Associations Rethink Forms Licensing Policy

by Victor Lund on November 29, 2017

Document Management

If you were in the real estate business before the days of email, you may recall the experience of driving to the local Board of REALTORS® to pick up a forms packet for a transaction. Alternatively, your brokerage may have had a forms file with every type of printed form that you might need. Simply stated, forms were printed until pioneering State Associations of REALTORS® learned to share them electronically. Today, electronic forms management is a member benefit for all Realtors® as a member benefit of The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). When Realtor Associations learned about this policy and product offering from the National Association of REALTORS®, they started to internalize and rethink their forms licensing program. Why Do We Love Standard Forms? Ages ago, and in some States of America, you had to hire a lawyer to do the documents for a real estate transaction. For the most part, this is busy work for Attorneys. In most States, licensed real estate professionals can complete forms and they are reviewed by their broker and processed by a title company. Most States have taken on the responsibility of creating standardized forms that handle the variety of transactions encountered by most Realtors. Standard forms have all of the legal terminology needed transactions, so the agent fills out the information about the subject property and the information about the party they represent on each form, along with things like price. The standardized forms make the contracting process simple, easy and fast. The Realtor fills in the blanks, gets signatures, and its done. Copyright is Owned by the Forms Author The use of the word “standardized” is a little misleading when it comes to forms. Written works of any kind fall under the protections of the federal Copyright Act of 1976. According to the Act, copyright is available “in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device,” United States Constitution 102(a). When you look at a form, you will notice a copyright statement on the bottom of each page. This tells you who owns the copyright. This is usually your State Association of REALTORS® who updates the forms from time to time as necessary. They invest a lot of the membership treasury in the […]

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NAR announced its Core Standard program for local Associations just over a year ago.   In essence it is designed to help every association ensure that they are delivering a minimum standard of code of ethics enforcement communication, advocacy, consumer outreach and fundraising to its members. The program is a good start.   At last count it had led to at least 90 mergers, likely with smaller associations who simply did not have the resources to meet the minimum standard. The number will probably be higher than that after the deadline of June 30th has been reached.   I applaud the effort to raise the bar for Associations. The viability of the real estate industry is threatened in markets where REALTORS® are not getting the support they need from their board. While I appreciate this effort I think it’s time to encourage and reward those associations that have gone WAY beyond the core standards. This group of boards can lead the way to a new generation of real estate association. They can test and prove out new methods to improve the relevance and value of real estate associations in the future. They can make bold moves to meet the needs of tomorrow’s REALTOR® and home buyer/seller.   Much like the game changer program of a few years ago, this new Gold Standard can be achieved by only breaking the mold, trying new things and demonstrating a dogged commitment to anticipating and meeting the needs of all Association constituents. So what would an industry-leading Association do differently? Here are the tenets I would suggest to get this discussion going: Consumers Become the Center of our Thinking First, the association will drive the focus on anticipating and exceeding the needs of real estate consumers. Without buyers and sellers, NONE of us have a job and yet we focus most of our attention on the needs of agents. Of course agents are important, but if we don’t drive our industry to higher levels of customer service we are going to be extinct. The best Associations will regularly engage with consumers, forming consumer research panels and asking consumers the tough questions that will make the local real estate industry stronger. Putting Teeth in the REALTOR® Brand Since a Gold Standard Association regularly engages with consumers, they will use the feedback from consumers to drive change in real estate training, services and technology. They will raise the bar on […]


Idea #1 – How to Take Credit for the Industry’s Service Quality Every real estate association I have the pleasure of working with is struggling with how to re-invent themselves. Everybody knows it’s a problem at some level, but yet there has been no fundamental change in the focus, governance or scope of associations in several years. Are we just going to sit by and watch the association business go away?  Should it go away?  Has the value of an association run its course? My fundamental belief is that Associations CAN and DO play an important role in the industry, but there needs to be more tangible evidence of the important roles that boards play. Here is the first of several ideas that I will be publishing to identify specific ways Associations can find ways to become more relevant to their members Promote Customer Satisfaction Levels When I ask the question how strong are you on professional standards in your market, I ALWAYS get the response “we’re really good at it”. Then when I ask how many people have suspended from your organization for nefarious or other code of ethics violations I usually hear none or maybe one over the past 10 years. Then when I ask a third question how many of you today are working with people that you believe violate the code of ethics just about every hand in the room goes up. There is definitely a discrepancy between perception and reality. So how can we change this circular logic and protectionism behavior? Here’s one way to start: I’m sure that many of you have heard of the J.D. Powers survey. Here is their role according to their website: “J.D. Power captures the opinions and perceptions of millions of consumers annually. Our data and insights are used by companies worldwide to improve quality, satisfaction, and business performance, while our ratings aid consumers in making more informed purchase decisions. “ So what if we tried this approach in our industry?  An association could deliver a valuable service to every one of its members if it tracked the satisfaction levels of every transaction and then rolled it up into one satisfaction number.  Then it could put teeth behind a REALTOR® ad campaign.  Just like J.D. Powers, the association could use an objective, third party brand that measured satisfaction. Then the local association could confidently claim “Your local REALTORS® deliver […]