“What were you doing in D.C.?”

I returned to the Lakes Area just minutes before it turned into today – Saturday, May 16, 2015, after spending five non-stop days of information exchanges in Washington, D.C. at NAR’s Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. What was it all about? Allow me to share, while it’s fresh in my mind.

For me, as an Association Executive, the meetings are focused on the governance of the REALTOR® association. This means my meetings are about policies, member benefits, working with volunteer leadership and the business of association management. My mission: to help make our organization the best it can be, offering value to our members. For our REALTOR® members who attended (Rick Geaslen, 2015 LARA President; Brad Lois, LARA Past President/YPN & Government Affairs Chair/WRA & NAR Committee Member; Becky Merwin, LARA RPAC Chair/WRA Committee Member) meetings are about REALTOR® specific news, strategies, products and services, in addition to volunteer leadership roles. For all of us, there are joint legislative forums and discussions, including Hill visits with our representatives in D.C., on behalf of REALTORS® and Wisconsin property owners. Our members met personally with Senator Ron Johnson and other legislators, with a very special highlight of the trip being an unexpected visit to meet with Congressman Paul Ryan in the actual Ways and Means Committee chamber. What a once-in-a-lifetime experience, occurring only thanks to positive long term relationships established with leading REALTORS® from our area. As always, our Wisconsin legislators were gracious, cordial, honest and direct in addressing our concerns. WRA Staff and volunteer leaders provided us with clear and intelligent talking points and guidance. I encourage all of you to consider attending this annual event in the future. (May each year in D.C.)

I will share the top 5 hot topics that I personally spent the week learning about here, and then I will interview each of our REALTOR® members for completely different perspectives and post their thoughts within the next few days. Again – there is so much information presented for different aspects of our business, that we all attend completely different meetings and events. There will be a lot more information than some will want to read, but hopefully useful and informational for those who want to learn more about a variety of topics. My job is to attempt to share as much as possible as your liaison to N.A.R. and the many wonderful professionals from across the country that I have the opportunity to meet. My goal will be to spark your interest enough to follow at least one of the links I will provide.

#1 – D.A.N.G.E.R. Report – That name will get our attention! A very in-depth independent report prepared by leading industry visionary Stefan Swanepoel was released, with the acronym meaning: Definitive Analysis of Negative Game Changers Emerging in Real Estate. See the entire report, or the sections that interest you at: www.dangerreport.com  I expect to see L.A.R.A. host an event for discussion of the contents of this report in the near future.

#2 – RPR AMP™/Project Upstream Partnership – Project Upstream was created by a coalition of nationwide brokerages and franchises, including some from Wisconsin. An LLC, Upstream RE, LLC has been created and will be governed by a Board of Managers representing firms of all sizes. The purpose of this project in the simplest way I can describe after days of attempting to digest much discussion –  is to allow brokers to enter listing data once and control where that data goes, leveraging the investment in and utilizing RPR data. In the many meetings where this was discussed at length, the consistent message I heard was that, “Brokers want to be able to control listings and decide where their data goes.”  AMP™ is basically software, a system between the “front end” (listing input/entry) and the “back end” (MLS’s, syndication, etc.) NAR continues to state strongly that RPR/AMP is not and never will be a national MLS and that they are only providing tools and resources based on what REALTORS® say they want and need, incorporating RESO standards. Many MLS’s don’t particularly trust or agree with these statements on many different levels. Discussions and votes on this project are still happening in D.C. today, so my best advice is that if you are one of the many who want to watch this topic as it develops- do watch your NAR e-mails, industry blogs, etc.  NOTE: As I was ready to post this I learned this project has been approved at today’s NAR BOD meeting and the video we were shown is now available online, for members only with your sign on credentials required to view it: http://www.realtor.org//videos/rpr-introduces-project-upstream

#3 – RESPA Changes Coming August 1! There were very many meetings on this topic as well, and it is definitely not my area of expertise. I heard “CPFD” and “closings are changing!” often over the past few days.  I know Becky Merwin did attend an in-depth session on this and will work with her to post a more detailed article within the next few days. For now, I will provide a link to a video that I was told is extremely informative: www.realtor.org/RESPA

#4 – MOVE, Inc. (realtor.com) – Leaders of MOVE, Inc. continue to assure us that Realtor.com will be #1, as it should be. They released the new look of the web site and have partnered with very popular actress Elizabeth Banks on new commercials being released nationwide within the next few days. You can see them here: https://youtu.be/yI-sZFSVoho and https://youtu.be/CdG9HEXKJZ0 . They continue to urge us to use the Agent Profiles on Realtor.com and promote one consistent message to consumers. Take a moment to learn more here: http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2015/05/realtorcom-strengthens-ties-to-realtors-with-new-website-improvements

#5 – Commitment to Excellence – Now that over 1100 REALTOR® organizations across the country are well on our way to reaching compliance with NAR’s new Core Standards initiative regarding the standards of operating our boards at a consistent level of professionalism, it’s time to look at raising the bar on a higher standard for those REALTORS® who desire to aim even higher than the Code of Ethics in their own careers. Watch upcoming emails and information regarding the proposed “Commitment to Excellence” optional programs for REALTORS®. Also – because that’s already 5 hot topics – REALTOR® Safety continues to be an area of key concern. New programs and information always being added at: www.realtor.org/safety

I can’t say there weren’t some laughs, sightseeing, great meals and memorable times over the past week, but the truth is our focus was on professional leadership and representing the REALTORS® and property owners of Wisconsin with pride and integrity. Thank you for providing the opportunity for us to do so.

(Join me in San Diego November 13-16 for the 2015 REALTORS® Conference & Expo including ore of these types of meetings and educational sessions, Keynote Address by Emmitt Smith, Celebrity Concert by John Legend and more! See: www.realtor.org/conference for more details.)

Respectfully,
Denise Schultz, L.A.R.A. C.E.O.

5/16/2015