Unrest in the Ranks
Wow, what a day for the National Association of REALTORS on AG today! It started with Russell Shaw’s optimistic view of the future of REALTOR.com, progressed to enthusiastic discussion of the NAR’s recruitment of a Social Media Manager and then went a step further with a wishlist for the NAR’s future in Web 2.0. I was quite surprised at the tone of some of the comments and the apparent dissatisfaction of many members of the RE.net with the NAR. What most surprised me, however, is the amount of participation in these discussions.
I suspect that the NAR is interested and is listening to all this too. I mean, how could it not? Although the RE.net is not a huge percentage of the population of the Association, I’d be willing to bet that we are the most vocal demographic of the group. Even if we aren’t speaking directly TO the NAR, there is no way it can ignore us. We are out here having spirited conversations in plain ‘site’. Besides, the stuff we are spewing is frickin’ GENIUS, right? The powers that be gotta be listening and they have to be wondering how they can harness some of the passion and energy that is brewing at the grass roots. Heck, I’M wondering how we can do that.
How do we (me and the NAR-I’ve decided we’re buds!) convince the masses that the Association really is theirs? How do we explain that every person who gets involved has an opportunity to inspire change wherever they think it is needed? What do we have to do to persuade the apathetic-until-they-get-in-front-of-a-keyboard group that the satisfaction and karmic benefit that is available OFFline is exactly as powerful or more than that which they get participating ONline?
Tell me, what will it take to get you to be the change you wish to see in our little real estate world?
Promote Your-own-self, Soldier!
I challenge every one of you who has participated in the conversation today to send your message up through the ranks of the REALTOR organization. Find out what it takes to get on the Board of your local Association, or even simply join a committee to start. Get appointed as a Director to your State Association, attend those meetings and share what you know about how the business works offline and online. Inquire with your AE about getting involved at the National level. Get out there and get to know the people who are leading at the local, state and national level. Let them know what your interests are and that you want to get involved.
DO something. LEARN something. TEACH something.
Without new blood, innovative ideas, and fresh volunteers to lead the way into our real estate future, the NAR will not ever live up to what we think it should be. If we criticize and fail to accept any bit of responsibility for the paths our Associations take, we will go no where. Every negative prediction made in today’s comments would come true if everyone sat back and let someone else do the heavy lifting. We can’t replace the old guard if we don’t have a new guard. We, the leaders of the RE.net, have to expand our leadership roles out in to the ‘real world’.
So there you have it. The ultimate Call to Action. Do it, yo! You will be amazed at the difference you can make.
BONUS FROM REALTOR.ORG: Create your Expertise Profile at REALTOR.org (You’ll need to log in, so have your info handy or Register if you haven’t already done so.) NAR often looks to its members for help in formulating policies and developing programs and services. By completing an expertise profile, you will provide all levels of the REALTOR® family (including the Local, State and National Associations) with key information about you and your professional experience. The information that you will provide in this profile will be used as a resource in a variety of ways, including identification of members with certain expertise to serve on committees, working groups, presidential advisory groups; also, to respond to surveys about association issues, products, services etc.
October 13, 2008 at 9:50 pm
>>How do we (me and the NAR-I’ve decided we’re buds!)
Love it! 🙂
October 13, 2008 at 10:05 pm
Lisa, I love your call for leadership, it’s so easy to get instant gratification by griping about what the NAR should do, but it takes dedication of people to get involved in their boards. Many writers and readers of AG are active in their boards and I like your challenge to take it even higher, it is certainly motivational!
October 13, 2008 at 10:36 pm
Yes, well …
Some can be changed from within. Some is institutionalized and will be difficult if not impossible to eradicate. Here’s what I mean … new blood will take you so far and new blood can advance so far, but at some point in the rise to power there’s going to be a need to toe the company line.
Pick the chicken or the egg – have those in the national leadership spouted the mantra from the Housing Market Facts website (and before it had been posted a website), or did they rise to where they were because of their willingness to promote that line of thought and that line alone?
Change can happen but to be able to turn the rudder on this ship, it’s going to take a large amount of turnover to change the momentum.
October 13, 2008 at 10:40 pm
Being an IT Manager for the past 10 years, and while working at a real estate company for the past 4 years, it has made me aware that real estate and technology are a perfect mix. And reading blog posts like this one just underline that fact that I have to jump in head first!
Keep up the good work, I love this blog!
October 13, 2008 at 11:49 pm
Very well said Lisa!! While it wasn’t unexpected, I was disappointed that some seemed to feel the NAR Social Media Manager position is doomed to failure before the person is even hired. Yes, I’ve been quite vocal at times about some things the NAR has done (or not done) and no, it’s not a perfect organization (show me one perfect organization). But the simple fact that the NAR is considering a position like this speaks volumes. Let’s give it a chance and let’s help it be successful!
Getting involved directly in a local, state or national association is certainly one way we can help move these associations forward. But I also think I could make a reasonable argument that there are other ways — such as posts like this one, the other posts today, and those back in the archives both here and on other blogs. Let’s face it, those writing and commenting on posts like these are already more involved than 99% of the membership. Change can be affected in many ways.
I talked to the CEO of my local association a few weeks ago about technology and what I thought needed to be done to help the membership in that regard. I was amazed at how willing to listen this “old school” guy was. The associations are clamoring for help, they need help, and I think they are willing to listen and consider change.
October 14, 2008 at 12:53 am
“But the simple fact that the NAR is considering a position like this speaks volumes.”
Until we know what the purpose of the position is, it doesn’t say anything.
October 14, 2008 at 1:22 am
JonathanYou said “Pick the chicken or the egg – have those in the national leadership spouted the mantra from the Housing Market Facts website (and before it had been posted a website), or did they rise to where they were because of their willingness to promote that line of thought and that line alone?”
I’ve served at NAR on committees, Workgroups and Presidential Advisory Groups for more than 10 years. – always because I volunteered or was chosen because of my experience on the issues, never because of any party line, or because of any willingness to promote anything that I didn’t believe was correct or accurate (I was chosen to Chair the NAR Short Sale Workgroup for example becuase I have 20 years of REO experience, serve on the Risk Management Committee, and am Chairman of the Professional Standards Committee. – a reasonable resume for that post I think). Local State and National Associations are constantly looking for people to volunteer, and they aren’t asked to check their political leanings or opinions at the door. In fact, diversity is nurtured and treasured in the best of these groups. Try it, you might like it !
October 14, 2008 at 8:29 am
NAR needs to watch this, among other things –
October 14, 2008 at 10:02 am
“Local State and National Associations are constantly looking for people to volunteer, and they aren’t asked to check their political leanings or opinions at the door.”
Not my experience here Bill.
Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra
October 14, 2008 at 2:45 pm
I’m going to be the Vice-Chair of an NAR committee in 2009, and no one has even asked me what my opinions are on anything. The first, and really only, question I got asked was, “are you willing.”
Now, time will tell how the experience will go, and you can bet your sweet bippy that I’ll be blogging about it.
I am going to put on my Community Manager hat for just a minute and throw in a shameless plug– that Gary Vaynerchuck video rocks hard. You won’t to miss Gary’s keynote presentation at Inman Connect NYC 2009. It is guaranteed to be enlightening, entertaining, and energetic.
Pamela Geurds Kabati
October 14, 2008 at 8:21 pm
I saw Daniel Rothamel’s tweet about your post, and I just wanted to tell you that it really resonated with me. I’ve always been a strong advocate of trying to change things from the inside out…working to solve problems, not just point them out. (I’ve been with NAR for almost 20 years now…most recently as VP of Publications) Thanks for making such a compelling case!
October 14, 2008 at 9:18 pm
I’m *really* jazzed up about getting hits & comments from all you big shots out there, in the blogosphere, serving at various levels in the REALTOR organization, and from within NAR even!! (Hi Pamela, thanks for stopping by!!).
This, the idea of participating in our communities & Associations, is very dear to me and I am pleased to know that there are kindred minds out there. Every one of us has unique gifts and opportunities to make a difference and, like Jay said, every kind of participation counts.
Jim: Thanks for the video. I love that guy’s enthusiasm!
October 15, 2008 at 9:11 pm
I want a NAR that doesn’t allow an agent to use “CityRealtor”.com for a year, while said agent is president of the local board. The legal counsel of the agent’s broker eventually shut it down when NAR refused to act.
I want a NAR that is embarrassed by the number of times Yun and Lereah have been wrong – as recently as a month or so where Yun states that the foreclosure crisis is overblown.
I want a NAR that doesn’t allow a local board to do this to a member while entertaining relationship building with third party listing sites.
You want a call to action? Here is one:
I challenge each and every one of you who is connected to NAR via local, state or NAR itself, to stand up and defend Marc Rasmussen. Demand that the Sarasota Association of Realtors return his domain.
If you can’t do that, then I want a NAR that doesn’t have you as a volunteer.
October 15, 2008 at 9:22 pm
Somehow I screwed up the link regarding Marc Rasmussen.
October 15, 2008 at 10:01 pm
Can you re-post the link? I see a closing tag in my emai for this comment, but nothing else. Would love to read it. I found some things on Rasmussen v. Sarasota Association of Realtors, Inc on Google, so I’m guessing that’s what you are referring to. I’ll look though it, but if you have something that summarizes, that’d be great.
October 15, 2008 at 10:02 pm
That should have read a closing “a” link tag (WP is stripping the HTML)
October 15, 2008 at 10:19 pm
Well this link sums up what I believe Bob was referring to: https://www.realestatewebmasters.com/blogs/morgan-carey/6350/show/
October 15, 2008 at 11:02 pm
Disregard my comments requesting a repost of the link, I must have been typing that as you were reentering the link.
That story makes me want to puke.
October 16, 2008 at 7:20 am
Bob – thanks for posting that over here. Right now, Marc could use all the support he could get. If SAR has its way, they will end up with a domain that he personally invested thousands of hours of time into. This goes against NAR’s mission statement about as directly as possible:
The core purpose of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is to help its members become more profitable and successful.
Since there are many NAR volunteers here, we’d love your help getting the word out to NAR, which would hopefully put some pressure on SAR to drop their ICANN suit, and allow Marc to retain what’s rightfully his.
If you guys are interested in helping us out with this cause, please let me know what we can do to help you.
October 16, 2008 at 7:50 am
I find it offensive as well what has happened to Marc. I have been online friends with Marc for a number of years (we’ve never spoken on the phone…). I have seen the hours he has put into his online presence. He is now basically forced to re-build from the ground up his web presence. I will be publicizing it and linking to him, to try and help him recover.
I (along with many others I am sure) would consider it a favor to him as well.
That having been said, I have found the local boards more friendly than Bob has and I thoroughly agree with internet and online savvy REALTORS getting “in the game” and serving. (read: great post 🙂 ) The only way that truly good decisions are made is when well informed decision makers participate.
I recently spoke to the members of our board @ online marketing. Most were great REALTORS, Most had little experience online and that leaves us all vulnerable even when the decisions they make are well intentioned. (which I believe that they are 99% of the time).
October 16, 2008 at 8:25 am
I want an NAR that stands behind the articles and suggestions within it’s REALTOR Magazine. Case in point being the Mr. Internet article from years ago suggesting REALTORS use the keyword terms “city+mls” in agent domain names. I would like the NAR to have the Sarasota Association of Realtors stand down, stop harrassing Marc Rasmussen, release their ICANN challenge to take control of Mr. Rasmussens domain that he built such great value into, and demand that SAR issue an appology to Marc Rasmussen for trying to destroy his business.
I would like an NAR that used Realtor.com as an all inclusive tool for all REALTORS and no premium services built into it. Realtor.com should not be a profit center for who knows what entity, it should be a site that is useful to all REALTORS and all REALTORS should benefit equally and on a level playing field having access to all of the same tools for zero additional fees. There is no reason in the world why member fees could not support the programing and maintenance of the Realtor.com site with no need for premium services. Why is our “brand” being utilized as a profit center instead of a tool for the members at large? Why is it that Trulia and Zillow using the terms “MLS” have more useful REALTOR listing information for properties than the site that any sane person would think was all inclusive and should have has much information as any site out there?
I would like NAR to reevaluate being a real estate cheerleader. REALTORS are here to assist in buying and selling of properties and as long as the market is healthy then people will be buying and selling property. However, when using statistics to be the “cheerleader” of buy, buy, buy and in doing so causing prices to escalate and then causing over building this group as a whole ultimately suffers from the hangover caused by the euphoric high obtained in the great real estate buying party. Even worse, the domino effect has taken our whole economy to it’s knees. Like Joe Friday says, “Just the facts Mam!”, get rid of the crystal ball and lets stick with the facts. We are supposed to be experts on buying and selling real property using real data, not investment advisors or readers of the future – it makes me sick there were so many REALTORS pumping up the “they’re not making any more of it” and “it’s a great time to buy” mantra.
Research other industry trade publications and then revamp REALTOR Magazine. For some reason as much as I have wanted to look forward to the arrival of my industry trade publication, I just never get that much out of it. Look, the farmers across this country have much better trade publications than the REALTORS.
I don’t want to be a serial complainer, but addressing these issues would make for a better NAR.
October 16, 2008 at 10:06 am
Just to clarify, this isn’t about the use of the term “MLS”. Marc won that ethics complaint. He agreed to redirect the domain to a different one that would still give him the benefit of all the links pointing to it. The issue, and what is truly offensive, is an Association of Realtors trying to seize Marc’s domain to use for their own benefit. As equally offensive is the fact that it is local agents using the Board of Realtors to harm a fellow Realtor.
I believe that most of you on the RE.net defending NAR truly believe that you can make a difference. No one has a louder voice than this group, so here is your chance to prove your position. Which of you challenging the rest of us to get involved are willing to take a stand and fight as Realtors for another Realtor? Is there a more noble fight than for us to defend each other? Surely that is more important than teaching suits in Chicago and DC to Twitter, is it not?
October 16, 2008 at 11:39 am
I think you’re absolutely out of line with your last paragraph from top to bottom and everything inbetween.
I’m sitting here in draft mode writing on this very subject to click over to read this half baked arm twist you just delivered to Ag and the writers it promotes.
Obviously, I believe that if you are a member and pay for use of then you should be allowed reasonable use and I honestly believe that Marc’s case presents a best case scenario of reasonable use. The term MLS is so diluted today that I think a great case could be made, especially based on the legnth of time he’s had use of the domain, and the ridiculous notion that SAR just noticed that Marc ranks number 1 for nearly every possible search term.
Now, since you expect nothing less than my honest position, I’ll also address the flip side of my feelings on the subject. If you look at the other agents there in Sarasota below Marc in google that are not positioned using a trademark violation you have to see that there is a very unfair balance. To the other members of that local board, they’re justified to complain, and justified to demand action, OR fair use of that same trademark, or the trademark is and should be deamed diluted.
I’m on the side of allowing everyone to use the trademark that pays dues to do so so long as it’s within reason.
I have more to say on this subject and will.
October 16, 2008 at 12:18 pm
I don’t think you understand the issue. Marc stopped using thesarasotamls.com after it was asked of him, but 301 redirected the site to his new site – luxurysarasotarealestate.com. This accomplishes a few things:
1) It completely disassociates his site & brand from the sarasota mls.
2) It redirects his current clients who use & like his site to his new site.
3) It redirects the online authority that he built up over the years to his new site, which allows him to retain the rankings he worked so hard to build.
SAR took him to ICANN and is trying to effectively take his site from him, and all of the hard work that he put into it over the last 5 years. If SAR is able to take his site, they can rebrand it and enjoy the rankings that Marc worked so hard for.
As an interesting side note. The Sarasota MLS has now merged and is known as the new Mid Florida Regional MLS. So why do they still want Marc’s URL?
October 16, 2008 at 1:53 pm
SAR tried to make a weak claim of common law trademark rights. Trademark isn’t the issue because there is no trademark that applies here. The taking of the domain is the issue. Not even NAR commandeers domains that use “Realtor”, a term that is a legit trademark that has been diligently defended. The agents are allowed to keep them and they redirect to new domains. Case in point, you still own “RealtorGenius.com” and are redirecting it to AG, correct?
As someone pointed out earlier, none other than NAR published an article by Michael Russer recommending that agents register and use domains with City+MLS in them. That is a defacto NAR endorsement. Marc followed that advice and you call it an “unfair balance”? How in the world was that unfair?
You have an agent who in good faith, has invested an enormous amount of time and money in a domain. If it were any other domain, they wouldn’t have done this. Once Google factors in the loss of links because the 301 redirect is killed, Marc will feel an immediate negative impact. That impacts his business in a market where few can afford any decrease.
This isn’t the first BOR to strong arm an agent and it won’t be the last, unless people already in place say something. What is out of line about challenging those who keep challenging me? They preach that involvement from the inside makes a difference, so I would like to see them use their bully pulpit to prove it.
How is that out of line or halk baked?
October 16, 2008 at 1:54 pm
I think that everyone has their pet issues, things they are knowledgable in and areas that they are passionate about. No matter what *your* issue is, it is up to you to do something about it, be it ethics, copyright issues, finance, how to twitter or whatever on the local, state and/or national levels. Just take it on, be proactive. There’s over a million of us…we should be able to handle all of them!
Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra
October 16, 2008 at 2:11 pm
Interestingly, Inman News just posted a story about the Rasmussen/MLS situation: https://www.inman.com/news/2008/10/16/mls-name-dispute-lands-in-court
October 16, 2008 at 2:30 pm
“Case in point, you still own “RealtorGenius.com” and are redirecting it to AG, correct?”
Is that correct? LOL
October 16, 2008 at 3:08 pm
“SAR took him to ICANN and is trying to effectively take his site from him, and all of the hard work that he put into it over the last 5 years. If SAR is able to take his site, they can rebrand it and enjoy the rankings that Marc worked so hard for.”
Yeah, I get that, but here’s the root question I’m after, and maybe you can answer it. Is trademark at the heart of that case that was made at ICANN or not?
October 16, 2008 at 3:34 pm
“Is trademark at the heart of that case that was made at ICANN or not?”
Yes, it is. It’s a great question to raise. Why would SAR claim copyright infringement when they have never placed any notice of copyright to “sarasota mls” (as they have Realtor) and are no longer known as the “Sarasota MLS.” ICANN made a BAD decision here.
A better question is, “Why does SAR want Marc’s site so badly?”
October 16, 2008 at 3:42 pm
My interpretation of the ICANN decision (https://domains.adrforum.com/domains/decisions/1213084.htm) is that the SAR is claiming a service mark issue.
This (amongst other things) is something I do not understand, “Complainant repeats its allegation that Respondent is using the disputed domain name to direct Internet traffic to his site by misleading users to believe they are accessing Complainant’s website”
Maybe I put too much faith in the public, but I have a hard time believing anyone would mistake the agents site for the actual MLS site.
Redirecting a service/trademarked name (**if** “MLS is truly trademaked) to another site (as is done on this very site and MANY others) seems like a reasonable compromise. That the SAR kept at it until someone said “hand the name over” seems excessive, and unreasonable.
And apparently the SAR still hasn’t learned. Why haven’t they purchased aSarasotaMLS.com? What are they going to do to the guy that owns MLSSarasota.com? Why don’t they secure SaraSotaMLS.biz or .name? What happens when the guy with SarasotaMLS.net decides to do something with it?
When is Major League Soccer going to step in and say, “Hey, we’re the MLS!”
Where does this all stop?
October 16, 2008 at 4:01 pm
“When is Major League Soccer going to step in and say, “Hey, we’re the MLS!””
Too funny. This is my landing page that I optimize for “Austin MLS.”
October 16, 2008 at 4:19 pm
No. There is no trademark registered to SAR relating to “MLS” to be infringed. ICANN agreed.
This is now going to Federal Court. Marc would win if NAR would support him on this. There is no reason for him not to keep the domain like you got to keep yours.
October 16, 2008 at 4:25 pm
The confusion between my comment and Eric’s is that the decision ICANN made wasn’t based on Marc infringing a trademark. SAR doesnt have one, and when they argued that they had common law trademark rights, ICANN didn’t buy it.
ICANN bought the argument that the domain caused confusion and created an unfair commercial advantage. Even if that were true, SAR stripping Marc of his domain after he had agreed to 301 it had nothing to do with confusion. That action was both punitive and a land grab.
October 16, 2008 at 4:25 pm
Jay – unfortunately it probably won’t stop, because we have individuals in today’s society that will go to any length to destroy someone that is successful. Marc has worked hard on his site for a number of years. And you are quite correct that the public would probably know it is not a site about the MLS in Sarasota.
October 16, 2008 at 4:38 pm
“Why don’t they secure SaraSotaMLS.biz”
I’m willing to deal when they are. 😉
October 16, 2008 at 4:56 pm
I bet the Sons of the American Revolution are ticked with Sarasota Association of Realtors knocking off their use of SAR – https://www.sar.org . Just a bunch of Cyber Squatters is what I think Mr. Cherry would call them.
October 16, 2008 at 5:53 pm
Thanks for clarifying, Bob. To be honest, I’d only skimmed the decision momentarily.
October 16, 2008 at 8:53 pm
BTW, here is a link to Russer’s article in Realtor.org suggesting the use of “MLS” in a domain name.
October 16, 2008 at 9:43 pm
I think a big problem is that many people do not understand how much work someone like Marc has put into his site. They don’t understand why he can’t just chose a different URL and move on. Taking the domain away from him, not allowing the 301 redirect, is punishment.
October 16, 2008 at 11:21 pm
Eric, actually ICANN did cite the trademark issued by the State of Florida that SAR went after at the same time they went after Marc. One of the three ICANN panelists disagreed. It will be interesting to see how much credibility a state trademark registered only a few months prior for $87.50 has in Federal Court.
Given that NAR doesn’t require that a domain be surrendered, I would be suing for “tortious interference” as well.
October 17, 2008 at 3:53 pm
It’s funny that I would come across this today. We had what I would call a ground-breaking discussion this morning at our Education Committee meeting that I believe is going to spur some activity of change (I hate that word these days) within our association that will promote participation among our membership. I’m excited and hopeful, and others seem to be also. Although there are big obstacles in front of us, with old-school types running the board, I saw a spark of movement that I’ve not seen in the past. We all have to change things from within, at the micro-local level, then make it spread to local, state, and national levels. Great post. I hope it gets others fired up about taking control!
November 3, 2008 at 8:27 pm
The new realtor.com is a horrific disaster, as a homebuyer I like the previous state map search where you could search by county then town. You guy totally ruined the intuitive search feel of your site. I dont know who your whiiz-bang marketing gurus are, but they definitely shouldnt have tried to compete with zillow. You had a great site before, it worked, now you totally killed it and made my home search much complicated. The stupidity of the new interface is mind boggling, you could have at least left an option for the old type of search, before totally transitioning to this new crap.