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NAR pushes back on DOJ’s reneging on antitrust settlement

(REAL ESTATE) After coming to a settlement with the DOJ, the National Association of Realtors is petitioning the court to keep the DOJ from reneging.

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) filed a petition in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to push back on the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) reneging on their existing antitrust settlement agreement reached in November 2020.

In a statement NAR notes that the DOJ began attempting to “withdraw from that fully binding agreement in July 2021, after NAR had already begun to implement its term,” adding that this is “a breach of the agreement and the law.”

It is uncommon for the federal government to reach a settlement then go back on that agreement, which is why this stands out.

The Petition’s first line summarizes the scenario aptly: “The National Association of REALTORS® brings this petition to quash a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) issued by the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice because it violates a binding settlement negotiated and agreed-to by the last Senate-confirmed head of the Antitrust Division.”

“The DOJ action should be considered null and invalid based on legal precedent alone,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler. “The DOJ must be governed by principle, and NAR simply expects the department to live up to its commitments.”

Oppler points to this case as damaging in the long-term for the federal government, as American’s trust and confidence would be eroded. If the DOJ can reconsider terms of any agreement, Oppler states, “If that view prevails, it would undermine the strong public policy in favor of upholding settlement agreements and public confidence that the government will keep its word in future cases.”

In their public statement, NAR asserts that they have always pushed for competition in the marketplace. We long ago agreed in our news stories, debunking the anti-trust suit allegations.

So will this petition make a difference? Going before the Courts is the only option for relief possible, and since the association took that step, NAR members we spoke with today feel optimistic. It appears that NAR is simply pushing for the DOJ to make good on an existing agreement, it’s not complicated.

“NAR remains hopeful the DOJ will honor its agreement,” Oppler said. “We also remain committed to advancing and defending independent and local real estate organizations that provide for greater economic opportunity and equity for small businesses and consumers of all backgrounds and financial means.”

Dig into the docs:

National Association of Realtors

The more communicative you are, the more you’re apt to earn

Communication is key in any relationship, but even more so when it’s the Realtor/Client relationship. Here’s why.

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In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, Realtors need to be able to engage clients quickly and in a way that allows them to be both personable and professional. Celeste Starchild, Vice President of Move and General Manager at ListHub, gives a bit of insight on how Realtors can tap into the online market more efficiently.

One of the first thing Starchild suggests is maximizing your online presence with search engine optimization or SEO; effectively using SEO will boost targeted advertising to reach consumers when they are most likely to be ready to buy or sell a home.

She states, “search engine marketing drives high quality and high volume leads. If you have the budget, you can pay for the right to have your name and business visible to practically all consumers looking for an agent in a specific location.”

Consumers want immediate responses

This is especially important given the majority of consumers in today’s market are “digital natives.” These “digital natives” are millennials or Gen X-ers who have been around technology so long, they can’t remember a time when the Internet wasn’t at their disposal. Due to this, they tend to go online to do research because they are not familiar with doing business in-person. They also expect an immediate response, as they are used to texting and email, not phone calls and letters.

Starchild states, “consumers want immediate responses from their friends and family via email and texting. Realtors risk missing an opportunity with this demographic if they aren’t responding in a timely, informative, and personable manner.” This includes areas such as social media.

Have you notices Facebook actual lists a response time on business pages now? They do. Most businesses strive to answer messages within an hour, or risk losing business.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot

Facebook can be an extremely successful and cost-effective marketing tactic for Realtors by using predictive advertising. With this, you can target scenarios such as job relocation, marriage, child birth, and divorce, as purchase drivers and your ad will appear alongside a potential buyer’s Facebook page. This is one of the most powerful and effective ways to reach consumers, according to Starchild, as you are reaching out to them at the critical moment of decision.

Practically every interested buyer or seller will search online for information about a Realtor and read reviews about them before contacting them. This is another area Starchild suggests you examine: “It doesn’t matter where on a search list a Realtor shows up if they don’t have an updated profile with a professional headshot, listed contact information, and a few client recommendations. Failing to do [this] will ultimately lead to missed business;” and no one wants that to happen. So, take a few moments and ensure your contact information is updated and readily available as a search result so you do not miss a potential client.

Improve earnings by being communicative

Once a client messages you, you should aim to respond in the first five minutes, even if your response is automated with a promise to follow-up quickly. As long as you’re reaching out, you can increase your contact rates exponentially.

“Consumers are looking for facts and they want them now. How you respond and interact with them influences their decision on whether or not they’re your client forever, or they’re on to the next one,” says Starchild.

No one wants to miss business, simply because they forgot to respond. Automate responses, use social media, and update your Realtor profile and you’ll be on your way to maximizing your contact rates and client satisfaction.

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Real Estate Associations

NAR Board approves major MLS rule changes to take effect in January

The NAR Board has approved new MLS rules to improve transparency for consumers, all set to take effect in just a few weeks.

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To improve transparency in a time where forces are pushing to muddy waters, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced today that proposed changes to its guidance for local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) broker marketplaces have been approved by a Board of Directors vote.

The changes seek to “ensure disclosure of compensation offered to buyer agents, ensure listings are not excluded from search results based on the amount of compensation offered to buyer agents, and reinforce that local real estate agents do not represent brokerage services as free,” according to a NAR statement.

The following changes are set to take effect Jan. 1, 2022 (per NAR):

  • (1) Reinforce that local marketplace participants do not represent brokerage services as free. While Realtors® always have been required to advertise their services accurately and truthfully, this change creates a bright line rule on the use of the word “free” that is easy to follow and enforce.
  • (2) Ensure disclosure of compensation offered to buyer agents. The change bolsters transparency and Realtors®’ existing duties and practices to talk with their clients about what services they provide and how they are compensated.
  • (3) Ensure listings aren’t excluded from search results based on the amount of compensation offered to buyer agents. This changes wording to reiterate Realtors®’ existing duty to inform clients about all relevant properties meeting their criteria.

“Grounded in our commitment to act in the best interests of buyers and sellers, we regularly review and update our guidance for local broker marketplaces to continue to advance efficient, equitable and transparent practices,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler.

“These latest changes more explicitly state what is already the spirit and intent of the NAR Code of Ethics and local broker marketplace guidance regarding consumer transparency and broker participation,” Oppler noted.

Brokers we spoke with for this story unanimously agreed that this rule update simply codifies what was already what they believe to be the modern practice of real estate.

He added, “This is another example of NAR constantly evolving to ensure pro-consumer, pro-competitive marketplaces for buyers and sellers, and brokers. NAR is proud to be affiliated with the hundreds of local broker marketplaces around the country and will continue to tirelessly pursue changes that improve the real estate experience for all Americans.”

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Real Estate Associations

You know there’s a national real estate mentorship program, right?

(REAL ESTATE) It’s been a long time coming, but the call for mentorship in real estate has been realized thanks to the new NAR program. Here’s how to sign up.

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Mentor speaking with his mentee over mentorship video.

A mentor can help you grow and develop your knowledge and skills. Unfortunately, in the real estate industry, “being thrown into the deep end”, without proper mentoring, has become the norm. For years, we’ve said this shouldn’t be the case and those Realtors should be mentored so they can be set up for success. Now, the National Association of Realtors® has finally heard our cry for mentorship.

The NAR has a mentorship program that is “designed to help budding professionals in underserved areas thrive in a real estate career”. Named NAR Spire, the program will match mentees from “historically marginalized communities” with seasoned Realtors.

Those in the program will not just be exposed to the day-to-day business operations, but will also receive insights into marketing, appraisal, IT, and financing aspects of real estate. Along with that, they will be given educational opportunities, be able to attend business-related events, have one-on-one mentorship meetings, and have access to an online platform designed specifically for the program.

“NAR Spire is a groundbreaking new initiative designed and developed to drive inclusivity in the real estate industry,” said NAR CEO Bob Goldberg.

“We’ve reached beyond NAR’s walls to collaborate with partners across a number of industries,” Goldberg adds, “and we’re confident this program will help Realtors® enhance their reputation as invested, engaged and integral members of every U.S. community.”

You can join the program by completing an application form to become either a Mentor or Mentee.

After you’ve submitted your form, a program coordinator will evaluate your information to conduct a matching process. Your educational and professional background, experience, time availability, and location will all be taken into account to make a match.

When a match has been made, the Program Coordinator will provide you with your mentor/mentee contact details and make an introduction. Then, you will fill out an agreement, review guidelines, and complete an action plan.

Afterward, it’s up to the mentor and mentee to start the mentoring process.

According to the NAR website, the mentorship experience provides opportunities for both the mentor and the mentee, and I think we can agree that is true. For mentors, they will have the opportunity to coach the new kids to help them reach their full potential and also learn a thing or two in the process. For mentees, well, they will finally get the guidance they need to learn the ropes and thrive in their careers.

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