The NAR Board of Directors at its meeting Saturday, May 18, in Washington, voted to allow MLSs to make their public-facing sites a “basic” service for their participants. The Board also authorized association leaders to work with realtor.com to enhance the site for the future. Read about these and the other decisions in the Special INS recap that went out immediately after the meeting.
WCR leaders from across the country meet during Midyear to participate in NAR events and conduct governance sessions along with offering plenty of educational opportunities. For most of us though, the highlight of the WCR events is the annual awards banquet.
The Michigan chapter had huge representation at Midyear, and almost all of our chapters won major awards. President James Cristbrook helped Michigan grow to the state with the fifth largest WCR membership in the country, and our theme was “The future’s so bright, we’ve got to wear shades.”
My local chapter, Birmingham Bloomfield, won top honors for national recruitment for mega sized chapters and a Gold Award for Chapter Excellence. Chapter President Sara Lipnitz led the way as we grew from 23 REALTORS® 18 months ago to 116 national members today. The chapter was well represented with nearly 20 members present in DC for the awards banquet!
We proudly cheered for our sister chapters as they walked the stage, picking up awards for recruitment, retention and chapter excellence.
But it wasn’t all fun and games.
I also attended excellent sessions lead by Amy Chorew, Heather Ozur, Juanita McDowell and Amy Smythe Harris. Though I consider myself an early adapter and “tech savvy,” these women shared tips that will make my job easier and help me to serve my clients better.
With a great spirit of camaraderie and a wonderful environment for learning, WCR offers an incredible opportunity to advance professionally, build a referral network, and develop as a leader.
This was my second year of Hill visits at the Midyear Meetings, and what a day I had! We started off in the morning with 14th District Representative Gary Peters, who has always shown strong support for housing issues and REALTOR® initiatives. At least 15 of us were on hand, with discussions lead by our Federal Political Coordinator, Sara Lipnitz. We asked Peters to protect the mortgage interest rate deduction, which is in its 100th year this year and is used by 75% of US homeowners.In the afternoon I was extremely fortunate to be included in meetings with Senator Carl Levin and Senator Debbie Stabenow.
Nanci J. Rands, Levin’s FPC guided Levin through real estate issues like the GSEs and further emphasizing the importance of the interest rate deduction. Levin is currently concentrating on sequestration and ways to get America’s largest companies to pay their fair share of taxes to cover current deficits. Pat V. Combs, former NAR President, and Bill Milliken, current Michigan Association of REALTORS® President, helped to focus Levin on the important role that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA play in our economic recovery.
We made our way through the underground tunnels over to the offices of Senator Debbie Stabenow, who candidly felt that that the mortgage interest rate deduction should be safe, but there are certainly proposals that are being discussed to put in place caps or reduce the deduction for second homes. Stabenow and the other Michigan legislators understand that in Michigan the average second home owner has an annual income of 97K, so this is a deduction that is protecting the financial investments of our middle class. Furhad Waquad, Stabenow’s FPC guided discussion on protecting the 30 year mortgage, which provides stability to the US housing market.
I felt so honored to be included in the meetings with our senators and tremendous pride in the REALTOR® Party for the influence we hold in the nation’s Capitol, and the role we chose to play in protecting homeownership. The REALTOR® Party truly is an energized movement of real estate professionals fighting to keep the dream of homeownership alive for this country!
The 2013 National Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors met on Saturday, May 18, 2013 at the Washington DC Marriott Wardman Park. The following are the live events in chronological order.
(Note: This is a live blog, so much will depend on internet connectivity.)
Meeting called to order by NAR President Gary Thomas (Monarch Beach, CA)
Prayer and Pledge
Introduction of Officers
- Steve Brown, President Elect
- Chris Polychron, First Vice President
- William Armstrong, Treasurer
- Leslie Smith, Vice President
- Bill Brown, Vice President
- Mary Lou Stephens, Marietta, Georgia, the parliamentarian for this meeting.
- Laurie Janik, NAR General Counsel
- Moe Veissi, Immediate Past President
- And Dale Stinton, Chief Executive Officer
Laughter, tears and celebration filled The Washington Hilton Friday night as hundreds of REALTORS celebrated Nina Cottrell, CEO of the Council of Residential Specialists, who retires after 40 years of service.
Over two decades of Council presidents turned out for the evening of celebration.
- 1985 President – Chip Morrison, CRS and his wife. Kathy
- 1987 President – Gail Lyons, CRS
- 1988 President – Rick Deluka, CRS
- 1990 President – Pat Zaby, CRS, CCIM, CRB
- 1991 President – John Clements, CRS
- 1992 President – Mike Brodie, CRS
- 1993 President – Susan Showers Anderson, CRS and herhusband, Russ Anderson
- 1994 President – Dick Dillingham, CRS
- 1995 President – Judy Sykes, CRS, CIPS, CRB andher mother, Janet Sugimoto
- 1996 President – Frank Kowalski, CRS, CIPS and hiswife, Norma Kowalski
- 1997 President – Myra Zollinger, CRS
- 1998 President – Ed Hatch
- 1999 President – Toni Sherman, CRS
- 2000 President – Doug Richards, CRS
- 2001 President – Gee Dunsten, CRS
- 2003 President – Bill Sloan, CRS and his wife, Peggy
- 2004 President – Gail Flagel, CRS and her husband,Dwayne
- 2005 President – Ingrid Glancy, CRS
- 2006 President – Randy Eager, CRS
- 2007 President – Kay West, CRS and her significant other, John Molyneaux
- 2008 President – Michael Selvaggio, CRS, CCIM and his wife, Christine
- 2009 President – Greg Hodges, CRS and his wife, Margot
- 2011 President – Frank Serio, CRS and his wife, Audrey
- 2012 President – Mark Minchew, CRS
- 2013 President - Mary McCall, CRS
Also, in attendance were NAR Past Presidents
- Russ Booth
- Dorcas Helfant Browning
- Norm Flynn
- Charles McMillan
- Layne Morrill
- Richard Mendenhall
- Nestor Weigand
Each year on the day we visit Capitol Hill, REALTORS® from the Peach State have a luncheon with our senators in the Russell Senate Office Building. We are fortunate in Georgia, we have the only REALTOR® in the senate as one of our senators. Senator Johnny Isakson is an invaluable asset to not only Georgians, but to the entire real estate industry. During a time in our history when real estate is at the forefront of our economic situation, Johnny is often sought out by members from both sides of the aisle on any issue involving housing, we have a ‘seat at the table’ with Johnny representing the REALTOR® Party. Senator Saxby Chambliss is our second senator and a long time personal friend of Senator Isakson’s, dating back to their college years. These two senators work great together and Saxby often jokes with comments such as ‘When it comes to housing issues, I just do what Johnny tells me to do.’ Of course Senator Chambliss says that tongue-in-cheek, but it demonstrates the relationship and how much he values Johnny’s direct insight into our industry.
Our luncheon was kicked off by Georgia Association of REALTORS® (GAR) 2013 President Robin Lance by thanking all of us for making the trip to DC and taking time away from our businesses. Rhonda Nesmith, 2013 GA RIAC Chair, led us in the Pledge of Allegiance followed by 2013 GA RPAC Chair Linda Durrance giving us the Inspirational. Last up from GAR was Linda Cook, 2013 GA RPIC Chair, again thanking us for coming to DC, reminding us of the importance of why we were here, and some last minute tips for meeting with our Congressmen.
Part of the luncheon is the networking we do with our peers from all around the great state of Georgia. At my table was Jennifer Lundy, GAR Manager of Political Affairs, Shannon Klein, Legislative Correspondent for Senator Isakson, Shaun Graham, Southeast Mortgage, and REALTORS® Susan West, Cherokee AOR 2013 President, and Bill Miltiades from the Savannah Board. The conversation ranged from UGA football to tour advice to housing issues, and it was great to get to spend some time with the senate staff to help foster our relationship.
Senator Chambliss was scheduled to talk with us first but he was called into a committee meeting, so Senator Isakson kicked things off. Senator Isakson led off with a brief discussion of meetings with POTUS, the ‘group of 12′ recently mentioned in the media have been meeting with the president to discuss the budget. He then discussed the Qualified Mortgage and the Qualified Residential Mortgage, and concluded with discussion of the GSEs. It is so refreshing to hear an elected official speaking our language and demonstrating such a deep understanding of our industry and the issues that revolve around our industry.
A quick summation of Senator Isakson’s general comments: every tax treatment on the table should be evaluated on a cost vs benefit analysis, we need to incent the private sector to get builders building again, and my biggest take away was a bit of advice for us as we met with our Congressmen…don’t focus on ‘Don’t take our MID,’ instead focus on what the impact of not having it will be. Put it in numbers, to include things such as number of mortgage holders in our district, how many of those take the MID, and what financial impact the reduction or elimination of the MID would have.
Senator Chambliss was able to join us and explained why he was late. As we all know, the senators can be called upon at anytime for a vote, a committee meeting, etc. and we have to be flexible. In this case, Senator Chambliss sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee and as you can imagine, those items directly impact our national defense and this was a situation where they needed to address a few items that have been going on with media leaks. The biggest news the senator shared with us is the passing of a water bill, which will help the Port of Savannah.
The relationships we have with our senators are quite strong and our annual luncheon resembles more of a reunion than a meeting.
Georgia had 176 REALTORS® attending the Midyear Meetings with the majority making the trip to Capitol Hill to meet with our Members of Congress. We met with our two Senators in a luncheon in the Kennedy Caucus Room at the Russell Senate Offices Building. Prior to the luncheon, we had a few meetings with our Congressmen scheduled and then after lunch, the rest of our meetings with our Congressmen took place. I attended meetings with Congressmen Jack Kingston, David Scott, John Lewis, and concluded the day with a meeting with my Congressman, Phil Gingrey. All of the meetings I went to were well-attended and very good, productive meetings.
The relationships we build with our Congressional Representatives is what this is all about, and this year we sat down and just had a conversation with each of them, we only really discussed one Bill (HR 1077), with the majority of our time spent on general discussion of the issues. The comments from the Congressmen I met with, were along the lines of, they all stand beside us on the issues we were discussing. Most of them asked us some really good questions, as they truly tried to understand the issues we face each day as the ‘boots on the ground,’ and several were quite knowledgeable on many key issues we discussed. It was obvious our work prior to arriving in DC had been successful.
Some of the highlights of the day included a great talk with David Scott, a co-sponsor of HR 1077, where he insisted on every one of us having a chair, saying ‘I can’t have my REALTORS® standing up.’ It was clear to us Congressman Scott not only had a deep understanding of the issues, but he also had a great deal of care and concern over the issues, citing several events he has helped sponsor back home to help struggling homeowners and job seekers. Other comments made by Congressman Scott included, ‘REALTORS® are very important and should have a seat at the table,’ and ‘I am with you 100%!’
Although the meetings with Jack Kingston and my own Congressman, Phil Gingrey, went very well and was a demonstration of the very strong relationships we have with them, my highlight was the visit with Congressman John Lewis.
Congressman Lewis has a long standing supportive relationship with us REALTORS® and he went out of his way to be a superb host during our visit. Our meeting got started a couple of minutes late due to the Congressman being held up in a meeting so we began our talk with one of his staff, and Representative Lewis joined us a short while later. We had a 17-year old high school student along with us, and she presented the Congressman with our talking points, it was shared with everyone she had a passion for history and had studied abroad in Germany. Hearing this, Congressman Lewis shared a story with us about him going to Germany and touring a JFK Museum there, where he found a picture of himself and several other Civil Rights Leaders in the Oval Office with JFK and Lyndon Johnson, a picture he had never seen before. The museum curator arranged for the Congressman to get a copy of the picture, which is included below. When we were done talking about issues, the Congressman insisted upon us going to his office for a group picture. However, when we got to his office, it quickly became a living history lesson and we were a captive audience. Every picture on his wall and in his office, the Congressman was able to share the names of every single person in the picture, where the picture was taken and the date it was taken, an amazingly sharp man. In the corner, at the front of a stack of pictures is the picture he had discussed with us a few minutes prior, the picture he had seen for the first time in the JFK Museum in Germany. We all gathered for a large group picture in his office and then he guided all of us out to his balcony which has an incredible view of the Capitol to the left and the Library of Congress to the right. He wanted all of us to get pictures with him with the Capitol in the background and then he took a lot of his valuable time to ensure we had all of our questions answered and we all got any pictures we wanted. I think many of us realized just how special it was to have this experience with one of America’s Living Legends, and we were all impressed with his graciousness, and how humble he is about the events he took part in during the Civil Rights Movement. Some of the comments the Congressman made during our visit included, ‘you have all been such great friends,’ and ‘you will have my help and continued support.’
It was a long day on the Hill, but our meetings were extremely productive, I even heard at least one of our Georgia Congressmen made a commitment to sign on as a co-sponsor of HR 1077. It was a very good day of relationship-building, discussing the issues surrounding housing and economic recovery, with the addition of a co-sponsor being the icing on the cake.
While almost every US Senator seems to aspire to be a celebrity, it is a rare celebrity who wants to, let alone does, become a respected US Senator. For that reason, Minnesota’s junior senator Al Franken always draws a huge crowd on Hill Visit Day. About 40 Minnesota REALTORS packed into a stuffy conference room yesterday afternoon to hear Senator Franken’s views on the Mortgage Interest Deduction and FHA, as well as his good-natured jokes about his FPC Fran Davis (who has known Al since he was a kid putting together list books at ten cents an hour for his mother, a REALTOR).
During his first term, Senator Franken has proven himself to be a strong and thoughtful supporter of the housing industry, and on Wednesday reaffirmed his willingness to protect FHA programs, preserve Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He offered pragmatic insight to Congressional debates on the Mortgage Interest Deduction, and concluded by passionately speaking on housing’s crucial role in the nation’s continued economic recovery.
Throughout the meeting, Senator Franken’s furry four-legged companion padded around the room to greet the visitors. After every sniff and wag if his tail, he returned home to the Senator’s side.