A Recap of the Recent NAR Legislative Meetings and NAR Board of Directors Meeting
By Doug & Aleta Azarian
Earlier in May, the National Association of REALTORS® held their annual Legislative Conference and Mid Year Board Meetings. NAR Board of Director members Doug Azarian, an appointee of MAR, and Aleta Azarian, an appointee of CCIAOR, attended and recapped the conference for the benefit of CCIAOR membership. The highlights of their experience at NAR Mid-Year are below.
Massachusetts REALTORS® met with the legislative staff for Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts delegation met personally with Congressman Bill Keating at the Capitol to discuss the following:
- Flood Insurance: Encourage Flood Insurance Reauthorization as the current program is set to expire on May 31st. Our legislators are on board with a short-term extension, and will hopefully work out a long-term extension later this year. A lack of flood insurance results in the inability to obtain financing for many Cape Cod and Islands properties.
- Fair Housing: The Equality Act. Ten Years ago, NAR amended its Code of Ethics to require that REALTORS® provide equal professional service to the LGBTQ population. REALTORS® support H.R. 5, the Equality Act. which amends our nation’s civil rights laws to ensure the American Dream is available and accessible to all Americans.
- Qualified Opportunity Zones: Investment Deadline Extension. The opportunity zone program has spurred real estate development and investment in designated communities. Investors are eager to participate, but delays in the process to finalize QOZ rules have stalled the program’s momentum. REALTORS® urged Congress to act to extend deadlines for certain tax benefits.
- Extending access to Association Health Plans: We support the U.S. Department of Labor’s final rule expanding access to Association Health Plans. This rule is supported in many states, providing high quality lower cost coverage alternatives to many REALTORS®.
- Infrastructure improvements: Improvements to a region’s infrastructure have been shown to enhance property values by creating livable communities and business districts. We urged Congress to pursue infrastructure policies that reflect a broad community vision and continue to advocate for a level playing field for both highway and public transit funding.
Then, the NAR Board of Directors met and approved the following items:
- A policy position on National Disasters that supports the following:
- Includes post-disaster emergency assistance but emphasizes pre-disaster planning, preparedness, prevention, and the proactive reduction of risk;
- Promotes the private insurance market to assume more disaster risk but does not crowd out private capital or preempt state insurance regulations or programs;
- Ensures that property insurance rates align with the true, specific risk of each individual building;
- Does not impose more than a nominal assessment, surcharge, or cross subsidy from some insurance policyholders to others;
- Encourages communities to adopt higher building codes and ordinances that avoid costly retrofits and damage in high-risk areas;
- Provides federal assistance for existing high-risk development to mitigate or relocate;
- Provides for full transparency, state disclosure requirements and accurate hazard mapping so consumers can make informed, responsible risk decisions.
- A change to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics that clarifies that the practice of providing a timely written affirmation to the cooperating broker is a tool to reassure buyers and cooperating brokers that offers were handled properly. Offers should be presented as soon as practical.
- The NAR budget was approved with no increase. NAR dues are a total of $155, plus the Consumer Advertising assessment of $35. REALTOR® Party fees are $57 while the operating portion of dues is $93. Here are the budget highlights:
- Offering Zipforms and RPR as member benefits funded from dues.
- 75% of all Realtor Party funds go back to the state and local associations. In fact, the Cape Cod and Islands Association has received more than its members have contributed. These funds address local issues and state issues like the Chatham transfer tax proposal that was defeated in 2018.
- NAR continues its work on improvements at the Chicago headquarters. Elevators are being equipped with the latest technology,HVAC and plumbing systems are being upgraded, and a fitness level is being added for use by the tenants.
- The finance committee has increased the reserve requirement of operating funds to 50% of the annual budget.
- NAR’s investment in Docusign and Ziplogix (now 100% divested) have provided resources for future investment in technologies that keep REALTORS® at the center of the transaction.
- Approved legal action funding on three cases: Two involve defense of brokerages classifying agents as independent contractors (one in California and one in New Jersey); one supports a defendant in a copyright action.
- Revised MLS policy so that REALTOR® association-owned MLSs may charge participants and subscribers who don’t hold primary or secondary membership in the association a different amount than what’s charged to association members, provided that any increase is reasonably related to the actual costs of serving those members.
Here is a brief recap of other meetings we attended:
- Attended the Trade Show for a look at new products. Interesting products on the floor were:
- CodeBox, an electronic lockbox that can be used by individual agents. It allows for one-time codes and tracking use.
- InvisaWear, which creates jewelry and accessories with safety technology inside.
- Attended Federal Issues Briefing
- Attended the General Session where President Trump spoke about real estate issues and about the need for Infrastructure improvements.