It’s hard to lobby your congressperson when you aren’t allowed anywhere near them.

The National Association of Realtors announced Wednesday that it is taking its midyear conference virtual instead of having thousands of out-of-town Realtors descend on the nation’s capital.

The 1.4 million-member trade group was to hold its annual Realtors Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo from May 11-16 in Washington D.C., but the coronavirus outbreak has put a stop to those plans. Just this week the parent company of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices warned that an attendee at its conference in Nashville had been diagnosed with the disease — an unenviable position NAR no doubt seeks to avoid.

Instead of holding in-person meetings, NAR said it will hold committee meetings, key sessions and elections virtually.

“With the Centers for Disease Control issuing guidance limiting discretionary travel and gatherings of more than 10 people for the next eight weeks, and Washington, D.C. also instituting a state of emergency to limit the spread of COVID-19, NAR will no longer hold the 2020 Realtors Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo in person from May 11-16 in Washington, D.C.,” the trade group said in a press release.

“NAR will provide virtual options to ensure the full governance of its organization can continue while designing a true virtual meeting and convention in place of the RLMTE,” the trade group added.

According to the release, details on virtual meetings and dates will be forthcoming. It was not clear from the announcement whether taking the meetings and sessions virtual means they will be live-streamed or whether the virtual conference will still take place May 11-16. Reached by Inman, a spokesperson said NAR is still working out those details and will share them when available.

The situation may offer a bit of a silver lining: the opportunity to come up with ways for NAR to engage more of its members in what it does. In its release, NAR said it will use the time from now until July 1 to implement new virtual opportunities for member participation within all of its meetings and events.

The trade group also said it will “be putting members first'” by prioritizing member offerings that will directly help Realtors navigate the coronavirus’s “unprecedented impact on members’ personal lives and businesses.”

Any individuals who paid for conference events will be automatically refunded in full, the trade group said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with an additional comment from NAR.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.
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coronavirus | NAR
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