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By NAR 2017 First Vice President John Smaby

Last week, nearly 9600 Realtors®came to Washington to make our voices heard on protecting homeownership.  If you haven’t had the chance to come to one of our national conferences, you are really missing out!  It’s tremendous to see so many Realtors®come to Washington, D.C. from all over the country ready to learn the latest on what’s happening in our industry and to connect with other Realtors®.

Let me give you a few of the highlights:

The Board of Directors (BOD) meet to take action on important NAR business

The Board voted by overwhelming support—an 85 percent majority—to support Upstream technology and improving the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) experience.  Earlier in the week, UpstreamRE announced a new “broker of choice” model, which will enable listing data to be input directly into Upstream or flow to Upstream from the MLS.  This will benefit small brokerages because they aren’t able to build a platform the way large brokerages can, and it will allow all brokerages greater control over their data.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson received a standing ovation after giving his thoughts on homeownership, the Federal Housing Administration’s condo rule, mortgage insurance premiums, energy efficiency loans, and public-private partnerships.

Recognizing that homeownership is the foundation of wealth for most American families he said, “We need to make sure that everybody has a chance to become a homeowner.

Realtors® met with Members of Congress and regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  We delivered our message on national flood insurance, tax reform, and sustainable homeownership.

Our members urged Congress to pass a multiyear reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program before it expires on September 30. We also reminded legislators that while Realtors® support a fairer and simpler tax code, it cannot happen by diminishing the real estate tax provisions that are crucial to a vibrant housing market and are a key driver of the economy.  President Bill Brown punctuated his remarks at 360 with a few inspiring words.  He said tax reform, “shouldn’t come at the expense of current and prospective homeowners.”

Realtors® also want to protect sustainable homeownership by advocating for responsible reform of the secondary mortgage market, prohibiting the use of mortgage guarantee fees for any purposes other than credit-risk management, and improving consumer protections for energy efficiency improvement loans.

On the business side, NAR’s strategic investment arm, Second Century Ventures, added seven organizations to its 2017 class of REach®, which encourages the growth of new technology companies into the real estate, financial services, banking, home services and insurance industries.  Two more were announced during the conference.  They include Adwerx, a digital advertising provider and immoviewer, a 3-D virtual tour technology company.

NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Partner Placester is offering free websites to all Realtors®.  Last year, Realtors® spent a median of $70 maintaining a website. To help reduce business costs, Placester, a real estate website and marketing platform, is extending its partnership with us to provide a basic “NAR Edition” website to the association’s 1.2 million members at no charge.  NAR members will also receive discounts on advanced website features and products.

President Bill ended his remarks at 360 by quoting Oakland Raiders coach Al Davis, telling us, “Just win, baby!”  That’s how we will protect homeownership, consumers and the future of the real estate industry we love.  Hope to see you all in Chicago, November 3-6, at the 2017 Realtors Conference & Expo!

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