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Why NAR’s new Realtor Safety Network is so critical [personal story]

(REAL ESTATE) NAR has launched the meaningful Realtor Safety Network – here is a personal story, and an exclusive interview with NAR CEO, Bob Goldberg.

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It was a Wednesday evening, the sun would soon be setting, and I was exhausted after pulling an all-nighter the previous night. Our study group would continue, but as a safety-conscious person, I knew it was best to head out.

I walked alone, which was normal for a college student that lived on campus. I held my pepper spray at the ready, had my keys in hand before leaving the building, and was alert. Although tired, I knew I had enough energy to go to dinner with my grandparents.

I get to the full parking garage, and halfway to my car, I hear steps behind me. I look back, and no one is there. I didn’t even see someone duck behind a car. “I’m being paranoid,” I think. “Why is no one around? It’s a full lot!”

I take a few more steps, and I am confident that I hear someone coming up behind me. I turn around, and nothing. I’m ready to use my pepper spray because there is definitely someone following me and I needed to make a decision quickly.

I had three choices – run quickly to my car where I may or may not be able to close the door fast enough, turn back and walk with authority the way I came (risking confrontation), or just straight up confrontation.

I quicken my pace, they quicken theirs, and I know what is about to happen. I turn around so I’m not blindly ambushed by someone I cannot later identify, and it is someone I recognize. Someone I had a class with. But not someone I had ever spoken with before. I hadn’t calculated how I would react in that situation and it slowed me down.

My hesitation meant he was able to shove me, and I fell backwards.

I re-calculate my choices, but this time there was no hesitation because I already knew I was in danger. As I tried to get up, he poised himself to pounce, and I used the pepper spray, knowing I’d probably get a dose, too. I missed his forehead (which is the ideal target as it drips into their eyes, extending the impact), and mostly got his mouth, but enough got into his face that it stalled him.

I rolled over before he could fall on me, and I ran. I was only yards away from a large, densely populated building.

This was nearly 20 years ago, before cell phones were mainstream, and I quickly found help from the school who called police. I won’t go into how they brushed me off and nearly refused to write a report, didn’t want to look for the guy, and so forth.

But I notified my professor as to why I couldn’t possibly go to class the next day. She was the one who insisted the University get involved, and the city police take action. She knew his name and gave it to all entities. And she was the one who never made me step foot in that classroom again, just in case. I got a restraining order, and it apparently scared him enough to stay away, but I knew he could violate it at any moment, so I remained on alert. I’m still on alert today. For him or others that think I might be an easy target.

I later learned he had stalked dozens of students, and attacked several before and after he tried to get to me. He has been in and out of jail since then.

But I always had a nagging thought… what of the other potential victims? Back then, the schools didn’t have any sort of alert system (for school closings or mass shootings). An alert system of systemic attackers could have saved others from being harmed.

It is for this very personal reason that I was moved to hear of the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) new Realtor Safety Network, which was inspired by a Realtor’s child going missing (who is now safe).

NAR CEO, Bob Goldberg took the time to talk me through what the network does – it’s not a pointless group where people whine about missing pets, no, it is activated when there is a potential safety issue, be it physical or online.

NAR is now able to gather information about potential safety issues and either issue a national alert, or share the information through local and state associations via social media, email, and text where applicable.

At this time, it is not set up like an Amber Alert where you can opt in for texts (although I do hope this is ultimately an option), so we encourage members to read any email that is sent to them as an alert, and follow the social media hashtag, #realtorsafetynetwork.

They do have criteria that must be followed prior to a Realtor Safety Network alert being sent out by NAR. It must be a widespread threat impacting Realtors. Qualifying incidents include a pattern of assaults on Realtors, a Realtor or immediate family member going missing (and there is an open police investigation, and the family asks for NAR’s aide), or an association name is being used fraudulently to scam members out of money or identifying information.

Members and Association Executives can fill out a simple incident form, and Goldberg notes there is dedicated staff ready to respond.

While they are going to “continue to perfect” the program, it can be invoked immediately. Goldberg says that members are “our family,” and that the goal is to coordinate with local authorities to keep members safe physically, and keep their identities secured.

Goldberg notes that they intend on using the network sparingly, which makes perfect sense – remember when car alarms came out and you’d jump when one went off, but now you ignore all car alarms as a nuisance? The association has long offered Realtor Safety reports and statistics, as well as safety guidance and classes, but to see this meaningful step taken is one worthy of applause.

My inner 18 year old that still remembers the heart-in-my-throat fear of an impending attack thanks NAR. Truly.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

National Association of Realtors

NAR Announces 2021 Leadership Academy Class

[REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS] NAR offers annual Leadership Academy to help participants enrich their leadership skills. Applications for the 2022 academy opens December 2, 2020.

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Leadership Academy identifies, inspires, and mentors emerging leaders from local and state levels. The Leadership Academy aims to give participants the opportunity to enrich their leadership skills while learning the history, structure, and inner-workings of NAR leadership. The 11-month program includes twelve interactive online courses and in-person experiences designed to prepare graduates to represent the 1.4 million NAR members.

2021 NAR President Charlie Oppler, a Realtor® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and broker/owner of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty said, “NAR’s Leadership Academy provides one-on-one experiences and tools that equip volunteer leaders for the critical roles they will play shaping American real estate in the years ahead.” Oppler continued, “Volunteer leaders are vital to our industry, and by better understanding the needs and strategies of our association, Leadership Academy graduates can affect change at the national, state and local levels of this organization.”

The program runs from January through November, concluding at the 2021 REALTORS® Conference and Expo in San Diego, CA. Course summaries, applications, and resources are available at the NAR website. The application period for the 2022 class will be open from December through March 2020.

The 25 Realtors® selected from across the country to participate in the 2021 NAR Leadership Academy are:

Brian Anzur (CO)
Michelle Bailey (ID)
Jaime Caballero (FL)
Cheri Daniels (WA)
Ryan De Guzman (Guam)
Nina Dosanjh (CA)
Gaspar Flores (IL)
Andrew Fristoe (VA)
Karem Gallo Garcia (KS)
Christy Gessler (TX)
Michael Gobber (IL)
Alisha Harrison (WA)
Cynthia Haydon (FL)
Michael Inman (KY)
Bakhsish Khalsa (CA)
William Klein (MO)
John LeTourneau (IL)
John McPherson (NC)
Gonzalo Mejia (FL)
Eileen Oldroyd (CA)
Lorena Pena (TX)
Jairo Rodriguez (NJ)
Derek Sprague (CA)
Peggy Todd (VA)
Heather Zimmaro (OH)

The session topics participants will cover during this course include: How NAR Leads Real Estate from Washington, D.C.; Leadership Skills: Basic- Intermediate; Becoming a Better Spokesperson; Leading NAR From Chicago, IL; and Building Your Legacy: Taking the Next Steps in Your Leadership Journey.  In person meetings are designed to provide opportunities for open dialogue and will be located in Washington D.C., Chicago, and San Diego.

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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

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Real Estate Associations

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.

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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.

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