The National Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors on Saturday approved a three-year extension of the $35-per-member annual special assessment to fund its national ad campaign through 2022. The vote comes as the power of NAR’s campaign message, “That’s Who We R,” grows stronger. In its first 60 days, the campaign garnered more than 676 million impressions and earned 47.5 million social media engagements.

In an independent research study, 80% of consumers said the campaign makes them more likely to use a REALTOR®, and NAR member research shows 86% of members support additional advertising in the future. “‘That’s Who We R’ is our foundational story,” Tiffanie Mai-Ganske, chair of NAR’s Consumer Communications Committee, told directors Saturday during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C.

The board also approved the 2020 NAR budget with no dues increase, as well as a Finance Committee recommendation that NAR return to a more prudent 50% reserve requirement of gross operating expense (from the current 40%) and that NAR target a 75% reserve. The 2019 budget adds $11.5 million back to NAR’s reserves. For 2020, membership is budgeted at 1,340,000, and annual dues remain at $150.

Other measures the board approved include:

  • Amending Code of Ethics Standards of Practice 1-7, stating that REALTORS® will continue to submit offers on a property to the seller until the transaction closes. The amendment requires listing brokers to notify cooperating brokers “as soon as practically possible” that an offer has been submitted. The change takes effect Jan 1, 2020.
  • NAR will develop a national disaster policy that includes emergency financial assistance to affected regions but also emphasizes pre-disaster planning for members and their clients. NAR will also promote the benefits of a private insurance market for flood and other disasters.
  • Adopt an MLS policy allowing association-owned MLSs to charge differentiate fees based on association membership, as long as the difference reasonably reflects the cost of delivering service.

Commitment to Excellence Gains Traction

Commitment to Excellence Chair Hagan Stone, a broker from Brentwood, Tenn., provided an update on adoption of the program. The online program, available at no additional cost to members, empowers REALTORS® to demonstrate their professionalism and commitment to conducting business at the highest standards.

More than 23,000 REALTORS® have begun program, and 900 have completed it, earning the C2EX endorsement, Stone said. The program includes 10 elements of professionalism for agents and 11 for brokers. The top three completed competency areas so far are advocacy, technology, and the Code of Ethics Article 10. A second phase of the program is expected to be rolled out at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco in November.

The board heard reports from industry executives on several initiatives:

From Realtors Property Resource® (RPR) COO and General Manager Jeff Young and RPR and Vice President of Member Experience Emily Line: RPR has reached record growth, with an average of 300,000 users per quarter and 2.1 million mobile user sessions so far this year. In addition, new features are being added to RPR’s interface, including an “experience layer,” which highlights action items for users. RPR costs about $13.50 per member annually, Young said.

From Suzanne Mueller, senior vice president of industry relations at realtor.com®: The relationship between NAR and Move Inc., which operates realtor.com®, remains strong, and realtor.com®’s brand awareness is at an all-time high, increasing 86% from a year ago. Additionally, realtor.com® has posted a 48% increase in social media impressions.The website has added features to “deepen the local real estate experience,” Mueller said. “We truly believe in making buying homes easier and more rewarding for everyone—and that means both consumers and professionals.”

Ken Burlington, chief operating officer for the REALTORS® Information Network, closed the board meeting with impressive stats about NAR’s top-level domains, .realtor and .realestate. They are ranked as the number one and number two most visible top-level domains related to real estate in online search results, Burlington said.