This is not the tragic story of another Realtor® being attacked. But rather the story of the REALTOR® brand value being attacked. Brad Inman asked a rather productive question on the popular Inman Coast to Coast Facebook group – “How Important is it for a licensed real estate agent to be a member of NAR?” The post invited healthy commentary. Way to go Brad!
My hope is that every Realtor® Association in America and around the world takes note of the post and the many responses. The one that inspired this post is that “Associations do a crap job of explaining the benefits.” For any Association of REALTORS®, there is a simple roadmap to follow in your communications plan. These are the key points that you need to reinforce in the communications to your members:
- In some markets, you must be a Realtor® to access the MLS
- In some markets, MLS service is discounted to Realtors®
- Arbitration for compensation is managed by the AoR
- Lockboxes are offered by the AoR
- Forms are offered by the AoR
- Who would defend the industry from HUD attacks?
- Who would defend the industry from Department of Justice attacks?
- Who would defend the rights of property owners?
- Who would fight government over-regulation?
- The Code of Ethics works – holding fellow Realtors® to a higher standard that is arbitrated by the AoR.
- Blocks solicitation of the seller under the exclusive contract
- Fight against crazy actions by State Departments of Real Estate
- Continuing Education
- Community of Professionals
- Lobbying Congress for sound policy decisions that ensure a robust real estate marketplace (RPAC).
- Keeping lawyers out of real estate transactions
- A local Board of Realtors® of peers who are seeking ways to improve our profession here on main street.
- MLS of Choice
Opportunities not posted
- Agent and Broker Ratings
- Agent and Broker transaction stats and market share reports
- Housing Reports
- Data Standards
- Rules Standards
- Broker Public Portal
- Creation of the MLS
- Countless legal defenses from Class Action lawsuits
- Speaker Series
To reinforce the value of being a Realtor®, Associations need to create a surround sound system of speaking to members that include newsletters, website resource, social media engagement, and events. Associations have the financial resources to effectively communicate and plenty to say. Stop sitting on Millions of dollars in reserves and take action to communicate your value now.
The communications department of any Association of REALTORS® can take this list – write two articles a month, and send it to their members to reinforce the value of NAR membership.
I took a look at 12 Association websites this morning. They are a train wreck. Poorly constructed and poorly maintained. Fix it. If you need help, hire help.
Social Media Strategy for Members
It stuns me that over 90% of Realtors® are on Facebook but most Associations have less than 5% of their members connected to their social media pages. Fix that. It’s easy.
Consumer Communications Strategy
If you want to see an effective consumer communications strategy by an Association, look no further than the Houston Association of REALTORS® or Board of REALTORS® of Long Island. They have consumer research panels that solicit feedback from the community on issues that the Realtor® Association can help them fix. They impact positive change and reinforce their efforts back to the member and the consumer.
If you want to see effective State Association Communications, look no further than the California Association of Realtors®, Texas Association of Realtors®, or New York State Association of Realtors®. Each of them is absolute powerhouses at supporting the local Associations, negotiating with the State legislature, and delivering highly valued member benefits.
As for NAR, they are the second most powerful trade organization in America today, just behind the Teachers Union. Moreover, Bob Goldberg is shepherding in a sea change of progressive rejuvenation in policy and staff. They are moving forward with gusto.
The Need to Get Tougher
Realtor® Associations need to get tougher. Simply stated, at the local, state and national level, Realtors® are too nice to each other. NAR does not enforce their MLS policy. They do not enforce the requirements to adhere to the RESO standards. The arbitration process does not issue severe enough fines to curb violations of the Code of Ethics.
Create a Strategic Plan That Works
I am proud of the work that WAV Group does with strategic planning. We work with Association staff, the board of directors, committee members, survey the members, and interview key groups of members to take stock of the effectiveness of the Association. Our solid research informs the success of the organization that needs to be perpetuated and identifies opportunities to allow boards and staff to chart paths for improvements. We benchmark against similar organizations and deliver a solution that is proven to be effective.
The Realtor® is not missing in America. It is a strong, proud organization that needs to communicate more effectively. Let’s make 2019 an impressive year.