DC was swimming in Realtors® last week as NAR’s Midyear Meetings returned to the nation’s capitol. Here are some of the outcomes and significant reports coming out of the meetings:

NAR’s Board of Directors meeting:

  • Amended Article 10 of the NAR Code of Ethics was amended barring REALTORS® from denying equal professional services on the basis of sexual orientation or from discriminating against any person on the basis of sexual orientation. Standard of Practice 10-3 was amended as well to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in any advertisements for selling or renting property. The Code of Ethics change must still go before the NAR Delegate Body for approval at NAR’s annual conference in November.
  • Established authority of MLSs to require, as a matter of local discretion, submission of photographs, drawings, or renderings of listed property as a condition of inclusion in MLS.
  • Established authority of MLSs to require, as a matter of local discretion, submission of legally required seller disclosure forms as a condition of inclusion in the MLS.
  • Clarified that, if time on market and price change information are collected by the MLS, those fields cannot be treated as confidential and may be provided to clients and customers; however, MLSs may prohibit inclusion of time on market and price changes in advertising, including IDX, by other participants.
  • Amended the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual to give associations discretionary authority to refund portions of parties’ filing fees if the dispute is successfully resolved through mediation. The directors also amended MLS policy statement 7.23. MLSs that permit listing participants to communicate to other participants how reductions in gross commissions will be apportioned between listing and cooperating participants in a short sale will now have additional discretionary authority to require listing participants to give cooperating participants written notice of the total reduction in gross commissions, and the resulting reduction in cooperative compensation.
  • Created a work group to look at two IDX-related issues: whether national franchise organizations should be permitted to index IDX listings and whether RSS feeds can include IDX listings. Applied the same ethical standards to REALTOR® association that apply to their members. Under the change, associations are prohibited from making false or misleading statements about other associations. The board also approved procedures for addressing accusations of violations.

Reports:

  • REALTOR® University is NAR’s initiative for raising the bar in the profession by undertaking an accredited, degree-granting university. A blue-ribbon panel started work earlier this year on the initiative, which will result in a master’s degree program with majors in real estate sales and marketing, real estate brokerage, and appraisal, among others. It’s expected to take two to three years for the institution to become accredited.
  • Upon completion, the REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR) will contain deep information on every property and parcel of land in the country. About 1,000 NAR members are testing the RPR software in 12 markets. Members are also testing the applications that will deploy the data on handheld devices. Once testing is competed, the 12 beta markets will be the first in which the database is rolled out. Full roll-out is expected to take five to six years.
  • The Board voted to maintain NAR dues at $80 and keep the Public Awareness Campaign special assessment at $35 for the three-year budget cycle, 2011–13.
  • Bill Armstrong from Maryland was elected 2011 Treasurer. As Maryland and Virginia are both in Region 3, VAR supported Armstrong’s election.