Getting It Done: Technology & Trends
Top tech tools & services developed by NAR in the past 5 years
Realtors Property Resource™: a national database of assessor, recorder, and mortgage data, MLS content, foreclosure information, demographics, neighborhood data, and more.
Second Century Ventures: a venture capital fund focused on promoting innovation (particularly new technologies) in the real estate industry.
Blogs & social media, including 34 separate Facebook pages for individual association audiences, 13 blogs, and Twitter feeds.
REALTOR® Association Management System Cooperative (RAMCO): a feature-rich, comprehensive association management system.
Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS): support for specifications and updates on the open standard for exchanging real estate transaction information.
Convio Fundraising Software for NonProfits: an online fundraising, donor management and database for constituent engagement.
Data Security and Privacy Toolkit: Advice on complying with data security and privacy best practices and laws.
Smart-phone and iPad apps and toolbars: includes NAR Midyear App, NAR Action Center App, NAR Express App, MID Calculator App, REALTOR.com® App, Place Tags App (iPhone), and more.
Free CRT tech tools, including Appraisal Dashboard, a Web application that interfaces with live MLS data and provides a visual search interface; EyeCatcher, a Flash/XML application; Scribblez, a Facebook application; Variman, an open-source RETS server, and much more.
E-books from Info Central available on loan at REALTOR.org.
REALTOR® TV and podcast development: a library of informative and timely audio and video broadcasts on REALTOR.org.
REALTOR® Content Resource from NAR’s HouseLogic.com offers free content (ready-to-use articles on all aspects of home ownership, buying, and selling) for members and associations.
— Top items in terms of usage and popularity, compiled by NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Technology
How to get tweeted, liked, bookmarked & +1ed
Understand what motivates site visitors and users to like or share your posted content, namely, if it is:
- Useful and informative
- Unique or original
- Funny or entertaining
- Surprising or shocking
56% of AEs expect membership numbers to drop in the next two years.
44% of AEs expect membership numbers to stay the same or increase in the next two years.
— Association Executives Survey on Trends, 2010, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
83% of members under 30 use social media
— 2011 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Member Profile
9 ideas for association YouTube videos
- A weekly or monthly announcement from your president on just about anything, including market stats and association news. It’s like having your own TV show!
- Highlights of events from YPN cocktail parties to charity events. Even if you don’t record the whole event, you can post key points made by speakers or big announcements made at the event.
- Member testimonials about the value of your association. When members see the additional exposure another is getting, they too will want to record a testimonial video.
- Member commercials. If you’re going to invest in the video, sound, and editing equipment needed to make good videos—not to mention the staff training—why not offer it as a service to members (free or for a fee).
- Updates from your GAD on state legislature or city council meetings.
- Daily life. Show your members what it’s like working at your office. Show them what the AE does and what your president does through a “man-on-the-street” impromptu interview video.
- Calls to action. Do you need your members to get out the vote, pay their dues, contact their senator? Use video to create an emotional appeal instead of text in an e-mail or a letter.
- Explain the benefits of membership or record a welcome video for new members.
- Walk members through how to use something, such as your Web site, lock boxes, or any other service or program.
Free tech tools & timesavers
- From social networking platforms to Web security software to portals that allow you to post jobs and search for good candidates online, the Internet remains one of the last bastions for good, free stuff. Here are great new free* online services you can start taking advantage of right now:
- Social networking: Social networking remains a largely “free” environment for users who want to interact online. Not only can your association join existing networks like Facebook and ActiveRain for free but you can launch your own social network free of charge as well, for members to interact with one another exclusively. Use social networking platform Ning.com to create new online networks for specific groups, such as young members, committees, or leadership. Another free platform is KickApps.com, which enables you to integrate social networking applications into your association’s Web site.
- Meeting and scheduling: Instead of wasting valuable time and paper to get the word out about your association meetings, check out MeetingWizard.com, which allows you to arrange and schedule events in a simple online format. Send invitations, review responses, and issue confirmations and reminders using just a browser and e-mail account. Another scheduling tool, Doodle.com, includes polling and voting options that allow your association to gauge membership interest in important issues. And then there’s TimeBridge (with free and paid features), which claims as its mission “to ensure that your attendees arrive prepared, stay focused, and leave with a common purpose and clear to-dos”—who wouldn’t want that?
- Office productivity: Free for personal use, Zoho.com offers productivity and collaboration applications that range from e-mail to accounting spreadsheets to online presentation tools. ThinkFree Office (www.thinkfree .com) is a Web-based office suite (i.e., an alternative to buying expensive Microsoft Office) that allows users to create, edit, and share word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation materials. Also try Google Apps, offering word processing, e-mail, storage, and much more “in the cloud.”
- Web hosting and creation: If your association is looking for a free, easy way to upgrade an existing Web site or create a new online home, check out Yola.com, which prides itself on being able to “take what’s in your head and turn it into Web pages in front of your eyes,” without imposing banner ads or pop-up ad windows. Another option is Weebly.com, which offers a “drag and drop” site builder, editing function, and free hosting.
- Web security: Your organization’s computers—and the sensitive data stored within—need to be protected. ZoneAlarm.com offers a free option that features firewall protection from hackers and other external threats.
- Web site analytics: Associations looking to measure the effectiveness of their Web sites can use free Web analytics tools like Statcounter.com to analyze and monitor all the visitors to your Web site in real time. The information can then be used to tweak your organization’s online presence, making it more useful for members and visitors.
- Blogging: If your association doesn’t have a blog up and running yet, try Blogger.com or Wordpress.com, both of which offer free blog publishing tools. Get members and site visitors engaged in association activities and updated on association information through text, photos, and videos—all of which can be uploaded to and embedded in your blog within minutes with either of these utilities.
- Phone and fax: Check out the business version of Skype, deployable on multiple machines, that includes free Skype-to-Skype video calls plus some paid features including screen sharing. FaxZero.com allows users to send faxes for free, and without using a traditional fax machine. Plus there’s a promising new service from Google, called GoogleVoice, which gives you a single phone number that will ring any or all of your phones—home, mobile, and work. With MongoFax, free to associations, members can use their fax machines to e-mail documents.
- Web presentations: The next time you’re conducting an online meeting with board members, check out SlideShare.com, which enables you to upload your PowerPoint, OpenOffice, and Keynote presentations, tag them, embed them into your blog or Web site, browse others’ presentations, and comment on individual slides—all at no charge. Also great for embedding training presentations into your association’s Web site.
The most important things I’ve learned as an AE
- You must have trust and faith in your leadership. If you don’t, you need to figure out why, then work to obtain it.
- Make sure your leadership clearly understands their role: providing direction, leadership, and support.
- Be respectful of your leadership’s time and priorities. Always remind them that they are volunteers.
- Make sure your leadership enjoys their role. Let them have fun, be recognized, and feel they are making a difference.
- If you lose your enthusiasm and energy to be an effective AE, find another position. Life is too short.
- Be considerate, fair, and honest in all that you do. Many people look up to you and, as an AE, part of your job is to set a good example.
- Don’t take yourself, your position, or the association too seriously. It’s just a trade association.
— Robert E. Golden, RCE, CAE, CEO, Colorado Association of REALTORS®
MLSs bet on consumer Web sites
“Just slightly more than two-thirds of survey respondents offer an MLS consumer Web site or will be launching one in the next 6 to 12 months. It appears that the industry has now recognized it can provide value to its members by delivering leads from a public-facing Web site.”
—2011 CMLS MLS Operations Benchmarking Survey, Council of MLS, www.councilofMLS.com.
Trend: designations add dough
The median income of REALTORS® without a designation is $29,700.
The median income of those with at least one designation is $51,500.
NAR has 16 official designations:
- Accredited Buyer’s Representative
- General Accredited Appraiser
- Accredited Land Consultant
- Graduate, REALTOR® Institute
- Certified Commercial Investment Member
- NAR’s Green Designation
- Certified International Property Specialist
- Performance Management Network
- Certified Property Manager®
- REALTOR® Association Certified Executive
- Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager
- Residential Accredited Appraiser
- Certified Residential Specialist
- Seniors Real Estate Specialist®
- Counselor of Real Estate
- Society of Industrial and Office REALTORS®
— Source: 2010 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Member Profile
What keeps MLS operators up at night:
The concern over their inability to control the distribution and unauthorized use of data
The need to improve the quality of their technology offerings and customer service to maintain their subscribers
The search for a way to offer more personalized service levels for their members
The need to cut costs and generate non-dues revenue
The search for ways to create a suite of new products that are seamlessly integrated with one another as well as auto-populated by MLS data
— Based on a the 2011 CMLS MLS Operations Benchmarking Survey, Council of MLS, www.councilofMLS.com
9 new MLS green fields
The Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS®’ MLS has joined a growing cadre of MLSs that anticipate a property’s environmental features will become increasingly important to home buyers in the future. In fact, a recent survey of MLS operators indicates that 13 percent have some level of searchable green fields in their system. In June, GLVAR added these fields to its MLS:
- Green details: This field will show if an energy audit of the home is available, if the home has low-flow faucets, solar electricity systems, and more.
- Hot water: This will show if the home has recirculating hot water, solar water heating panels, or a tankless water heater.
- Green certification: This will list the certifying organization, year the home was certified, and its green certification rating.
- Energy Star appliances: This field will show which appliances have met the Energy Star standard.
- Parking: This field will show if the home has a hookup for an electric car.
- Eco Baths: This field notes dual-flush toilets or low-flow showers.
- Eco heating/cooling systems: This field shows if a home has high-efficiency HVAC systems, programmable thermostats, and similar features.
- Energy-saving: This field notes insulated doors, windows and more.
- Utility information: This section lists features such as solar panels and screens.
— Survey conducted in late 2010 by GRC and NeighborWorks
4 social media productivity tips for associations
Establish a social media strategy and policies to guide your outreach for today and tomorrow.
Maintaining a fresh, relevant, and useful presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., takes time. Commit staff and resources to make it work.
Use automated tools (such as Seesmic, HootSuite, and Postling) to post news or announcements to multiple social media platforms at once.
Ask your social media followers to suggest your site to friends and share its content. Also ask board members and volunteers to regularly give thumbs-up and to post comments.
Association technology equipment wish list
iPads for everyone! Wouldn’t it be great to make sure your board of directors and staff had access to the latest and coolest technology to facilitate meetings, collaborate on projects, organize committees, and communicate instantly?
Portable presentation projectors. The so-called palmtop projectors, such as the BenQ Joybee GP1 and Samsung P410, are powerful and bright but still lightweight enough to pack in a bag for mobile multi-media presentations at members’ offices.
Video cameras, such as the Canon Vixia HF M3x series, are essential for making association webinars, YouTube videos, virtual orientations, or Internet TV broadcasts via ustream.tv.
Every office needs a multifunction wireless printer, such as the Dell 1125, that laser prints in color, faxes, scans, and photocopies. Some even let you e-mail what you’ve just scanned right from the machine.
Touch-screen -monitors have become more commonplace as their price has steadily dropped over the past decade. They are great for creating an easy touch-screen information station in your association office lobby.
6 things I’ve learned in my career as an AE
- Lead by example.
- Listen more than you talk.
- Assume the best; prepare for the worst.
- No good deed goes unpunished!
- Unexpected good deeds to your staff pay the biggest dividends.
- Thank-you notes should always be handwritten.
— Duncan R. MacKenzie, CEO, New York State Association of REALTORS®
Tools for new AEs
New AE orientation is a day-long event in Chicago for first-time AEs, both local and state. Held twice a year.
Track for new AEs at the AE Institute includes special programming for new AEs that focuses on basics of dues policies, NRDS, e-commerce, membership policies, governing documents, and more.
Networking sessions for new AEs are held at the AE Institute and the annual REALTORS® Conference & Expo.
Roadmap for New REALTOR® Association Executives is an in-depth online resource and orientation tool for new AEs. It features a checklist of must-know responsibilities for an AE’s first weeks and months on the job and includes advice from peers. (This site is being revamped and expanded in 2011 to include other AE transitions.)
Monthly new AE e-mail reminds AEs of upcoming events, deadlines, and new developments.
Facebook page for new AEs to share and network online. Google Facebook AE YPN.