22 REALTOR® JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 REALTORMAG.REALTOR.ORG
chron’s colleagues in Hot Springs say they’re hardly surprised by
his rise through the national ranks. “There’s no mountain too big for
him,” says 1st Choice broker-owner Jim Kellstrom.
His ascent underscores his ease at building a coalition of
supporters and reflects widespread admiration for Polychron.
“He is a natural salesman with the highest morals and ethics,” says
Elizabeth Farris, city president with Regions Bank in Hot Springs
and a former REALTOR®, who has known Polychron since his banking days. “He’s also a tireless advocate for what he believes in.
The members of NAR are in good hands.”
Ready to Defend
Polychron—Arkansas REALTOR® of the Year in 1996 and president
of the state association in 2003—made his mark nationally in fund-raising for the REALTORS® Political Action Committee and grass-roots mobilization. As the association’s first Member Mobilization
Committee chair in 2008, he helped launch the Broker Involvement
Program, an initiative through which brokers can ask their agents to
respond to calls for action to Congress. “We celebrated when we got
our first 100 members. Now we’re up to 17,000 people when we put
out a call for action,” he says.
His appointment of RPAC allies Michael Ford of West Memphis,
Ark., and Charlie Oppler of Franklin Lakes, N.J., as NAR vice presi-
dents speaks to his dedication to keeping advocacy front and center.
“These are two people who know the influence that our association,
with more than 1 million members, can have in Washington,” he
Outside of politics, Polychron expects to zero in on industry
concerns about the reliability of real estate data on the Internet.
The popularity of third-party portals is a reality, he says. But
their presence makes it imperative that NAR continue to cham-
pion the interests of REALTORS® and
consumers with regard to online listing
“We have a right and a responsibility
to make sure our own data is accurate,”
he says. And consumers are entitled to
know the real source of that data. “We
must continue to remind everyone that
the service we provide in accumulating
property information is very valuable.
We should not be giving our data away.”
One challenge, he says, is that “most
people still do not know the difference
between a REALTOR® and a real estate
agent. That needs to change,” he says.
Changing it means raising the professional bar, and under the leadership of
Polychron’s predecessor, Steve Brown
of Dayton, Ohio, NAR’s volunteer leaders
took meaningful steps in that direction
in November. Advocating before the
NAR board of directors—a body with
nearly 800 members—the leadership
team garnered approval in concept of a
REALTOR® Code of Excellence. Its goal:
to measurably increase professionalism
through increased training and recognition of competencies that consumers
value—including knowledge of the
Code of Ethics, understanding of data
privacy and security, and proficiency in
the use of technology tools. The board
also authorized NAR leaders to appoint
a work group to set criteria by which
REALTORS® are evaluated online. That
effort is designed to gain the upper hand
on the rating and review systems already
in place—systems that many REALTORS®
feel focus on the wrong measures of success or contain inaccurate or downright
The heavy lifting of developing both
the Code of Excellence and the perfor-
mance criteria will take place during
Polychron’s presidency, and friends
say he will apply his usual equanimity to
the task. “He’s a giver,” says Kellstrom.
“And he always has a smile on his face.”
meeting in Hot
Springs, from left:
Bill Brown, first
and Mike Ford,