July 2008 Fast Takes

A special report on the 2008 Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.

July 1, 2008

What a Year! 

During NAR’s Midyear meetings, more than 1,300 REALTORS® and REALTOR® association executives celebrated NAR’s centennial at a gala hosted by living legend Ebby Halliday and attended by 17 presidents of NAR. 

Speaker Jim Rasenberger, author of America 1908 (Simon & Schuster, 2007), said the year of NAR’s founding was momentous in more ways than one.

Besides launching the REALTOR® organization, he said, 1908 was the year the Wright brothers became an international sensation after Wilbur demonstrated flight in Paris. It was also the year of the first Model T Ford.

“1908 was a year that marked a psychological shift in America,” Rasenberger told the crowd. “Americans believed anything and everything was possible [including the vision of REALTORS®] that we should not just be tenants of the American dream, but owners of it.”

Don’t Smoke, Don’t Drink, Don’t Retire

Those are the life lessons of 97-year-old Dallas megabroker Ebby Halliday. At a forum that opened the May meetings, Halliday encouraged practitioners to get back to basics. The 63-year industry vet, with ukulele in hand, performed a song that business reporters should download onto their iPods. Among the lines: “Interest rates are low again/It’s a buyer’s market once again/Happy days are here again.” 

Property ‘Library’ Advances

An NAR database containing every property in the United States is underway. The association’s board of directors gave the go-ahead on a “proof of concept” to see how such a database might work and how much it would cost. The board sees a repository controlled by REALTORS® as crucial for their competitiveness. What the repository won’t be is a national MLS, said NAR CEO Dale Stinton. There will be no offers of cooperation or compensation, no attempt to create a national online marketplace, and no consumer-facing components.

Midyear Session Highlights From “Speaking of Real Estate” Blog

  • Mobile devices will be king. They’re becoming more important than PCs in delivering information to consumers, says Errol Samuelson, president of REALTOR.com, which now enables property searches through cell phones and PDAs. —Amy Konstas
  • Speaking to the media about your market? Stick to the facts, stay positive, and stay on message, say national PR consultants Vlad Cartwright and Adam Clampitt of Burson-Marsteller. “An interview’s not a quiz, a deposition, or a place for original thought.” —Stacey Moncrieff
  • Let your customers do the talking. The Maine Association of REALTORS® is offering $20,000 to the individual or family that makes the best YouTube video on why the state’s such a great place to live. —Pamela Geurds Kabati
  • Spicing up your credentials a bit on Facebook? Think twice before you do, because the NAR Code of Ethics applies online as much as it does in the real world. —Wendy Cole

Declining Markets Policies Scrapped

While REALTORS® were meeting in Washington, D.C., Fannie Mae announced that it will no longer reduce by five percentage points the maximum loan-to-value ratio on loans in markets with falling home prices. Freddie Mac not long afterward followed suit. The decision came after a month of hard lobbying by REALTORS®, who said the higher down payment was hurting the neighborhoods most in need of a turnaround.

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