On Aug. 2, 2017, ABoR announced that its Board of Directors voted to remove Director Cord Shiflet and Director Brian Talley from their positions as Board Members. Communications following that announcement have surfaced many inaccurate and inflammatory responses, so in the interest of providing clarity around issues important to ABoR members, the following addresses the most common and concerning items raised. ABoR believes that our membership deserves to hear the facts rather than the myths that reflect negatively on the hardworking and dedicated volunteers who make up your Board of Directors.
Myth: ABoR’s Board of Directors doesn’t understand the industry and they’re just out for themselves.
Fact: The Board of ABoR is made up of hardworking, dedicated volunteers who work day-to-day in real estate just like the members they serve. ABoR Board Members are not compensated for their service and are willing to take significant time away from their businesses and families to serve because they want to have the best ABoR possible and be able to provide the best tools and services for all Central Texas REALTORS®. The ABoR Board welcomes new volunteers and leaders and always encourages ABoR members to become more involved in the organization.
Myth: ABoR doesn’t really want everyday members to engage in the organization.
Fact: ABoR’s member services, technologies, educational opportunities and member programs are made possible thanks to thousands of hours of ABoR volunteer support each year. ABoR and its Board of Directors are always searching for new volunteers. There are countless opportunities for members to get involved that are frequently communicated by ABoR throughout the year, such as committee sign-ups or applying for the Board. Anyone currently serving on the ABoR Board or on a committee was either invited by a fellow volunteer or received the same member communications to sign up, and we welcome and encourage active participation from throughout our membership. ABoR also offers the Texas REALTORS® Leadership Program (TRLP), a leadership course to help those who are interested in serving, and there are many opportunities beyond committees to get involved, such as through our forums, focus groups for beta testing new products, the online Suggestion Box on ABoR.com, member surveys and many other feedback tools. This Board does care and listen to our members – we are members.
Myth: ABoR isn’t transparent and they don’t want members to know what’s going on.
Fact: The ABoR Board has taken many steps in recent years to help members raise their voices and stay informed about topics being considered at the Board level. ABoR publishes board meeting dates and times for the membership; a large portion of the meetings are open to all members; and ABoR publishes board meeting agendas to the membership in advance of the meetings. This is all found at http://www.abor.com/about-abor/board-of-directors/. Every ABoR Board Meeting begins with an opportunity for “Input from Members,” so that we can hear from any member on any subject before we start formal deliberation on the agenda.
Myth: ABoR’s governance policies are arbitrary and its Board structure prohibits engagement by the membership at large.
Fact: Your association operates under laws, rules, bylaws and policies essential in enabling a broad, member-driven association like ABoR to operate efficiently and effectively. The Board works within these bylaws and the Board-adopted governance policies to serve ABoR’s 13,000+ diverse members, who are of countless variations of expertise, specialties, niches, industry experience, education and more. The reason companies large and small operate with a Board of Directors is to be nimble, well-rounded and to allow for a diverse cross section of member representation. The Board also relies on multiple committees, powered by ABoR members, which work on the Board’s behalf to study issues or products, get member input and bring recommendations before the Board. ABoR is not a public company or a government entity; it is a private nonprofit corporation that chooses every day to put you – the ABoR member – first.
Myth: ABoR does nothing to support everyday members.
Fact: Your Association makes over a thousand decisions a day to protect and advance your business as a Central Texas REALTOR®. In the last few years alone, we have greatly expanded and extended the critical business services, education programs and technologies available to ABoR members, including a state-of-the-art headquarters, education center and events facility (which provides discounts to ABoR members) as well as two regional locations that give members access to closing rooms, REALTOR® stores, training facilities and other essential services right in the areas where you work. During this time, ABoR has also activated an array of new technologies and products within our 18-county MLS and has continued to expand our member services department to field and support member inquires.
Just as important, ABoR works tirelessly every day to maintain Central Texas REALTORS® as the voice for Central Texas real estate. ABoR operates a full communications department which connects members with valuable and up-to-date information across multiple platforms – including Austin REALTOR® magazine, various e-newsletters and on social media – and runs an annual public awareness campaigns to ensure consumers and the community understand the value of a REALTOR® and keep us at the center of the transaction. We have a governmental affairs department that actively monitors legislation at local and state levels to ensure your industry is protected and raises PAC dollars to help elect candidates and advocate for issues that build homeownership and economic sustainability in Central Texas. ABoR’s philanthropic arm, the ABoR Foundation, provides a platform for REALTORS® to mobilize and directly give back your community through disaster relief, housing and education efforts. There are a lot of moving parts at ABoR and many decisions made to protect our profession and maintain professionalism among members, all the while receiving member feedback as these decisions are made.
Myth: ABoR has been hiding its talks of a merger of its MLS with the SABOR MLS and has already decided what it will do.
Fact: ABoR announced considerations of a potential merger between the ABoR and SABOR MLSs to members and the public in February. These conversations continue to be ongoing and nothing has been decided at this time. The ABoR Board is committed to ensuring proper and appropriate due diligence takes place to fully determine what benefits the potential merger could have for all ABoR members. While we have not made any decision about if or how we would proceed, we have openly solicited feedback from our members on this, and every submission was provided to the Board. Learn more about why we’re exploring it and how we decided who would be involved.
Myth: ABoR is attempting to make CSS mandatory, making decisions in secret and without members’ knowledge. The only reason CSS has not been made mandatory is because the board members in question notified ABoR members about these discussions.
Fact: The MLS Committee has been working on addressing concerns with the Centralized Showing Services (CSS) since its original launch in 2015. Information was inappropriately and prematurely released regarding an earlier proposal of the Committee to the membership. This created unnecessary anxiety and confusion with our members. The ABoR Board passed a motion requesting that the MLS Committee continue to research all of our options related to showing services within our unique marketplace and culture, prior to making any decision that could disrupt your current business practice.
Myth: ABoR is pushing for CSS because it’s required for the merger with SABOR.
Fact: This is simply not accurate. The MLS Committee is comprised of members not involved in the consideration of an MLS merger with SABOR. The MLS Committee’s charge is to make recommendations to the Board of Directors so as to provide an orderly marketplace and serve our membership with the best tools possible. The research and consideration of a merger between the MLSs of ABoR and SABOR originated from and continues to be led by both associations’ Boards of Directors. There have been no final recommendations made about the future of ABoR’s relationship with SABOR and most importantly, any such decision would be made in accordance with ABoR’s governance bylaws and commitment to transparency.
Myth: The ABoR Board only shares a fraction of the information it receives because they don’t want members to be engaged.
Fact: ABoR’s Board of Directors reviews hundreds of pages of information prior to each Board meeting and probably at least that much correspondence before and afterward to ensure we’re equipped to make sound, informed decisions. While we share much of that with our membership, we don’t share it all because some of it contains sensitive information that would be irresponsible to share with 13,000 people and more importantly, because our members expect us to represent them and their points of view. Our goal is to be transparent and inclusive while also being practical and enabling our organization to operate at the speed of our industry. If we waited to make each decision until all members had an opportunity to consider and weigh in, we would never make progress delivering the valuable and meaningful services our members expect. Thus, we engage the full membership in the most fundamental decisions of our organization and we rely on our board members and the hundreds of volunteers active throughout our dozens of committees to represent their will in the day-to-day business of serving member needs.
Myth: The ABoR Board removed two board members just because they disagreed with the rest of the Board.
Fact: The decision to remove two members of the Board of Directors was a difficult one to make. These individuals are valued members of our association and respected members of this industry. There was a fundamental disagreement about the fiduciary obligation to the organization that a Director holds and at least three quarters of the Board voted to remove them because they decided it was in the best interest of ABoR and our membership. Much of the speculation and commentary on social media about this action is inaccurate and inflammatory, but out of respect for the privacy of all those involved, ABoR is not providing further commentary on this decision.