Trump administration weighs slashing mortgage deduction

Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn is pictured. | Getty Images

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn had previously told members of Congress that almost everything, including changes to the mortgage interest deduction, would be on the table. | Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Reducing the mortgage interest deduction would send earthquakes through the real estate industry.

A tax break popular with homeowners and the real estate industry could take a hit as Republicans look for ways to pay for their tax reform plan.

Despite promises from the Trump administration in April that it would “protect the homeownership … deductions,” multiple sources tracking tax reform said that the cap on the mortgage interest deduction — currently set at the interest on up to $1 million of mortgage debt — could be lowered in tax reform.

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That would be a slap in the face to an industry that strongly supported President Donald Trump during his presidential bid: He overwhelmingly won a straw poll by the National Association of Realtors during its annual meeting last year.

The topic came up during a White House roundtable with real estate industry representatives on Monday. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, a key decision-maker on tax reform, and his lead deputy on tax reform, Shahira Knight, led the meeting. Cohn previously told members of Congress that almost everything, including changes to the mortgage interest deduction, would be on the table.

“They’re willing to ruffle some feathers,” said one attendee of Monday’s meeting. “Everything was on the table,” including capping the deduction that the Trump administration has said it would preserve.

No final decision has been made yet, as Republicans work during Washington’s sleepy days of August to craft a reform plan that would be politically palatable and meet the criteria for the budgetary maneuver they plan to use to bypass Democrats who could hold up a bill in the Senate. But lowering the cap on the mortgage interest deduction would help offset tax cuts for individuals and businesses.

“I’ve seen proposals that drop it to $500,000,” said Rohit Kumar, lead on PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Washington tax policy team and a former senior staffer to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the six congressional and administration leaders negotiating tax reform.

After tabling a 20 percent business tax on imported goods and services, known as border adjustability, Republicans need ways to pay for tax cuts so they can minimize the amount those cuts would add to the deficit. The Tax Foundation, a tax policy think tank, estimates that after factoring in negative economic consequences, $308 billion could be saved over the 10-year budget window Republicans are working with by lowering the mortgage deduction.

Like many issues in tax reform, the mortgage interest deduction divides more along parochial than ideological lines. Conservatives and progressives alike criticize the deduction as inefficient and more useful for wealthy taxpayers than the working class it’s supposed to help put in homes. But its popularity with homeowners in more expensive areas and with the real estate industry have helped it weather past attempts to cut or eliminate it.

“There’s not a lot of conservative support for the mortgage interest deduction,” said Ryan Ellis, a conservative tax lobbyist.

One example: In February, Mark Calabria, then a financial regulatory expert with the libertarian CATO Institute and now Vice President Mike Pence’s top economic adviser, and progressive housing activist Diane Yentel penned an op-ed in favor of reducing the mortgage deduction.

Conservative support for cutting the deduction, combined with smoke signals out of the White House that a reduction could be a part of a broader tax reform package, has the real estate and building industries concerned.

“[L]imiting the mortgage interest deduction amounts to a de facto tax increase on current or future homeowners while putting homeownership further out of reach for prospective buyers,” said National Association of Realtors President William Brown in a statement. “We would have strong objections over any effort to further cap or limit the deductibility of mortgage interest.”

Brown added that he hadn’t seen a sure signal that capping mortgage interest would definitely be in a tax reform proposal, though a $500,000 cap was brought up as an option at the White House, according to those who attended the meeting.

Another part of the calculus for the Trump administration and congressional conservatives: Use of the deduction could dramatically drop if Republicans push through the doubling of the standard deduction that individuals can take instead of itemizing different tax write-offs.

Reducing the mortgage interest deduction “gets a little tricky because it depends on what else you’re doing on the individual side,” said Kumar, who added that it’s only on the table if Republicans follow through on their goal of doubling the standard deduction.

By some estimates, doubling the standard deduction could lower by 90 percent the use of the mortgage interest deduction by middle-class Americans, eroding much of the argument for keeping it.

That’s made the Republican proposal to double the standard deduction a proxy battle over the mortgage benefit. Even though the administration signaled it would keep the mortgage interest deduction in the tax code when Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Trump’s tax goals this past spring, the National Association of Realtors blasted the inclusion of doubling the standard deductions in those goals.

House Speaker Paul Ryan reiterated doubling of the standard deduction as a goal in tax reform during a meeting with conservative groups on July 28.

“By doubling the standard deduction and repealing the state and local tax deduction, [Trump’s] plan would effectively nullify the current tax benefits of owning a home for the vast majority of tax filers,” NAR said in a statement tied to the release of Trump’s tax goals.

Still, the industry hopes for a near-literal Trump card in the form of the president and his family’s deep ties to the real estate industry.

“I’m not so sure it’s going to translate into legislative language,” said one lobbyist tracking the issue, citing Trump’s real estate business. The same lobbyist anticipated a “broad-based campaign” in opposition to any reduction in mortgage interest this fall if the proposal stays in the tax reform conversation.

Lorraine Woellert contributed to this report.

Realtors beware: There’s another phishing scam out to get you

Realtors once again find themselves susceptible to another scam that threatens to con them into paying fines.

The National Association of Realtors warned its members of a new phishing scam that is targeting real estate professionals.  

According to the association, “A broker recently received a text message claiming to be from the National Association of Realtors and accusing her of sending ‘racist texts and emails.’ The text message demanded she pay a $1,345 fine.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time a scam has happened like this toward real estate agents. Earlier this year, realtors in the state of Florida were targeted and threatened with the suspension of their license as part of an elaborate scam allegedly perpetrated by a fake Realtor group.

Plus, a little over a year ago, the Federal Trade Commission and NAR issued a warning to people interested in buying a home after scammers started to pose as real estate agents, Realtors and title insurance companies to steal consumers’ closing costs.

NAR noted that for anyone who receives a similar scam text, the Federal Bureau of Investigations recommended the following steps:

  • Report the incident to the FBI IC3 web site.
  • If you suspect that any phone numbers or contact information were obtained due to a breach of a computer system, alert your IT department or consult an IT specialist to scan your systems and make sure that you are free from malware.
  • Real estate professionals who clicked on a link the text should promptly follow up with an IT specialist to ensure that their device is free from malware.
  • You can follow up with the FBI after filing the IC3 report with your local field office.

US pending home sales improved in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans signed more contracts to buy homes in June, snapping a three-month decline in pending sales.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its pending home sales index rose 1.5 percent in June to 110.2. The gain still puts the pace of contract signings below its March level. The index has increased just 0.5 percent over the past 12 months.

The U.S. housing market is increasingly confronted with a shortage of properties listed for sale. In the aftermath of the housing bubble bursting a decade ago, there are multiple reasons for the lack of homes available to buy. Investors that bought foreclosed houses during the downturn are now renting them at a tidy profit, while many existing homeowners say they cannot afford the down payment to sell their house and buy a more expensive property.

As a consequence, prices are climbing faster than wages while number of homes listed for sale has plunged. All of this limits just how much sales volumes can advance.

There were 1.96 million homes for sale in June, a 7.1 percent decline from a year ago.

The median sales price has climbed 6.5 percent over the past year to $263,800, a rate more than double the increase in hourly average earnings.

Pending sales contracts are a barometer of future purchases. A sale is typically completed a month or two after a contract is signed. This should signal a slight increase in home sales in the next few months. The Realtors reported last week that completed sales fell 1.8 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.52 million.

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Whole Foods Market

Which of these grocery stores is best for real estate?

In July, the National Association of Realtors released its 2017 National Housing Pulse survey that revealed buyers are willing to break the bank in order to own a home, mainly because of the benefits of building equity and long-term wealth.

So what should buyers consider when choosing a home that will yield the highest return on investment (ROI)? Proximity to great schools? The value of surrounding homes?

Maybe they should take a look at the grocery store down the street.

In their latest study, Attom Data Solutions’ researchers analyzed current average home values, five-year home price appreciation from YTD 2012 vs YTD 2017, current average home equity, homeseller profits, and rental data from 1,275 zip codes to determine whether Trader Joes, Whole Foods or Aldi rendered the highest ROI for owners and investors.

When it comes to purchasing a home, the study revealed buyers would be wise to choose a home near Trader Joes since they highest home price appreciation and equity growth compared to its competitors Whole Foods and Aldi.

Homeowners near Trader Joes experienced an average five-year home price appreciation of 67 percent, 15 percentage points higher than Whole Foods and 16 percentage points higher than Aldi. The average five-year appreciation for all ZIP codes nationwide with these grocery stores was 54 percent.

When it comes to equity, homeowners near Trader Joes experienced 36 percent equity. Homeowners near Whole Foods weren’t far behind with 31 percent equity and homeowners near Aldi shored up the end of the pack with 18 percent equity.

Although Aldi didn’t render the highest ROI for owners, it’s a complete 180 for investors looking to flip homes near this discount grocery store.

Investors who flipped homes near Aldi had an average gross flipping ROI of 69 percent — a whopping 28 to 33 percentage points higher than the ROI for homes near Whole Foods and Trader Joes.

Furthermore, homes near Aldi had an average gross rental yield of 10 percent, which is higher than the gross rental yield of Whole Foods (6 percent), Trader Joes (5 percent) and the national average (8 percent).

Attom SVP Daren Blomquist wasn’t available for comment on the “whys” of the results, but a similar study done by Zillow revealed that Whole Foods and Trader Joes are incredibly efficient in choosing their locations.

“Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are not simply piggybacking off already hot neighborhoods,” wrote Zillow data analyst Jamie Anderson. “Rather, it appears both chains are either incredibly smart about finding neighborhoods on the verge of gentrifying, or the opening of either location positively impacts home values.”

Beyond grocery stores, big box retail chains and other recognizable brands also have an impact on home appreciation and equity.

For example, homeowners near Target experience a 27-percent increase in home appreciation, which amounts to an average price gain of $65,569. Meanwhile, homeowners near Walmart only experience 16 percent increase in home appreciation, which amounts to an average price gain of $24,900.

When it comes to another recognizable brand, Starbucks, the median value of homes located near a Starbucks in Boston appreciated 171 percent over a 16-year period compared to 126 percent for other homes during the same time.

Email Marian McPherson.

NAR: If Your’e Not Making Money in This Market You’re Doing it Wrong

A recent survey by the National Association of Realtors of its commercial property members confirmed that the past several years have been very good to be in real estate.

NAR members engaged in commercial real estate activity reported an 11% increase in their gross annual income and a 19% boost in median sales volume in 2016 from the prior year.

NAR’s 2017 Commercial Member Profile, which includes brokers, sales agents, appraisers and property managers, showed a median gross annual income of $120,800 last year, up from $108,800 in 2015. The group represents 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry. However, the group sent its commercial profile online survey to just 64,147 members professing an interest in CRE. The survey conducted during June received 1,926 responses.

The association sees an uptick in members choosing to specialize in commercial real estate at the same time as commercial professionals report improvements in the market and their own business activity, said NAR President William E. Brown, an Alamo, CA-based member.

“A stronger commercial market is a good indicator of a growing economy, so the outlook is positive for commercial members in the year ahead,” Brown said in a statement.

Among commercial NAR licensees, brokers and appraisers tended to report the highest annual incomes while sales agents reported the lowest incomes.

Incomes among commercial members diverged widely based on experience. Members with less than two years in the industry reported a median annual income of $31,500 in 2016, down from $43,400 in 2015, while those with more than 26 years of experience reported a median income of $162,200 in 2016, down from $165,400 in 2015.

Median sales transaction volume among members who had at least one commercial transaction was $3.5 million, an increase from $2.93 million in 2015.

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The annual study represents members of NAR who conduct at least a part of their business in CRE sales, leasing, brokerage and development for land, office and industrial space, multifamily and retail buildings, as well as commercial property management.

Commercial members completed a median average of eight sales transactions in 2016, a slight decrease from the prior year. A quarter of commercial members reported having one to four transactions, and 27% reported having more than 20 transactions.

The median years of experience in real estate increased to 24 years in 2017, up from 20 years in 2016, as did the median years of experience of members in commercial real estate – up from 15 years in 2016 to 19 years in 2017.

Among NAR’s commercial members, 47% are brokers and 30% are licensed sales agents, consistent with last year, while 17% have a broker-associate license. Appraisal license holders accounted for 5%, also roughly the same as last year.

In other NAR profile findings:

  • The median age of all commercial members is 60 and almost 75% are male, identical to last year’s results. Men reported being active in any real estate capacity for a median average of 25 years and in CRE for of 20 years, the same as 2015. Women have been active in real estate for a median of 19 years, up from 14 years last year, and in the CRE market for 15 years, up from 11 years in last year’s report.

  • Commercial members who manage properties typically managed 82,000 total square feet, representing 15 total spaces, up from 50,000 square feet and 17 spaces in 2015. Those who manage offices typically managed 25,000 square feet representing seven total office properties, up from 20,000 square feet of office and five properties last year.

  • About one-third of commercial members were involved in foreign transactions in 2016, down 2% from 2015. Eighteen percent of commercial members reported an increase in cross-border transactions.
  • US home sales stumble as prices hit record high

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. home resales fell more than expected in June as a dearth of properties amid strong demand pushed prices to a record high, keeping first-time buyers on the sidelines.

    The housing market has experienced an acute shortage of homes for sale for about two years. As the labor market churns out more jobs and builders struggle to secure land, building materials and skilled labor, the situation could worsen.

    “The fact that demand is so high is actually a good sign of economic health,” said Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “But that’s probably small comfort to buyers, especially first-time buyers that are having an especially difficult time finding entry-level homes for sale.”The National Association of Realtors said on Monday existing home sales dropped 1.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.52 million units last month.

    Economists had forecast sales falling 1.0 percent to a 5.58 million-unit rate. Sales were up 0.7 percent from June 2016. The shortage of properties has led to bidding wars, culminating in house price increases outpacing wage gains.

    There were 1.96 million houses on the market last month, down 7.1 percent from a year ago. Housing inventory has dropped for 25 straight months on a year-on-year basis.

    The median house price jumped 6.5 percent from a year ago to an all-time high of $263,800 in June. It was the 64th straight month of year-on-year price increases.

    The NAR, however, said the price surge did not suggest another housing market bubble was building, noting that the inflation-adjusted median price was below its peak in 2006.

    The PHLX index of housing stocks .HGX fell 0.3 percent, underperforming a broadly weaker U.S. stock market. Shares in the nation’s largest homebuilder, D.R. Horton (DHI.N), slipped 0.20 percent. Lennar Corp (LEN.N) shares fell 0.18 percent, but Pultegroup (PHM.N) stock rose 1.04 percent.

    Prices for U.S. Treasuries dipped, while the U.S. dollar rose slightly against a basket of currencies.

    Supply Squeeze

    Homebuilders are struggling to plug the inventory gap amid rising lumber costs. Homebuilding is also being hampered by shortages of labor and land.

    A report last week showed housing starts rebounding 8.3 percent to a 1.22 million-unit pace in June, but still below their historic average of 1.5 million units, a rate realtors say would eliminate the housing shortage.

    Housing likely subtracted from gross domestic product in the second quarter after contributing almost half a percentage point to the economy’s annualized 1.4 percent growth pace in the first three months of the year.

    The Atlanta Federal Reserve is forecasting GDP rising at a 2.5 percent pace in the second quarter. The government will publish its advance estimate for second-quarter GDP on Friday.

    The economy appears to have retained its momentum early in the third quarter, with a second report from data firm IHS Markit showing its flash manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index hit a four-month high in July.

    Home sales in June fell in the Northeast, West and South regions, but rose in the Midwest. At June’s sales pace, it would take 4.3 months to clear the stock of houses on the market, up from 4.2 months in May. A six-month supply is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand.

    Houses typically stayed on the market for 28 days last month, down from 34 days a year ago. The shorter market duration was concentrated in Seattle, Salt Lake City, San Jose, San Francisco and Denver. Demand for housing is being driven by a tight labor market, marked by a 4.4 percent unemployment rate, which is boosting employment opportunities for young Americans. But the tight labor market has not spurred faster wage growth.

    Annual wage growth has struggled to break above 2.5 percent, an obstacle for first-time home buyers, whose share of home sales has barely shifted.

    They accounted for 32 percent of transactions last month, well below the 40 percent share that economists and realtors say is needed for a robust housing market.

    “Housing demand should hold up. However, we are not optimistic that the current inventory shortage will improve this year,” said Matthew Pointon, property economist at Capital Economics in New York. “Existing home sales will do no more than tread water over the next few months.”

    Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci

    Commercial REALTORS® See Gains in Income, Sales Volume

    Commercial REALTORS® are realizing more in gross income and sales volume, with the median annual gross income growing 11 percent to $120,800 and median sales volume rising 19 percent to $3.5 million, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) recently released 2017 Commercial Member Profile. The highest incomes were reported among appraisers and brokers, as well as those with more than 26 years of experience.

    “There has been an uptick in REALTOR® members who choose to specialize in commercial real estate at the same time as commercial professionals report improvements in the market and their business activity,” says Bill Brown, president of NAR. “A stronger commercial market is a good indicator of a growing economy, so the outlook is positive for commercial members in the year ahead.”

    The Profile shows the median transaction count declined by one to eight in the past year; 25 percent of commercial REALTORS® reported one to four transactions, while 27 percent reported over 20.

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    More highlights from the Profile include:

    • Forty-seven percent of commercial REALTORS® are brokers; 30 percent are licensed sales agents (consistent with last year’s findings).
    • Seventeen percent of commercial REALTORS® have a broker-associate license; 5 percent have an appraisal license (consistent with last year’s findings).
    • The median years of experience in real estate increased to 24 years in 2017, up from 20 years in 2016, as did the median years of experience of REALTORS® in commercial real estate: up from 15 years in 2016 to 19 years in 2017.
    • The median age of commercial REALTORS® is 60 years old (consistent with last year’s findings).
    • Almost three out of four commercial members are male (consistent with last year’s findings). Men reported being active in any real estate capacity for a median of 25 years and in commercial real estate for a median of 20 years (consistent with last year’s findings). Women reported being active in real estate for a median of 19 years (up from 14 years in 2016) and in commercial real estate for a median of 15 years (up from 11 years in 2016).
    • Commercial REALTORS® who manage properties typically manage 82,000 total square feet, representing 15 total spaces. Those who manage offices typically manage 25,000 total office square feet, representing seven total offices.
    • Thirty-three percent of commercial REALTORS® were involved in international transactions in 2016, down 2 percent from 2015. Eighteen percent reported an increase in international transactions, while only 1 percent reported a decrease.
    • Sixty-five percent of respondents are members of any of several commercial affiliated institutes, councils, or societies—up from 60 percent in 2016—including the CCIM Institute, the Institute of Real Estate Management, the Counselors of Real Estate, the REALTORS® Land Institute and the Society of Industrial and Office REALTORS®.

    The annual study’s results represent REALTORS®, members of NAR, who conduct all or part of their business in commercial sales, leasing, brokerage and development for land, office and industrial space, multifamily and retail buildings, as well as property management.

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    Scammers Target Real Estate Buyers Through Email Schemes

    (KPIX 5) — The San Francisco Bay Area, one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, is also turning out to be a prime target for cyber-criminals who are hacking realtors’ email accounts and sending home buyers false instructions to wire money.

    It happened to East Bay realtor Kristina Solovieva. Last year, criminals hacked her Gmail account, and waited for just the right time to strike. “The timing was impeccable, actually,” Solovieva said. Just when it was time for one of Solovieva’s clients to send the remainder of their down payment to close escrow, the scammers sent the buyers an email from Solovieva’s account.

    The email, seemingly from Solovieva, instructed the buyers to wire hundreds of thousands of dollars to an account. Luckily, the amount was off by $30 – enough to make the clients suspicious. “They were very savvy, and they did the math, and it didn’t add up,” said Solovieva.

    But some do fall for it. San Francisco attorney Matthew Borden is representing a buyer who wired over $500,000 to a scammer after allegedly receiving a false email from her realtor’s account. “She was crushed,” Borden said. “This was her life savings.” In this case, Borden blamed the realty company, Zephyr, for not protecting its accounts from intrusion. “First of all, they should have maintained good security themselves,” said Borden.

    Zephyr denied it is responsible. In an email to KPIX 5, company president Randall Kostick called it an “unfortunate case,” and said “no one at our company gave instructions concerning the wiring of her deposit funds (that was the scam artist who did that.)” It also said the FBI is investigating and it’s possible that the hack took place “in the title company’s system” or perhaps, the buyer’s email account. Kostick did acknowledge the email the victim received “did appear to originate from our agent.”

    Zephyr also said the problem is “much more prevalent than most people are aware of.” The National Association of Realtors and the FBI have recently issued warnings about sophisticated email scams targeting the real estate industry. The NAR’s warning advises “Start from the assumption that any email in your in-box could be a targeted attack from a criminal.”

    Matt Fuller, President of the San Francisco Association of Realtors, said realtors aren’t the only ones being hacked. “It can be the agent’s email, it can be the title company, it can be a lender, It can be a transaction coordinator,” he said.

    But the crime is always the same: impersonating someone involved in the transaction by sending emails from their account and provide instructions to wire money, at precisely the moment the client is expecting to make a payment. The Bay Area is particularly vulnerable because it’s a hot market and buyers are doing deals quickly, according to Fuller. “There is this urgency associated with transactions.”

    Solovieva believes the scammers were “watching us all along and reading all our correspondence … It’s creepy.”

    The California Association of Realtors is now advising real estate agents to include a “Wire Fraud Advisory,” in the mountain of paperwork presented to buyers. It says “While wiring funds is a welcome convenience, buyers and sellers need to exercise extreme caution.”

    Solovieva, who has since added layers of security to her email account, shares her hacking experience with clients, hoping to make sure the message hits home. “It’s not being discussed a lot, but it’s out there.”


    Heidrick & Struggles Finds CEO for the National Association of Realtors

    July 31, 2017 – Bob Goldberg has been named chief executive officer of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The organization enlisted Heidrick Struggles to find its new leader. Mr. Goldberg succeeds Dale Stinton, who is retiring after 36 years at NAR, including 12 as CEO.

    After an extensive national search, the organization turned to an internal candidate. Mr. Goldberg, who assumes the CEO role on Tuesday, is the group’s senior vice president of sales marketing, business development strategic investments, professional development and conventions.

    “Bob’s vision, business acumen and unique ability to successfully leverage NAR’s technology investments will ensure Realtors remain at the center of the real estate transaction,” said 2017 NAR president William E. Brown. “With extensive knowledge of the association and real estate industry, Bob brings with him a strong track record for future-based thinking and enacting change, which is why the NAR leadership team is extremely confident in his ability to lead the association and membership to continued future success.”

    Bridging the Skills Gap With Insiders
    There has been an emergent skills gap that has plagued almost every industry. While organizations have implemented a series of measures to improve oversight of labor costs and value returns, they have focused more on improving the quality of talent acquisition than they have on sustaining employee performance.

    Company Veteran

    In his SVP role, Mr. Goldberg has been responsible for brand and strategic marketing and association non-dues revenue, and oversees the largest employee base at NAR, with 69 division personnel. He guides a broad range of association initiatives including business development, strategic planning and partnerships, association product and marketing services and management, member professional development, competitive brand positioning, marketing, advertising and promotions, and group conventions.

    In addition to his NAR roles, Mr. Goldberg also acts as SVP of administration for Realtor University, overseeing graduate school staff, day-to-day operations of the research center, curriculum development and budgets. He is also president and CEO of the Realtors Information Network, an NAR for-profit and wholly owned subsidiary responsible for overseeing the operating agreement with Move Inc.

    “This is a dynamic time for the association and the industry,” said Mr. Goldberg, “and I am looking forward to my new role and working with Realtor leaders and staff to advance the association and our members toward long-term success.”

    After soliciting and considering recommendations from NAR’s members, the leadership team appointed a diverse 15-member search committee to work with Heidrick to recruit candidates for the job. Past NAR president Chris Polychron served as the search committee chair, and 2003 NAR president Cathy Whatley was vice chair.

    “Finding a successor for Dale Stinton was far from easy, but it was a challenge our search committee took very seriously,” said Mr. Polychron. “The final candidates, who were all top-notch, brought diverse backgrounds and the right mix of skills, but Bob Goldberg stood apart because of his considerable understanding of and expertise in the many the issues facing the industry and NAR’s members,” he said. “We greatly appreciate Heidrick and Struggles’ insights and assistance throughout the entire selection process and look forward to moving ahead.”

    The National Association of Realtors is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

    Downturn Leads to Opportunity 

    It is no secret that the real estate market has struggled in certain locales in recent years. Improvements within the industry are evident, but a need for top executive talent in the field remains, say recruiters. Particularly sought after are those who experienced the last economic downturn but who have a vision for more prosperous times ahead.

    According to the 2016 “Real Estate Hiring Forecast” report, released by recruiters Ferguson Partners, 93 percent of the largest real estate companies forecast either an increase in hiring or that they would maintain hiring at their current levels. In previous years, there was much higher demand for executives who could either invest or raise capital. This year’s report found a greater focus on individuals who can drive value and cash flow in assets.

    Search firms have stepped up in securing new leaders within the sector. Here’s a sampling from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:

    Huntbridge Recruits CEO for MIBOR REALTOR Association
    Washington, D.C.-headquartered executive search firm Huntbridge, Inc. placed Shelley Specchio as CEO of the MIBOR Realtor Association, the professional association representing central Indiana’s Realtors.

    BridgeStreet Partners Places CFO at Centennial Real Estate
    BridgeStreet Partners recruited Temple H. Weiss as CFO of Centennial Real Estate Company. Dave Westberry, managing director of BridgeStreet Partners, led the assignment. Centennial is a real estate firm specializing in the investment, development, and management of retail properties.

    Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

    NAR CEO Bob Goldberg readies to ’embrace disruption’ on his first day

    Today is Bob Goldberg’s first day as CEO of the National Association of Realtors, and he wants the trade group’s 1.2 million members to know his tenure is not going to mean business as usual.

    In public statements so far, as well as a video published today, both NAR and Goldberg seem acutely aware of the skepticism among some in the real estate industry that Goldberg’s selection as CEO could mean maintaining the status quo, continuing the trade group’s reputation in some quarters of being slow-moving, stodgy and resistant to technological innovation.

    But NAR and Goldberg assert that change is afoot.

    “Bob’s appointment opens a fresh chapter in our association’s 109-year-old history, a chapter undoubtedly to be hallmarked by discovery, innovation and progress. A revolution is brewing on almost every level of organized real estate, driven by legislative, MLS, technology and market forces,” NAR 2017 President Bill Brown said in today’s video welcoming Goldberg.

    NAR’s leaders…