C Tann-Starr's Outside Blog

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Wordy C Remix on EW - Have REALTORS® Lost Their Right to Free Speech? Hmm...

 

NAR was previously cited in 2008 for adopting policies that restrained competition from innovative real estate brokers in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1. Here is the link to the Department of Justice final judgment. Part of the premise for the lawsuit was the presentation of information that explained, "NAR's policy significantly alters the rules that govern MLSs by permitting traditional brokers to discriminate against other brokers based on their business model, denying them the full benefits of MLS participation. The Department's lawsuit seeks to ensure that traditional brokers, through NAR's policy, cannot deprive consumers of the benefits that would flow from these new ways of competing." (http://www.justice.gov/atr/public/press_releases/2005/211008.htm)

Note that the final judgment specifically states that, "Defendant has not admitted and does not admit either the allegations set forth in the Amended Complaint or any liability or wrongdoing..."

In addition, you will find at IX. NO LIMITATION ON GOVERNMENT RIGHTS: "Nothing in this Final Judgment shall limit the right of the United States to investigate and bring actions to prevent or restrain violations of the antitrust laws concerning any Rule or practice adopted or enforced by NAR or any of its Member Boards."

Section IX is your hint people... I'm just sayin' if you have a question feel free to ask NAR first and the Department of Justice second. If members from all over the country have a "freedom of speech" concern I am quite sure those concerns will be addressed by someone in a position of authority to safeguard our rights to be innovative and express ourselves.

I try to exhaust my administrative mechanisms before gearing up to do battle on a higher level, but sometimes it doesn't work out the way you plan. That's why I love blogging. It's instant. It's global. You say exactly what you mean and the whole world knows how you feel. 

Right now I feel a wee bit cranky that one of my beloved forum writers is upset. Nothing flips my b*tch switch faster than someone messing with one of my Club Chaos bay-bays. Please give my friend Elizabeth your support and visit her blogs.

As a notoriously unconventional writer I do not take kindly to any hint of a restriction on my ability to express my quirky opinions (whether they be brilliant or beguilingly stupid - LOL). ;-)

 

 

My faith in the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has been shaken. My faith in the California Association of REALTORS® (CAR) has been shaken. My faith in the Sacramento Board of REALTORS® (SAR) has been shaken, too. I have adopted and work by the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. That link takes you to an article on About.com where I have defended the differences between agents and REALTORs®, especially for those readers who believe there is no difference.

The National Association of REALTORS® advertises to home buyers and home sellers on the pages I am paid to write for the Homebuying site at About.com. About.com is owned by The New York Times. I used to feel such joy and pride. Now I feel sadness when I look at those ads.

Did you know that by accepting membership in an Association of REALTORS®, an agent agrees that the Association can, at its discretion, file a complaint against that agent based upon a narrow interpretation of the Code of Ethics -- even if that interpretation and allegation is unfounded and untrue? The agent can't even discuss the allegations in public or the agent can risk a loss of membership in the MLS. The Association is free to make up its own rules.

If you are writing for a national publication or perhaps simply writing in a public forum that is recognized within your community, that exposure and recognition might come back to you bite you. While the grievance process is important, valid and needed to assure quality among agents -- because there are always a few agents who will try to the bend the rules -- that process can be abused.

The Code of Ethics is a shield that ensures the integrity of our profession. I believe in it. But what do you do if that shield gets turned into a weapon and it's pointed at you?

sacramento short sale agent

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Elizabeth Weintraub is an author, home buying columnist for The New York Times-owned About.com, a Land Park resident, and a Land Park real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown and East Sacramento. Weintraub is also a Sacramento Short Sale agent who lists and successfully sells short sales throughout Sacramento. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put 35 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate. DRE License # 00697006.

The Short Sale Savior, by Elizabeth Weintraub, available through bookstores everywhere and at Amazon.com.

Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.

The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of Lyon Real Estate.

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Comment balloon 10 commentsC Tann-Starr • November 06 2010 09:28PM

Comments

I was not aware that membership in NAR is a requirement of membership in any MLS. There are real estate agents and brokers who do not belong to the NAR for a variety of reasons. As members of the NAR, we all agreed to abide by the Code of Ethics. As an association, the NAR could question a member's actions or speech if it reflected badly on the organization...

But what happened? What on earth did the NAR do to upset Elizabeth?

I don't always agree with the NAR and am very curious. Better go click on all the links...

Posted by Maria Morton, Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758 (Chartwell Kansas City Realty) over 7 years ago

I have no idea what is going on here but if someone is messing with elizabeth I will defend her no questions asked.

Posted by Marcy Moyer, Probate, Trust, and Investment Specialist (eXp Realty of California Silicon Valley Probate, Trust, and Investment Sales) over 7 years ago

Maria, there are MLS that have on-line boxes for you to check off on their dues lists what you want to pay for. Some of the items don't uncheck while others do... Computer glitch? Maybe... maybe not... Take the PDF application for participating in this MLS. Notice it states you are joining a board of REALTORS. You have to be in NAR to be a Realtor. This link provides the links to all of the forms you need to join this board. If the firm I like is using this MLS I either join NAR or find a firm not using this MLS if I do not want to be a Realtor. 

I can't pick the MLS. The broker in charge is running his or her business and makes that decision. Agents abide by office policy and sometimes pay for associations they do not desire because their geographic needs may trump their choices. I have a neighbor who pays for two associations, the one for Manhattan and the one covering Queens and Long Island. There are five counties within the confines of NYC. If an agent joins a firm that pays dues to to 3 to 5 associations, that agent must also be in good standing with those same associations. We invest a tremendous amount of money to do what we do. People have no idea of our true overhead.  

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Thank you, Marcy. So will I.

We have to always be able to speak what is on our minds and be honest in our dealings. Sometimes that includes refusing to do what others ask. Sometimes that includes removing ourselves from a transaction. I have had people complain that I refuse to do tasks that are clearly outside my purview. I have had people who I and my firm had NO contractual relationship with complain that I didn't do things for them that they wanted done.

If a person does not retain a professional they have no business being bent out of shape because they call 10 professionals who each give their contractual clients their top priority and not a prospect who refuses to come into the office with proper ID and documentation. 

My pet peeve is when I ask if they are working with a broker and people confess to having several and liking none but making them all compete. I don't do multiple brokers. That's why buyer's agents use buyer's brokerage contracts. It's the contract that makes a person a client of the firm... not reading a blog post and or firing off an e-mail full of Qs a Google search can answer. 

Blogging is a wonderful business tool that lets an individual writer be discovered by the public. We have to make sure we protect our right to freely express ourselves in every social media medium we select as an interpersonal communication tool. From blurb to full blown article, our words are our words...

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Very interesting, Carolyn. Here in KC, I pay to belong to NAR, MAR (Missouri Association), KAR (Kansas), KCRAR (Kansas City Regional Assoc), and Heartland MLS. Our MLS was formed by real estate brokers and the board of directors are all brokers (andl Realtors© as well). 

Although I work in both states, our MLS covers > 5,000 square miles so I would not need to join another MLS until I reached either Warrensburg MO or Lawrence KS. Agents in those cities often belong to 2 MLS's.There was another MLS in South Johnson County and Miami County until this year; they have merged with our MLS so that is no longer an issue. We have 8 counties in KS and 12 in MO but our population is sparser than yours. 2.5million vs. 8+million.

Yes, I do see that you must be a member of NAR to join the MLS of Long Island Inc. I imagine that the NAR would like for all MLS's to structure their membership in such a manner - and maybe they have. After going back and reading through the 33 pages of our MLS Rules and Regulations, it seems that we may also require membership in NAR (Realtor© designation) to participate in Heartland MLS. There are a couple of paragraphs aoubt Non Realtor©  participation which I am going to have to ask my broker and/or our attorney to clarify as the language is somewhat ambiguous. And I will have to check into how some agents who have told me they do not belong to NAR operate in their respective areas. This could be a big educational experience.

Back to Elizabeth and free speech: Yes, I support free speech and believe we should protect it on all levels. I also hope that Elizabeth knows that she can call on me for whatever support she needs.

The NAR is an association of US. We need to assure that it remains an accurate representation of who we are as professionals.

 

Posted by Maria Morton, Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758 (Chartwell Kansas City Realty) over 7 years ago

Maria, I find that fascinating. A MLS covering the tri-state area would have me doing the Snoopy Dance over here. I have been watching Google regarding a possible venture into listings and believe they would be a formidable bit of competition to shake the old guard up if they ever created a real estate search portal. 

I love your last comment: "The NAR is an association of US. We need to assure that it remains an accurate representation of who we are as professionals."

Being very quirky means I have a soft spot for original content. People Google what interests them and if they like a writer they will return... Our individual voices distinguish us in cyberspace. It alarms me when people try to silence a writer because if we sit an do nothing because it isn't our voice, what happens when it does become our voice and no writer speaks up on our behalf?

We should be pro-active with our associations, not reactive after the fact. I would never let a rival competing agent try and shut down my forum blogs because I spend more time chatting about kids, food, traveling and music than MLS statistics. Elizabeth should be able to express herself as she sees fit in the venue of her choice, moderate the comments as she sees fit and delete anything on her blogs she deems requires removal. 

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 7 years ago

C, I read the DOJ final decision, I have to say I am a bit lost here. I found one point interesting and a bit disarming, the decision requires registration to all who sign up to do a search on a VOW. (and this worries me as we all have the option to allow consumers to search without registration) But then again, I started to get a headache as soon as I started to read the decision anyway, so perhaps I didn't get it.

I am reading your comment above. Having no idea what happened to Elizabeth I can only guess after reading this that someone took her to task for her writing, and she lost:

"We should be pro-active with our associations, not reactive after the fact. I would never let a rival competing agent try and shut down my forum blogs because I spend more time chatting about kids, food, traveling and music than MLS statistics. Elizabeth should be able to express herself as she sees fit in the venue of her choice, moderate the comments as she sees fit and delete anything on her blogs she deems requires removal."

After reading that, I am a bit concerned that someone can, because they don't like me, bring suit against me for my thoughts and writings here. And that they have the full support of NAR to do so.

I am... lost in CT.

 

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 7 years ago

Andrea, as the situation is ongoing there has been no final determination that I am aware of. I started writing this post and sending everyone to E because I already know what it feels like to be falsely accused by a disgruntled prospect out of the blue who dumped me before we ever saw a single property only to try and come back after e-mailing other practitioners stating I was not the agent for them and they wanted other broker referrals.

Their other brokers didn't work out, so the prospect then started demanding I speak/work with them and schedule a bunch of showings on short notice but I declined to continue contact and did not accept them as a customer or client. If a person tells me they have another agent and will not be working with me I close the prospect file. I move on. I do not interfere with other peoples business relationships and value my time.

What ever they were doing didn't work out so they contacted me to take them out on short notice like I was a cab service and were so miffed about my refusing to accept them as a customer or client when I reminded them two weeks earlier they had turned down the only available date I had (then dumped me for informing them I would be in PA on business), that they lodged a "discrimination in housing application" complaint against me WHEN I NEVER SHOWED THEM A SINGLE PROPERTY AND THEY WERE NOT MY CLIENT.

I was at PA REBarCAmp when they were continuing to make their text demands for me to come get them and take them to a Craigslist find and a couple of other Internets ads on the same date they told me for religious reasons they could not go see rental listings. Duh???

When people use multiple Realtors they sometimes can't remember who showed what. When people fire off emotional text messages and e-mails letting you know you've been dumped it is simply amazing to me that they could then later come back and create major havoc by trying to set an agent and their firm up for litigation and Fair Housing fines when they are (1) NOT YOUR CLIENT and (2) you are not the Realtor who showed them rental properties.

WTF???

Anyone can trigger an investigation by simply filling out a friggin' form. They should make people notarize them to prove who they are but they don't.

I gotta get a lawyer when someone says and does manipulative stupid shit? My broker has to call the firm attorney because the bogus crap lodged against me triggers our E&O audit? 

I sent a 69 page answer to the investigators at the Department of State inclusive of their e-mails telling me they could not make the dates and times I had available to schedule showings, plus their dumping me and hunting for a new broker.

I had to prove I as out of the friggin' state.  My ActiveRain blog posts and the posts of the other Realtors who took pictures with me for two days killed their complaint. Having my e-mails and the e-mails of another Realtor who was also dealing with them during the interim of the drama they created killed their complaint. 

Blogging and my business planner saved me and my firm from a huge headache.  

You guys have no idea what it is like to be up against a bogus complaint... I was furious for days on end... The time, effort and money involved ruined my sleep. Why do you think I cherish being so damn blunt on my blog? Blogging saved me. I love ActiveRain. (I was pretty blunt in some of my statements to the investigators as well - LOL)

It is hard for me to sit helplessly on the sideline and watch anyone suffer through fighting any type of bogus complaint that may affect their license. 

Been there. Done that. It really, really whomps...

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Wow, Carolyn, what a lot of trouble for you to go through! You had to prove your were out of town? That's ridiculous! Too bad they couldn't be compelled to pay you for emotional suffering and loss of time and sleep! I hope Elizabeth's thing is resolved quickly in her favor.

Posted by Maria Morton, Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758 (Chartwell Kansas City Realty) over 7 years ago

Maria, I second that and hope the issues are swiftly resolved in her favor.

Practitioners who don't write for a living do not realize the discipline involved in balancing more than one job while being a Realtor.

I do illustration, photography, digital video and music on top of blogging. I teach seminars. I am very busy with kids in tow. I am not the type of person who likes to waste time. When I agree to do something for someone it doesn't just affect my family time, it affects multiple business ventures...

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) over 7 years ago

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