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San Diego area real estate associations sue to dissolve local MLS, Sandicor

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) Three real estate boards are at war – SDAR sued NSDCAR and PSAR earlier this year, and now, the latter have sued to dissolve Sandicor which is the center of the battle.

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NSDCAR, PSAR file in California against Sandicor

There has been a long-brewing, quite nasty battle in The Golden State, with regional MLS provider, Sandicor, Inc. smack dab in the middle.

Sandicor is owned by three real estate boards/associations: Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® (PSAR, ~2,500 members), the North San Diego County Association of REALTORS® (NSDCAR, 5,300+ members) and Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS® (SDAR, ~12,000 members).

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NSDCAR and PSAR have now filed a complaint in the San Diego Superior Court to dissolve Sandicor as a legal entity, but it’s not because they have a problem with Sandicor, rather a long-term fight with SDAR over the MLS.

We have reached out to SDAR for their position on the matter (update below).

With Sandicor gone, what will members use?

NSDCAR and PSAR said in a release that they plan for their members to access the statewide California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS), which PSAR’s 2016 President, Anthony Andaya refers to as “more robust” and implies it would be a bigger benefit to consumers, agents, and brokers.

Andaya opined, “A move to an MLS that is controlled by brokers who own the data and endorsed by our state association provides our agents with an enhanced ability to serve the clients.”

Behind the lawsuits

In January of 2016, SDAR sued PSAR and NSDCAR for a hefty list of reasons that boil down to an anti-trust lawsuit:
antistrust SDAR lawsuit

In the filing, SDAR alleged that NSDCAR and PSAR dominate the board of Sandicor and exclude them (SDAR) by cutting off listing data access regardless of their contract. They add (among other things) that since NSDCAR and PSAR are the sole shareholders of Sandicor, Inc., that their power has been used as “an anticompetitive weapon,” and that the two “milked [Sandicor’s] resources for their own enrichment, and frustrated its purpose, all while actively preventing Plaintiff from participating in corporate decisions.”

The court has since granted motions to dismiss the claims, and Raylene Brundage, NSDCAR 2016 president said in a statement that SDAR had attempted to “block progress to improve Sandicor,” as well as blocked talks of a Sandicor merger with CRMLS, “despite our members’ requests.”

The answer to SDAR, PSAR, NSDCAR, and Sandicor's long battle? Dissolve Sandicor.Click To Tweet

California’s unique challenges

“About half of all MLS systems in California do not share data with each other, which means brokers and their agents that practice business across MLS boundary lines must pay extra fees to join multiple MLS databases,” added Andaya. “It is time to adjust and redefine how we do business so consumers will continue to have confidence in knowing their agents are the go-to, trusted resource for their real estate needs.”

“We understand that consumers sometimes get more information from Internet portals than agents using an MLS,” said Brundage. “However, the information from these sites can be incorrect or outdated. Agents deserve access to the same amount of information as consumers. When we cooperate, then we all do better business. Standardized data and a single point of access is the best way we can truly serve the consumer. Clients want to trust that their sales agent has the best resources available on their behalf. It is critical for the health and vitality of our industry.”

SDAR’s full statement:

The SDAR focus and intention is to insure that nearly 13,000 real estate professionals who rely upon us as members for service and support, continue to have that service and support without distraction or interruption. Our goal is seamless resolution.

Unfortunately, the future for 19,000 MLS subscribers in our area will be greatly impacted by the actions of both Pacific Southwest AOR and the North County San Diego AOR. SDAR has for many years, worked to resolve service issues at Sandicor despite having a minority of votes, (with 12,889 members SDAR has 4 of 11 votes, PSAR has 2,201 members and 3 votes, and NSDCAR with 4,628 members has 4 votes). We know that Sandicor is a shared and valuable resource to our community of REALTORS®, and we have constantly worked to re-focus Sandicor to its core mission of serving REALTOR® members and real estate professionals, while guarding against excesses and mismanagement of our shared MLS. In the end, SDAR’s stewardship obligations necessitated formal measures, when informal measures and proposed controls were rejected.

Inexplicably, the other two shareholders seek to dissolve Sandicor. We believe their actions negatively impact the MLS and further distract and drain its limited resources. As we are advised, laws governing the agreement, and the parties’ shareholder agreement prevent a dissolution of Sandicor. It is also important to note that if those two shareholders make the unfortunate decision to leave, SDAR stands prepared to exercise the buyout provisions of the governing documents and to continue to operate Sandicor for all of the MLS’s subscribers. There will be no interruption of services.

Most unfortunate is that the other two associations, which have already merged in all but name, are using their MLS control, and now their attempt to destroy Sandicor altogether, as mere cover for a membership fight, one which is endangering our member’s primary business tool in the process. They cannot survive alone, and cannot formally merge or they give up control of Sandicor, so they are attempting to destroy our members’ most valuable business tool rather than compete on a level playing field with SDAR.

For all of those reasons, SDAR’s pending federal litigation is proceeding. Nine of SDAR’s claims are moving forward, and the court is evaluating two additional issues. As the other two shareholders disclose information regarding their roles in Sandicor’s management and the other issues in the lawsuit, and we are hopeful that this first step to transparency will aide in our continuing effort to protect the MLS for all of its members.

Story updated 3:42 cst to include SDAR’s statement.

#BoardBattle

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The Real Daily and sister news outlet, The American Genius, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, 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.

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Real Estate Associations

COVID-19: NAR offers 2 months of free telemedicine to its 1.4M members

(REAL ESTATE) The National Association of Realtors (NAR) continues to be the benchmark for how associations should be advocating for members during this pandemic.

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telemedicine NAR

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced today that they’re offering 2 free months of their Members TeleHealth services for members who sign up by April 15th. That’s all 1.4 million members across the nation.

NAR Chief Executive Officer, Bob Golberg tells us, “We know that remote care is essential to protecting our members, their families and their communities. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that leveraging telemedicine whenever possible is the best way to protect the public from COVID-19.”

This initiative is part of the organization’s “Right Tools, Right Now” toolbox of reduced or no cost tools, relaunched to serve the real estate community in this time of global pandemic.

For those unfamiliar, TeleHealth offers 24/7 access to over 2,300 board-certified physicians across America and has already been used by members to address common issues such as allergies, asthma, rashes, joint aches, flu and nausea, among others.

“As we continue to solicit input from our members regarding COVID-19’s impact on their lives and businesses, NAR is grateful to be able to offer expanded access to potentially lifesaving telemedicine services,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, CA. “Medical professionals are urging Americans who are sick to stay home, and telemedicine is playing a critical role protecting our communities and our health care workers. We continue to encourage members to limit their exposure and decrease the chance of spreading illnesses to others.”

What happens to members not currently enrolled that want to continue on with TeleHealth care? NAR has negotiated a discounted rate for members to continue using the benefit.

So not only are they footing your bill for two months, they’ve gone a step further and made sure it’s affordable after that. This is the benchmark for how associations should be reacting during this crisis.

Goldberg has told us that they’re all hands on deck, and their growing resource toolbox as well as thoughtful steps like today’s announcement is proof.

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Real Estate Associations

COVID-19: What NAR is doing politically to protect members

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) NAR is fighting for Realtors be they in an association, self-employed, or independent contractors. The relief package should encompass them all.

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realtor relief package

As the U.S. government worked to draft the historic $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package, Americans across the country voiced their concerns and hopes that the package would offer them some economic relief as many have, and continue to, lose their income. Small business owners, the self-employed, and independent contractors have been particularly vocal about their need for economic relief during this crisis.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been hard at work in Washington speaking with Congressional leaders to ensure that realtors across the nation are included in the relief package. The President of the NAR, Vince Malta, spoke recently about the organization’s efforts saying, “Over recent weeks, NAR has worked tirelessly with Congressional leaders to ensure small business owners, the self-employed and independent contractors were included in the federal response to this national crisis. With every two home sales generating one job in this country, the real estate industry will represent a key piece of our national recovery, and NAR will continue fighting for key provisions in a fourth relief package expected in the coming weeks.”

While you may have more free time on your hands than usual, there are infinitely better ways you could us that time than attempting to read an 880-page legislative bill. A few of the key items in this bill include a loan program for small businesses which will be managed by the Small Business Administration, an expansion of unemployment insurance for self-employed and independent contractors, an employee retention tax credit, rebates of various amounts depending on tax filing status, and a 60-day foreclosure moratorium and up to 1 year of mortgage forbearance.

In order to keep members in-tune to recent happenings, the NAR has published a comprehensive guide to the COVID-19 relief package. The guide is intended to aid realtors in understanding how the relief package will impact them, their business, and their clients. Topics include: housing, credit reporting and student loans, SBA provisions, infrastructure, tax, unemployment benefits for self-employed, and FFCRA Amendments. These topics will be updated as new information is released. Now, more than ever, it is important for realtors to stay knowledgeable about changes to legislation.

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Real Estate Associations

NAR launches polished new ad campaign: ‘Look for the R’

(REAL ESTATE) The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is rolling out a new campaign today to continue educating consumers on the value of a Realtor, and their collaborative effort really paid off.

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look for the R NAR Realtor

Starting today, a new ad campaign will be splashed across television screens, social media, radio, and more, urging consumers to “Look for the R,” as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) rolls out brand new 15- and 30-second ads:

Last year’s “That’s Who We R®” campaign rolled out as a foundation on which to build future branding to promote the Realtor values in local communities, such as the above videos.

In this new campaign, the theme of communicating what a Realtor is continues, and as consumers are directed to look for the creative letter R in each campaign, it all comes into focus as a delicious “aha” moment for the viewer, just as consumers experience when they gain the clarity of Realtors’ value.

The campaign is a play on the visual combined with verbal, which NAR Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Victoria Gillespie tells us “took great work and collaboration so that at the end, the ‘R’ seems organic, but you still work through the journey of having that placement be aligned to resonate with everyone.”

Your inner marketer will notice the clever alliteration – reassurance, rights, reliability, road to un-renting (which btw, is a wildly clever phrase we’re upset we didn’t come up with ourselves).

You’ll also notice that they included the traditional blue for ads featuring residential Realtors, and the traditional red for ads featuring commercial Realtors.

Gillespie states that the association hosted a pre-launch viewing for the 46-member Consumer Communications Committee, which was consulted on everything from clothing attire to voiceovers, to make sure that in deep collaboration with ad agency Havas, members (and their values) were accurately depicted.

All feedback so far has been “extremely positive,” notes Gillespie, adding that it was urgently important to precisely represent their broad and diverse member constituency.

NAR 2020 Consumer Communications Committee chairman, and managing broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty, Jay Mitchell said, “’Look for the R’ showcases why prospective property buyers and sellers should seek a Realtor®’s unmatched expertise, reliability, and integrity to help them realize their goals and dreams. The full suite of campaign assets allow our members to personalize and localize these important messages to consumers in their respective markets across the country.”

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