On the heels of announcing a split with broker data management company Upstream, the National Association of Realtors says it is eliminating the Center for Realtor Technology and replacing it with an emerging technology team to position itself as a “leading voice in real estate technology innovation.”
The trade group, which has more than 1.3 million members, says staffing changes to its advocacy, marketing communications, member experience and technology groups will also bolster its lobbying efforts and better communication to its members. NAR previously announced organizational changes in January, when it reorganized 10 groups in an effort to “enhance services to and engagement with members,” the trade group said at the time.
“These changes represent the next phase in our ongoing efforts to advance the real estate business and industry and put members’ interests first, from representing Realtors and property owners in Washington to driving development of new technology in Silicon Valley,” said Bob Goldberg, CEO of NAR, in a press release.
“We are executing on the vision set forth earlier this year to achieve more for our members and succeed in a period of upheaval and generational changes.”
In a separate emailed statement to Inman, Goldberg said eight people had left NAR, “but their positions have been reworked in the new organization structure and our head count remains the same, if not higher.”
NAR declined to comment on NAR’s head count, which eight people have left, what groups they belonged to and what it means that their positions have been “reworked.”
Changes to NAR’s tech approach
After creating a strategic business, innovation and technology group (SBIT) earlier this year, NAR is getting rid of the Center for Realtor Technology, which houses its research and development arm, CRT Labs. NAR declined to offer further details on what will happen to CRT and CRT Labs.
A new team will identify and evaluate emerging technologies, analyze the impact they could have on real estate, and build relationships with corporations, governments and academic institutions that are researching and developing emerging technologies, NAR said in the release.
NAR expects to hire a new vice president of strategy and innovation in early 2019 to lead the team. NAR declined to comment on whether the new hire would lead the SBIT group as a whole, which is currently lead by Mark Birschbach, promoted to senior vice president of strategic business, innovation and technology.
“I am excited to announce these new initiatives for the SBIT group,” Birschbach said in a statement. “These changes will drive additional efficiencies within SBIT and expand its efforts to drive innovation in real estate both globally and domestically as well as provide additional benefits to members.”
NAR will selectively retain outside firms “to interact more effectively” on key issues with members of Congress and relevant legislative committees.
“Our new, streamlined approach provides more flexibility to work with outside firms as we develop public policy campaigns on issues identified in our federal issue survey,” said Shannon McGahn, senior vice president of government affairs, in a statement.
“Using well-connected, outside experts in these areas deepens our bench and amplifies our voice in Congress while giving our internal team more flexibility and time to focus on relationships across the executive and legislative branches of government.”
After merging marketing and communications earlier this year, and hiring Victoria Gillespie as its chief marketing and communications officer, NAR has created four teams: a new digital strategy group with data and analytics capabilities to drive more advanced marketing and communication strategies; meetings/events/sales; content and creative; and media/public relations/advocacy/operations, the trade group said.
“Integrating skillsets across these teams enables NAR to improve efficiency and coordination, allowing for more timely, transparent, direct and relevant member communications,” NAR said.
The trade group has also divided its member experience team in two. One will focus on members and the other will focus on organizations that serve members, including Realtor associations, affiliates, multiple listing services (MLSs) and global partners.
Each will have subject matter experts for association leadership, governance, commercial and global, NAR said, adding that the reorganization is meant to foster “a more holistic approach to serving our stakeholders.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with an additional comment from NAR and to note instances where NAR declined to comment.