March 19, 2018

The 2018 RPAC President’s Circle Conference was held in the Bahamas from March 1st to the 4th.  Kathy Fowler of Coldwell Banker Select and Morrie Shepherd of Metro First Realty attended on behalf of OKCMAR.

Kathy Fowler’s Reflections of the 2018 President’s Circle Conference

Amazing!  Relaxing!  Incredible speakers…these are the first thoughts that come to mind as I recall the President’s Circle Conference this year.  It is a humbling experience to be among the best real estate minds from around the country.  One of the benefits of this particular conference is it is a small group, so you really get to network and get to know people.  From the opening reception to the daily breakfast buffets and free afternoons, there are a lot of opportunities to build a referral network.

The President’s Circle Conference is not set up like any other I have ever attended.  Each day begins with a large breakfast.  This year’s welcome message was given by NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall.  She was followed by political analyst Amy Walter and political media expert Mark McKinnon.  If Mr. McKinnon’s name sounds familiar, it is because he was one of the hosts of The Circus on Showtime.  Both gave insights from behind the scenes in Washington DC.

After a quick break, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun gave an economic update and talked about the impact rising interest rates and a low inventory are having on the housing market nationally.  Dr. Yun also presented some interesting data on the millennial buyers, the impact of student debt, and the storms last fall.

The first day wrapped up with a Point/Counter Point session with Stephanie Cutter and Amy Holmes. They presented a look at the political climate from the left and right perspective.  Both women are brilliant and had a spirited debate on stage.  The first session wrapped up around 12:30 and we were free for the afternoon.  I opted to cheer for some fellow Oklahomans who were taking part in the first annual beach volleyball tournament.  Who can turn down an afternoon in the sun on the beach with the waves rolling in?


The second day began with military historian Rick Atkinson talking about “10 Things Every American Should Know About WWII.”  He gave a fascinating presentation that even my non-history loving daughter enjoyed.  She ordered his book from Amazon when we returned to the room.  He took several questions at the end and was incredibly personable, as well as informative.

After the morning break, we had two presentations from NAR staff, the first of which was a Legislative Update from NAR Chief Lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello.  Jerry interviewed Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) who was one of the legislators behind keeping the mortgage interest deduction in the tax bill.  He also fought hard to keep the capital gains exemption homeowners are entitled to when they sell their primary residence for a gain after having lived in the home for at least two of the five years immediately preceding the sale, rather than five of the last eight.  The entire audience appreciated the opportunity to thank him for his work on our behalf.


Next up was a legal update from NAR General Counsel Katie Johnson and Associate General Counsel Ralph Holmen.  They gave an update on the PHH case regarding RESPA Section 8, which has to do with referrals in regard to real estate.  PHH is a mortgage lender who referred customers to a provider of mortgage insurance, who then passed accounts along to a reinsurer that was owned by PHH subsidiaries. PHH therefore benefited by the reinsurance.  The CFPB implemented an administrative enforcement proceeding against PHH retroactive to when CFPB took this interpretation of Section 8 for a total assessment of $190 Million dollars.  PHH took the case to the court of appeals and NAR filed a brief on behalf of the real estate industry stating that as long as bonafide services are provided, the CFPB was wrong in this case.  The appeals court found on behalf of PHH and overturned the CFPB’s administrative assessment.  They also updated us on the expiration of the DOJ Consent Decree regarding VOW rules from the 2008 court case.  As of now, when the decree expires in November they are not predicting any change from the Department of Justice’s decision that VOW’s must take part in real estate activity and they are working with them to make sure that doesn’t change.

The final speaker was First Lady Laura Bush.  She updated us on her grandchildren who are perfect in every way, her in-laws who are enjoying life on the beach in Kennebunkport, and talked about President George W’s painting and the work he has done with the Wounded Warriors program. She made sure to invite everyone to visit the Bush Center in Dallas and to eat at Cafe 43 when we are done.  She talked about what it was like to live in the Governor’s mansion in Texas and the White House.  It was an incredible honor to hear her speak and recall the events of 9-11 and how that changed our country.

She sat down for a few minutes at the end and talked to NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall and told us that she is currently reading The Gentleman in Moscow, which I ordered off of Amazon when I got back to my room.  She talked about how technology is changing the world, especially in terms of literacy – something that has always been important to her as a former librarian and teacher.  She emphasized how important it is for people to “Own It” which is President Mendenhall’s theme for 2018 and how at the end of the day, that is really all we have is to own who and what we are.

Every year I say the President’s Circle Conference is the best conference I have attended and this year was no exception.  Between the speakers I would never have the opportunity to hear otherwise, the 5-star resort and the relationships built and maintained with other REALTORS® from around the country who are like-minded in making the association the best it can be… I can say without reservation my President Circle investment is the best investment I make in my career every year.

The Conference is open to RPAC Major Investors who invest an additional $2,000 per year directly to select REALTOR® Party Champions in Congress in Washington DC.  The 2019 Conference will be at the Waldorf Astoria Palm Springs property – The La Quinta Resort & Club February 21-24 in Palm Springs, California.

Morrie Shepherd’s Highlights of the President’s Circle Conference

From the opening reception on Thursday evening to the closing reception on Saturday evening, the 2018 RPAC President’s Circle Conference was really amazing.  Political Analyst Amy Walter guided us on where to turn when the political climate heats up. Her insight and reputation as an accurate, objective and insightful analyst with access to campaign insiders and decision makers has made her one of the top analysts on Capitol Hill.

Mark McKinnon is a political media expert and the co-host of Showtime’s The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth.  He gave us another side of what’s going on in Washington DC.

I thought that the interview with NAR’s new CEO Bob Goldberg was great. Many of us felt that he was the right person to lead us into the future.  The two young ladies who did the Point/Counterpoint, Stephanie Cutter and Amy Holmes, were absolutely fantastic!

The military historian Rick Atkinson told us the ten things every American should know About WWII. I now have much better knowledge about the USSR (Soviet Union), all of our Allies and what they went through. The war lasted 2164 Days and 19 lives were lost every minute (1 every 3 seconds). USSR lost 26% of the 14 million men & women.

Having former First Lady Laura Bush as the Key-Note Speaker on Saturday Morning was just so special. We could not take photos, recordings or notes.  Her talking about her in-laws living in the White House for 4 years and then her family living there for 8 years made me even more proud to be American!

THE RPAC 2019 President’s Circle Conference will be in Palm Springs, California.

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