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Consumer Outreach Best Practices: Education

On this page, read best practices submitted by REALTOR® associations on the subject of Education—Educating consumers that REALTORS® are their real estate and community resource. Entries are listed by association size, with the largest at the top. 

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Tourism Commercials Following Hurricane Sandy

New Jersey Association of REALTORS® (41,000 members)

Goal

Reach consumers to inform them that New Jersey was still open in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and to encourage tourism, seasonal rentals, and the consideration of a second home in New Jersey.

How They Did It

Working with a production company, NJAR produced three commercials highlighting New Jersey cities and towns:

The commercials aired during the summer of 2013 within New Jersey and the surrounding states of New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Members helped spread the word through emails, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. NJAR spent about $40,000 for production and $170,000 for airtime, taking funds from its public outreach campaign account, which had been funded by a dues assessment a few years earlier.

Results

Feedback was very positive—from the committee, the Board of Directors, the leadership team, and the general membership. All involved agreed that the commercials represented a positive action by REALTORS® in light of how badly New Jersey was affected by the storm.

This was a very collaborative project – with staff, leadership and the production company... It took longer than we anticipated from concept to finished project, so we’d advise other associations to begin planning much earlier than they think is necessary – there are always inevitable delays. It’s also very helpful to have a vision or concept, which can help with the script writing, especially if the production company is handling it.

Contact: Allison Rosen - arosen@njar.com

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Commercial Seminars: Property Taxes and Fair Housing

Chicago Association of REALTORS® (11,800 members)

Goal

Inform Cook County Commercial property owners about their rights to appeal property taxes and their obligation to adhere to Fair Housing laws.

How They Did It

Working with a consultant, CAR mailed more than 180,000 postcards to urban and suburban commercial building owners in Cook County. CAR then held live seminars on the topics of fair housing and property taxes.

The drive to create this educational program stemmed from CAR's own research in the local commercial market, which showed:

  • Higher taxes leading to higher vacancies for commercial tenants;
  • Direct links between property taxes and economic development (in some cases, the monthly property tax load per square foot exceeded the rent per square foot for the market, making Cook County less attractive for investment)
  • Direct links between vacancies and home prices

CAR used funds from NAR's Issues Mobilization Committee in its efforts.

Results

CAR's efforts highlighted the association's advocacy for consumers, built credibility with governmental agencies on the issue of fair housing, and helped plant seeds to grow membership. Members and CAR's Board of Directors reacted favorably to the initiatives.

Fair Housing is always worthy of education. As many commercial buildings are apartments, we saw an equally important goal in educating owners on their obligations as the laws change frequently. —CAR

Contact: Brian Bernadoni - bbernadoni@chicagorealtor.com

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Consumer Website: HomeLasVegas.com

Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS® (11,000 members)

Goals

  1. Put a face on living, working, and retiring in the Las Vegas Valley beyond its well-known image as home to the Strip.
  2. Help consumers understand how REALTORS® can assist them in all aspects of their transactions.

How They Did It

In partnership with a consultant, GLVAR launched a new public-facing website, www.homelasvegas.com, along with an ad campaign directing consumers to the site. Branding on the homepage mirrors the graphics of the ad campaign. The site contains a property search tool, community information, and positive messages about using REALTORS®.
 
GLVAR partnered with CoreLogic, which maintains the site, minimizing association staff time commitments.

Results

Members have expressed pride in the site. The association's President has had good press interviews concerning the site, helping to spread the word to the public.

We think positive messages about REALTORS® and the communities in our region—as well as accurate information on market conditions and a clean property search feature—are all important to consumers and enhance the image of REALTORS® and Las Vegas.

Contact: Nelson Janes - njanes@glvar.org

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"Real Estate Insider" Column

Portland Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® (6,200 members)

Goal

To educate the public on the value of REALTORS®, as well as counterbalance any negative media.

How They Did It

PMAR's Real Estate Insider column, published monthly in community newspapers, offers practical tips for home buyers and sellers. PMAR encourage members to use the columns in their own marketing efforts.

Initially, PMAR reached out to community newspapers to pitch the column. With those relationships established, PMAR staff now spend 2–3 hours per month to gather quotes from REALTORS® and write the column.

PMAR tasked its Public Relations committee to generate fresh topics for the column throughout the year. 

Results

The column is usually picked up in a few community newspapers each month. Members see that PMAR is working on their behalf to promote their profession. Members share the articles on their websites, newsletters, and social media. 

Contact: Elissa Gavette - egavette@pmar.org

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"Start Here" Microsite

Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS® (Kentucky; 3,500 members)

Goal

To educate the consumer on the local real estate market, the benefits of using a REALTOR®, and the basics of the home buying and selling process.

How They Did It

Working with a consultant, GLAR created the Start Here microsite, part of its main website, to be used as a resource for local home buyers and sellers. The project took 4 months and cost $20,000.

The association spread the word about the microsite on its social media pages for both consumers and members, and encouraged members to let their clients know about the site.

Results

The "Start Here" site has become a valued resource for local market information and for resources about buying and selling a home.

Contact: Karla Murphy - karla@louisvillerealtors.com

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"On the Market" TV News Segments

Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (1,000 members)

Goal

Position CAAR and REALTOR® members as the leading authority on all things real estate in central Virginia.

How They Did It

A past CAAR president cultivated a relationship with the station general manager at Newsplex, the local ABC, CBS, and FOX affiliates in the Charlottesville area, seeking to highlight the resources of the local real estate profession. After initial meetings to explore the depth and range of potential topics, CAAR and Newsplex created the On the Market real estate series. Both parties agreed to craft a series that is beneficial to viewers, and not specifically promotional of REALTORS® themselves. 

Topics included the protection of Mortgage Interest Deduction, First Time Home Buyer Savings Account, mortgage rates when buying or refinancing, the Protecting the American Dream campaign, and a successful promotion of the Nationwide Open House weekend. 

The program took six months to a year to develop; however, there are no costs associated with this project.  

Results

The increased credibility from an earned media approach versus a paid advertising campaign has brought local REALTORS® recognition as the real estate market experts in the community and reinforced the value of membership.

Contact: Katie Davenport - katie@caar.com

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ECARVoice.com Blog

Eastern Connecticut Association of REALTORS® (975 members)

Goal

To engage the consumer (homebuyers, sellers and owners) by providing them with useful real estate information and to drive them to the ECAR website

How They Did It

ECARVoice is a Wordpress blog that includes various post categories including federal, state, and local legislative issues, the home buying process, the home selling process and home maintenance. The blog also features an interactive feedback feature that allows consumers to ask a question.

Wordpress blogs are free of charge but cost $29 per year to remove ads on the page. While most of the posts are done by ECAR staff, members also contribute.

Results

After one year of being active, ECARVoice.com now has more than 500 followers. Members are pleased with the initiative and have shared and promoted the site with their clients and customers.

Engaging the consumer is critical to the survival of associations. Posts to the blog are also automatically sent to our Facebook, Twitterand LinkedIn pages. We would like to see the number of ECARVoice followers grow by ten times.

Contact: John Bolduc - john.bolduc@easternctrealtors.com

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Property Assessment Seminars

Heartland REALTOR® Organization (Illinois; 700 members)

Goal

Assist the public in understanding the property tax system and the assessment process.

How They Did It

In coordination with the McHenry County Assessor’s Office, Heartland hosts annual seminars to assist the public with their property assessments. The seminar's format varies. At one session, the County’s Chief Assessment Officer gave a presentation; at others, REALTORS® sit with members of the public to give them an approximate value range for their residence.

Heartland advertised the seminars in local newspapers, radio, and other outlets. The association also worked with township tax assessors, who mentioned the seminar to constituents.

The setup cost, mostly staff time, was minimal. Staff spent a few hours on the initial planning, arranging for volunteers, and writing and placing ads. Now the event is in its fifth consecutive year.

Results

Heartland has provided a valued service to hundreds of county homeowners. During the year with the highest attendance, the association hosted 4 sessions, each of which was “sold out” at about 75 attendees.

The Association received much good will from our efforts, and public awareness of who we are and that we work to fight for private property rights. —Heartland

Contact: Jim Haisler - jh@hearlandro.com

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"Real Estate Roundup" Column

Jefferson-Lewis Board of REALTORS® (New York; 335 members) and St Lawrence County Board of REALTORS® (New York; 173 members)

Goals

  1. Public awareness of real estate issues and practices
  2. Positioning the associations as the source for good real estate information

How They Did It

The associations write a monthly column for NNY Business Magazine, which serves the three counties that the two associations primarily cover.

The cost: three to four hours of staff time per month. In writing the columns, the associations make use of information from Realtor.org, such as talking points and library resources.

Results

The magazine articles began in 2011. They have enhanced the associations' reputation as a good source of real estate info, and prompted conversations.

This is a low-cost way to spread the REALTOR® message. —JLBOR and SLCBOR

Contact: Lance Evans - levans@nnymls.com

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Consumer Testimonial Ads

Bismarck Mandan Board of REALTORS® (North Dakota; 325 members)

Goal

To educate consumers on the value of using a REALTOR®.

How They Did It

With its staff and volunteer members, BMBOR produced four television and radio ads featuring consumer testimonials. Two ads targeted sellers, and two were aimed at buyers. Watch the ads here:

It took about two weeks to coordinate consumers' availability to record their testimonials. A member, who had done media buys in a previous career, performed the market research to make the best buys and to determine which television and radio stations to use.

Total cost: $18,000 for the media buy. BMBOR used reserve funds as well as $3,000 from the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.

Results

Member feedback has been very positive. Members feel the ads are well done and that the consumers' testimonials gave the ads “meat.” More good news: MLS listings are up noticeably from one year ago.

Low inventory is an issue in our market, and FSBOs are up—we were hoping to reach that market. It was felt that buyers, specifically first-time buyers, may not be aware of how a REALTOR® can help them. —BMBOR

Contact: Nancy Deichert - nancy@bmbor.org

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