NAR Leaders: Association Is ‘Open for Business’

May 12, 2020

Even in the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic, REALTORS® remain beacons of light in their communities, helping their neighbors through struggles and keeping hope alive for better days on the other side of the crisis.

Leaders of the National Association of REALTORS® imparted this warm message Tuesday at NAR 360, the official opening session of the virtual 2020 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings. Speaking via live video, NAR President Vince Malta recounted a few of the many community service initiatives REALTORS® have championed nationwide.

  • A member in South Carolina raised money for laptops for children who don’t have home computers. This has helped expand access to remote learning during school closures.
  • A member in Florida rallied coworkers to raise $20,000 for meals for health care workers and first responders working long hours to treat coronavirus victims.
  • The Hawaii Association of REALTORS® raised $50,000 for state food banks that are supporting residents who have lost employment.

“No matter how separated we are by distance, we remain a team—united as the REALTOR® family,” Malta said. “Many of you are facing challenges at home and in your business, yet you found a way to continue to give back. It may be something you consider small, but any act of kindness pulls together the fabric of our communities. The home front remains resilient because REALTORS® are passionate community activists.”

NAR in Overdrive for Members

As you serve your neighbors and customers during this time, NAR is working fast and furiously on Capitol Hill to secure relief funds for you and your business. The association’s Leadership Team assured viewers at the event that NAR’s advocacy efforts aren’t letting up. “NAR is open for business and doing the business of advocating for our members,” proclaimed Vice President of Association Affairs Mabél Guzmán. “Although the coronavirus has disrupted our lives and how we do business, our advocacy has had a seamless transition to this new environment.”

The Leadership Team ticked off the many ways NAR is helping its members through the pandemic.

Advocacy for relief legislation. Guzmán said the advocacy team remains engaged with Congress as lawmakers consider future stimulus packages. She noted that NAR was instrumental in the development of the $2 trillion CARES Act, which provided loans for small businesses, and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for independent contractors. “Our advocacy and our unified voice mean more now than ever before,” added NAR President-elect Charlie Oppler.

NAR’s Public & Federal Issues Liaison Nate Johnson said the association has worked with lawmakers on mortgage forbearance options for multifamily property owners, an extension of 1031 like-kind exchange deadlines, and more flexible timelines for opportunity zone investments. NAR also continues to advocate for federal legislation enabling remote notary services in all 50 states, Johnson said.

2020 Census. NAR’s Vice President of Advocacy Christine Hansen said REALTORS® are fundamental to spreading the word and encouraging communities to participate in the 2020 Census, which not only determines each state’s representation in Congress but also is critical to funding for schools and infrastructure projects. “We need to know how many people are living in our communities to make sure federal funds are properly allocated and our communities can be ready when it counts,” Hansen said.

Political might. REALTOR® Party Director Pete Kopf said NAR is “ensuring REALTORS® are a force to be reckoned with in city halls and statehouses across the country.” He encouraged members to visit realtorparty.realtor to learn how to get involved in community advocacy and glean educational material for local and state policymakers. Hansen added that members should engage their state leaders about their plans for in-person or by-mail voting in November’s elections.

Business tools. NAR CEO Bob Goldberg said about 100,000 members have taken advantage of the association’s Right Tools, Right Now program, which offers more than 300 products, services, and educational programs to REALTORS® for free or at a discount. Additionally, more than 30,000 members have used Members TeleHealth, which connects REALTORS® virtually with 2,300 physicians nationwide. NAR has funded the program for members through May 31, after which members can maintain coverage at a 50% discount. “These are very difficult times, and our staff and elected leaders are working every day on your behalf,” Goldberg said. “We are extremely empathetic, and we’re committed to providing the best opportunities for you.”

Money matters. The Center for REALTOR® Financial Wellness, which is part of NAR membership, provides access to personalized, goal-based financial advice, said NAR Treasurer John Flor. The center has many webinars on the topics of real estate investment, budgeting, and business planning, as well as free tools such as tips to avoid wire fraud schemes. Flor said one of the center’s next webinars focuses on succession planning for pros who want to hand off their book of business. Register for the webinar. “It’s a great tool to have in your arsenal for recovery and your financial future,” he said.

Robust communication. The Leadership Team has been conducting weekly calls with state associations and biweekly calls with association communication directors since mid-March to keep them updated on NAR’s advocacy efforts and new information about the coronavirus, said NAR’s First Vice President Leslie Rouda Smith. “NAR’s Leadership Team has held hundreds of calls connecting brokerages across the country to brainstorm solutions,” she added.

Smith said NAR has been holding Joint AE Institute sessions virtually, with about 500 to 800 participants per week. In the future, Smith said, AEI will be held year-round. Also, NAR’s Leadership Live event on Facebook last month drew 16,000 live viewers and 100,000 viewers for the playback video.

Your stories. “I’ve been hearing stories all across America about the impact REALTORS® have had on communities,” said Immediate Past President John Smaby. “You’ve dedicated your livelihoods to giving back.” Smaby also noted that NAR has established a centralized hub at nar.realtor/coronavirus for information on pending COVID-19 legislation and updated provisions under already-passed bills. Additionally, an NAR hotline specifically designed to answer member’s coronavirus-related questions has been set up. Text COVID19 to 30644 or call 800-874-6500.

“One thing that has always drawn me to our REALTOR® family is our ability to be there for one another and support one another,” Smaby said. “So many of you have answered the call to be there for others.”