A Message from the President with Mike Theo: Core Standards

 Mike Theo  |    June 05, 2014

I usually try to use this space to opine on marketplace or industry issues that impact our members. But sometimes internal association issues rise to that same level of importance. And this is one of those times.

On May 17 in Washington, D.C., the National Association of REALTORS® board of directors approved new, stricter “core standards” that every state, local and specialty association must meet or risk losing their charter. Requiring that certain programs and services be provided ensures that REALTORS® in every part of the country receive quality services, regardless of board size. The impact of these changes will almost certainly offer new opportunities for some local boards to seek efficiencies through consolidation of services with the WRA or other local boards, or outright mergers.

What do these new mandatory core standards require? Associations would have to annually demonstrate:

Code of Ethics: Every association must provide upgraded Code of Ethics training, expedited processes and mandatory mediation services.

Advocacy: On its dues billing, every association must include an opportunity for making voluntary contributions to RPAC (REALTORS® Political Action Committee) or the PAF (Political Advocacy Fund). Boards that refuse will have to make a corporate contribution to meet their per-member goal. Associations must also demonstrate advocacy engagement by distributing all materials regarding RPAC and legislative Calls to Action and taking advantage of REALTOR® Party programs at NAR.

Consumer outreach: Every association must demonstrate engagement in no less than four meaningful consumer engagement activities such as providing the public and media with regular housing sales and pricing data; community involvement activities that support and enhance the image of REALTORS®; mobilizing public support for REALTOR® legislative/political issues; or organizing human and/or financial resources in support of charitable or community organizations.

Unification efforts in support of the REALTOR® organization: Every association must demonstrate that it has an updated strategic plan; adequate legal counsel; a chief staff executive who has completed at least six hours annually of professional development training; proper dues reporting and collection processes; and maximized membership recruiting efforts.

Technology: Every association must demonstrate that it has an interactive website that meets specified criteria and that email and/or Internet-based means of member communications are utilized.

Financial solvency: Every association must demonstrate its policies to ensure its fiscal integrity, including proof of financial audit or review.

The WRA is charged with reviewing the documentation of these standards by every local and specialty board and annually confirming to NAR that the information is accurate and complete. NAR will then review this documentation and instruct boards on how to comply with any deficiencies in their performance. Boards that fail to rectify their deficiencies in the time frames specified by NAR will face charter revocation by the NAR board of directors.

In addition, the NAR board of directors approved $20 million to help facilitate this process: $5 million to help boards who need to complete or update their strategic plans, $3 million for state associations to administer and review local board compliance, and $12 million to facilitate mergers or consolidate services.

These new core standards present REALTORS® in Wisconsin with a fantastic opportunity. Taking a serious and comprehensive look at our organizational structure will allow us to make changes necessary to guarantee that our members receive needed products and services, at the best cost, in the most efficient manner

Every REALTOR® member and staff member should embrace these changes and the prospect of moving our organization from good to great. I for one am eager to get started. It’s time to up our game.

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