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.


CALL FOR ACTION: Tell Congress to Reform Our Tax Code AND Protect Middle-Class Homeowners


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The National Association of REALTORS® has issued a Call for Action for REALTORS® across the country to contact their member of Congress and request they Reform Our Tax Code AND Protect Middle-Class Homeowners. Participating in the Call for Action is easy, and will only take you about 30 seconds.

We can’t let Congress turn tax reform into a tax increase for middle-class homeowners. Consider what effect the points below would have on your tax bill, the tax bill of your clients, and the impact on your business.

  • Homeowners already pay 83% of all federal income taxes. Homeowners should not have to pay more taxes so corporations can pay less.
  • Home-owning families with incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 could face average tax hikes of $815 in the year after enactment.
  • Tax reforms under discussion could result in a drop of more than 10% in the value of all homes.
  • NAR rejects repealing or weakening tax incentives for homeowners, like the mortgage interest deduction and the state and local property tax deduction.
  • These incentives are critical for a strong housing market that creates jobs and builds stable communities.

We need tax reform, but not at the expense of middle-class homeowners. Let’s take this opportunity to show Congress the strength of our REALTOR® voice and advocacy efforts.

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Want to learn more? Check out the articles below for more detail.


Boise Regional REALTORS® Members Selected for National Association of REALTORS® 2018 Committees


National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2018 committee appointments were announced last week and Boise Regional REALTORS® (BRR) will be well represented.

The eight BRR members appointed to national committees include:

  • Michelle Bailey, Keller Williams Realty Boise — Member of the Multiple Listing Issues and Polices Committee
  • Julie DeLorenzo, Keller Williams Realty Boise — Member of the Credentials and Campaign Rules Committee and Vice Chair of the Public Policy Coordinating Committee
  • Carey Farmer, Group One Sotheby’s International Realty — Member of the Membership Policy and Board Jurisdiction Committee
  • Kit Fitzgerald, Equity Northwest Real Estate — Chair of the Leadership Academy Advisory Group
  • Gail Hartnett, Keller Williams Realty Boise — Member of the REALTOR® Party Member Involvement Committee
  • Georgia Meacham, Georgia Meacham & Company — Chair of the Smart Growth Advisory Board
  • Susan Weaver, Windermere Powerhouse Group — Member of the Professional Standards Committee
  • Katrina Wehr, Keller Williams Realty Boise — Member of the Risk Management Issues Committee

BRR members Gail Hartnett of Keller Williams Realty Boise, and Carey Farmer of Group One Sotheby’s International Realty and Gail Hartnett of Keller Williams Realty Boise will serve as Directors on NAR’s Board.

“BRR is fortunate to have a wealth of talented and experienced REALTORS® who are able to serve on committees with our national association,” said BRR’s Chief Executive Officer, Breanna Vanstrom. “They will be a part of important decision-making processes that will benefit REALTORS® nationwide, while also bringing back new ideas to better serve their clients and our local association.”

Vanstrom was also appointed to a national committee and will serve as the Vice Chair of NAR’s 2018 Association Executive Young Professionals Network Advisory Board. Soren Dorius, BRR’s Director of Government Affairs, was appointed to the State and Local Issues Mobilization Support Committee.

WalkShop: 2017 Orchard Corridor Walkability Study

In July, The City of Boise, in partnership with Boise Regional REALTORS® (BRR), hosted a WalkShop with the purpose to start a conversation around future improvements to the Orchard Street Corridor. The WalkShop was made possible by a Walkability Study Analysis grant from BRR and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Elected officials, local business owners, and community stakeholders toured the Orchard Corridor by bus and then on foot. Then they broke into groups to brainstorm ideas and create an action plan to increase access and improve walkability in this area. The results of the study were later presented to the ACHD Commission and Boise City Council. The WalkShop was facilitated by Blue Zones, an organization that researches and promotes walkable communities among other healthy living tenets. This project was another success for the REALTOR® Party, and was featured in an REALTOR® Action Center article, “Boise Regional REALTORS® Bring Resources and Expertise to Revitalize Urban Corridor.”

What exactly is “walkability?” The National Association of REALTORS® defines it as a community where “residents can walk, bike or take public transit (light rail, trolleys and/or buses) to grocery stores, shops, schools, work, cafes, markets, playgrounds, and parks. Walkable communities have a mix of housing types as well as mixed-use buildings that combine residential, office, and retail. They can be high-rise urban neighborhoods, traditional downtowns, and main streets, or suburban town centers.”

Find more information on the importance of walkability in communities in the following links:

What does Orchard Street look like now? Click the images below to see 360-degree views of Orchard. Use your mouse to click and drag to change perspective, or rotate your mobile device.

Orchard Street and Morris Hill Road


Orchard Street and Fairmont Street


Orchard Street and Emerald Street


Registration is Open for the 2017 Annual Membership Meeting

AMM Logo - Color logo


The BRR Annual Membership Meeting is a FREE event for BRR Members! For more details, and to register, visit the event page.


Boise Regional REALTORS® President-Elect Katrina Wehr Selected for NAR’s 2017 Leadership Academy

KatrinaWehr_picKatrina Wehr, 2016 President-Elect for Boise Regional REALTORS® and managing broker for Keller Williams Realty Boise, was selected as one of 19 people who will participate in the 2017 National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Leadership Academy.

“Throughout the lengthy application and interview process, Katrina clearly demonstrated that she was driven, confident, and embodies the true heart of volunteer leader,” said Kit Fitzgerald, REALTOR® with Red Barn Real Estate and 2016 Vice Chair for NAR’s Leadership Academy Advisory Committee. “As someone who has served alongside Katrina in leadership roles, I am thrilled that she will be representing Idaho through this program.”

Fitzgerald was one of the first REALTORS® from the Boise region to attend NAR’s Leadership Academy. She currently serves as a National Director from Boise Regional REALTORS® and as the West District Vice President for Idaho REALTORS®. Tracy Kasper, 2016 President of Idaho REALTORS® and broker of Silverhawk Realty, is also a graduate, making Wehr just the third person from the Boise region to participate.

The Leadership Academy provides intensive training on legislative issues, advocacy, and leadership development to REALTORS® who volunteer with their local and state associations, and are poised for future national leadership positions.

“Katrina’s commitment to the real estate industry is outstanding,” said Breanna Vanstrom, Chief Executive Officer for Boise Regional REALTORS®. “She has a command of best practices and professional standards, and always has the best interest of our members and the association at heart. The additional skills she’ll gain through this training will be a tremendous asset when she leads BRR’s Board in 2017.”

Boise Regional REALTORS® Help Transform Downtown Meridian

BRR President Carey Farmer and BRR CEO Breanna Vanstrom join Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd, partners and other officials at the Idaho Avenue Placemaking Project ribbon cutting ceremony on September 9th, 2016.

BRR President Carey Farmer and BRR CEO Breanna Vanstrom join Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd, partners and other officials at the Idaho Avenue Placemaking Project ribbon cutting ceremony on September 9th, 2016.

The City of Meridian and Idaho Smart Growth unveiled the newly transformed Idaho Avenue in downtown Meridian on Friday, September 9, 2016, thanks in part to a placemaking grant from Boise Regional REALTORS® (formerly Ada County Association of REALTORS®) and the National Association of REALTORS®.

Placemaking reshapes a public space to be more welcoming, functional and attractive to people and activity – enhancing the community overall.  This was achieved on Idaho Avenue by narrowing traffic lanes to allow for boardwalks and public art projects; while colorful planters and outdoor seating invite people to stay awhile.

Boise Regional REALTORS® (BRR) kicked off this project by providing the grant through a partnership with Idaho Smart Growth. Idaho Smart Growth worked with Project for Public Spaces and various community organizations, local officials, and business leaders to select the Idaho Avenue location and complete the three-year pilot project, making it truly a community effort.

“We’re so glad that our association could be a part of the Idaho Avenue Placemaking Project,” said Carey Farmer, 2016 President of Boise Regional REALTORS® and broker associate with Group One Sotheby’s International Realty. “Investing in our communities is a priority to REALTORS®. Meridian is already a great place to live, projects like these only enhance it.”

The idea behind the placemaking process is to find lighter, quicker and cheaper ways to energize a space, drawing people and building community.  Partners and communities are encouraged to think creatively about low-cost improvements, and be flexible in the uses of public space so it fits the needs of the people that use them.

For more information about this project, see the Idaho Smart Growth “Placemaking Downtown” report.

REALTORS® Donate $1,000 to Assist Louisiana Flood Victims

Carey Farmer, President, Group One Sotheby’s International Realty; Danielle Cullip, Treasurer, Silverhawk Realty; Katrina Wehr, President-Elect, Keller Williams Realty Boise; Brenda Kolsen, Immediate Past President, Woodhouse Group; Gary Salisbury, Vice President, Red Barn Real Estate

Carey Farmer, President, Group One Sotheby’s International Realty; Danielle Cullip, Treasurer, Silverhawk Realty; Katrina Wehr, President-Elect, Keller Williams Realty Boise; Brenda Kolsen, Immediate Past President, Woodhouse Group; Gary Salisbury, Vice President, Red Barn Real Estate

The Boise Regional REALTORS® (BRR) Board of Directors donated $1,000 to the National Association of REALTORS® Relief Fund (RRF) to help flood victims in southern Louisiana cover housing-related expenses.

The historic flash flooding occurred in areas of the state that had never flooded before, so many of the homes and businesses affected did not have flood insurance.

“REALTORS® support each other and the communities in which we live and work, here at home and across the country,” said Carey Farmer, 2016 President of Boise Regional REALTORS® and broker associate with Group One Sotheby’s International Realty.  “We hope this donation will help those who are still struggling, or whose homes are now uninhabitable, rebuild after this devastating flood.”

BRR’s donation will be added to the nearly $350,000 collected so far, from other associations and REALTORS® who have donated individually. More information about the REALTOR® Relief Foundation and donating to this cause is available at

In 2015, Boise Regional REALTORS® and Idaho REALTORS® distributed $8,000 in grants to victims of the Kamiah, Idaho wildfires with monies from the RRF.

The REALTORS® Relief Foundation (RRF) was established by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) in 2001 to provide housing-related assistance to victims of natural or man-made disasters. Since its launch, RRF has raised more than $25 million for victims of disasters, such as wildfires, floods, tornados, and hurricanes. This charitable foundation is dedicated to providing housing-related assistance to victims of disasters.

Call for Action: Urge Senate to Pass H.R. 3700

CFA-H.R. 3700 Condo Financing

RPAC SUPPORTS… Homeownership Opportunities

Take Action Now

Condominiums are often the most affordable homeownership option for first-time buyers, small families, single people, and older Americans. Unfortunately, current FHA regulations prevent many buyers from purchasing condos, harm homeowners who need to sell, and limit the ability to attract resident buyers.

Ask your U.S. Senators to pass the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act” to:

  • Reduce owner-occupancy ratio to 35%;
  • Allow lenders to approve condos with commercial space over 25%;
  • Require HUD Secretary to “substantially reduce” burdens on condo recertification; and,
  • Require FHA to mirror the FHFA rules related to private transfer fees.

Why you should care… Your condo buyers and sellers may find a property is ineligible for FHA financing, restricting the pool of buyers.

While our local market doesn’t have a lot of condo product (in part because of the current restrictions) if passed, this new legislation may encourage condo construction and help sell those condos that are currently on the market.   Especially important as condos are often an affordable option for first time buyers and others which we certainly need throughout the region (condos are 27% less expensive than single family homes).

Take Action Today!

ACAR Executive Inducted Into National Leadership Society

Marc_LebowitzBOISE, March, 27:  
Marc Lebowitz, Executive Director for the Ada County Association of Realtors®, was inducted into the National Association of Realtors Bud Smith Leadership Society last week .

To achieve induction into the Dr. Almon R. (Bud) Smith, RCE, AE Leadership Society, it must be demonstrated that nominees have brought credit to the profession of association management through their personal involvement in advancing the purposes of the organization at the local, state, and national level; provided leadership in ways that have benefited the organization, the members, or other association executives; or made other significant contributions that have advanced their organization in meaningful ways. To recognize those who excel in the association management profession by demonstrating uncommon leadership, a willingness to help others, and acceptance of a responsibility to constantly improve themselves.

Lebowitz holds a BA in English and Film from the University of Maryland and has earned both the Realtor Certified Association Executive (RCE) from the National Association of Realtors and the Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives.

Lebowitz serves on the Board of Directors for Neighborhood Housing Services – Southwest.

The Mission of Ada County Association of REALTORS® is to be valued by the real estate profession and the public, to protect private property rights, to better the communities in which we live, and to provide members with tools and resources to conduct their businesses professionally, ethically, and successfully.