By Liz McMaster, 2018 ECAR President
Earlier this month, I was proud to join ECAR CEO Keith Dean and a contingent of ECAR members at the National Association of REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. The successful meeting took a major step toward increasing professionalism in real estate by giving associations new teeth for enforcing Code of Ethics violations, and it also positioned REALTORS® for the future by adopting the association's first dues increase in eight years.
Under changes to Sections 23(j) and 23(n) of the NAR Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, local associations that choose to adopt the policy can publicize the names of members and the nature of their violations after a second violation of the Code of Ethics. They can also release a photograph of the member as part of that public disclosure. The stepped-up enforcement option is based on a pilot program of the California Association of REALTORS®.
In another big change to Standard of Practice 1-7, a listing broker or agent is required to respond in writing that an offer was submitted to the seller if the cooperating broker who submitted the offer so requests. The listing broker or agent must respond in the affirmative unless the seller has provided written notification waiving the obligation to have the offer presented.
Another change, to Section 13(d) of the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, clarifies the rights and role of REALTOR® principals in an ethics hearing.
Though much more was discussed, here are a few additional highlights that may be of interest:
NAR National Dues Increased
In a major move to keep REALTORS® positioned for success into the future while ensuring NAR no longer needs to use reserves to cover expenses, the board approved a budget that sets national association dues at $150 per year per member beginning in 2019. That’s a $30 increase.
The board elected 2019 officers: Charles Oppler, AHWD, of Franklin Lakes, N.J., first vice president; Vince Malta of San Francisco, president-elect; and John Flor, ABR, CRS, ePRO, GRI, RSPS, of Chetek, Wis., 2019-20 treasurer. John Smaby of Edina, Minn., was earlier elected 2019 president.
The board made two updates to MLS policies:
• Created no-cost waiver option of commercial information exchange (CIE) fees, dues, and charges for licensees affiliated with a broker, provided the licensee subscribes to at least one MLS or CIE. The changes parallel revisions in MLS policy adopted last year for multiple listing services.
• Established a process within MLS rules for resolving complaints alleging unauthorized use of listing content by other participants.
Federal Policy Positions
To advance NAR’s efforts in Washington, the board adopted a number of tax and finance policy positions. Among them:
• Index caps on state and local tax deductions for inflation. The major tax reform law enacted last year places a $10,000 cap on the amount of state and local tax deductions households can itemize on their return. Without indexing the cap for inflation, taxpayers will effectively see tax increases each year as inflation erodes the value of the deductions.
• Eliminate the marriage penalty in the state and local tax deduction cap. The $10,000 limit doesn’t differentiate between single taxpayers and married couples filing a joint return.
• Provide tax relief to student debt holders and employers who assist with their employees’ student loan debt burdens. In addition, NAR supports policies that provide tax relief to those borrowers with forgiven student debt.
• Provide compliance relief to smaller community banks and credit unions so they can continue to offer safe and affordable mortgage credit to consumers.
Distinguished Service Award
It was announced that Peyton Norville, Birmingham, Ala., and JoAnne Poole, GRI, CRS, PMN, Baltimore, will be the recipients of the Distinguished Service Award in November at the 2018 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Boston.
REALTORS® Political Action Committee
The board heard that RPAC met more than half of its $34.5 million fundraising goal for 2018 during the first four months of the year, and that the percentage of members who are RPAC contributors has risen to 28 percent, up from 25 percent a year ago.
ECAR Takes Home Award
Finally, we are proud to announce that ECAR representatives accepted a 2017 Local REALTOR® Association Triple Crown Award at the NAR meetings. Thank you to our wonderful members for helping us achieve this great honor.