A missed opportunity at NAR midyear

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently held its midyear conference in Washington, D.C. Midyear is where NAR members take an active role in advancing the real estate industry, public policy and the association.

I am active in real estate as a broker-owner, and sometimes I write too. I am also one of the 1.5 million members of the National Association of Realtors. I have been a member for 22 years. I have volunteered or gotten involved, as they say, on the local and state level, but just like approximately 99.84 percent of my peers, I am not on an NAR committee.

That doesn’t mean that I am not interested in what NAR is doing or that I don’t want to be involved. In fact, I have often wished that members could vote on important issues. Members should be informed, engaged, and interested in what the association is doing and should be exposed to the details of the hard and important work that gets done.

Missed opportunity

The midyear meetings were a missed opportunity. NAR could have engaged members like me, more than a million of my peers and more than 99 percent of all members by livestreaming more of the meetings, classes and events.

All the meetings could have been livestreamed. I would have paid a fee to attend mid-year conferences online. I cannot think of anything that NAR does that is more important than keeping its members informed and involved.

The meetings or events I was able to attend were well worth my time. If I learn something during a session that helps my business, I am more likely to stay in business and remain a member.

I may also come away with a more positive view of NAR and how its hard, hard work supports my business. Livestreaming meetings and other sessions seems like a win for members and the association.

Realtors benefit from being in the know

I rarely miss one of NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun’s economic updates. I learn so much and often take pages and pages of notes. Access to his economic analysis is a benefit that I appreciate and use. I have seen Yun speak in person a few times, but I get most of the updates via livestream.

Maybe 50 years ago, attending a meeting in person was the only way because we didn’t have the technology to livestream meetings or the internet for quickly sharing information and ideas.

Having 1.5 million or more people attend a meeting doesn’t seem doable or sustainable. The environmental impact of an event that large would be significant. Would there be enough food and lodging for all of us?

If the goal is to keep meetings more private from the prying eyes and ears of reporters, video recordings could be made of the meetings, and those recordings could be available to members only on the NAR website a week or two after the meeting.

However, most of the information many of us get about NAR is brought to us by reporters.

Some of the midyear meetings were by invitation only. In the past, I have been able to attend a few of those meetings virtually because I know people. You see, they won’t let just any member attend, but members who know someone can sometimes get in if they talk to the right people. It’s often about knowing the “right” people.

Pulled with no info

I had planned on watching a livestream of a legal update session. I saw the list of speakers and bookmarked the session.

The session was suddenly pulled from the livestream, and there isn’t any information about the update. Of the 1.5 million members, only 8,000 were in attendance at midyear, which means that the vast majority, more than 99.5 percent just like me, missed out on a legal update during this time of litigation and settlements.

Some of us are concerned about the future and about being sued. If we follow the new rules, will we face lawsuits in the future because of them? 

When membership numbers are missing, live streams are canceled, or transparency is lacking, members and others can use their imaginations to fill in the gaps. It wouldn’t be hard at all to create some believable conspiracy theories.

NAR doesn’t make it easy for the more than 99 percent of members who don’t attend midyear meetings. We not only make up most of the membership, but we are almost all of the members, and livestreamed meetings and events are opportunities for NAR to engage all members.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker-owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

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