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Is NAR Criminal or Clueless? What difference does it make?

I  read the give and take between Greg and Mike DiMella (full disclosure, Mike is a client) with interest, because I respect them both, and it is always interesting when smart people agree to disagree and do so with civility and eloquence and without resorting to the ad hominem.

When that single MIBOR director derailed a policy change that went against them, even though it was unanimously approved by the NAR’s own technology committee, we were all left to discern a motive.

Was this the result of a long-standing “criminal conspiracy” (Greg)? Is this an attempt by some local MLSs, who see Google’s handwriting on the wall, to remian relevant by competing with their own members (me)? Or was this a consequence of the realities of trying to pull coherent policy from the collective mind of a large membership organization in a timely fashion (Mike)?

Its an interesting question, but the answer, it seems to me,  is irrelevant in the discussion of what to do next.

One thing we all agree on, I think, is that the MIBOR director used his knowledge of  NAR parliamentary procedure to work the system to MIBOR’s benefit and to the detriment of brokers and agents.

The prima facie evidence is that, at least for the next 6 months, Paula Henry is still being forced to dis-allow Google from indexing her site.

That means the damage is real.

Yes, it is contained to Indianapolis for the moment, but will it stay that way? My guess is that MIBOR will be huddling with other MLSs who share their control fetish over the next 6 months, and our friend the objecting director from Indianapolis will have a quorum come November.

Now that NAR has proven itself to be subject to the whims of directors who are nostalgic for a paper-bound MLS that brokers kept behind their desks, modern brokers and agents need to aggressively defend their own interests because, clearly, the organization that is supposed to do that is not.

I see signs of this happening now, with people getting fed up enough to get involved with their boards at the local level, but is that enough?

Perhaps now is the time forward-thinking real estate professionals to organize outside of NAR or the local MLS, and around something more solid than a diaspora of blog posts.

Of course, Internet-based technologies would still be central to the effort. Organizing has never been easier. You are looking at one of the social networking tools and at the network that we could use to do it, and we have the example of Obama’s campaign to use as a template.

Can we use these tools and our collective knowledge to create a new lobby for sane real estate practices? Can we network the people who are trying to get involved to modernize the existing boards together so they can share notes and encourage each other?

Or would any new organization be subject to the same cat herding problems that seem to plague NAR? Only with younger, more nimble cats. Call it “kitten herding” which sounds like it might come with its own set of issues.

When the time comes, will people put their money where their blog posts are? Or are we all too “heads down” in our own businesses to make a collective difference?

Is it “yes we can” or “no we can’t”?

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  • 7 comments

    7 Comments so far

    1. Benjamin Ficker May 22nd, 2009 12:36 pm

      Great post John. I think that one of the big problems we face is that we (tech-minded/savvy) agents are such a huge minority to the total number of agents. I guess it’s just like anything else: Get the word out.

    2. The Power of Social Media May 22nd, 2009 7:55 pm

      [...] Is NAR Criminal or Clueless? What difference does it make? [...]

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    4. Paula Henry May 24th, 2009 6:03 am

      I left a comment here a couple of days ago; don’t know where it went.

      Criminal in it’s attempt to restrict competition or clueless in beleieving they were serving Realtors best interest when agreeing with MIBOR’s interpretation of this rule.

      If we don’t stand for a change now, we may not have a choice later. It won’t be easy to educate those who have no interest in learning the implications of this particular ruling. There will be another ruling and another and another.

      YES, we can!

    5. Dave Phillips May 24th, 2009 7:02 pm

      I serve on the NAR Board of Directors and I am the CEO of a local association with a MLS. I have attended many NAR Board meetings in my almost 20 years with the organization and I have never seen and motion blow through the process like the Indexing/scraping issue. Issues often have trouble getting passed by the Board even if they come through a committee, but generally they are debated by the Board for several minutes before they die or get referred back. This was a parliamentary fast break that ended with MIBOR slam dunking IDX sites and shattering the the backboard in the process. It happened so quick I did not even have a chance to get to the mic and plea for a more rational approach.

      I’ve posted on other blogs that I think this puts virtually ALL IDX sites in violation, but I doubt other MLSs will move to enforce this. In the mean time, Paula will be the martyr of the REnet.

    6. Bob Wilson May 25th, 2009 4:32 pm

      This will come to a head in San Diego in November. If NAR continues with the scraper argument, they WILL see a restriction of trade lawsuit.

      In the meantime, if you are in Indy, calls and letters to the DOJ would be worth your while.

    7. John Rowles May 26th, 2009 5:54 am

      @Ben, Dave, Bob: Thanks, guys. You hit on the same thing from different angles: NAR is out of touch. If it wasn’t, this would never have been an issue in the first place. The correct response to the original compliant was, “So optimize your own site or opt out.” Period.

      @Dave: Seems to me like NAR should change its name to NAMLS.

      @Paula: Great. You’re a martyr for at least 6 months. Not what you hoped for when you did the right thing and spoke out about what MIBOR is (still) trying to do, I’m sure, but you never know where this will lead, and you are at the center of it. At least it will be interesting (among other things).