The National Association of Realtors, which boasts 1.5 million members, will tackle real estate’s hottest topics a week after suffering a series of legal setbacks in court. Here’s a breakdown of the agenda.

There are few trade organizations in the U.S. that wield as much power as the National Association of Realtors (NAR). It has 1.5 million members. It’s been around for more than a century. And it sets the agenda for the real estate industry as a whole.

But there are also few organizations that have had to face the kind of multi-front assault that NAR is currently staring down. Perhaps most notably, last week a judge allowed a sweeping lawsuit over agent commissions to become a class action case. The ruling means hundreds of thousands of homesellers can ask to be reimbursed for more than $1 billion in commissions they paid to buyer agents in the past eight years. It was a major blow to NAR, which is a defendant in the case.

NAR has vowed to appeal, but the bad news just kept coming: Two days after the commission case ruling, a federal appeals court resurrected another lawsuit over NAR’s pocket listing policy. The case began when The PLS, formerly a private listing network for real estate agents, sued NAR and other industry organizations over their efforts to ban pocket listings, which some believe contribute to discrimination. A previous court had tossed out the lawsuit, but the appeals court last week reversed that decision — a development NAR described as disappointing.

Finally, one day after the pocket listing news, NAR suffered yet another legal defeat when a judge tossed a counterclaim from the organization in a case against discount brokerage REX Real Estate.

All of which is to say, last week was not great for NAR.

While these various rulings represent tactical defeats, they also hint at a bigger issue: There are challenges not just to specific NAR policies, but also to the organization’s influence and power over the industry. It’s an existential moment for NAR.

And it’s against that backdrop that, this week, NAR is gathering in Maryland for its 2022 Realtors Legislative Meetings. The midyear conference will draw Realtors who are involved in steering NAR’s agenda, who are politically active and who generally want to have a say in the future of real estate. Sessions will touch on an array of topics, but overall should offer insights into how NAR envisions its mission evolving at what increasingly looks like a critical moment for the organization and the industry.

Below are some key questions and essential sessions to keep an eye on. And for more information, check out the full agenda on NAR’s website.

1. How will NAR fight discrimination and promote diversity in real estate?

Diversity has become an increasingly prominent topic in real estate over the past several years thanks to both high profile cases of discrimination as well as a variety of efforts to improve the business. NAR has not shied away from the issue, and to a large extent the ongoing battles over pocket listings, among other things, boil down to questions of how real estate should handle diversity.

Plenty of real estate organizations have adopted rules meant to foster diversity in one way or another, but NAR’s position on these issues is especially critical to watch because its policies eventually impact virtually everyone in the industry — and by extension almost all real estate consumers. Which is to say, at least for now, where NAR leads, the world follows. At the same time, NAR also has a more politically, geographically and economically diverse membership roster than big trade groups in other industries. And that means whatever direction it chooses is going to represent a delicate balancing act.

NAR has devoted a significant amount of time at this year’s gathering to topics related to diversity, race, fair housing and other adjacent themes.

Key sessions: 

Sunday, May 1: Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing. 2 p.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Federal Legislative and Political Forum: Building Prosperity through Fair Housing. 8 a.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Federal Legislative & Political Forum: Behind-the-Scenes in Today’s Political Environment. 8 a.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Our Racial Moment of Truth: The Infrastructure of Our Divisions and its Impact on Housing Policy. 1 p.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Multicultural Real Estate Leadership Advisory Group. 1:30 p.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Real Property Valuation Forum: Addressing Bias in the Appraisal Process. 2:15 p.m. EDT.

Tuesday, May 3: Fair Housing Policy Committee. 8 a.m. EDT.

2. What is the future of the multiple listing service (MLS)?

The MLS is one of the most distinctive, and advantageous, things that sets the real estate industry in the U.S. apart from other countries where there often is no centralized system.

That said, MLSs have not escaped controversy in recent years. Several, for example, are named as co-defendants with NAR in the pocket listing lawsuit. There are also ongoing debates about how much influence an MLS should have over members, what relationships MLSs should maintain with portals such as Zillow, and how the current period of MLS consolidation might play out in the coming years.

This week’s conference includes several days of sessions that will dive into the world of MLSs and the role they’ll play in real estate’s future.

Key sessions:

Monday, May 2: Multiple Listing Policy Service Forum Breakout Session: Regional or Cooperative Venture MLS’s. 1 p.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Multiple Listing Service Forum Breakout: Multiple Listing Services of Boards with fewer than 1,500 Members. 1 p.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Multiple Listing Service Forum Breakout: Multiple Listing Services of Boards with more than 1,500 Members. 1 p.m. EDT

Tuesday, May 3: Multiple Listing Service Forum. 10:30 a.m. EDT.

Tuesday, May 3: MLS Association Executives Session. 3 p.m. EDT.

Wednesday, May 4: Multiple Listing Issues & Policies Committee. 10:30 a.m. EDT.

3. What’s going on with the market and the economy?

The last two years have been a boom period for real estate, at least if you happen to be an agent with an established book of business. But with inventory still low, interest rates rising, world strife making headlines daily and a potential recession looming, the future has rarely been less certain.

NAR’s staff includes both real estate professionals who have worked in the trenches, as well as economists and analysts whose job description includes figuring out where the market is going. Some such folks, including NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, will be on-site during the conference to discuss what exactly is going on and what kinds of trends might dominate real estate in the near future.

Monday, May 2: Regulatory Issues Forum. 1 p.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Federal Priority Issues Briefing. 4 p.m. EDT.

Wednesday, May 4: Residential Economic Issues & Trends Forum. 8 a.m. EDT.

4. What will the industry do about agent behavior?

Most real estate agents are no doubt professional and nice.

But maybe thanks to social media’s ability to elevate even minor incidents, the last few years have been marred by multiple incidents of agent misbehavior.

NAR has taken a stand in the past on these issues, including by cracking down on social media harassment and decrying the riots that overran the U.S. Capitol in 2021. But agent misbehavior, and the extent to which the real estate industry should police its members, continues to be an issue — meaning any work that happens during the conference relating to things like ethics codes will be a must-watch.

Key sessions:

Monday, May 2: Federal Legislative & Political Forum: Behind-the-Scenes in Today’s Political Environment. 8 a.m. EDT.

Wednesday, May 4: Professional Standards Forum & Committee. 1 p.m. EDT.

Friday, May 6: Board of Directors. 8:30 a.m. EDT.

5. How much will technology change the industry?

Technology has been one of real estate’s dominant stories for years now, though recent discussions have noted that much of the transaction remains stubbornly in the past despite huge investments in tech.

NAR has helped shape both the tech conversation in real estate over the years, and thanks to its venture capital fund Second Century Ventures is also directly involved in advancing the real estate technology landscape. This week’s gathering, then, may be a chance to see how this topic is evolving and to gauge just how much of an impact tech can have on housing.

Tuesday, May 3: Hands-on Workshop: Using TikTok for Real Estate. 1 p.m. EDT.

Wednesday, May 4: Emerging Business Issues & Technology Forum: Which Emerging Tech Trends Will Impact Your Business in the Coming Years? (2–3 p.m. EDT)

6. What responsibility does the real estate industry have to the environment?

Real estate is uniquely tied to environmental factors. If there’s a flood or a fire, homes are destroyed. The threat of natural disasters determines insurance rates. Rising sea levels could fundamentally reshape entire cities.

Though individual agents may be limited in how much they can do day-to-day for the environment, collectively the real estate industry has the ability to shape policy and practice in ways that few other industries can. To that end, NAR has devoted several sessions this week to issues related to the environment and sustainability.

Monday, May 2: Sustainability Advisory Group. 9 a.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Land Use, Property Rights and Environment Committee. 1 p.m. EDT.

7. What will future housing regulations look like?

One of NAR’s key functions is to liaise with lawmakers and advocate to the government on behalf of the housing industry. And while not everyone in real estate is a policy wonk, the legislative work NAR does is among its most impactful.

Policy work is also especially critical at this moment thanks to low supplies of housing and rising prices, as well as the somewhat bitter sentiment those conditions are creating among some consumers. Put another way, there are a lot of people out there who are calling for new and draconian regulations of the housing industry right now.

This week’s conference will consequently be a chance to see how NAR is approaching the legislative process, what policies it supports, and how regulation fits into the livelihood of agents on the ground.

Monday, May 2: Federal Legislative and Political Forum: Building Prosperity through Fair Housing. 8 a.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Federal Legislative & Political Forum: Behind-the-Scenes in Today’s Political Environment. 8 a.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Land Use, Property Rights and Environment Committee. 1 p.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Regulatory Issues Forum. 1 p.m. EDT.

Monday, May 2: Federal Priority Issues Briefing. 4 p.m. EDT.

Tuesday, May 3: General Session: Inside Politics with Punchbowl News. 8 a.m. EDT.

Tuesday, May 3: Fair Housing Policy Committee. 8 a.m. EDT.

Email Jim Dalrymple II

MLS | NAR
Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Inman Connect Las Vegas Memorial Day sale – 44% off exclusively for Select subscribers!Register Now To Save×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription