I begin this article with a confession. Until the most recent advertising campaign from the National Association of REALTORS®, the “That’s Who We R” campaign, I was not a big fan of the previous NAR public image campaigns. I thought Ty Burrell did an excellent job playing the fictional character Phil Dunphy on Modern Family. His effectiveness as a spokesperson for NAR, well, not so much. I think that Elizabeth Banks is an excellent actress who was very funny in some of the commercials she did as NAR’s spokesperson, but you remembered them because Elizabeth was funny, not for the REALTOR® message. Then there were some years where the message was more focused on slap stick humor than on a positive REALTOR® message.

Fortunately, that all began to change a couple of years ago when NAR went back to basics and decided to focus on the value the REALTOR® brings to the transaction as opposed to comedy, and it was a welcome change. I encourage you to check out the most recent commercials for the ad campaign at They convey positive messages that are grounded in real life, and they consistently emphasize the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. As NAR puts it, the campaign helps consumers understand that REALTORS® are real estate experts in their local communities, who fight for real estate dreams and property rights.

I believe this type of messaging can be very valuable, and I’m pleased that the New York State Association of REALTORS® will be launching its own videos this year with the same type of positive messaging.

Another component to the “That’s Who We R” campaign is a renewed emphasis on the volunteer work in which REALTORS® are constantly engaged in their communities. This volunteerism is certainly not new. Our own Hudson Gateway REALTOR® Foundation focuses not just on raising funds for worthwhile charities, but also on recruiting volunteers to help those charities achieve their goals. It’s not just about money, it’s also about the work.

This year NAR President Charlie Oppler, a good friend to HGAR who installed Crystal Hawkins-Syska and the other HGAR Officers in January, is challenging REALTORS® across the country to step up our volunteerism, and also to keep track of it. Think about the collective number of charitable volunteer hours REALTORS® engage in every year. The number must be staggering! Again, that’s who we R!

Another new initiative that NAR debuted in November of 2020 is a new Fair Housing training program called Fairhaven, an interactive training platform designed to help combat discrimination. As NAR describes it, the platform takes real estate professionals to the fictional town of Fairhaven, where agents work to close four deals while confronting situations in which discrimination is a factor. As agents advance through the simulation, they receive feedback on their performance that they can use in real-life situations. The course takes 60 to 100 minutes to complete and can be paused or retaken as necessary.

The launch of this program couldn’t be timelier. The New York State Legislature is poised to pass a series of legislative initiatives to combat discrimination in real estate transactions. One of the initiatives is a significant increase in resources to conduct testing. Brokers and agents need to devote more time and energy into fair housing training and Fairhaven is a perfect place to start. If I were a broker owner or manager I’d be inclined to strongly suggest that all of my agents, including myself, complete the training and discuss how everyone did. Just saying. You can access the program here:

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