Yun: What’s Holding Back Real Estate Sales

May 18, 2018

Short-term and longer-term predictions about real estate markets along with a substantive give-and-take about the proposed association dues increase were among the lively topics at the 2018 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo on Thursday.

Lawrence Yun

Residential Outlook: Robust Economy, Restrained Sales

By most measures, home sales should be breaking out because of the strong economy, but growth is minimal because too few homes are for sale, explained Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS®.

Yun is predicting a 1 to 2 percent uptick in sales this year, to about 5.6 million units. Given favorable demographic trends and how well the economy is doing, that increase is much more restrained than it could be. “This is really about lack of inventory,” Yun said at a residential economic forum. New construction is key to addressing inventory shortages, but small builders are largely absent from markets, Yun said. Learn more about the outlook for residential real estate.

NAR President Mendenhall explained that spending cuts are accompanying a proposed dues hike.

Members Mull Over Proposed Dues Hike 

Ahead of the NAR Board of Directors meeting Saturday when NAR’s budget proposal will be put to a vote, REALTORS® heard the rationale for a $30 dues increase during the Treasurer’s Forum. And members spoke out strongly in support of the hike. “It’s uncomfortable to say we need a dues increase,” NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall said at the start of the forum. “It’s not popular; it causes members to ask questions.” But as association leaders explained how the increase would provide new political advocacy efforts and programs to encourage professional development and promote financial wellness, the audience emphatically agreed. Find out what members had to say.

NAR: Landlords to Get More Power in Support Animal Requests

The National Association of REALTORS® expects that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will issue revised guidelines this year around emotional support animals, giving landlords and property managers more authority to verify that a tenant’s need for such an animal is legitimate, NAR Senior Policy Representative Megan Booth told attendees at the Property Management Forum.

The association has had separate conversations with HUD and disability rights groups in recent weeks, Booth said, adding that “the disability rights groups are concerned that widespread abuse of [requests for] companion animals could hurt tenants with legitimate needs.” Currently, consumers can apply for and receive medical certifications for emotional support animals online without having to provide detailed proof of their need. One such website is, which is run by a group of California doctors—one of whom continued to offer medical advice to site users after losing his license, said Paul Cohen, a partner at law firm Cohen, Willwerth & Marraccini, LLC. The site charges $149.99 for a support animal certification, he added.

“HUD is willing to put a caveat [into their guidelines] that tenants must have a letter from a licensed health care provider that they have a demonstrated ongoing professional relationship with—not just on the internet,” Booth said. Landlords and property managers also would be permitted to call the health care provider to verify their relationship with a tenant. HUD’s revised guidelines will “hopefully” include language clarifying what is a “reasonable accommodation” for tenants with emotional support animals, Booth added. “Can a tenant have 12 cats in a studio apartment?” she opined.

It’s unclear how changes to support animal guidelines might affect service animals, which are different. Tenants with service animals, which are professionally trained and certified to perform a specific task to aid a person with a disability, already are required to show a greater level of proof of their need.

How AI Builds Relationships

Don’t let the term artificial intelligence alarm you—it’s not an imperial army of robots that will put you or your brokerage out of business. Instead, AI technology offers ways for you to build relationships with your sphere and work more efficiently. The advent of tools like AI assistant Google Duplex, augmented reality staging apps, and social listening platforms will help real estate pros and clients alike. Check out these recent AI trends to see how this emerging technology might benefit your business. Watch a Google Duplex demo video to hear how realistic AI voices can be.

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman addresses the Multiple Listing Service Forum

Should MLS Policy Require Links on Listing Portals?

Though no vote is planned before the NAR Board of Directors on the issue, the MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Advisory Board will soon examine the question whether to require listing feeds and portals to publish a link to the listing broker’s site alongside individual listings.

Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, offered full-throated support for the idea at the Multiple Listing Service Forum Thursday, which he said could fundamentally change the balance of power online. “Google decides which sites to favor based on links,” he said, explaining that sites that are linked back to as sources of information tend to rank higher in search results, and that if listing aggregators had to link back to the listing originator, brokerages and agents would ultimately benefit. “The dream could collapse if we don’t give the listing agent a better deal.”

Kelman noted that as a brokerage that also functions as a real estate listing and media company, the new rule isn’t exactly in his best interests. “There are a bunch of engineers at Redfin who want to tackle me when I come up here and say this,” he told the committee. “Why do I care about this? Because I want the whole system to work better. Redfin has bet on the MLS. We didn’t scrape other sites. We joined the MLS.” Learn more about the ideas offered to help improve MLSs generated at the meetings.

Real Estate in 2028

Four industry heavyweights at Thursday’s Power Broker session offered predictions on what the next decade will mean for real estate. 

  • Teams will rule the roost. Rett Harmon, principal broker and co-owner of Century 21 Novus Realty in Carrollton, Ga., expects teams to grow even more prominent within brokerages over the next 10 years. At his company, they encourage the formation of small teams and provide enough support services so people don’t want to leave. “One of our goals is to make it a company that people retire from,” Harmon says.
  • Customer service will drive success. Agents will become the educators, advocates, and consultants for their clients even more than they are today, says Helen Hanna Casey, chief executive officer of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. The most successful agents will be doing more service-oriented work for their clients, she says, which she believes will change the business more than anything. Rei Mesa, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, echoed Casey’s thoughts, adding that “customer service is the one place where you can outshine everyone else.”
  • Local experts will be in demand. Yes, tech solutions will automate more aspects of your business, but the decisions you make today should position your brand to be the local expert of the future. Tipper Williams, operating principal of Virginia Realty Alliance Group, says, “Being the local expert is what people want and what they’ll be looking for.” So use technology to position yourself.
  • More brokers will partner with disruptors. Real estate pros who will thrive in the next 10 years will be the ones who embrace technology disruptors and understand how to work with them, says Mesa. “Keep your mind open,” he adds.

NAR CEO Goldberg and NAR President Mendenhall were among the inaugural class of leaders inducted into RISMedia’s Hall of Fame.

Goldberg, Mendenhall Honored as Newsmakers

Bob Goldberg, CEO of the National Association of REALTORS®, and NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall were among seven industry influencers who received inaugural Real Estate Newsmaker Awards presented Thursday evening by RISMedia, publisher of Real Estate Magazine. At a National Press Club ceremony held in conjunction with the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo, the NAR leaders were recognized for positively affecting the real estate industry and millions of consumers.

“We are honored to present Bob with a 2018 Real Estate Newsmaker Award in recognition of his enduring commitment to the industry and homeownership, and his mission to change the paradigm at NAR,” said RISMedia President and CEO John Featherston. “He is implementing a high-touch, high-impact approach throughout NAR to go beyond the status quo and impact real change for members and the consumers they serve.”

Featherston cited Mendenhall’s wide ranging efforts on behalf of the industry. “From actively fighting to preserve the mortgage interest deduction to tirelessly working to elevate the professionalism of REALTORS® and increase homeownership for all Americans, Elizabeth is an advocate unlike any we’ve seen before,” he said. “For that reason, we are thrilled to honor Elizabeth as one of RISMedia’s 2018 Real Estate Newsmakers.”

In accepting her award, Mendenhall noted that “RISMedia made me a better broker and gave me more knowledge about the industry. We now have a responsibility to give back and provide support.”

Goldberg added: “I am really excited to be in this Hall of Fame on behalf of NAR, along with Elizabeth. It’s a new day at NAR.”

—REALTOR® Magazine