NAR Conference Report — November 2018

The REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Boston was full of committee work, roundtables, educational sessions, the NAR Board Meeting, as more. NAR Director Gail Hartnett was even recognized as Idaho REALTOR® of the year on stage during the general session! BRR attendees had a wealth of information to bring back and share with our association.


2018 conference


Notes, session takeaways, and ideas from those who attended:

BRR President Gary Salisbury

The excitement of a gathering that large in Boston a city so rich with history and culture.

The fact that NAR has finally got the C2EX program (Commitment to Excellence) live and available is a great step forward to create a standard of professionalism in our industry. The program is robust and a wonderful self-checking measuring tool.

The Charitable Foundation Idea Exchange is a useful and resourceful, 2 hours gathering. Successful fundraising ideas: night at local cooking school; “Welcome to your new home gift” a certificate regarding the donation given to the Foundation in their honor; Increase amount suggested on billing, some as high as $50.

Large Board Roundtable discussions: Many boards still wrestling with MLS and coming soon issues. YPN structure and how it compliments strategic plan. Local boards merging, why, how and timing. Communication to members always a challenge, many boards using video and streaming, some board are sending leadership to office sales meetings (Albuquerque has an Ambassador program — agent from each brokerage given the task to share weekly information from the association.)

Government Affairs: flood insurance extension high priority.  Maybe more changes thru regulation, than Congress.

BRR President-Elect Phil Mount

Once again, as I have talked with our colleagues from associations across the country, there is much which BRR has already addressed.  However, questions about “who is our key customer?” or “how can we increase member involvement?” seem to be evergreen questions that every association struggles with.

There is some cool stuff happening that we can leverage from.  I was particularly struck by the Arlington, TX Association who established a membership involvement program to mentor newer (often younger) members called the Gap program.  As a result of this program, this year they had 27 people run for 4 open board seats! Those not elected are being mentored for the future.  Meanwhile, the Dayton Association is getting a lot of “Fair Share” RPAC investors by promoting branded merchandise for $20. as they visit brokerage office meetings. They have also raised $10,000. from affiliate members.

NAR Bob Goldberg made it clear that we should not expect NAR to be able to offer health insurance plans anytime soon, if ever, due to a number of issues, not the least of which is Realtors tend to be older, so insurance companies are not interested in issuing a policy to us. State associations do not have the same constraints NAR has, but these still may be problematic.

In roundtable discussions, I was surprised to learn that several associations bill RPAC at an amount much higher than fair share–at $100. for some of them. Members can choose to pay a different amount, but the expectation is set at a higher level. I was also interested in the variation of numbers of staff at other boards our size.  Not counting MLS, Birmingham has 13 staff members, and they are smaller than BRR.  In general, BRR is clearly running at a more efficient level than most of our peers. And there is a building boom among Associations–several are making multi-million dollar renovations, or new construction to expand meeting space and classrooms. Some of this is driven by mergers & consolidation, others by organic growth. We do seem to be on par with fees–most people I talked to are +/- $50. of ours.

A couple cool & easy ideas for member engagement involves video. One association (I think in New Mexico) does a two-minute recap of each Board meeting by the President & CEO on Facebook Live. Another association does a live-stream weekly of current events, classes, etc.

Personal engagement is also being used to increase member involvement. Ambassador programs to engage newer members, regular visits to brokerages, and even simple events like movie nights and ice cream socials are used reach members. And one CA President makes sure to write a personal thank you note to every member who attends an association event!

As for our economic climate, I attended a breakfast session by Dr. Ted Jones from Stewart Title, who commented that despite lots of folks now looking for signs of the next downturn, he sees no signs of any significant change in the overall economy for the next couple years, barring some economic shock. He expects interest rates to slowly climb to 5%, and inflation to remain low. The net takeaway is to expect next year to be more of the same as this year.

It certainly is cliché by now to say one of the best benefits of these trips is the time spent with fellow association members and staff.  But this remains so true–developing those personal relationships is so valuable. The rapport and trust built with colleagues during time spent together away from normal settings is something I value very much!

Finally, I need to share a quote from an agent in our District 12 meeting who announced her retirement.  As she spoke about her years in the business, she reminded us of this:  “Real Estate offers unlimited opportunity for humility” I think she nailed it!

BRR Vice President Michelle Bailey

Residential Economic Issues and Trends Forum:

MLS Policy and Procedure Committee:

  • Implementation of MLS of choice has been a bit rocky as some MLSs are making it challenging for brokerages when applying for a secondary membership. NAR leadership issued some clarification.
  • NAR is working on listing attribution to the listing agent regardless of the website it’s on. Google has expressed interest in working with NAR on the best way to optimize this.
  • MLS policy change to reinforce cooperation when presenting offers. Listing brokers will be required to provide written notification of their offer being presented (only when requested in writing). [NOTE: Idaho REALTOR® is looking at providing a form for this rule to be compliant with Idaho laws.]

Emerging Business and Technology Forum:

  • Lead discussion on autonomous vehicles and how it could change the future of real estate. The future is not as far as one would think. These vehicles are already operating on the streets in Arizona. Real estate offices could go mobile and how will this change what buyers are looking for? Less teenagers are getting their license to drive because they are using services such as Lyft and Uber. Will garages be needed in the future? What happens to all the space we currently use for parking garages? Effects on property taxes and zoning laws. Lyft recently purchased the largest bike share company in the world.

BRR Chief Executive Officer Breanna Vanstrom

BRR, Boise, and Idaho in general, had tremendous representation at the conference. Gary Salisbury, Phil Mount, Michelle Bailey, Carey Farmer, and Gail Hartnett made up the “official” group of volunteers attending on BRR’s behalf, along with Soren Dorius, Cassie Zimmerman, and me. Also attending from our Board of Directors were Krista Deacon, Katrina Wehr, and Jeff Wills. Thanks to everyone for taking time to learn, serve, and bring ideas back for our membership!

In addition to NAR 360, the RPAC Major Investors event, General Session, Region 12 Caucus, Expo, and the Board of Directors and Delegate Body Meetings, we attended a variety of classes, committee meetings, and forums. The report below includes highlights from those who BRR sent… and for more on the NAR Board meeting decisions and conference highlights, check out or Also, NAR will make some of the sessions available for free through the Playback service. As soon as we have this information we’ll share with all members.

I was able to attend the following sessions and meetings… What’s New for RPAC and Aristotle, How REALTORS® Can Maximize their Income and Save in Taxes, REALTOR® Association Certified Executive (RCE) Leadership Luncheon, NAR Talks with Top Producers, Leading Edge Advisory Board Meeting, Association Executive Committee Leadership Team Briefing, Association Executive Committee Meeting, and due to my appointments to the following, I attended the Association Executive Institute Planning Meeting and the new Association Executives YPN Advisory Board Forum: Top HR Issues at Your Association.

My biggest takeaway was from the Leading Edge Advisory Group, and the statement that “NAR has a $15 a month problem” – as in, that’s how much it costs that much to belong to NAR per month. For BRR, that number is $16 a month. We have talked about the idea of offering more “tangible benefits” many times, but this is a more dollars-based approach that could be more effective. So how do we demonstrate a return of at least $16 a month, if not more per month, whether members produce or not? The follow-up question to this was, would what we offer be of value if the three-way agreement were to go away, and the local, state, and national had to sell their value to members individually? These are two great questions to for our committees, board, and staff to answer for anything we want to create or improve.

To share some tangible benefits from this meeting, specifically, we’re getting permission from speakers who had great content to get permission to pass along handouts and links to members. Topics so far include brokerage management, recruiting, social media and video marketing, safety, and investment property analysis.

Make plans to attend NAR’s upcoming meetings… May 13-18, 2019 in Washington, D.C., and November 6-11, 2019 in San Francisco. Thank you!

BRR Director of Government Affairs Soren Dorius

Noteworthy from committee meetings I attended was the Issues Mobilization Support Committee, which just introduced a number of changes to their grant awards policies. BRR has been a recipient of these Issues Mobilization grants for ballot initiatives over the last several years, so these rule changes are particularly important to our association. Some notable changes include a requirement that REALTOR® associations can only give up to 50% of the total campaign’s budget, for any issues using Issues Mobilization grant funds. This is to ensure there is more community commitment from other groups and partners, and help ensure overall success of grants, as well as make sure other organizations are doing their fair share in community initiatives. Another important change includes the required “skin in the game” money that associations must provide in RPAC funds for any grants they are awarded. Previously there had been 3 differing levels, depending on the amount you requested. Now there are 5 levels, and they are designed to require more skin in the game from associations who apply for grant funds. Overall these changes will ensure NAR’s Issues Mobilization grants are awarded to the most possible applicants and assist on local or state policy issues.

BRR Director of Communications Cassie Zimmerman

I was thrilled to be able to attend my first NAR Annual Conference and Expo this year. There were a number of great resources and new programs shared that I’m excited to implement, promote, and share with members at BRR. Some of the highlights include:

  • The C2EX or Commitment to Excellence program – this is a self-guided assessment and training course for REALTORS® who want to find out how much they know, and learn even more about the industry, professionalism, data security, tech competencies, and more. Participants will receive personalized, on demand training. They will receive digital badges when they complete each portion of the program. (realtor/commitment-to-excellence)
  • At NAR 360 and the Consumer Communications Committee Meeting, we had the chance to meet Victoria Gillespie, NAR’s new chief marketing and communications officer. Victoria introduced the new marketing agency that NAR will be working with, as well as a few new concept videos showing the future direction of consumer campaigns. These videos had very clean graphics, and a solid message identifying REALTORS® as the “good guys” while highlighting the essential role the REALTOR® plays in the transaction and in people’s lives. I can’t wait for you all to see these, I really liked them and so did everyone I talked to.
  • A cool concept that was shared at the Member Communications Committee Meeting was the “Ask a REALTOR®” program that NAR is working on with Alexa, and other voice activated services. The program is currently in beta testing right now, but after the first of the year you (and consumers!) should be able to ask Alexa real-estate related questions and the answers will be provided by REALTORS®, promoting REALTORS® as the market expert. This technology is expected to evolve, as new questions are asked new answers will be provided and can be tweaked as the program is used.

I attended the Communication Directors Meeting, NAR 360, Consumer Communications Committee, Member Communications Committee, the Stewart Title Economic Forecast Breakfast, the Expo, and the General Session.

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