GAOR’s 2020 President Steven Small delivered the State of the Association address at our Annual General Membership Meeting on July 15, 2020.
Good morning and welcome to the 2020 General Membership Meeting for the Glendale Association of REALTORS®. As a part of this meeting it is my role as your president to share with you the state of the association. As you know we have all have major challenges this year that no one could have anticipated. However, thanks to everyone’s dedication, resilience and flexibility we are in a strong position as an Association to move forward into the last half of this year and into 2021.
Our member count is 1,610 which includes active REALTORS®, secondary members and affiliates. The i-Tech MLS member count is 1,343. Both of these member counts are about 5% lower from this same time last year.
I want to recognize the work of the staff at the Association. They’ve faced challenges in providing support to our members while in lockdown and working remotely. Sosi, Patricia and Robert are essential to the daily operations of the Association and we are grateful for them. At the same time, the Association is shortly planning to hire a new staff member for member support and other operational projects. I also want to recognize the Association’s long-standing Government Affairs Director, Laura Olhasso, who has provided many years of critical support in lobbying the government on your behalf and in representing the interests of REALTORS® with local, state and federal governments.
The REALTOR® Action Fund is an important tool when working with the government to fight for our profession and protect your business. Currently 12.5% of the Association members have contributed at least $20 toward the REALTOR® Action Fund this year. I want to encourage all of our members to contribute just $20. Why is this so important? 2020 is a major political year and our industry is under continued pressure. In November you can expect ballot measures supporting rent control and split roll taxation. Both of these will be hard fights for real estate and will be expensive. Also watch for a ballot measure from C.A.R. called “The Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families, and Victims of Wildfire or Natural Disasters Act”. This is an improved update of the Tax Portability ballot measure from 2018. And again, your $20 contributed is needed this year – it goes directly toward supporting and protecting Realtors and real estate.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Association has strived for regular communication with staff and members on staying safe and protecting their businesses. This will continue to be a major challenge as new information emerges on a daily basis. The Association will provide information to our members as soon as it is available, and will refer members to C.A.R., NAR and public health officials for guidance. We will refer our agents to the C.A.R. Legal Hotline for issues and questions related to specific listings and transactions.
When the Association office will reopen? Every brokerage is facing these questions, and at the same time there appear to be increasing cases statewide and in Los Angeles County. Back when the phrases “flatten the curve” and “social distance” came to be known, the strategy was to reduce the impact on healthcare facilities until a vaccine or treatment is available. This remains our strategy and it also remains our highest priority to protect the health and safety of our staff and members. We watch for updates from public health officials on new science, data, and research that may lead to a safer working environment.
Meanwhile, what is the Association doing today to provide service to our members? Staff is working remotely and are connected by multiple technologies responding to member requests, handling billing, planning events, and providing support. The Association has an outdated phone system which the phone company will update, and at that time the staff will connect with members more easily on the phone. Today, staff is responding daily to inquiries emailed to email@example.com and answering phone messages left several times a week.
The pandemic has also affected our events. Beginning in April, the Association cancelled all events including meetings, classes and networking events. We have successfully moved our weekly caravans to an online setting in the form of these weekly town halls. They include updates from the Association and MLS as well as property pitches. We believe that the attendance at the town halls has been the same or higher than what had been at our weekly caravans until the lockdown began.
Our Annual Installation is still scheduled for December 2 at the Chevy Chase Country Club. We are hopeful that we can have that event however we need to be flexible depending on conditions this fall.
Much to our disappointment, we will not have our Centennial Party in late July to celebrate the Association’s 100 years. It is still important to recognize our 100th birthday – that is a major accomplishment thanks to REALTORS® like you who have supported the Glendale community over the years and decades. With that in mind, the Centennial Party has been postponed for 12 months. Please mark your calendars for next July, in 2021, for what we hope is an epic party for our Association’s Centennial-plus-one.
MLS and Compliance
2020 has been a year of rapid change in MLS. We are proud that i-Tech MLS recently launched the Coming Soon status which is now available when you enter new listings. You may put a listing in Coming Soon for up to 21 days and during that time you can put up a sign, have a Coming Soon rider, and market your listing normally. However you may not show your listing or accept offers until it is in active status. The Coming Soon status will help you comply with NAR’s Clear Cooperation Policy which requires listings to be put on the MLS by one business day after public marketing. GAOR staff has been trained on the new Coming Soon status and will be able to provide support to most of your questions.
The Clear Cooperation Policy went into effect on May 1. Our Association has been conducting a grace period for compliance which continues until August 1. During the grace period, we have not been issuing violations but rather warning letters, calls and emails. Beginning August 1 it is expected that we start issuing formal warnings and fines for violations of Clear Cooperation, just like for any other MLS violation. While we recognize that you may not agree with some of the concepts or provisions of Clear Cooperation, we encourage you to comply because the Association is mandated to follow the policy laid down by NAR.
In addition to i-Tech MLS, some of our members may not know that we in fact offer three different MLS providers: i-Tech, CRMLS and CLAW. You may use any or all of these MLS services for your business as long as the broker of record is also a participant that MLS. Stay tuned for increased communications about CRMLS and CLAW if those MLS’s are a fit for your real estate business.
While we are on the subject of compliance, we are planning to expand our Professional Standards program. Pro Standards is all about upholding the REALTOR® Code of Ethics that we are all required to follow. It means that in all our acts we are governed by the principles of honesty, justice and fair play. It means acting with integrity in ourselves and promoting it in others. To that end, the Association’s pro standards practice will be looking for people to fill many roles, such as Ombudsmen, mediators, arbitrators, and Grievance Committee members. If you are interested in learning more, please contact me, our CEO David Kissinger, or our incoming 2021 President Rick Bonyadi to get started.
I’m pleased to announce that the Association is making major communications updates. First of all, we are launching a new logo. This logo will go on all Association communications, letterheads, and the website.
We are launching a new website too. The new site is a massive overhaul to update the look and feel of the site and make it more modern and professional.
A central feature of the website will be the Member Center which is designed to be a knowledge base for all of your questions, no matter how small, about all things related to real estate. The Member Center will always be in need of more information and updates. This is where you come in. We want to hear from you what information is important for us to share with our members. You will have opportunities to send us feedback and let us know what to add and change, and also tell us if there are any dead links or errors.
We are planning to launch the new website this coming weekend, sometime between Friday July 17 and Sunday July 19. During this time, the website at gaor.org will be inaccessible. You may see loading delays, errors, or messy looking words and graphics on the screen. This is normal and this transition period may take up to 24-48 hours. However, during this time you will have access to the MLS, zipForm and other services. We will email you those login links so that you have them available over the weekend.
Because of the Covid lockdown which began in mid-March, our revenues and expenses have both been below projections. However, thanks to careful planning in previous years and a conservative approach we are not running a deficit and we are in a strong financial position to weather a potential future downturn. Based on what we know about the pandemic and the economy, we may anticipate a reduction of 5-10% of our membership in 2021, with a related reduction in income.
Here is our current financial position:
• We have over eleven months of cash reserves on hand which is doubled from twelve months earlier and is above the threshold required for a financially sound organization.
• Total income, including Association and MLS dues, is 8% below budgeted projections
• Total expenses are 11% below budgeted projections
• Net income is 1.5% above budgeted projections
In the last half of 2020 and leading into 2021, we expect an increase in some expenses. These include new hires to payroll, new and updated technology services, and a capital development project for the building on Isabel St.
The Covid lockdown and our current financial position give us an opportunity to address the Association building on Isabel St. The building serves us well however it is in need of updates and modernization. We plan to remodel the interior in order to provide a professional look and meet today’s needs for associations providing member services. At the same time, the pandemic is forcing all organizations to rethink how office space is utilized not just for efficiency and professionalism but also for personal health and safety.
While we have many ideas on how to utilize the building space, we are in a very early planning stage. This includes getting architectural drawings, surveys and learning our options. We anticipate that construction will not begin before the end of 2020, and currently we do not have a budget projection without more concrete plans. We are looking forward to having a building that provides you, the member, with the services and professionalism that attests to the importance of REALTORS® in the community and in our economy.
We don’t live in a vacuum and we are all affected, both personally and professionally, by major things happening in the news. In particular we have all been affected during the months of May and June regarding protests and violence following an act of police misconduct that led to the death of an African American man while in custody. The violence has been upsetting however we are encouraged by the increase in dialogue and commitment to improving understanding and fairness between individuals of different races. As Realtors we are bound by both the Code of Ethics and by Fair Housing law which call for equal treatment of all individuals. The Association is planning educational events and other opportunities related to diversity in the new future, include training sessions on “implicit bias” which is something that we should all come to understand both in our professional and personal lives.
Whatever your personal or political views, I encourage you to go back and review the foundations of Fair Housing and the Code of Ethics and understand the work that needs to be done. Read NAR’s Diversity and Inclusion Commitment Statement, which ends with the following: “We commit to bringing out the best in ourselves, uncovering our hidden talents, and celebrating differences in our day-to-day interactions. These beliefs are essential as we serve our members who help fulfill the dream of home and property ownership in America.”
In closing I want to report to you that the Association is in a strong position, financially and professionally, and is in the middle of a major growth period. You can look forward to new services, more comprehensive support, a new website, a new look in our building and a big Centennial Party next year. At the same time, the Association just like all of us is facing challenges regarding the pandemic and its impacts on the economy and on our communities and personal lives.
We don’t have all the answers and the situation changes so frequently that the effect is dizzying on everyone. We want to uphold the Glendale Association of REALTORS® to be a leading institution for real estate matters in our region and a place where you can go for support, education, networking, and professional and personal growth. 2020 is only half over and I can’t predict what will happen next, however I can say that we will be here with you the whole way on this incredible journey.