Chances are, your association budget, like so many others’, got a little fat during the real estate boom years. Soaring memberships filled reserves and funded a range of new programs and services. But now, in the midst of a market correction in many areas, some associations find now is the time to prepare a leaner budget.
In market areas that have softened some, associations are reducing costs, which for some means staff cuts.
Even though your largest operating expense—staff—may seem like the best place to start trimming, there are many strategies for cutting your budget before turning to layoffs.
This issue of Realtor® AE magazine is dedicated to bringing you great ideas on how to leverage technology to benefit your association and members. In this issue you’ll learn how other associations are using and exploring technology, but don’t forget that technology will never replace human touch.
By Amy DuBose, Bridget McCrea, and Kevin Fritz
14 ways to green your office, save energy, and waste less.
From recycling paper to dimming the lights, every association can find simple and cost-effective ways to minimize its impact on the environment, save energy, and become an example for members and the community on how to be more environmentally conscious. Compiled by Carolyn Schwaar
Dump old Appliances.
When you need to purchase new electronic items, make sure they are Energy Star compliant to reduce your power needs and your electricity bill in the long run. Replace that old fridge.
As energy costs rise along with concern for the environment, more REALTORS® are asking for a new kind of listing data from their MLS: information on property energy efficiency and “green” features from Energy Star appliances and high-grade insulation to actual “green” home certifications are being added as categories in MLSs nationwide. Association and MLS executives are working fast to provide this new marketing tool so that members can meet the growing consumer demand.
The one practice that saves Realtor® associations thousands of dollars, leads to legislative victories, enhances members’ image, and benefits local communities is something we all learned in kindergarten—sharing. And ideal role models for how to share are association government affairs directors (GADs) who have formed a tight and mutually beneficial community through exchanging resources and experiences.
By now 2008 is off and running, and regardless of your previous level of experience you’ll undoubtedly need the advice and support of other AEs sometime during the year. No problem. There are always -other AEs who are more than willing to share their experience, materials, research, and information with you. This generosity is the quality I value the most about being a part of the Realtor® association executive community. But how do you get to know the people? How do you begin creating your own professional network?
by Carolyn Schwaar
When Marti Wermager was handed the keys to the Lakes Country Association of Realtors® office, she’ll admit, she was clueless. “The board said it’s a kinda quiet little office, and that I’ll just ‘figure things out,’ ” Wermager says. But she soon found that even her background as a paralegal couldn’t have prepared her for the complexities of association bylaws, MLS rules, and dues record-keeping.
Veteran AEs on planning in uncertain times
Drafting your annual budget has become more challenging in today’s uncertain economy. Even for associations in areas that are not experiencing a real estate market decline, it’s difficult to predict how much the overall economy could affect your income or which types of programs will attract members.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the market has fluctuated or the economy slumped, so RAE caught up with some veteran AEs in the midst of their budgeting processes to ask for advice.