NAR Leadership Ready to ‘Get in Trouble’

A standing-room-only crowd was on hand as members of the National Association of REALTORS®’ Strategic Planning Committee revealed a report Tuesday afternoon that summarized the results of a year’s worth of REThink sessions.

Thanks to volunteer coordinator and presenter Jason Pantana for sharing his photo of the overflowing audience at Tuesday’s event

Released at the Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., the report was compiled from 16 workshops across the country in an effort to answer the question over the future of NAR in uncertain times.

“I’m glad to see that we had a small enough room for this crowd,” joked NAR 2013 President Gary Thomas. He said he was thankful for the enthusiasm, adding that broad engagement is what makes the REThink report special. “It’s coming from the members rather than a small, insular group.”

The event was so widely attended that the committee added a second session Wednesday, May 15, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern at the Omni Shoreham hotel.

The report distilled responses from 4,500 individuals who used these workshops to come up with actions that individual real estate professionals, industry players, and NAR can undertake to stay relevant in the changing world of real estate. But this was not just an exercise of pulling the curtain back on data.

“We’re here to ask your feedback,” said Strategic Planning Committee Chair Shannon W. King. “We want you to agree that these are the right issues.”

Some of the many items discussed at Tuesday’s event were “big data” issues, industry collaboration, the opening up of association leadership positions, and more. Two suggestions that garnered widespread applause among attendees were increasing professional standards for members and “taking back,” as one facilitator quoted from the report.

Both at the local workshops and at the event at Midyear, members expressed skepticism about the engagement of NAR leadership. One of the volunteer coordinators recalled the initial backlash she experienced when organizing a local REThink seminar.

“Many of the participants just thought we were from NAR,” said Summer Greene, a volunteer coordinator and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based REALTOR®. “After we got past that, it was all about, ‘Is the leadership at NAR really going to listen?'”

The difference between those local information-gathering sessions and Tuesday’s presentation was that NAR leadership was present at the Washington D.C. event and made it clear that they were not only listening, but were also ready to act.

“I didn’t want to just have another plan that would sit on the shelf and gather dust,” said Thomas, “which is basically what happens with strategic plans … when it’s done, it’s done — meaning nothing happens with it typically.”

Another hot topic was the issue of who the national association should serve first and foremost: consumers or members? Many in Tuesday’s session said the association should strive to be a resource for both groups.

“We serve the consumers through the REALTORS®,” said Bob Hart, a real estate professional from Santa Barbara, Calif. “We have to empower REALTORS® to do a better job serving the consumers.”

NAR CEO Dale Stinton agreed with this sentiment, but only to a point.

“I want to serve the consumer, but only if it helps you,” he said. “Let’s deal with, and then let’s deal with the three-way agreement. Let’s figure out what it means to serve the member.”

One theme common among facilitators, session attendees, and association leaders alike was the idea that upsetting the status quo can be a dangerous proposition.

“You can’t ever talk about a national MLS without getting into trouble. You can’t talk about the number of associations without getting in to trouble. You cant ever talk about professional standards without getting in to trouble,” Stinton warned. “What I’m here to say on behalf of leadership is we’re ready to get in trouble.”

With that, the organization’s next leader ended the lively session with a call to action.

“Your leadership team is here, and they’ve been listening,” said 2013 NAR President-elect Steve Brown. “Are you ready to stand behind your leadership team when they get in trouble?”

Meg White

Meg White is the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]

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  1. Here’s how you fix oh so many things….spend some of the money you’ve been wasting on advertising sad grandpas and moving vans on the following:
    EDUCATE THE PUBLIC – How? you ask? By designing your ads to show just how hard a broker and/or listing/sales agent WORK for the money. In every single market there are agents losing business b/c of the ignorance of the general public on how much money is involved. Their perception is we put a sign in the yard or we take them to a house they find online and that’s it. Hello??? Too many agents give away their time and expertise to clients who have no idea the investment in education, technology, auto expense and repair, etc. etc. etc. etc. that an agent must go through before even getting an opportunity to make a living…

  2. Wanda Buck

    Yes, let’s increase our Professional Standards by communicating and enforcing them more!
    They are what distinguishes REALTORS as professionals caring about our industry and the public. In particular the free services of our Ombudsmen and Ethics Advocate services are unknown to too many. Additionally this could help address the greed and lack of putting the clients first in relationship to the MLS “pocket listings”. The requirement of a fiduciary relationship is for the good of the people we serve, as well as ourselves!

  3. Outstanding job done by all who worked on RE Think. Here are my comments:

    1) NAR needs to change their by law to change the election process starting at the local level. All candidates who want to serve should be able to get on the ballot the same way. Let the members then vote on who they want to represent their interest. The current method of elections is neither fair nor democratic.

    2) 3 way Agreement: National, State and Local Dues and the need to belong to all three for access to our local MLS’s. a) As an almost 25 year veteran I would suggest that veterans stop having to pay dues after 25 years in the Association

    3) take back control of and allow the listing agent (at a minimum) to have their contact information prominently displayed next to their listings. Get your revenue on the upgrade of the listing itself, i.e. more photos and text. Then NAR promote the heck out of the site. Stop spending money trying to explain to the public what a “Realtor is” and “why we are relevant”. Stop with the $40/yr. for politics and use that money to promote

    4) A National MLS; or a STATE MLS. I like it.

    5) NAR: Do you serve the consumer or do you serve the dues paying member? When the consumer public starts paying your operating expenses then I would put the public before the Realtors. Until that happens I would think NAR’s main mission is to serve it’s dues paying members. Someone please explain how a MLS’s Public Facing Web Site helps my business.

    6) Increasing professionalism goes without saying. If this means raising dues or continuing education or some other measure of performance then so be it. FYI: having more members just because they are all willing to pay a very low entry fee in this profession does nothing to help my business.

    Thank you for allowing a platform for my 2 cents worth.