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Good Grief- The National Association of Realtors’ Gravestone

NAR’S Gravestone.

realtor logo on gravestonesThe National Association of Realtors this week amended it’s trademark policy to allow the use of the Realtor logo on personal head stones. While NAR has sometimes allowed this policy, apparently some monument companies were reluctant to chisel the logo onto a marker without written permission.

It certainly begs the question on whether that hammer and chisel should be used on certain buildings in Washington D.C. and on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Of all of the pressing issues today, this is what gets time spent on it?

In keeping with the mindset of allowing our trademark’s use, I’m wondering….where else should we begin to see the Realtor logo?

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Written By

Realtor, Speaker, former Indianapolis radio personality. Least prettiest person ever on HGTV. Crashed in a helicopter and a Cessna 182. Seven lives left. Blessed by an amazing family!



  1. Benn Rosales

    December 13, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I think getting ink’d should be allowed, I’d be interested in seeing the description list on where you could ink it and where you couldn’t! Btw, we have Realtor plates here in texas, yesterday we saw a prius rolling down mopac with a realtor plate that said ‘selz’ complete with the realtor wearing his santa hat, no kidding.

    Don’t forget body piercings complete with R jewelry.

  2. stephanie crawford

    December 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    We just got Realtor license plates in Tennessee.

  3. Bob Wilson

    December 13, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I don’t understand the hub-bub about this. Many agents make the statement that real estate is their life. This one obviously meant it.

  4. Eric Hempler

    December 13, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I guess I would want to be know for more than just a Realtor, but who I am outside of work.

  5. Todd Waller

    December 13, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Huh… I thought Realtors(R) didn’t die, they just went list-less….

    [rim shot]

    Sorry, couldn’t resist…


  6. SteveBeam

    December 13, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    No Way- Who in the world would want that on their gravestone?

  7. ines

    December 13, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    HA!! I’m still stuck on the NAR sponsored mojitos 🙂

  8. Coy Davidson

    December 13, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Realtor logo on your gravestone might be construed as “cause of death”

  9. Paula Henry

    December 13, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Todd – always one to bring the laughter 🙂 By the time they put me six feet under, I will be listless………….

    Greg – like you, I can think of about at least a dozen other important topics the NAR could discuss. I really don’t want to go down being known as a “Realtor” – I’d rather be known as a loving mom, wife and friend; someone who made a difference. I will take a mojito at the body art festival, though!

  10. Matt Stigliano

    December 14, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Paula – I’d like to suggest you forgo the Realtor® trademark and go with:

    Paula Henry
    Loving Mom, Wife, and Friend – Someone who made a difference
    Google/Scraper Revolutionary

    If they allow it on tombstones, they ought to let you use it in your URL – those things are way less permanent with the way agents drop in and drop out.

  11. Paula Henry

    December 14, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Matt – Our future NAR president 🙂 You Rock – literally! Funny, but there may be some truth to your statement. I think that will be the one thing I will be remembered for. Me – who doesn’t like publicity or being in the limelight, forever known as the Google/Scraper Revolutionary and few will know what it means.

    They can’t make money from the tombstones 🙂 or…….maybe they can.

  12. Greg Cooper

    December 14, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Paula….Matt couldn’t have stated your epitaph more beautifully. While I’m on that reply where do I cast my vote for Matt?

    I just want to see that ’79 AMC Pacer show up with a Papa John’s light-up triangle up top and the Realtor logo on their plate.

    If we did allow body art, we could certainly identify which former Realtors had entered the adult film industry.

    Seriously….do we need a policy or would just a simple email do? What does the general public think in the toughest housing market in 40 YEARS when they see NAR making statements like this? It makes no sense Jerry, NO SENSE!

  13. Todd Carpenter

    December 14, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    NAR exerted minimal effort to accommodate members who wanted this. Several ask every year, so we wrote it down to remove some of ambiguity around the issue.

    Greg, we weren’t making any statements. We didn’t order a press release. There was no webinar. Marketing did not set up a trade show booth at the the annual expo. It’s not listed in our REALTOR Benefits® program.

    Our legal department set into writing a simple policy that removes ambiguity on the part of our membership while saving our legal team’s time and effort in the future.

    I understand that some want to poke fun at this. Poke away. I can see why it would be amusing. For the family members that ask, it’s not so funny. I think Frances Flynn Thorsen said it best,

    “I am sure tombstone Realtor decision is result of heartfelt request based on pride. …Recently buried Dad with Marine Corps insignia.”

    What’s so bad about this small thing we did? If the minimal amount of effort we spent on this really bothers you, consider that another staff member of the NAR (me) is spending almost as much time reading and responding to your post as we did in writing the policy change. Or to put it in your context, in the worst housing market in 40 years, is this really a topic that needs to be covered?

  14. Greg Cooper

    December 14, 2009 at 3:36 pm


    Do you think I’m the only one that’s cynical about this? Were Jay Thompson and Jim Duncan and numerous others not outspoken about it last Friday?

    When an organization that has trust issues within it’s own membership gives ANY time to somthing that could be looked at with a jaded eye, it’s asking for criticism. Did someone at NAR think this needed to be an issue for them to take a public stand on? If no one at NAR understood that people may think this more than a bit silly than I would wonder how they’re going to handle the MUCH MORE IMPORTANT issues ahead of us. With Gary Krysler of the WCR putting this out on Twitter it felt like Rahm Emanual shuffling off some trial balloon to a lobbyist group in the HOR.

    I have NO issue with it being allowed….as long as it’s personal and private. Why in world would anyone want to discuss it like NAR has done someone a great favor? The regal pronouncement from NAR counsel….etc. For criminy’s sake these people who want it have paid they’re dues their whole life. They shouldn’t even HAVE to ask. For someone like you to have the arrogance to wonder why we would even question it is exactly the reason NAR has the reputation it does in the first place.

  15. Matthew Rathbun

    December 14, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Virginia has had the license plates forever…

    If someone dedicating themselves to wanting to better the industry and their family and friends wanted to honor that dedication who are we to negate that? Some people really do good work for the Association.

    I can’t imagine it took a lot of effort to consider this. It probably took more effort to create the post…

    It’s a non-issue, as far as I’m concerned.

  16. Todd Carpenter

    December 14, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Greg, Gary Krysler does not work for NAR. To be sure, we did not enlist him to promote it.

  17. Marie

    December 16, 2009 at 8:27 am

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a logo on gravestone.

  18. Francces Flynn Thorsen

    December 19, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I understand the blogger rush to parody and poke fun at the issue. I remember my first thought was this was a joke. A little serious reflection following my Dad’s death gave me pause to consider the importance of making life a little easier for families of departed Realtors desiring to share a monument and evidence of pride attached to their service.

    As Todd says, NAR did not pretend that this was an earth-shattering initiative.

    Bloggers and social media geeks have been screaming for more transparency at NAR for a long time. NAR responded to members’ requests for less red tape attached to honoring their loved ones. It was a compassionate, caring response and NAR was transparent about it. Response to that initiative range from thankful to humorous to scornful.

    Trust issues in all organizations are abated with compassionate human outreach. I cannot understand why caring attention to sensitive matters is a focus of cynicism. #blogfail

  19. Greg Cooper

    December 22, 2009 at 11:41 am


    I’ve thought long and hard about this since the initial post. First, respectfully in the memory of your father and to your concerns I’m glad that this is a comfort for you and those that will want to use it. You and Todd are both great contributors to our industry and I appreciate both of your work.

    I must still disagree, however. To be clear, I’m not opposed to this being available for past (and passed) members. It’s fine if someone wants to be identified this way. It’s the ‘how’ that bothers me as it is many things that NAR does. I will be posting on this exact topic (the how of NAR) shortly after 1/1. What is annoying is how this was made public. Just put it out as an addendum to an already planned email to members or by some other way of subtle communication. The way it was handled felt like some form of gift from NAR to it’s members. For people in the general public who are already cynical of Realtors (yes there are many of those) it certainly was going to be viewed in a less than positive way. Considering all of the other issues in front of us this is a spec on the surface of the sun. Transparency? I’m all for it from NAR but I can think of about 100 other issues MORE important than this one that NAR could be transparent on. I hope that NAR is not hanging their hat on this one self described ‘small matter’ to prove to us they are transparent. If that’s so they’ve cost themselves more than they’ve gained.

  20. Todd Carpenter

    December 22, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    >>> “Just put it out as an addendum to an already planned email to members or by some other way of subtle communication. The way it was handled felt like some form of gift from NAR to it’s members.”

    Again, it wasn’t advertised by NAR at all. The affiliate that did decide to advertise it WCR, put it out in an email newsletter.

    Nobody at NAR is hanging their hat concerning this issue. It was a rule change. Nothing more. We have more important and less important stuff we work on every day. All of it is important to someone.

  21. Todd Carpenter

    December 22, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    One more note.

    I realize that quite a bit of Inman news comes from press releases. This is common throughout media. Greg, you may be assuming that the Inman story was based on a press release made on our part. In this case though, Matt Carter contacted NAR about the story he was writing. You’d have to ask Matt, but my guess is that he wrote about it based on chatter about the issue on Twitter.

    NAR’s public relations department responded to his questions and put him in touch with Mike Thiel in legal, who (up until that point) was really the only person working on this simple rules change.

    Now, back to my scheduled vacation.

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