Northwest MLS Member Meetings Cover Myriad Topics
In keeping with past practices, the agenda for the Northwest Multiple Listing Service member meeting in July covered myriad topics from technology enhancements to rules revisions. Guest speakers from Washington REALTORS® and Seattle King County REALTORS® joined staff at the most recent series of meetings to brief members on various activities.
On the technology front, Monica Beck, the chief operating officer at Northwest MLS, announced plans to extend the keybox agreement with Supra, a decision that followed an analysis of existing vendors and services. She also said plans are under way to offer options when replacing existing lockboxes - which are about 10 years old - with Bluetooth® enabled devices. These newer keyboxes will eliminate the need for a FOB, instead turning a smart phone into a lock box key. Starting late this year, one-to-one exchanges will be available to those who opt to upgrade to the new "eKey" app or ActiveKEY.
Northwest MLS staff also highlighted several rules and forms revisions affecting:
- "Coming Soon" (not permitted)
- Auction Listings (Form 6A must be attached to the listing)
- Virtual Media (No branding or links in virtual media in Matrix, per Rule 10[i]
- Legal Descriptions (attach to listing, per Rule 20)
Among recently revised forms are Purchase and Sale Agreements, with new provisions allowing buyers to deposit earnest money directly to the closing agent, and delivery of Agreements via e-mail. Other revisions affect the Seller Representation Agreement (Form 47) and the Inspection Addendum (including an option for sewer inspection).
Bob Gent, the MLS director of business development and member relations, updated brokers on Transaction Desk. That new forms platform and document storage system will be fully integrated with Matrix. He reported the platform is in "soft launch," with approximately 3,000 brokers participating. Full release is expected in mid-August. Members are encouraged to visit nwmls.com for additional details on Transaction Desk, including an overview of features, FAQs, user guidelines and training.
Gent also outlined several enhancements to Matrix 6.7 and announced a mobile app for Windows 8.1 is available, but not yet fully functional.
Two guest speakers participated in the July meetings to provide updates on recent activities of the governmental relations teams at both state and local levels.
Nathan Gorton, government affairs director at Washington REALTORS®, opened that segment of the meeting with a report he titled "4 things to know, one thing to worry about."
Under the "federal issues" category, Gorton called the fixes to flood insurance a "big win." He also provided quick updates on MID (Mortgage Interest Deduction, which has bipartisan support); capital gains exemption ("dead for now, but watching"); and access to credit (including reforms within Fannie and Freddie).
Another victory Gorton cited in the government affairs arena was B&O taxes. To illustrate, he showed savings at various levels of commissions:
The third "thing to know" on Gorton's list was independent contractor protection in our state and a pledge of "no fighting with the National Labor Relations Board." The final item he covered was point of sale mandates, and successes in not having new mandates imposed regarding registered sex offenders and energy audits.
The worrisome item, according to state Realtors, is what's known as McCleary decision, a Supreme Court ruling affecting education funding and reforms. Since issued in January 2012, it continues to be a source of significant confusion and debate among many groups, including lawmakers, educators, parents, and businesses.
Gorton said the McCleary decision is expected to be the focus of considerable attention in the next session of the state legislature, and the discussions will be closely monitored by Realtors. He underscored the importance of this decision to the industry by displaying a quote from one legislator. It reads: "In the 2015 session, Real Estate Professionals will have to choose between a significant increase in their B&O Tax and the sales tax on services."
Following Gorton's remarks, one of the housing specialists from Seattle King County REALTORS® discussed local issues and their impact on the "health of the real estate market." Randy Bannecker, who represents SKCR before various jurisdictions including the City of Seattle and King County, summarized recent efforts to defeat attempts (tried elsewhere around the country) for cities to use of the power of eminent domain to forgive mortgage debt, point-of-sale mandates, and initiatives for improving housing supply.
Bannecker also noted the major advocacy role of Realtors in procuring funding for expeditious repair of flood plain levees along the Green River in Kent. The improvements, now under way, are expected to provide protection and reassurance to property owners and potential buyers of homes and businesses on the valley floor.