NAR Conference Report — November 2017

Experiences and highlights from the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Chicago ranged from BRR President Katrina Wehr graduating from NAR’s Leadership Academy, to BRR Director of Government Affairs Soren Dorius presenting to two national committees, not to mention NAR Director Carey Farmer being recognized as Idaho REALTOR® of the year, committee work, roundtables, educational sessions, and the NAR board meeting. BRR attendees had much to share and even more to bring back to our association.

Notes, session takeaways, and ideas from BRR attendees:

NAR Director Carey Farmer

  • Encourage your clients to register with realtor, a platform for current and prospective homeowners to voice their opinion on NAR policy issues, similar to the REALTOR® Action Center for NAR members.
  • Speaking of the REALTOR® Action Center, please encourage five colleagues to text “Realtor” or “Action” to 30466, to download the app and respond to the current (and future!) calls for action quickly and easily.
  • Save the date for upcoming NAR Conferences… 2018 Legislative Meetings & Expo — May 14-19 in Washington, D.C., and 2018 REALTORS® Conference — November 2-5 in Boston!

 BRR President Katrina Wehr

  • Leadership Academy — I was pleased to participate in the 2017 NARLA class, and a great opportunity to learn about the inner workings of NAR and build lasting relationships with my classmates. I’m sure I’ll gain personal and professional benefits from that for years to come! Kit Fitzgerald is the chair in 2018 and it will be the first year of their partnership with REALTOR® University. Applications for 2018 are now closed but here’s the link if you’re interested in the future: realtor/programs/leadership-academy.
  • The Hub — For those serving on NAR committees, communication will now run through “The Hub.” From their website: “It’s a private, secure location where committee members can network and collaborate with each other year-round and have anytime access to those discussions via a computer or mobile device.”

BRR President-Elect Gary Salisbury

  • Large Board Forum — Two major topics were “coming soon” rules and professionalism. On the first topic, many boards were unsure how to approach the coming soon issue and look to MLSs like ours as an example, but may encourage NAR to create guidance or policy for consistency. Regarding professionalism, the consensus was that it’s the broker or team leader’s responsibility.
  • Charitable Foundation Idea Exchange — There were some productive discussions around the purpose of foundations, grant applications, fundraising, events and ideas for communicating the value year-round.
  • On a personal note, a very stirring moment for me was when, James Cornelison, who sings for the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team lead us in the Star-Spangled Banner at the general session. Very powerful!

BRR Vice President Phil Mount

  • The roundtable discussions I attended noted a lot of problems similar sized associations have that simply are not issues for us. Lots of associations are in highly competitive markets and can’t do much to improve services and are having trouble with CORE standards, or are dealing with mergers of equally sized boards.
  • Professional standards is of concern to most everyone. One association now has a two day long new agent orientation!  (Content includes ethics and mandated classes.)  Some associations have fairly hefty fines and onerous reviews of even relatively minor infractions.  And in Ontario, Canada the process for getting licensed takes 6 months and lots of money, including a $2,000 member initiation fee to join the association. (As a result, they have far fewer licensed agents.)
  • I was surprised to see some local associations have a Leadership Academy for their Board members and committee Chairs & Vice Chairs. One is 13 weeks long, meeting every other week and includes media training from a local TV Anchor, and with Fire Departments, Police Departments and City council & highway district meetings. (Similar to the Leadership Boise program.) I think we could leverage some of this without a formal structure.
  • Advocacy will become a growing part of NAR, with proposed dues increases to fund expanded grants and initiatives. So great to see BRR as a model for how that gets done, and recognized for our efforts.
  • After listening to Lawrence Yun, I am cautiously optimistic about the next year. The outcome of the tax bill will certainly have an impact, but household formation is increasing and population is growing. Demand is there, we just need to ensure affordability is maintained. This is where advocacy becomes such an essential part of what we do going forward.

BRR Chief Executive Officer Breanna Vanstrom

  • Eight (8) BRR members were approved for NAR Emeritus status, recognizing 40 years of continuous membership! Those members will be announced and recognized in early 2018.
  • As a member of the Membership Policy and Board Jurisdiction Committee, we recommended that the Board approve a change in the bylaws approval process to a compliance certification process. (The Board did approve this for 2018.) This process will also reduce the number of required items that each association must adopt, so BRR’s Bylaws Committee will review that next year. Some of the elements that have been adopted may be moved to a new policy manual.
  • As a member of the Association Executive Young Professionals Network Advisory Board (AE YPN), we discussed career development resources to share with other AEs, especially those that cannot attend national meetings. We also discussed partnerships with the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). I will serve as Vice Chair in 2018.
  • As Vice Chair of the Staff Specialist Job Description Work Group, we compiled sample job descriptions to help local and state associations identify responsibilities for nearly 32 positions. These will be uploaded to the REALTOR® Association Resource Exchange (RARE) for AEs to access.

 BRR Director of Events and Community Engagement Shari Fernandez


  • From the Consumer Committee: The NAR AdCenter is up and running – members can access the information directly. We will be adding AdCenter to our Content Corner as a resource to members for use in their social media and marketing. We will also work to add some information about how to access the content and highlighting it as a resource.
  • Communication Directors Networking Session is a great resource for staff! Some tips and tools taken away from the meeting include: animation tools, Instagram campaigns, CFA tips, and Fair Housing tools.


  • The Minneapolis Association is working to see if they can get a charitable giving module added to RAMCO to be able to track donors and giving. As a RAMCO user we would benefit from this as well.
  • As we grow the Foundation, we need to develop a gift acceptance policy – other foundations have received land donations and other non-monetary items.
  • We can better utilize Idaho Gives Day (May) and our Foundation Engagement Month (Aug or Sep) to increase awareness of matching gifts and volunteer service.

BRR Director of Government Affairs Soren Dorius

  • My first takeaway is the impact we can have on fellow REALTOR® associations (and impact they can have on us) through sharing experiences and collaborating on successful ideas and events. Being asked to present in front of the Smart Growth Advisory Committee, as well as the Issues Mobilization Support Committee, was an incredible opportunity to highlight the great things we are doing at BRR. I was able to share our unique approach to advocacy through the use of REALTOR® Party grants, as well as explain our overall philosophy of putting our money where our mouth is and investing into our communities. This message resonated with fellow REALTORS® from boards all over the country, and allowed us to make an impact. Likewise, I learned a lot about other cool projects other associations have conducted.
  • “The Future of the REALTOR® Party” presidential advisory group (PAG) announced their recommendation for NAR to spend an additional $25 per NAR member per year, that will go directly into strengthening REALTOR® Party tools and resources. If NAR doesn’t find the funds elsewhere, they could look to an increase in membership dues. This is all just a recommendation for now, and the number changes may still occur. They have just asked that we start the conversation about doing this, since there is such a high (and fast growing) demand for REALTOR® Party grants throughout the country. As your GAD, I have found tremendous value in the use of these grants, having received over $76,000 in 2017 alone. I am very intrigued by the idea of strengthening these tools, and look forward to seeing more details in the coming months.

BRR Director of Education Angela Gibson

  • Great ideas from panel discussions to include in BRR professionalism segments and/or panels for new(er) members — How to show a house/open house; Tips for working with Affiliates, Agents, and Clients; Better explain the difference between a Licensed Agent and a REALTOR®; and, How to proper fill out Contracts and Forms.
  • Ways for improved broker engagement or to add to weekly Broker Bulletins — (a) Required training that each Broker must take once every two years that follows NAR bi-annual ethics requirement; (b) Brokers will spend the day at BRR for free or very low cost. The day will start with association update, followed by Ethics course a break for lunch. After lunch there is a broker class, either from NAR or one already approved for CE; and, (c) Roundtables about, What can BRR do for you? Your brokerage? Your new members? Trends/issues you’re dealing with? (Similar to the IR Broker Summits, or maybe in collaboration with them.)

Looking for more information? Below are conference resources provided by NAR for reference and/or download:

Wondering what’s been happening with the National Association of REALTORS® in 2017? This video provides a short overview.