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"NAR President’s Look to the Future!"


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Walt McDonald Photo
12/3/04 Interview with Walt McDonald

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
3746 Elizabeth St.
Riverside, CA 92506
Biography

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Challenges for Today's REALTORS®

  1. Consumers more frequently research information online, but working with better-informed consumers is an advantage in that it saves REALTORS® from having to provide a lot of basic education.
  2. Tech tools are a time-savings blessing, but they open a door for abuse; agents must be on guard about the information they receive and give out; consumers entrust agents with sensitive information about themselves.
  3. Computer-related threats can interfere with the operation of a computer system and/or obtain information belonging to the consumer or agent;identity theft is a growing crime that the industry needs to protect against.
  4. Part of the NAR's job as an association is to educate members about technology hazards and to make members aware of the tools the NAR is providing to help REALTORS® check their systems and secure their information to protect the privacy of consumers and their own business assets.
REALTOR® Secure

  1. The Center for REALTOR® Technology is the NAR division that focuses on ways to alert members to hazards and to create methods to assure safety; one result is the REALTOR® Secure program, launched in January 2004.
  2. REALTOR® Secure is a lengthy checklist based on security industry best practices applied to doing real estate business; the program can be used to check the current level of security of your company system and to identify strategies to implement that will make it even more secure.
  3. The program is attracting great interest from real estate firms, local boards and state associations all of whom collect information on properties and/or the financial status and buying intentions of individuals.
  4. Companies and organizations, by testing their systems, can demonstrate that they are doing the best to protect consumers.
Further Actions of the NAR

  1. An encroaching landscape of legislation and regulation some positive and some negative calls for the NAR to take action on behalf of its members and the real estate industry; attempts are in progress to implement Do Not Call,Do Not Spam and Do Not Fax lists.
  2. A proposal to require written permission in advance before sending information by fax, for example, would impede agents in responding quickly to buyers eager for information; the 6 million home sales last year would have involved the accumulation and storage of 37 million forms.
  3. NAR has succeeded in putting that regulation on hold to give Congress a chance to make sure it will not be a burden on the consumer or the industry; the association serves as a watchdog for the industry to keep well-intended legislation from having negative consequences.
Transaction Platforms

  1. NAR, along with a number of other associations, has been seriously looking at allowing people to do real estate transactions electronically for 6­7 years; the idea's time has probably come.
  2. Though a complete system is not up and running today, there is great potential for one in the near future; everyone would not use it, but many agents and vendors would find the capability to transmit documents electronically attractive for efficiency, effectiveness and time savings.
  3. Settlement Room has been in the forefront of developing a system that keeps professional agents in the middle of the transaction by giving them control over who has access to various parts of the transaction.
  4. Most states are putting into place an electronic signature system that will accommodate approving and protecting electronic signatures; that is a big boost to electronic platforms.
Advances in Communications

  1. The fax machine was the first great stride forward in the communications revolution; faxing a document that took 7­8 minutes on early machines takes 30 seconds or less today.
  2. Technological advances have expedited the real estate process to the point where a typical escrow of 90 days not too many years back has been reduced to as little as two weeks, including loan approval.
  3. The possibility is near that a person could select a property today and close in a day or two.
  4. NAR communications with its members has also speeded up; newsletter issues and correspondence used to take from a few days to a few weeks, but now online communication takes place instantly.
Favorite Places on the Web

  1. Realtor.org has a public section for buyers and sellers to get general information about the process and a secure section for NAR members that has professional information about the association and the industry.
  2. Realtor.com is an aggregation of homes available for sale broken down by region; this valuable resource for both buyers and sellers gets 6 million visitors a month.
The Continuing Role of NAR

The main headquarters of NAR remain in Chicago, but the association recently opened its new building in Washington, DC near the Capitol; NAR presence there is a strong statement that the association will be an active advocate for REALTORS®, property owners and private property rights long into the future.

Contact Information for Walt McDonald:

(v) 951-682-2300
(e) waltmcdonald@compuserve.com
(w)www.realtor.org


Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

www.realtor.org
www.realtor.com
www.realtor.org, click Technology/REALTOR Secure Program