In advance of the National Association of REALTORS® Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C. this week, a firestorm erupted this past Wednesday when MLSListings President and CEO Jim Harrison railed against NAR leadership and many of its strategies in an op-ed published via an industry news organization. The harsh criticism drew an immediate rebuke from NAR leadership on Thursday, labeling Harrison’s piece as “bullying” and quickly dismissing several of his claims.
In a stunning turn of events, Harrison issued the following apology, obtained by RISMedia, this past weekend. In it, he claims that his originally published op-ed was written by an MLSListings’ “consultant” and that it was “based on inaccurate facts.” According to Harrison’s below commentary, this consultant has been terminated. While the consultant has been named on social media and RISMedia has received information regarding the consultant, MLSListings declined to confirm his or her identity at press time or to comment further on the story.
Read Harrison’s apology below and stay tuned to RISMedia.com for further developments.
Fair is Fair: Let’s Be Fair to NAR
James Harrison, RCE, CAE, President and CEO of MLSListings Inc.
When I stand corrected, I do so as publicly as any other statements bearing my name. The “opinion piece,” while intended to prepare our leadership for the NAR meetings with new information, was in hindsight, not a fair presentation, nor was it truly reflective of my sentiment and an appropriate representation of MLSListings. The letter was written by our consultant based upon inaccurate facts that he shared with our team who has since been dismissed. Let me say unequivocally, I have always worked well with NAR staff and leadership. The integrity of NAR and its leaders, volunteers and staff should not have been called into question.
I would like to take this opportunity to profusely apologize to the staff, leadership and volunteers of NAR for the impact and disruption this has caused with local and state associations and members during this open dues discussion. I also apologize for the implication that there should be long term concern about the direction of NAR under the leadership of CEO Bob Goldberg. He has guided and we have applauded the new open transparency and direction we all enjoy now from NAR. Goldberg has our full support and any implication to the contrary was misleading and completely false.
There are many considerations being undertaken by NAR, such as; annual dues and a desire by membership to understand the organization’s financial expenditures, and these are issues that those attending the upcoming NAR legislative meetings in Washington, D.C. should be attuned to and participate by expressing their opinions. Again, the letter was intended to prepare MLSListings leadership for the NAR conference and the continuing dialogue about finances and member dues. When it was shared, Inman News got word of the letter and called my staff.
In the case of fee increases, they will never be liked and when fee raises are proposed, they inspire higher levels of scrutiny of organization spending. The same happens here at MLSListings. I will always take the position that we should be able to ask and answer tough questions when it comes to our fiduciary responsibilities, and make those answers known.
The original letter failed by questioning the transparency and integrity of NAR’s use of the profits from the IPO without sharing this with NAR leaders. This was based on wholly inaccurate facts that were presented to us and ones we took at face value. We recognize the unfairness of this and I want to express my deepest apologies for my words in this matter. As NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall has stated, “no members or staff have profited from the DocuSign IPO” and we stand by her statement.
We were also given a mischaracterization of remarks supposedly made at the NAR Finance Committee meeting and reactions to the presentations. Again, these were taken as fact, which was a grave mistake on our part. I regret this deeply and apologize to NAR leaders for these assumptions based upon false information.
Additionally, it failed to address the outreach, information and clarity that NAR has provided to all members, AEs and their Board of Directors to be able to have this informed conversation on the dues. This is hard work and is an unprecedented step for NAR.
The response to the “opinion piece” has been swift and in the case of NAR, justified in its rebuke. But it has also had the advantage of spurring what I hope is a productive dialogue. I hope these words will help bring about an opportunity to have a dialogue – one that accurately reflects my sentiments in a tone that is more fair-minded and respectful. My passion for organized real estate remains and I will always be a devoted advocate for the tremendous work we all do and for the ability to make meaningful change that benefits our memberships.
My passion for protecting the members and customers in this industry remains. That passion may have been misplaced, but it remains focused on what is good for brokers and agents, and those who trust us with their business.
Stay tuned to rismedia.com for further developments on this story.