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NAR targets broker needs with Real Estate Services (RES)

By Virginia Cook

In an effort to meet the changing needs of today's large brokerage firms, the National Association of Realtors® has launched Real Estate Services (RES), a program designed to aid real estate brokers in implementing and maximizing core services, such as mortgage, title and home warranty.

In keeping with a recommendation by NAR's Strategic Planning Committee, Real Estate Services will broaden NAR as an association by reaching out to provide added value, added services, and to influence policy making, not just for the real estate brokerage function but for all the real estate services provided by our companies.

By providing more value for large brokerage firms through Real Estate Services, NAR is helping to ensure a better future for not just the brokers involved, but for the many Realtors who serve them.

The effort began in January 2006 when a Real Estate Services (RES) Task Force was created to work closely with representatives from the large broker community to better understand their business interests and to identify how best to bring them tangible value.
John Foltz, president, Realty Executives, chaired the RES Task Force. As he stated early on, the goal of the RES initiative is to bring NAR's educational, marketing and lobbying prowess to the real estate services arena.

"The large real estate brokerage has become more of a full-service business, which provides more opportunity for its REALTORS®," Foltz explains. "NAR wants to bring more value to the broker, which in turn will bring more value to agents."

According to NAR Chief Economist David Lereah, the real estate industry has changed significantly over the past decade and, therefore, NAR must make every effort to stay in step with these changes.

"Real estate firms have evolved to become full-service companies that are involved in all areas of the real estate transaction-mortgage, title, home inspection, etc.," explains Lereah.

"There are narrowing margins on the real estate brokerage side of the business, so identifying other real estate services is important," Lereah continues. "The trend today is to capture the whole transaction and to be the first point of contact. You want to keep the customer with you-you don't want them to go anywhere else."

Through the formation of Real Estate Services, real estate services companies can now have the same meaningful input in NAR that Realtors have been afforded over the years.
As NAR President Pat Vredevoogd Combs observes, "Real Estate Services will allow NAR members-for no more than the price of their current membership-to take advantage of NAR's marketing, educational and lobbying strength, which it will now bring to the development of core services."

Since many large brokerage firms are well on their way to developing significant mortgage businesses, Real Estate Services is placing a keen focus on providing value-added products, services and lobbying efforts to support real estate companies' mortgage businesses. In September 2005, a mortgage cooperative, the Strategic Alliance of Mortgage Subsidiaries (SAMS), was formed.

Ten mortgage lenders affiliated with independent real estate companies comprise the SAMS membership. The Alliance is designed to leverage the collective marketing clout and economies of scale of its members in order to forge better deals with the secondary market, mortgage origination giants, and mortgage and real estate services vendors in order to maximize mutually beneficial pricing and services.

To that end, for the first time at NAR's upcoming Midyear Conference & Legislative Meetings, we will devote a full day of education to large brokerage firms, with a special focus on Real Estate Services. We will also feature a monthly column in RISMedia's Power Broker Network Report related to specific strategies and challenges surrounding core services. Watch for topics on mortgage fraud, mortgage insurance and sub-prime lending.

Virginia Cook is the CEO of Virginia Cook Realtors, Dallas and NAR Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations. For more information on the Real Estate Services, please visit www.realtor.org.

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