Thursday
September 18, 2014

NAR Allows Public-Facing MLS Sites; Leaders to Look at realtor.com Content

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NAR Allows Public-Facing MLS Sites; Leaders to Look at realtor.com Content

The debate over public access to real estate information long-controlled by REALTORS® took center stage Saturday at the Board of Directors meeting of the National Association of REALTORS®.  At issue on the concluding day of the NAR Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo was whether MLSs should be able to charge members for establishing, maintaining, and promoting public-facing Web sites by including such sites in the “basic” services they provide to members.

Directors rejected the idea of “kicking the can down the road” to further consider technicalities of the proposal, as had been recommended by the NAR Executive Committee.

The move in favor of public-facing Web sites followed a separate discussion about the need for realtor.com to enhance and broaden its content and user experience in response to evolving consumer needs and expectations. Explaining that  “these are not ordinary times” for the industry, realtor.com president Errol Samuelson offered a presentation to the Board that described the accuracy of the site as second to none because of its leading-edge technology. He noted that “90 percent of the site is updated every 15 minutes.” The rest of the site is updated in the same day.

But the site’s lack of comprehensive content—such as the absence of FSBO properties from the site and a less than systematic approach to including new-construction homes and rental properties—puts realtor.com at a disadvantage, Samuelson said. He noted that the site is no longer No. 1 in terms of total visits or total audience.

The directors approved a motion for NAR leaders to convene meetings with Move Inc., which operates realtor.com, to discuss ways to enhance the site’s content and to present recommendations to NAR directors on how to achieve this goal at a special meeting to be held this summer.

Also at the meeting, the Board elected a new slate of officers for 2014 including: President-Elect Chris Polychron of Hot Springs, Ark; First Vice President Tom Salomone of Coral Springs, Fla.; and Treasurer Mike McGrew of Lawrence, Kansas. The slate joins Steve Brown of Dayton, Ohio, who will be 2014 President.  Appointed as vice presidents were Beth Peerce of Century City, Calif. and JoAnne Poole of Baltimore, Md.

Other highlights included:

  • Membership— NAR membership dues remain unchanged at $120 (with $40 of that amount continue to be dedicated for REALTOR® Party programs), and dues for student membership were set at $25.
  • Code of Ethics—The enforcement power of the Code of Ethics was strengthened significantly with the maximum penalty for violations tripling from $5,000 to $15,000.
  • No Tax on Services —NAR adopted the following statement of policy opposing the application of state or local sales tax to rents and real estate services and other professional services, including real estate broker commissions, title searches, appraisals, home inspections, property management services, and any other services related to the real estate transaction.
  • National Advertising Campaign —­­The Public Advocacy campaign was approved for funding for the next three years at the current level of $35 per member each year along with a name change to the Consumer Advertising Campaign. The new name is seen as better describing the campaign’s purpose, distinct from the association’s political advocacy efforts The national advertising campaign is central to the association’s consumer outreach efforts and is one of NAR most popular membership programs with 95 percent of REALTORS® favoring it.
  • GRI Hours ­—The minimum hours of instruction for the GRI designation program were reduced from 90 to 60 hours in recognition of the time commitment and cost that has contributed to the substantial decrease in designees over the past five years, from 8000 in 2007 to 1455 last year.

—Wendy Cole, REALTOR® Magazine

Read more of our Midyear coverage: