Last fall, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced that they had procured the rights to the .REALTOR top-level domain (TLD), allowing their members (and members of the Canadian Real Estate Association) to obtain their own .REALTOR site and soon, Associations and brokerages will be able to scoop their domains up as well. It is already the sixth fastest growing top-level domain in history, with actual sites in use (not domains squatted upon like other top-level domains) and over 100k domains already live.
The trade group has spent the last eight years in the application process through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) which coordinates domains and IP addresses globally, overseeing thousands of new (and future) TLDs like .jobs, .cars, .ninja, and the .MLS and .realestate TLDs also under NAR’s administration.
Associations, brokerages next in line
A few hundred state and local Realtor-owned associations may sign up for their .REALTOR pre-launch on May 6th, before the official launch when all will be allowed to apply on May 7th at 10am cst.
Just as with Realtors applying for the TLD, there are rules. Associations and brokerages may only claim a domain that matches the name they are doing business under, or an acronym of the name. Anyone looking to snap up their domain will pay $79 annually, and there are discounts after the launch, as well as multi-domain and multi-year discounts.
So while Realtors are restricted to their name (j.smith.REALTOR or Tulsa.JohnSmith.REALTOR or BuyWithJohnSmith.REALTOR), Boards have restrictions as well and combinations will be allowed, so the Florida Association of Realtors can have FAR.REALTOR or FloridaAOR.REALTOR or even FAOR.REALTOR, and Associations can even get five years free if they participate in the .REALTOR marketing program (applications are due April 30th).
Why operating a TLD matters
Protecting the Realtor brand is a clear benefit to NAR being in charge of these top-level domains. Nearly a decade ago, NAR was intrigued by the rumor that ICANN would be launching new top-level domains, so they teamed up with the experts at Second Generation to become a player on behalf of members.
“We have a responsibility as stewards of the real estate world,” NAR’s Bob Goldberg explains, noting that as with the TLDs, they set the trend 16 years ago through realtor.com.
Tom Embrescia, Chairman of Second Generation said, “nearly all real estate searches start online, and Realtors are the PhDs of doing real estate, so it’s important that they separate themselves online, and using an exclusive domain does just that.”
But it’s more than just a marketing play. Embrescia stated, “.coms will always exist, you just never know what you’ll get.” Just because something is BrazilianRealEstateMan.com, when you go there, it very well could be a virus-laden trap, or someone selling fake Nikes.
How this program is history changing
We’ve talked about this program for months now, but most don’t understand exactly how history-changing it is. You see, .REALTOR is actually a case study for ICANN. That’s right.
The reason for this pedestal is because NAR offers something most can’t – the NRDS. The National Realtors Database System is where all member data information lives, and every member has a unique ID number. When applying for a .REALTOR domain, it is tied into NRDS, and only active members may obtain a .REALTOR URL – active being the key word, as they trade group holds all members to a Code of Ethics. Consumers will eventually know what they’re getting as this goes mainstream which takes time, but on behalf of the industry, NAR is ahead of their game.
Aside from the “knowing what you’re getting” through NRDS factor, NAR is also making history by being among the first to have an approved TLD. They’re protecting the industry under the new way the internet works.
What most people haven’t grasped yet is that top-level domains are reorganizing the entire web, and changing how the internet works through segmentation. NAR understood this a decade ago.
Google is snatching up top-level domains as well, so Second Generation believes that brands using a TLD like .REALTOR will eventually see a clear SEO benefit (Google’s playing the game, they understand it, so they’ll likely reward it).
The wild west of the .com world will always exist, but through this new segmentation, watch for the web to finally organize. Matthew Embrescia, President of Second Generation explained that this is what was originally envisioned for the web, which originated with .com, .gov., .edu, and the like, and decades later, is finally becoming a reality.
ICANN isn’t handing out top-level domains like candy – the process is intense and slow, so don’t expect an explosion. ICANN has high standards, for example, they are working with the banking industry on security measures for .bank TLD applicants, and won’t be issuing a .home TLD due to security and technology issues (home = houses, web home pages, used in lines of code).
There are thousands of applications in the process, and most are not yet approved (although Second Generation pointed out that some are having fun with it, like .SUCKS, which you’ll want to procure in your name so others can’t – see, wouldn’t it be nice if .SUCKS was tied to some sort of verification database!?).
We suspect that NAR may be announcing other TLDs in the future, but not en masse. Because ICANN is studying NAR + NRDS as the history-altering model, we believe that its success will lead to other industries following suit, ultimately leading to a new internet. The future is here, folks.
NAR urges HUD to withdraw misguided proposal on equal housing
(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) NAR calls on HUD to reconsider their position concerning who can submit claims, there may be too many faulty claims and slow the help to those in need.
The NAR requests that The HUD withdraw its amended proposal of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard as deeply rooted systemic discrimination has the potential to result in tons of unintentional inequity claims.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received a request yesterday from The National Association of Realtors (NAR) asking them to withdraw its recent proposal amending the “Disparate Impact” rule.
NAR believes that while the proposal is a needed and welcomed change, written in August 2019 to amend the HUD’s interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standards meant to close a segregational gap, (highly-segregated neighborhoods, unfair treatment for people of color, credit inequality, etc.), the proposal creates separation instead of unity between U.S citizens and the NAR, it’s businesses and Realtors, by implementing rules that allow for an overwhelming amount of disparate impact claims.
In support of the August proposal, HUD’s secretary Ben Carson stated, “There is a lack of affordable housing in America today. This proposed rule is intended to increase legal clarity and promote the production and availability of housing in all areas while making sure every person is treated fairly under the law.”
The change to the Disparate Act opens the door for more claims reporting unequal treatment and/or discrimination intentionally. The theory here is not that deeply rooted systemic oppression can be stopped, but that maybe the easier accessibility to submit a claim will force Realtors to make lawfully supported decisions based on industry standards instead of opinions, ultimately holding Realtors who ignore ethical guidelines accountable.
Without the organization receiving the necessary tools and education required to make an impactful change, it will likely result in an overwhelming amount of unintentional discrimination claims. It is also important that the NAR holds the ability to protect its Realtors, their liberty, and rights to a free real estate market.
While it might seem ridiculous of them to ask the HUD to work collaboratively on the Disparate Act in order to provide equal housing, and fair treatment and support of both the NAR and U.S citizens, it’s a necessary business move on behalf of the NAR.
NAR supports economic inclusion for equal housing opportunities
(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) The NAR is pushing to insure anyone who wants a home can get one through a combination of economic inclusion, and eliminating implicit bias.
The National Association of Realtors® is working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Equality of Opportunity that addresses accessibility to housing based on economic inclusion. NAR CEO Bob Goldberg said,
“We believe that building a better future in America begins with equal access to housing and opportunity. With ongoing residential segregation contributing to many problems in our society, NAR recognizes that this nation cannot achieve true economic equality without first achieving true equality in housing. Our commitment to this cause and to Fair Housing has only strengthened in response to recent tragedies in America.”
What is economic inclusion?
According to the FDIC, economic inclusion describes the efforts to bring underserved communities into the financial mainstream. This could include things like making sure consumers have access to bank accounts and financial services; protections against discriminatory lending practices; and other types of consumer protections. Although the FDIC’s efforts seem to focus on unbanked and underbanked consumers, economic inclusion reaches around to all financial transactions, including housing.
Research from the Brookings Institution cites barriers to economic inclusion as slowing economic growth in local communities. Giving underserved communities access to financial products and opportunities actually spurs the local economy. The government bears the weight of services for the underserved. For example, childhood poverty costs the U.S. economy about 4% of the GDP annually. Nationwide, that is about $500 billion a year. Economic inclusion gives people a way out. It’s not a hand-out, but education and opportunities to change the future.
The NAR is making real change for the underserved
Last week, it was announced that the NAR introduced tools that would reduce implicit bias. Goldberg said, “NAR has spent recent years reexamining how our 1.4 million members can best lead the fight against discrimination, bigotry, and injustice.” The NAR isn’t just talking about it. They’re putting their money behind inclusion, and preventing unfair housing practices. These kind of changes matter for everyone.
NAR introduces meaningful tools and training to stop implicit bias
(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) The NAR has been taking steps forward to erase implicit bias, and recent events have made this that much more important. You should also take steps.
The National Association of Realtors® is demonstrating its commitment to addressing housing discrimination and racial injustice through an Implicit Bias Training video that is being distributed to members. The online video proposes to “give (real estate agents) the tools to help override the effects of implicit bias. This means that the next time (they) work with clients from other cultures and backgrounds, (they) will be in a position to provide equal professional service, because (they) have embraced the work we all need to do to treat everyone fairly.” This 50-minute video is just one part of NAR’s work to reduce discrimination in housing.
The NAR is committed to fair housing
This video isn’t just a kneejerk reaction to the recent protests. In January, the NAR leadership announced a plan that emphasized Accountability, Culture Change, and Training (ACT) to protect housing rights, and uphold fair housing standards in the NAR’s code of ethics and in United States law.
Housing discrimination and implicit bias
In 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, or national origin pertaining to housing. The Act has been strengthened over the past 52 years, but enforcement is still inconsistent. The problem isn’t that people are explicitly biased, but that there are many barriers and practices that are leading to continued housing segregation.
One practice that the NAR is responding to is implicit bias, which is an unconscious bias that affects how you interact with others. Consciously, you might never discriminate against another race, but you may unintentionally react differently with another race than you would with someone of the same race. This might manifest itself in many ways as a real estate agent. The Kirwan Institute or the Study of Race and Ethnicity research suggests that implicit bias can be showing black buyers fewer homes than a white homebuyer, even if they are pre-qualified.
Check your biases
The NAR is doing more than simply changing its social media status in light of #BlackLivesMatter. The NAR is working for real change for fair housing. I’d encourage you to watch the entire video to really understand implicit bias in real estate, and how it affects everyone. You can examine your own implicit biases through Project Implicit, a research collaboration project. We aren’t going to end housing discrimination through legislation without real reform by the people who act as guides into the real estate industry.
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