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Consumer Outreach Best Practices: Advocacy

On this page, read best practices submitted by REALTOR® associations on the subject of Advocacy—Conducting research and building consumer support for real estate issues. Entries are listed by association size, with the largest at the top.

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Michigan Homeowners Alliance Website

Michigan Association of REALTORS® (22,500 members)

Goal

Provide consumers with resources to maximize their current investment, find a REALTOR®, and stay in the know with current legislation affecting the rights and protection of Michigan’s private property owners.

How They Did It

MAR staff developed the branding and the website, www.michiganhomeownersalliance.com, internally in about 10 days. Domain and web hosting costs are under $100 per year, and staff spend 1-2 hours a month maintaining the site. 

The site links to MAR's YouTube channel, which features a monthly vodcast. In this videocast, MAR staff Rob Campau and Brad Ward provide quick, informative updates on current legislation. NAR's Houselogic and Real Estate Today Radio widgets were placed on the site to help keep content fresh.

Results

Members have responded positively. The vodcast is a popular feature. MAR promotes the website in weekly communications to its members, but a future goal is to reach out to consumers directly.

MAR plans to use the site as a resource during election years to encourage support of REALTOR®-friendly candidates who want to protect private property owners.

Contact: Joe Kras - jkras@mirealtors.com

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Defeat the Fire Sprinkler Mandate

Chicago Association of REALTORS® (11,800 members)

Goal

Defeat the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal's proposal to alter the Illinois fire safety code. The proposal would require sprinkler systems in all newly constructed homes as well as retrofits for all high-rise residential buildings.

How They Did It

Working with the Illinois Association (IAR), CAR successfully partnered with and engaged the membership of the Apartment Building Owners and Managers Association (ABOMA), which represents 430+ high-rise buildings and 300,000 unit owners

With carefully crafted calls to action, CAR mobilized home owners to oppose the mandate. CAR and IAR set up the website http://www.nosprinklermandate.com/ to encourage consumers to contact the state legislature regarding the proposal.

CAR drew upon GAD Institute training and NAR contacts in its initiative.

Results

CAR's mobilization efforts took place within two weeks. Individuals sent over 10,000 messages to the state legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) opposing the sprinkler mandate proposal.

On Aug. 2, 2013, the Illinois State Fire Marshal stated: “We have received an unprecedented amount of public input... I am officially withdrawing the proposed rule before the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to take into account substantial public comment and carefully re-examine this issue.”

CAR Members responded with support and praise. Beyond the legislative victory, CAR counts among its successes its partnership with ABOMA, which laid a foundation for additional real estate advocacy in the future.

The association took on no additional costs for the outreach; rather, we utilized relationship resources expeditiously. Reaching out to like-minded organizations takes hard work, candid conversations, and a willingness to expand your message if necessary to achieve the goals of all groups. These coalitions are critical and should be maintained constantly. —CAR

Contact: Brian Bernadoni - bbernadoni@chicagorealtor.com

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Consumer Website: LAhomeowners.org

Louisiana REALTORS® (10,500 members)

Goals

  1. Engage the consumer with information on how to save money on their investment
  2. Engage the REALTOR® by extending information that regards the REALTOR® as their trusted partner

How They Did It

Using staff and volunteer members as well as a consultant, Louisiana REALTORS® (LR) spent one year developing the Louisiana Homeowner Resource Center website, www.lahomeowners.org. The site's goal is to save homeowners money by giving them information about issues including:

  • buying and selling a home
  • mortgages and financing, including mortgage calculators
  • insurance
  • taxation and legislation
  • legal issues, such as eminent domain and fair housing

The initiative received a grant of $25,000 from NAR's Game Changer program in 2012.

Results

This website is a tool for the REALTOR® member to share in promoting the knowledge and benefits of a REALTOR® partnership. It helps raise their value in the eyes of the consumer. —Louisiana REALTORS®

Contact: Malcolm Young - malcolm@larealtors.org

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The Barrier Free 5K Run

REALTOR® Association of Palm Beaches (Florida; 8,500 members)

Goals

  1. Raise funds to support the Barrier Free Park, which accommodates persons of all abilities including those in wheelchairs, those
    with autism or multiple sclerosis, those wounded, and others.
  2. Generate positive press for RAPB and participating REALTOR® members.

How They Did It

Staff and volunteer members organized the event over the course of two months. The total cost was $3,000, funded through sponsorships. RAPB REALTORS® joined together to raise money through sponsorships and race fees. 

REALTORS® walked by neighboring park community and sported their REALTOR® T-shirts to illustrate strength in unity.

Results

The event drew over 200 participants, generated several radio interviews and print articles, and raised $5,400 for the charity. Numerous offices came together to create teams and walk for this cause. The association we gained great positive press and admiration from the community and town of Boynton Beach.

Gaining sponsorships, particularly large sponsors, was the most challenging...This was the first year of the event, and it was a big success, so we expect that challenge to be less this year... This park is the only park of its kind in the United States, so it was a unique concept that we hope will lead to the building of others parks of this kind throughout the country.

Contact: Jan Traub - jtraub@rapb.com

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Home Buyer Education

REALTOR® Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach (Florida; 4,400 members)

Goal

Provide tools and resources to potential homebuyers to make homeownership feasible.

How They Did It

The association hosts monthly Homebuyer Education for the public to increase knowledge and build new skills in the area of homeownership. An average of 30 people attend the class each month. Subjects covered during this 8-hour course include:

  • homeownership readiness
  • homeownership affordability and financial management after home purchase
  • money and credit management
  • financing
  • mortgage and closing processes
  • home maintenance

The association formed a nonprofit Housing Foundation and sent a member to Neighborworks “Train the Trainer” program to be able to certify volunteer instructors. Two non-profit partners in the community—the Lee County Housing
Development Corporation, and Habitat for Humanity for Lee and Hendry Counties—joined the effort.

Results

Feedback from class participants has been positive. Participants feel empowered and confident in the home buying process; many have stated that they had not been taught money management prior to the class.

Members attend with their clients; some members have learned about affordable housing resources and loans that they weren’t aware of prior to the class. Members report significant satisfaction from helping potential homebuyers.

It's invaluable that we can provide this free resource that enables our members to give back to the community, help potential homebuyers, and enhance our reputation within the Greater Fort Myers community. —REALTOR® Association of Greater Fort Myers and The Beach

Contact: Doreen Herring - doreen@swflrealtors.com

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"Making Minnesota Home" Ads

Southeast Minnesota Association of REALTORS® (824 members)

Goals

To demonstrate how a knowledgeable and professional REALTOR® will represent and protect the consumer both during the transaction and as they enjoy the benefits and financial security of homeownership long after the transaction has been completed; to advance the respect of the REALTOR® community and local real estate industry.

How They Did It

SEMAR utilized television and print media. Using an advertising consultant, the three-year, three-phase project will total $37,000.

All SEMAR members had the opportunity to be a part of each local TV ad, and many participated in the group shots or individual speaking parts.

Results

Members have been sharing the video on Facebook and putting the ad on their websites. The consumers see REALTORS® that they recognize in their communities, rather than actors. The ads have enhanced the REALTOR® image to the local consumer.

The biggest hurdle was in understanding the television and print media ins and outs. Once the advertising consultant was hired, the cost was cut by more than 50%. Remember that not all advertising consultants are created equal. Using your REALTORS® is also critical. The audience will connect with people they know. The REALTORS® also have the passion... and that message comes across loud and clear. Create a fun environment for the shoot, whether on location or in-studio. If you have fun, they’ll have fun.

Examples:
2013 SEMAR Advocacy Ad
2014 Local Community Donut Ads

Contact: Karen Becker - karen@semnrealtors.com

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"Protecting Our Housing Future" Campaign

Fort Collins Board of REALTORS® (Colorado; 750 members)

Goals

  1. Improve advocacy efforts in the local community
  2. Establish a program to facilitate better communication with the community
  3. Diminish negative views of our members in a community where growth is a divisive issue

How They Did It

FCBR launched a comprehensive marketing campaign, using its own website and social media (including Facebook and Twitter) along with local media partnerships to promote its messages. Staff time for initial development of the structure and marketing material was significant up front, but now amounts to a few hours a week.

Monetary cost was minimal; most work was done in-house and via marketing trade-outs with local media. Some state level issues dollars were used.

Results

The project has improved FCBR's ability to communicate to the public and members about how its advocacy programs benefit the community. The branding has allowed FCBR to take lead roles in affordable housing planning and programs, helped with the delivery of real estate information for public consumption, and is helping to bridge the gap with consumers.

Your efforts don’t have to be fancy or expensive to be effective. In fact, we learned that by simply re-packaging what we were already doing we were able to better demonstrate our value to members and community without adding to our workload. Take advantage of NAR’s resources as they have been amazing to work with and have been very impactful. —FCBR

Contact: Clint Skutchan - clint@fcbr.org

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"Use a REALTOR®" TV Ad

Fargo Moorhead Area Association of REALTORS® (North Dakota; 643 members)

Goal

Encourage the public to contact a REALTOR® to purchase their next home; increase public awareness of REALTORS® and public image of REALTORS®.

How They Did It

Using staff time, and volunteer members' contributions, FMAAR created a 30-second cable television commercial. The project took several weeks and cost $2,700.

Results

When the commercial aired, the association received positive comments from members as well as from the public.

Contact: Marti Kaiser, RCE - marti@fmrealtor.com

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