The National Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors today passed new advocacy and MLS policies; approved the 2021 budget and funded important legislative and legal programs; ushered in the next slate of association leadership, and honored long-time leaders. And they did it all virtually at a meeting that capped off the 2020 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings.

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg captured the tenor of the meetings, quoting rocker Frank Zappa: “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible,” he said. “We have certainly deviated from the norm and we have certainly had progress.” In fact, more than 28,000 members registered for this year’s meetings. In a typical year, 9,000 to 10,000 members attend the Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C., in May.

Goldberg also reported that 108,000 members had taken advantage of NAR’s new Right Tools, Right Now program, providing free or discounted programs and services to members for a total of $12 million in value. Included in the program is the Members Telehealth benefit, available until May 31: two free months of telemedicine. Goldberg said 30,000 members had already enrolled.

Here’s a summary of board actions:

Brokers Can Access Their Own MLS Content

The board voted to establish the right of MLS participants to receive a data feed of their own listing information. The new policy states:

A Multiple Listing Service must, upon request, promptly provide an MLS Participant (or the Participant’s designee) a data feed containing, at minimum, all active MLS listing content input into the MLS by or on behalf of the Participant and all of the Participant’s off-market listing content available in the MLS system. The delivery charges for the Participant’s listing content shall be reasonably related to the actual costs incurred by the MLS. The data feed must be in compliance with the RESO Standards as provided for in MLS Policy Statement 7.90. 

Note: MLSs will not limit the use of the Participant’s listing content by the Participant or the Participant’s designee. 

Election of Officers

The directors elected Leslie Rouda Smith of Plano, Texas, as president-elect and Kenny Parcell of Spanish Fork, Utah, as first vice president for 2021. In a contested election, Nancy Lane of Brandon, Miss., was elected 2021-22 treasurer.

No Dues Increase in 2021

The board passed a series of Finance Committee motions including approval of a 2021 budget that keeps dues at $150 per year and estimates a decline in NAR membership to 1.3 million. Current membership is over 1.37 million. Treasurer John Flor, discussing the budget, said the 2021 estimate is conservative—NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun believes the number could reach 1.35 million. If the conservative estimate is accurate, it would result in a budget deficit, Flor said, but NAR is prepared to “manage to reality. Just because we’re budgeted for this, doesn’t mean we have to spend it.”

Change of Jurisdiction Procedures

The board amended the procedure for processing an application for change of jurisdiction that affects the jurisdiction of an existing REALTOR® association. The change addresses concerns raised by local associations and aims to aid panelists in their deliberations while ensuring that all participating associations have a full and fair due process hearing.

Election Rules Change

The board approved a change to the Section J(1-3) of the Campaign and Election Rules Manual, pertaining to endorsed REALTORS® who haven’t yet filed an application with NAR. The change clarifies permissible activities an endorsed REALTOR® may engage in and creates alignment between potential candidates and endorsed candidates to avoid an unintended inequity in the application of NAR’s campaign and election rules in the six months prior to and during the application submission period.

Legal Action Funding

The board approved legal action funding for an Illinois property rights case, a new Jersey case involving independent contractor status, and a Missouri case involving REALTORS®’ ability to provide floor plans without violating an architectural copyright.

Diversity and Inclusion

The board passed a motion to recognize the AE and president of state associations that have a functioning Diversity and Inclusion Committee with the goal of increasing diversity and inclusion both in the profession and in volunteer participation.

Professional Standards

The board approved a change to the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual to require an explanation when a member files an amended complaint. The goal is to give respondents a full and fair opportunity to defend themselves against the new allegations without necessitating continuance of a hearing.

Housing Finance

The board approved a set of principles on use of GSE funds, describing under what terms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be allowed to invest in functions outside the scope of their credit guarantee business. The motion specifies that any investments made by the GSEs outside their core mission should be focused on the direct or indirect needs of housing.

Tax Policy

Directors approved a policy in favor of a federal Homeownership Tax Credit that would incentivize taxpayers to purchase and own a primary residence. Ideally, according to the policy, the tax credit would be for households that no longer itemize deductions, would provide a higher benefit in the first year, and would recognize geographic housing cost differences.

California Property Tax Measure

Directors adopted a motion to provide $4 million in support for a proposed ballot initiative in California that improves on residential property tax portability for homeowners over 55 and those who are disabled. The initiative will enable seniors and disabled buyers to stay in their community and open more housing inventory for buyers.

Announcements: DSA Winners, Safety Grants

Michael Ford, GRI, C2EX of West Memphis, Ark., and Diana Bull CRB, GRI, of Santa Barbara, Calif., were named the 2020 recipients of the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor outside the presidency bestowed on an NAR member. Ford is broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Heritage Homes. Bull formerly owned brokerage and mortgage operations and currently is CFO and broker-associate with Pacific Crest Realty.

REALTOR® Safety Advisory Committee Chair David Legaz announced that on June 1, NAR would be announcing 20 grants to state and local associations for programs to promote REALTOR® safety.

The Friday Board of Directors meeting capped off the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings, the first NAR major conference to be held virtually. More than 28,000 REALTORS® registered for the streaming event.