har-logoThe Houston Association of REALTORS (HAR) hit a significant milestone this month. They supported their brokers and agents in eclipsing the mark of 1 million transactions representing $190 Billion in real estate sales. I really appreciate the way HAR keeps track of everything, with clear focus on where they started and the progress that they have made on behalf of their members over time. WAV Group partner, Victor Lund discussed this success with Houston Board Chairman, Danny Frank.

To begin with, Danny Frank is one of the most genuine, humble, and sincere leaders of any large real estate organization that I have met. Simply stated, he is a great guy. Nevertheless, he takes his role seriously in both his time commitment and his stewardship of the organization, and its professional staff. Like those who preceded him, he shares the vision that the Houston Association of REALTORS can be very best in the world, but it takes a lot of hard work.

There are many pundits around the nation that are critical of the successful website operated by the Houston Association of REALTORS – HAR.com. The site has such outstanding success that no other website can compete with reaching the online consumer in any meaningful way. To be sure, some brokers are not very happy about it. They would prefer to have their broker website in the position of being number one. I empathize with those preferences, but they are not very realistic. HAR.com delivers one of the most outstanding value added benefits to its members found anywhere in the nation. Consider the following.

Mr. Frank provided me with some of the criteria that they consider as it relates to their continued strategic and financial support of operating HAR.com:

“The advertising revenue generated on the website offsets the operational costs.” The site defers online costs that brokers and agents would shoulder if HAR.com did not exist.

“The site keeps the HAR agent and brokers at the center of online real estate search by consumers.” Consumers enjoy unfettered access to the most comprehensive, timely, and accurate listing information in the region with direct, unfettered connections to the agents and brokerages that can answer their real estate questions.

Those are some great criteria.

If you look at agent and broker advertising costs in cities comparable to Houston, you find that brokers and agents are spending somewhere between $20 and $50 per lead. From another perspective, many large brokers spend $10,000 to $20,000 for online marketing on the city newspaper website alone.

Here is some funny math. HAR.com delivers one or more leads per month to agents at no charge, says Denny Frank. HAR MLS dues are $20 per month for all services.

HAR has delivered 4.7 Million leads back to REALTOR members over the past 16 years. If you use the $20 per lead industry benchmark – that is $94 Million dollars in value. If you divide that value by the number of agents in Houston, 24,000 – it equates to about $20 worth per agent per month – the exact price of the MLS dues. ($94 Million/16 years/12 months/24,000 REALTORS).

If you are a big broker with a successful online web presence – there is no doubt that you would not be in favor of a powerful MLS consumer facing website like HAR. Unfortunately there are fewer than a dozen brokers who have achieved that level of success. Beyond that, HAR offers a great case study on how an MLS consumer facing website can offer outstanding value to agents and brokers.