When did you first start using a online document management system? For me it was 12 years ago when I first got into the business. Our local associations banded together to put our contracts online. Many Realtors were hesitate to use it, but being new to the business I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to use the pre-printed forms with those nasty carbon copies.
Slowly but surely, people came along. Everyone saw the benefits – you could easily go in and make a change if before signing the client decided to change their numbers, etc.
But eSignatures are a completely different matter. We are 17 years after the federal law that made these signatures legal. So why according to the 2012 survey that came out yesterday of Members of NAR, just 13% use eSignature?
On March 21 this year, NAR held a half day eSignaure summit coordinated by staff members Melanie Wyne and Bill Gilmartin. Representatives from FHA, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and other organizations were there. Much of the conversation revolved around REO transactions and the sentiment that they weren’t allowed. The banks want to change this. They want Realtors to know they should be able to accept digital signatures and they want to study where the fault points are. So it sounds like things are going to get better. But let’s make sure NAR and others stay vigilant.
It’s 2013. Every transaction should be able to use eSignatures if the client approves. Let’s all work together to make that happen.
In the week before I came to my first mid-year, I started seeing more news stories than normal about housing in the media. I thought it was ironic that the following week I was heading to Washington D.C. to discuss housing policy with government officials.
A few years later, I’ve come to realize, this is no coincidence.
When the REALTORS take over DC, government officials pay attention. With over 1 million members and some of the hardest working lobbyists on the hill, we have a voice in government to protect homeownership from those that see it as a target. Each time some politician or staff member looks at the tax benefits provided to homeowners and says “there is a way to generate extra tax revenue,” we’re here to remind them that taxing housing may yield short term dollars, but in the long run could ruin the economy and hurt million of families.
For example, just this weekend, the White House released a video about the importance of owning a home to the economy and to the vitality of our country.
Realtors have a noble cause, to protect the American Dream. We’re here to represent the nearly 70% of the US population that owns a home and all of those that hope to one day. And so this week we’ll make sure to remind them that people don’t want to lose their mortgage interest deductions and they don’t want to be taxed on the transfer of their home.
Politicians know we’re here in force to make sure they don’t forget this. Because, unlike a lot of groups that come to Washington and push an agenda that completely revolves around what’s best for their group, politicians recognize Realtors are not here to look out for ourselves. So pay attention to the news for the next week. Be proud of the stories on housing and what the Power of R is doing for you, your business, and homeowners everywhere.
You run your day to day business. You are out showing, and you find out your website has been hacked or worse your computer has been hacked.
What data did you have on that computer? On your website?
Do you have clients loan paperwork? Perhaps they have social security numbers? Maybe you have closing documents that include them?
You’ve just experienced a data breech. And you could be potentially liable for damages and after that government agencies can start asking questions.
Do you or your company have policies in place on how data is kept, how long to keep data, what data you have?
What happens next is important, and one of the things we are working on here at NAR.
As Brian mentions here, our Federal Technology Policy committee is trying to put together programs to help companies and agents. One of those is a self regulatory program for data security and privacy which would provide members a “safe harbor” so that if you follow certain rules, you’d be exempt from certain government enforcement.
In the mean time check out the data privacy and security toolkit the team at NAR put together. It’s excellent and will give you some ready made policy ideas and best practices.
While the NAR Annual Conference is about what’s changing in the industry, technology, speakers, and making connections, Mid-Year is in my mind a different place. Mid-year is where agendas are set and things big changes are set into motion… There are countless open forums looking for comments from members, all of the committees have meetings, these are committees that set rules that you need to be aware of, committees that set budgets that spend your dollars.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, too few REALTORs attend Mid-Year and too few pay attention even in their local associations. They probably don’t know about the following things that will be big news for those paying attention.
Do you know what RPPSI is? If not, please take a few minutes to read the content from Realtor.org on the Realtor Party Political Survival Initiative.
NAR wants to raise national dues almost 100%, or $40 / year for this fund. I attended a meeting at my local REALTOR association that was for REALTOR members only. These are people in the State of Missouri that have broker’s licenses, a higher level of study and responsibility than the average agent. Less than 10% of the room had heard of RPPSI.
When it was first explained, almost every single person in the room was against the initiative. A big raise in fees in a time when most REALTORS are still experiencing a downturn? It sounds scary. But of course there is sound reasoning behind what’s going on and I encourage you to read up before forming any opinions. Hopefully someone will have a camera or recorded at this session.
The Franchise IDX Rule
The past few weeks have brought up an interesting uproar among certain real estate organizations. Recently, NAR made a rule that allows franchise organizations to build their own IDX sites and make the listings indexable by sites like Google. The rub is that of course franchisors are not really active agents or practicing the sale of real estate. The new rule allows them to display listings as if they were direct members of an MLS. Organizations that represent members but are not franchisors are mad that this gives an unfair advantage. You can read more about this and the debate that will occur this week.
Check Back Here Regularly
There are other big things happening too.. If you’re coming this year, great! If not I thoroughly encourage you to keep track of what’s going on. There will be numerous ways to keep track of the action. First and foremost, I encourage you come back here often. You’ll see this site updated regularly with content. My colleagues and I will be working hard to try and share some of the moments with you. I’ve asked my REALTORS to bookmark this site, I encourage you to as well.