“Private capital will not return to the market without some sort of government guarantee,” Brown explains. “NAR is fiercely advocating for a restructuring of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that provides a government guarantee so as to ensure a continued free flow of capital to the market, whatever the market conditions are.”
Recently, NAR leaders met with the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Mel Watt, in order to ensure the loan thresholds for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remained intact. Had the loan maximums been lowered, it would have disproportionately hurt consumers in high-cost areas and derailed the real estate recovery, Brown says.
NAR also advocated for consumers on the Agricultural Act of 2014. “Our staff worked with Congress on this bill for four years so that rural property owners would have available financing,” Brown says. “This bill is more important in certain states than others, but as the Voice for Real Estate®, we speak for consumers in every marketplace, and this bill affects 900 different communities.”
Rallying Support for the REALTOR® Party
What emerges from the passionate advocacy efforts of NAR is something far greater than the sum of its parts: The REALTOR® Party. The association has used the term for many years to describe the united, bipartisan REALTOR® membership of NAR. On Capitol Hill and in statehouses and local communities around the country, the REALTOR® Party is a force to be reckoned with.
To solidify the concept, Brown led the charge to rename NAR’s Midyear meeting in Washington, D.C., the “REALTOR® Party Convention & Trade Expo.” The meetings already have a legislative bent, Brown says; the new name makes that more apparent. For more on the significance of renaming the meetings, held May 12-17 this year, see page 112 of this issue.
To help galvanize the NAR membership into the REALTOR® Party, Brown started his presidency by building a strong, diverse Leadership Team. “When you’re able to put together a leadership team from different disciplines, and who are culturally diverse as well, you’re going to come out with policies and programs that are far better at reaching all our members and their needs.”
NAR’s Investment in Technology
And member needs extend beyond the national, state and local policy arena. For brokers and agents, one of the biggest challenges is identifying technology that will yield optimal results for their business. NAR believes it is the association’s responsibility to take the lead in deciphering technological change and its effect on the industry.
“There is so much out there, it’s mind-boggling to evaluate technology on our own as individual practitioners,” says Brown. “NAR helps our members by identifying the technology tools that will be practical and useful to them.”
A groundbreaking tech advancement by NAR is the new .REALTOR domain. For seven years, NAR has worked to secure this domain, knowing it was critical to lock-in this trademarked term on behalf of its members. The .REALTOR domain will serve to clearly and quickly identify REALTORS® as the trusted source in real estate on the Internet, and only REALTORS® will be able to use the .REALTOR domain. According to Polychron, “This furthers the consumer’s perception of the REALTOR® as a professional who subscribes to NAR’s strict Code of Ethics and who uses technology tools and expertise to help them fulfill the American Dream.”
Defining the Role for Today…and Tomorrow
While NAR plays many roles in and for the industry, Brown says the association’s principal role is to serve as a credible, cohesive force bringing together brokers, their agents and consumers. “The role of NAR is to first provide a platform of cooperation and fairness in the industry because, ultimately, it benefits the consumer if there is a sharing of data, products and listings,” he says.
“NAR must continue to serve as the model of professionalism regarding how to treat clients and customers, as well as how to treat fellow agents, based on our Code of Ethics,” Brown says. “And we must continue to provide REALTORS® an opportunity to better their skills through education and professional development.”