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Real Estate Associations

New webinars on preventing property abandonment and vacancies

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) NAR is running a four-part series to help real estate professionals be part of the solution to prevent building abandonment and vacancies.

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Starting on Aug. 11, and running through Sept. 8, NAR is offering a four-part webinar series to help real estate agents prevent building vacancies and abandonment in light of businesses and people being unable to pay their mortgage and rent.

NAR is collaborating with local government officials and the Center for Community Progress to address the impending swell of property vacancy and abandonment in the United States, as the pandemic rolls on, and businesses and people are scrambling to pay their property expenses. Evictions, business closures, and abandonments have begun, both state and federal government seem to be floundering at coming up with a single, consistent way to prevent mass evictions and related problems.

NAR has been investing in these conversations and trying to help developers and landlords become part of the solution to prevent vacant and abandoned buildings from staying empty and according to the NAR press release, “The program and webinar series are part of a collaboration with the Center for Community Progress, whose mission is to foster strong, equitable communities where vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties become assets for neighbors and neighborhoods.”

This webinar series is a continuation of the Transforming Neighborhoods initiative. In this initiative, NAR Realtors are working with community partners to explore and address the underlying reasons properties are abandoned and remain vacant. They want to help prevent this scenario, while supporting community transformation, by putting a plan to rehabilitate buildings and create assets for the communities they are in, thereby helping the neighborhoods become or remain healthier and more vibrant.

NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, CA., elaborates on the role Realtors® play in rebuilding communities in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“As the nation grapples with the economic fallout of this pandemic alongside a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address inequity and injustice in our society, Realtors® have been instrumental in helping our neighborhoods move forward while emphasizing that a better future begins with stable communities and equal access to housing for all Americans.”

While the first part of the four-part series has aired Tuesday, here is the remaining schedule:

Code Enforcement – A Tool for Preventing Vacancy and Abandonment
August 25, 2020; 2 p.m. EDT

WEBINAR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Lessons from 2008 Great Recession and assumptions for the future
  • What is strategic code enforcement
  • How can strategic code enforcement prevent property decline caused by the COVID-19 crisis
  • Using neighborhood conditions to inform effective, efficient and equitable code enforcement strategies
  • REALTORS® as partners in preventing vacancy and abandonment

Transferring Vacant and Abandoned Properties
September 1, 2020; 2 p.m. EDT

WEBINAR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Making the connections between property tax enforcement, vacancy, and neighborhood stabilization
  • Efficient, effective, and equitable delinquent property tax enforcement systems
  • Innovative uses of code lien systems
  • REALTORS® working with local government

Land Banking – Returning Properties to Productive Use
September 8, 2020; 2 p.m. EDT

WEBINAR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Land banking – what is it?
  • How land banks can be most effective in community revitalization
  • Land banking as a tool neighborhood stabilization during economic crisis
  • Successful partnerships between REALTORS® and land banks

Joleen Jernigan is an ever-curious writer, grammar nerd, and social media strategist with a background in training, education, and educational publishing. A native Texan, Joleen has traveled extensively, worked in six countries, and holds an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language. She lives in Austin and constantly seeks out the best the city has to offer.

Real Estate Associations

How do you react to housing discrimination? Learn from NAR’s new course

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) NAR’s new interactive training simulation confronts housing discrimination by putting agents in the shoes of homebuyers.

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Man sitting in a home with dog at his feet, subject to housing discrimination.

Would you know housing discrimination if you saw it?

Are you sure?

And what would you do about it?

If you’re a real estate agent, broker or Realtor, you’ve had a fair amount of training on fair housing laws. But discrimination can sometimes creep in in subtle ways – from which listings you offer a client to which clients you decide to work with to just an offhand remark about a neighborhood.

What if you’ve been part of the problem – and you didn’t even realize it?

Now you can test yourself while sharpening your understanding of housing discrimination to ensure you’re offering all clients a fair, equitable, and positive experience.

This week the National Association of Realtors (NAR) launched an online interactive training toolFairhaven.realtor – to let you do just that.

In the fictional town of Fairhaven, you work against the clock to close four different transactions that involve some kind of discrimination. You must choose how to respond, and those responses determine your journey through the simulations. Built-in feedback along the way illustrates how you could avoid the fair housing pitfalls in each situation.

To deepen the impact, the course puts you in the role of a client experiencing discrimination and pairs that with testimonials from real people whose lives have been impacted by it.

“Fairhaven uses the immersive power of storytelling to deliver powerful lessons that will help promote equity in our nation’s housing market,” said Charlie Oppler, CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, NAR’s incoming president for 2021. “NAR will continue our work to create innovative anti-discrimination training and to champion efforts that encourage diversity, fight racial bias and build more inclusive communities.”

The online platform is free to real estate professionals and doesn’t require NAR membership to use. NAR will also offer Fairhaven as a software package for brokerages and associations to incorporate into their learning management systems. It was developed in partnership with global professional services firm Ernst and Young.

Fairhaven.realtor is the latest resource offered to realtors as part of its Accountability, Culture Change and Training (ACT!) initiative designed to promote equal opportunity in real estate.

At the Nov. 19 Diversity and Inclusion virtual summit hosted by The Hill, Oppler offered a formal apology for the role realtors have played in the history of housing discrimination, including the practices of redlining and blockbusting.

“We can’t go back to fix the mistakes of the past, but we can look at this problem squarely in the eye,” Oppler said. “And, on behalf of our industry, we can say that what Realtors did was shameful, and we are sorry.”

Bryan Greene, NAR’s director of fair housing policy, discussed the effects of housing discrimination, including creating disparities in wealth. Discrimination denied Black families the same opportunities to build wealth through home ownership, Greene said, adding that white Americans own 10 times the wealth of African-Americans.

“Realtors have an admittedly tough history,” Greene said. “But we have turned the corner and now have emerged as leaders on these important issues.”

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Real Estate Associations

NAR updates code of ethics – here’s why it matters

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATION) The NAR amended their code of ethics to cover hate speech online – a decision for which we’ve been waiting for years.

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A welcome sign inside of a home that cannot be removed thanks to updated code of ethics

The National Association of Realtors voted to amend their realtor code of ethics last Friday, leading to a crucial addition that will change the way realtors approach off-duty interactions and behavior—for the better.

This motion passed on the heels of several reports regarding disturbing speech and actions from realtors. While the comments in question were allegedly restricted to social media, some other members of the NAR went so far as to do things like remove property (e.g., Black Lives Matter signs) from neighbors’ yards. This clearly constitutes an ethical violation, but the line isn’t always so clear-cut—hence the updated code of ethics.

According to the revised code, any kind of hate speech or dissenting behavior toward protected classes from realtors will constitute a violation; this includes comments or harassment based on race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, and much more. Should a realtor be found guilty of making such comments, they could face severe penalties.

Changing the code of ethics to reflect common decency is a part of this decision, but it isn’t the most important component. By adopting and enforcing these changes, the NAR gets one step closer to fair housing for all—something that many realtors consider to be of paramount value.

“[Fair housing] is something near and dear to my heart, and most Realtors’ hearts,” says Jennifer Stevenson, president of the New York State Association of Realtors and board member for the NAR.

Some may view this addition as meddlesome—after all, what one says in their private life and on social media has a certain impervious air to it. But the fact remains that realtors really are public servants; by that logic, they should be held accountable for their words whether they are on-duty or off—just like all other public servants.

Furthermore, realtors represent real estate as a whole; the institution itself deserves to be able to eradicate the member status of anyone who violates the ethics held by that institution. It’s a simple concept: Society is—or should be—moving towards greater acceptance and support of protected classes, and that support includes fair housing. Anyone who isn’t on board with that, even if it’s “just in their personal life”, should jump ship now.

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Real Estate Associations

Fresh NAR report reveals the housing and lifestyle trends of COVID-19

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) This latest NAR report on housing and lifestyle shows some interesting trends based on COVID-19 and overall cultural changes.

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Open housing with large kitchen and backyard more desirable.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) – the nation’s largest trade association – typically conducts a report called the Community and Transportation Preference Survey on migration and lifestyle trends every two years to inform the realty and transportation trends of the current moment. Due to the unprecedented cultural shifts as a result of COVID-19, NAR has decided to conduct two reports this year; one pre-pandemic last February, and one in July. Here’s some of their most interesting findings about housing wants:

  • What’s the group most affected by the pandemic? Young people – specifically young people with children. As a young person without children, my heart goes out to all of you raising the next generation right now.
  • People under 40 are the most likely to say that their life has been negatively impacted during this time. Perhaps that’s because people over 40 tend to be more settled in their lifestyles, have steady careers and have already bought their homes. Young people just aren’t set up for pandemics the way older people are. *sigh*
  • Overall, people in the survey noted a reduced need to live near highways, their place of employment, or public transportation. Because, where would you be going anyways? And why in such a hurry?
  • The desire to be near public transportation is down 8% from pre-pandemic levels.
  • Similarly, the desire to be near the highway is down 5%. I’m guessing this is because getting in your car and going on the highway is less of a risk than taking public transportation.
  • There is substantial demand for walkability across the board. You truly can pace around your apartment too much, and the masses are craving a change of scenery and some fresh air.
  • Those who are 55+ and higher income folks also report an increased desire for walkability.
  • That being said, those who live in areas where there are a lot of places to walk nearby reported an 8% better quality of life.
  • Families with children in school reported an increased desire for detached houses (no thank you, cramped apartment buildings!) and BIG yards. This is especially interesting, as back in pre-pandemic February, it was a smaller yard with a walkable neighborhood that was these same families found more desirable.

Some of these findings seem obvious – of course everyone wants a bigger house and bigger yard when you can’t go anywhere else. However, I think there is something to be said about the merit of having a formal survey with real data to validate our feelings about housing and lifestyle during such a strange and unprecedented time.

For some background, NAR conducts these housing and lifestyle surveys every 2 years, polling 2,000 individuals from the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country. They have been conducting these surveys for two decades, the purpose being to track or predict what housing and transportation might look like for investors.

Besides the trends that were anticipated during this era, I think it’s especially important to note the increased desire to own homes in walkable yet non-urban settings (the possibility of owning a spacious home in the city is inherently not as viable as owning one in the suburbs or the country). I think what we’re going to see is young people aspiring to be homeowners again (hear that, millennials?), as a mass exodus from dense city life ensues.

As someone who loves the city and never wants to leave, I personally hope to take advantage of this cultural shift, which I hope will be reflected in increased rent drops. Fingers crossed!

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