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If you want to catch a glimpse of today’s changing real estate business model, visit the website of a full-service real estate firm. You’ll find a collection of offerings designed to serve customers through every step of the transaction and beyond-insurance, home inspections, home warranties, financing, title insurance, and even concierge services. It’s not enough anymore to simply list and sell homes-today’s customers expect so much more.

To help real estate brokers implement and maximize these core business services, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) began a new initiative, the Real Estate Services (RES) program. By providing tailored communication, consulting services, economies of scale, cooperative ventures, and specialized marketing tools, the RES program helps large diversified brokerage firms reach their full potential.

“What makes RES unique is that we don’t just look at issues from the perspective of a real estate agent or broker, but from the perspective of all settlement services providers,” says Ken Trepeta, director, RES. “We address issues that affect the entire industry and provide a single resource with the expertise to address these issues.”

Launched in 2007, the RES program was created with input from the RES Task Force, comprising representatives from some of the largest real estate firms in the country. The task force reviewed NAR resources and identified products, tools, services, and strategic alliances that could be customized or repurposed for large brokers and affiliated business in the following areas:

  • -Research, Statistics & Industry Analysis
    -Lobbying & Political Involvement
    -Regulatory Services & Affiliated-Business Expertise
    -Strategic Alliances & Cooperative Ventures
    -Marketing & Communication

Today, the RES group meets regularly with its Advisory Board, which includes top leaders from the largest diversified brokerage firms in the country, to gain insight on important issues that affect their businesses. Recent issues RES has worked on include:

  • •Housing Stimulus Bill. NAR has been a leading advocate for many of the changes in the massive housing bill signed into law by President George W. Bush on July 30. These changes include reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with improved oversight, FHA modernization, permanent increases in conforming and FHA loan limits, and a temporary tax credit for home buyers. RES firms have played an important role in advocating for modernizing FHA and increasing loan limits by meeting with senators and representatives.
    •RESPA. RES has also worked with HUD for greater RESPA transparency, simplicity and education. It has provided comments on all aspects of the proposed RESPA rule, not just those that pertain to agents.
    RES has also been very active working with 10 industry trade groups and Congress in writing a joint letter on July 31 urging withdrawal of HUD’s RESPA proposal in its current form. NAR and the trade groups want HUD to work with the Federal Reserve Board to harmonize RESPA and Truth in Lending Act mortgage disclosures.
    “In our comment letter, we focused not only on issues that affect REALTORS® directly,” says Trepeta. “We addressed issues that affect title companies, mortgage providers, warranty operations, and other settlement services.”
    •2008 REALTORS® Conference and Expo. On Friday, November 7, RES will host a forum entitled “RESPA Reform: What’s Next?” during the 2008 REALTORS® Conference and Expo in Orlando. A panel will be discussing the status of HUD’s current proposal, potential pitfalls, and other RESPA issues important to brokers.
    •RES Webpage. NAR recently launched a webpage to better serve diversified brokers and their affiliated businesses: You’ll find a variety of resources to support your key business objectives, including newsletters, updates on hot topics, information on key industry issues, market reports and analysis, and background information on RES and the RES Advisory Board.