accountable for member satisfaction, and re-engineering the association into an outside-in organization—one that’s built around the member’s experience. “I am ready and eager to work with leadership to make tough decisions and determine solutions,” he said.

Building on the success of NAR’s investment arm, Second Century Ventures, and its REach accelerator program for tech startups, one of Goldberg’s first changes will be the creation of a new strategic business and technology group. “We’re going to build a strategic think tank. We will convene world-class business experts—the best minds from within and outside the industry—to develop specific action plans and countermeasures to mitigate emerging threats to organized real estate.

“We shouldn’t dread disruption,” he said. “We must drive it.”

But dramatic structural and operational changes won’t be accompanied by a change in mission.

“The National Association of REALTORS®’ core purpose remains to help our members become more profitable and successful. We will continue to strive to be the collective force influencing and shaping the real estate industry. We will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of America's property owners as the foremost advocate of the right to own, use, and transfer real property, the leader in developing standards for efficient, effective, and ethical real estate business practices,” Goldberg said.

He invited members to connect with him on the @RealtorsCEO Facebook page and his LinkedIn profile to share comments, questions, ideas, and concerns. “So far, I have responded to every member who has reached out to me.”

Mendenhall’s and Goldberg’s remarks were captured in full on NAR’s Facebook page.

—Stacey Moncrieff, REALTOR® Magazine