As the largest, most influential real estate trade group in the country, where does the National Association of Realtors see itself in the next five years? A “strategic framework” for 2019 through 2023 adopted by NAR‘s board of directors last week offers some clues, though it’s short on specifics.
Created by NAR’s Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee, the framework “charts the next path of the journey of the association” and addresses NAR’s long-term goals and its operating values at a “30,000-feet” level, committee chair Heather Ozur told attendees at NAR’s annual conference, the Realtors Conference & Expo, in Boston earlier this month.
“The new strategic framework represents a common focus and direction for NAR leaders, volunteers, and staff,” Ozur said…”It’s informative, it’s inspiring and it’s surely aspirational,” she added.
After board approval, it’s the job of NAR’s committees and leadership team to really put the plan into action, dive into “the nitty-gritty” and report progress to the Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee, Ozur said, pointedly saying it lacks detail because “it’s not a business plan.”
To develop the framework, the committee considered studies, articles and trend reports from inside and outside the industry, input from local and state associations, and read Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why,” according to Ozur.
During the course of its work, the committee came up with nine “game-changer” trends that would affect the future of the industry and would guide the creation of the plan:
- The autonomous consumer
- Changing broker business models
- Questioning the value of association membership
- Scarcity of resources and drive to conserve
- Innovation that is possible from non-traditional collaborators
- Increase in regulatory restrictions
- Impact of global economic volatility/players
- Affordability, access to housing
- Lifestyle/generational change (e.g. mobility)
The framework does not include a new vision statement, which NAR will develop in 2019. The new plan replaces a strategic plan the trade group debuted in 2014. NAR declined to comment on whether it had fulfilled the objectives described in the 2014 plan, the actions it took to fulfill those objectives, and whether any of the objectives had carried over into the new strategic framework.
NAR also declined to comment on how it will use the new strategic framework or any upcoming examples of where Realtors will be able to see it in action.
“NAR’s strategic framework was developed by the 2018 Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee to outline the standards, values and priorities of our organization and where our priorities for the coming years will lie,” the organization said in a statement. “Members can look to the framework, just approved by NAR’s Board of Directors, to understand the association’s long-term goals, the way NAR will position itself and how we will operate.”
Where is NAR going? What does NAR stand for?
The new strategic framework lists 10 long-term goals for the association, including:
- NAR will serve the member and the consumer by setting and enforcing the standard for ethical practice within the profession.
- NAR will deliver innovative programs, products and services to support the success and profitability of the Realtor.
- The value of membership in NAR will be clear, essential and undeniable.
- NAR will be a nimble, decisive leader in shaping the future of real estate.
- NAR will be sought after as a strategic partner in driving innovation in the business of real estate.
The framework also lists 12 operating values for the association, including:
- Right to housing. We believe that every individual should have access to safe, decent, affordable housing.
- Homeownership. We support the broadest opportunity for homeownership and promote the benefits to individuals, families and the community.
- Professionalism. We believe that all Realtors ascribe to the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.
- Collaboration. We believe that by sharing expertise, ideas and resources with others, we can build relationships and solutions that will advance the industry. We will always seek to find best in brand companies, partners or platforms, rather than build or develop it ourselves.
- Stewardship. We believe that we have a responsibility to manage and direct the assets of the Association, including the integrity of the Realtor brand, for the sole purpose of benefiting our members.
- Transparency. We strive for open, two-way communication with members to inform our actions and decisions on their behalf.
Actions to explore
The Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee did not lay out exactly where NAR will take the framework, but did make some recommendations for results to produce and actions to explore over the next five years:
- NAR’s role as the source of data and data intelligence
- Development of the Realtor as a 21st century leader in the community
- Driving Realtor success and profitability
- Elevating the Realtor brand and the significance of membership
- Driving innovation in the industry
- Increasing influence as the voice for the industry, consumers and communities
- Building greater industry unity and collaboration
- Building partnerships within and outside the industry
- Aligning communication and messaging throughout organized real estate
- Collaborating with state and local associations to seamlessly serve a “shared” member
- Enhancing the NAR member experience
- Enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of NAR governance
On that last recommendation, Ozur noted that NAR had just established a presidential advisory group to examine NAR’s governance over the next three years to address “overarching concerns” regarding “the ongoing struggle with governance and the sustainability of the association, real estate and our communities.”
“We’ve heard that this is a hard ship to move at NAR and we have to get ahead of that,” Ozur said at the NAR board meeting.
The board approved the new strategic framework without discussion or debate with a vote of 716 vs 27.