A Washington Update

I was very honored to represent Birmingham this past week in Washington D.C. at the NAR Midyear Conference. It was an amazing week and just wanted to take a few minutes and update you on the goings on in Washington:

Rally to Protect the American Dream

It was truly an honor to be apart of such a historic event to get the attention of our lawmakers about the current challenges that face our industry. At the Board of Directors Meeting, President Moe Veissi recounted the success of the May 17 Rally to Protect the American Dream, at which 13,800 REALTORS® gathered at the Washington Monument to celebrate home ownership. The rally showed consumers that, when it comes to something as important as home ownership, “you’re in it with them and for them. Whenever you do those things in life, you know you’ve accomplished something great.”

In addition to the members and others who attended the rally, 13,600 people attended virtually, at RealtorRally.org, and more continue to experience the rally online. Twelve members of Congress attended, including Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.,) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), both of whom spoke at the rally, and 29 major media outlets, including CNN and CNBC, covered the event. And in a satellite media tour one day earlier, Veissi spoke with another 24 media outlets.

Competitiveness in commercial property data

To increase competition in the commercial property data arena, an NAR subsidiary sold eProperty Data to real estate data company Xceligent. The combined company will provide a competitive alternative to CoStar/LoopNet, whose merger was recently approved by the Federal Trade commission, positioning it to be the dominant provider in the market. Xceligent’s standard rate will be 25 percent below that of CoStar/LoopNet, and NAR negotiated REALTOR® discounts for both services. Rollout is targeted in the next few months.

REALTORS® Federal Credit Union

Members of the REALTORS® Federal Credit Union approved the merger of the $75 million, 8,000-member REALTORS® FCU, launched in 2008, with the $2.1 billion, 100,000-member Northwest Federal Credit Union, with the goal of expanding services and products. Under the merger, the credit union remains virtual, but members gain access to 4,600 branches across the country. The name REALTORS® Federal Credit Union remains unchanged. With this change, our members will have a great opportunity to bank with a Credit Union that understands how to work with our Realtors® much of who are independent contractors.

IDX policy changes

The board approved a set of comprehensive amendments to NAR’s Internet Data Exchange (IDX) policy and MLS rules to clarify that “participant websites” are those in which MLS participants have actual and apparent control of the sites. The changes also recognize the growth in the use of mobile devices by permitting IDX information to be displayed in mobile devices as long as MLS participants control the displays. “Control” means participants can add, delete, modify, or update their information, and a reasonable consumer would recognize the information as the participant’s.

Separately, the board acknowledged the growing complexity of MLS technology issues by creating an MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Subcommittee, which will anticipate and analyze MLS technology issues. The subcommittee will have a chair and 15 members, at least eight of which will be REALTORS® with experience in governance or operation of a local or regional MLS, and the rest will be MLS administrators or MLS technology or administrative staff.

As you can see, much was accomplished in addition to being able to sitdown with our local Congressmen and Senators from Alabama and relay the challenges that still face our market today. We are fortunate to have leaders that listen to our voice of local real estate.

I hope you have a great Memorial Day Weekend and hope to see you next Wednesday at the Rickwood Classic for Realtor® and Affiliate Day at Rickwood.

-Brian Sparks, 2012 BAR President