Industry NewsNews Brief

Will NAR govern .realtor sites with a heavy hand?

Group's history enforcing trademark raises free speech concerns

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By DAVID W. MYERS That the National Association of Realtors would spend more than $500,000 in the hopes of obtaining the right to create and manage a trio of new top-level domains -- .realtor, .realestate and .homes -- might seem like a sure-fire, "no-brainer" investment. "Realtors are already the most trusted, valued sources for real estate-related information, and we believe that the .realtor domain would extend that trust online," NAR said last month in announcing that it had applied to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to create and manage several new alternatives to the ".com" top-level domain commonly employed by businesses today. The 1-million-strong trade group noted that its research shows nearly nine out of 10 recent homebuyers used the Internet in their search process. But only licensed real estate professionals who are members of NAR and who subscribe to the group's Code of Ethics have the right to call themselves a Realtor. NAR's v...