SP 200 logo and Bob Goldberg  with no. 13
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Bob Goldberg's mandate: Ensuring NAR members 'feel heard and valued' 

At the National Association of Realtors, CEO Bob Goldberg champions the needs and interests of members that number 1.5 million.

February 27, 2023
4 minutes

Key points:

  • As NAR’s top leader for six years, Goldberg has steered the trade group through booming and cooling markets.
  • Goldberg sees NAR as a driver for equality and notes that the organization's membership has become increasingly diverse.
  • The advancement of technology through NAR-backed initiatives remains a priority for Goldberg.

Editor's note: Each year, the Swanepoel Power 200 recognizes the most powerful and influential leaders in residential real estate. In this series of SP 200 Inside Look interviews, we're diving deeper and learning about these top leaders' aspirations and accomplishments, and the opportunities they see in the year ahead.

From his position overseeing the National Association of Realtors and its 1.5 million members, Bob Goldberg has a view of the industry like no other.

A veteran of the real estate industry, Goldberg has served as NAR's chief executive officer since 2017, steering the organization through a downturn driven by inflation and higher mortgage rates. His influence has earned him a place on the Swanepoel Power 200 list of the most powerful people in real estate, ranking No. 13 in 2023

Goldberg anticipates that the real estate marketplace will return to near normal this year. "The industry still likely won't be able to match the frenzied pace we saw in the first quarter of last year, which was before interest rates shot up,'' said Goldberg, who predicts sales will be down about 5% for the year.

Though home sales may be cooler, Goldberg pointed to other industry-wide trends and initiatives that he sees gaining momentum: MLSs and associations are finding ways to optimize data to better understand consumers on their real estate journey, and NAR is working to bring licensing standards to new and emerging markets outside the U.S.

Championing 'universal access and equality'

The industry also appears to be making strides in terms of diversity. NAR's 2022 Member Profile found that more than a third of new members were from diverse ethnic backgrounds, "a substantial increase from just 12 months prior," said Goldberg. "One of the most positive trends we see is the increasing diversity among those newest to the field," he added.

Greater diversity represents a major shift within the organization from an earlier era that discouraged racial equity in housing. "So many current and former NAR members, staff, and volunteer leaders have worked tirelessly to transform this association from one that barred Black members and fought passage of the Fair Housing Act to one of the real estate industry's most vocal drivers for universal access and equality," Goldberg said.

Working to understand the challenges agents face

Goldberg has been with NAR for more than a quarter-century, previously serving as senior vice president. He is an advocate and champion of the needs and interests of NAR members, and he is sensitive to the financial pressures some are experiencing in the cooler market.

Ensuring that real estate professionals "feel heard and valued" is critical to presiding over such a large trade organization, Goldberg said. "We are guided by the direction and foresight of our volunteer leadership team, made up of Realtors who operate in the market and who understand the challenges people in this field face every day."

Pressing issues include the need for new construction, as a lack of supply is driving up home prices. "The fact of the matter is that we don't have enough housing supply in this country. We have been under-building new homes for more than a decade," said Goldberg.

"And all of it makes homes less affordable and homeownership in general less attainable. It's a problem that's particularly acute for first-time buyers and those from Black and Hispanic demographic groups," he added. 

Promoting technology that serves agents, consumers

Since taking the reins at NAR, Goldberg has focused on technology and innovation. His efforts can be seen in part via the partnerships of REACH, an NAR accelerator Goldberg helped launch a decade ago. 

REACH identifies technologies that make agents and brokers better able to serve consumers, and helps those tech companies scale growth and make a meaningful impact on the industry. Funding is provided through Second Century Ventures, NAR's strategic investment arm, which the organization describes as "the most active real estate tech fund" on the planet.

"Our motivations from the onset with REACH and Second City Ventures were obvious — we wanted disruptors in the industry working alongside the individuals most in tune with its day-to-day direction: real estate agents," said Goldberg, who also serves as president of Second Century Ventures.

Goldberg noted that consumers receive a higher degree of service than ever before as the industry has moved further into the digital marketplace. NAR continually engages with tech leaders and innovators focused on developing resources that make businesses run more effectively and efficiently.

He cited the accomplishments of the startup company, Curbio, a member of REACH's 2019 cohort that has had 100% growth in each of its first five years of operation. 

The national home improvement company ended 2022 with about $70 million in revenue. "Fewer than 1% of companies reach these levels of revenue in five years of operation," Goldberg said.

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