REALTORŪ ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE
Winter 2007 RAE News: Executive Briefing
By Carolyn Schwaar
RealtorŪ Associations Score Major Electoral Victories
The November elections not only brought victory to the Democrats in Washington, D.C., they brought victories to RealtorŪ associations across the country. Hundreds of state and local associations poured tremendous amounts of time and money into defeating or supporting ballot initiatives on issues ranging from eminent domain to tax increases.
Several associations in Orange County, Calif., pulled together to fight no-growth land use measures that would have stifled new development and hamstrung homeowners, says Dave Stefanides, government affairs director of the Orange County Association of RealtorsŪ. “These measures were so onerous that basic zoning changes would have required citywide elections.” But the multi-association campaign ensured that the initiatives were overwhelmingly defeated on Nov. 7.
In Illinois, the North Shore-Barrington Association secured the narrow defeat of a $1 transfer tax increase referendum in the city of Evanston. “NSBAR sent a letter to all homeowners and voters in the city urging them to vote ‘no.’ We were also vocally against the measure in the media,” says Howard Handler, the association’s government affairs director. NSBAR’s transfer tax defeat was just one of four in the state. The Illinois Association of RealtorsŪ’ GAD team met with newspaper editorial boards across the state to ensure that opposition to the tax was publicized.
Eminent domain was a popular ballot issue across the country last November. In Michigan, the state association of RealtorsŪ spearheaded an initiative to pass an amendment to the state constitution to limit government’s power of eminent domain. Through an extensive media campaign, the association convinced Michigan voters to pass the amendment, which prohibits local and state governments from using economic development to justify using the power of eminent domain to take someone’s home or property.
In Nebraska, the state RealtorŪ association joined a ballot committee called Nebraska Taxpayers Against 423, to which it also contributed $5,000. The group defeated an initiative that would put state spending caps in the Nebraska constitution and “arbitrarily limit spending while doing nothing to limit or lower taxes,” according to the group. The association coordinated the committee’s budget, strategic and tactical plans, radio, direct mail, Web site, and e-mail ads sent externally to target audiences and internally to RealtorsŪ, according to Perre S. Neilan, Nebraska GAD.
In addition to the countless hours lobbying and campaigning for these issues, funding from the National Association of RealtorsŪ played a large part in campaign successes across the country. The NAR Issues Mobilization Committee contributed the most funds ever, nearly $700,000, to state and local association issue campaigns in 2006, each of which won.
RealtorŪ associations didn’t rely solely on state or national RPAC funds for their ballot initiatives, though. Kenneth Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area RealtorŪ Association in Colorado, chaired an election committee that raised $150,000 to defeat a ballot initiative that would have required a public vote on annexations greater than five acres. “The campaign attracted a unique coalition of real estate, business, affordable housing advocates, and advocates for representative government,” says Hotard. “We ran a nontraditional campaign for our area and surprised our opponents with our success.”
In addition to voting for their associations’ campaigns, RealtorsŪ contributed money and time to initiatives across the country. A few dozen RealtorsŪ in New Hampshire even stood out in the cold on election day to pass literature out to voters. These RealtorŪ poll watchers were supporting their association’s campaign to create a Government Study Commission and win a seat on the commission for a past association president.
And finally, through a process known as an interboard solicitation, local boards throughout California raised money to fight local no-growth measures across the state. Local boards gave IMPAC dollars to defeat measures in other cities, even when there was no current threat in their area, to prevent the same thing from occurring in their jurisdiction.
For more on NAR’s Issues Mobilization Committee and tools for taking action in your community, visit: www.REALTOR.org, search “take action.”
Association Profits with Hot Property Blast
The idea was simple: The Hilton Head Area Association of RealtorsŪ, S.C., would create an e-mail blast system that would enable members to contact one another with hot property information.
Launched in 2006, the system has produced a good bit of income and controversy, says Eleanor Lightsey O'Key, the association’s EVP, “but members like the ability to get in touch with other members directly, rather than through a listserv.”
“We used our technology committee as a focus group to help set prices and make e-mails in the system as effective and efficient as possible. For example, now the wording in the 'from' and 'subject' lines allows members to quickly determine that an incoming message is from another RealtorŪ and whether it's about an open house, a new listing, or an incentive to a seller," explains O'Key. “When we first put this system in place, some members thought it should be free. But we decided to charge for the service, since not all members may want to participate.” Plus, the association wanted to limit the number of blasts to keep the system manageable for staff and to avoid its e-mails being misidentified as spam. The association uses e-mail vendor, Constant Contact, and each member pays $50 to send one message. The association averages about three messages a day for its 1,300 members, bringing in nearly $60,000 a year.
“We started out charging $25,” says O’Key, “but there were still too many messages, and it was taking a lot of staff time, so we used simple supply and demand and raised the fee. There were complaints about our nickel-and-diming our members, but we noticed no substantial drop in demand. Most of them find the $50 is a bargain.”
AE Spotlight: Planning AEI Takes Vision and Know-how
The Association Executives Institute has been a major education and networking opportunity for RealtorŪ association executives since 1944. Each year, a committee of association executives spends hundreds of hours researching and planning the event’s curriculum and seeking out knowledgeable presenters. The chair of the 2007 AEI Planning Committee, Tracy Huotari, rce, chief executive officer of the Duluth Area Association of RealtorsŪ, Minn., shares her thoughts on the mission to create inspiring education for her AE peers.
What has being chair of the AEI Planning Committee meant to you over the past year?
Even after being an AE for just over 20 years, I still continue to learn and grow in this position, so I wanted to bring that philosophy to my year as chair. I served on the AEI committee for three years prior to becoming the chair for the 2007 institute, so I learned the awesome task facing the committee. In our planning sessions, we discussed current issues and upcoming trends and how best to address them at the institute. They reminded me what a team is really about and how to effectively work for a common goal.
How many AEIs have you attended and how do you think they’ve changed over the years?
I’ve attended 19 AEIs throughout my career. My first AEI was after I had been in the position for just over one year. When I started, my association focused on education and MLSs and so did the early institutes. The institute curriculum now focuses more on emerging issues, trends, and changes that associations will face. That’s because associations now focus on unique services to members, addressing generational differences, technological advances, and risk management. The sessions in recent years are more diverse and help us identify our members’ needs and how to address them. The quality and experience of the speakers broadens our thoughts to encompass more than just RealtorŪ association management, but association management in general.
What are you hoping AEs take away from this year’s AEI?
I hope that AEs will get a sense of what issues they will be facing in the future and how to plan now to provide the best service available to their members. The committee took a good look at the AE position and the skills that are needed today and in the future and developed four learning sessions. The sessions are leadership, newer AEs and the staffs of one, old salts or veteran AEs, and the newest offering, risk management. I hope attendees leave AEI not only with new information but also with renewed energy. We planned a few fun sessions to help AEs remember there is life outside of the association and remind them of the need to maintain balance.
How did you and your committee settle on this year’s theme, and what is its significance?
Since AEI is in San Diego, a nautical theme seemed fitting. As we looked at the AE position and the changes that will occur in the near future, “Navigating to Success” best addressed the focus of this year’s sessions. AEs need to prepare for what they will face in our continually changing industry. The courses were designed to help AEs get their associations where they should be without losing their way. In other words, AEs will need to use navigational tools to help steer the ship and avoid treacherous waters.
The 2007 RealtorŪ Association Executives Institute is Feb. 17-21 in San Diego. For more info, visit REALTOR.org, search “AEI”.
2007 Public Awareness Campaign: Every Market’s Different
As the National Association of RealtorsŪ’ public awareness campaign enters its 10th year, the number of consumers who would be more likely to use a RealtorŪ (instead of a real estate agent who is not a member of NAR) has risen by nearly 20 percent, to three out of every four consumers, according to NAR research.
In 2007, the campaign will expand to a year-round effort, keeping RealtorsŪ top-of-mind with consumers through radio and television placements from January through November. The 2007 ads underscore the importance of RealtorsŪ’ expertise and experience for both buyers and sellers in today’s real estate market. The ads explain that “every market’s different” and encourage consumers who are considering a real estate transaction to “call a RealtorŪ today.”
Local and state associations don’t have to spend big bucks to reinforce campaign messages with local audiences. Here are some ways to use campaign materials at no cost:
*Download the radio spots to play for “on hold” callers.
nIf your RealtorŪ members are frequent advertisers in local publications, talk to ad representatives about running a print ad at no cost, or consider an in-kind exchange (place an ad in your member publication on behalf of the newspaper, informing members about the paper’s advertising costs, circulation, and demographics).
*Download the free Web banners and use them on your association’s site.
*Include an article about the public awareness campaign in your member publication, encouraging members to use the materials available to them through the campaign Web site.
*Add a link to the campaign Web site in your member e-mail communications and on your association’s Web site to inform RealtorsŪ of the resources available to them through the campaign.
The campaign Web site has been redesigned. Visitors can now find materials by type of campaign or advertising medium and can download free materials directly for use in public speaking engagements or other presentations. The national media plan and information about planning a local campaign are also available on the site.
To visit the campaign site, go to REALTOR.org/awarenesscampaign. For assistance with any public awareness campaign outreach effort, contact Stephanie Singer, ssinger@REALTORS.org.
NAR Committee News
Joint Work Groups to Address Mediation
NAR’s Association Executives Committee in November approved a recommendation that a work group be formed with AEs and members of the Association Executives, Professional Standards, and Membership Policy and Board Jurisdiction committees. The work group will review and modify the aspirational Standards of Conduct and the Unacceptable Business Practices for RealtorŪ associations. The work group also will establish new mediation submission procedures, identify consequences for failure to participate in NAR’s mandatory “Mediation Procedures to Resolve Alleged Violations of the Unacceptable Business Practices,” and determine consequences for violating the UBPs. Look for reports from this work group on REALTOR.org this fall.
NAR Committee News
New “DBA” Rule Retroactive
During the 2006 RealtorsŪ Conference & Expo, the NAR Board of Directors approved amendments to the NAR Model Bylaws for Local Member Boards, which say that local and state RealtorŪ associations may do business under an alternative name, known as a “DBA” identity. However, the associations must gain NAR’s approval for the DBA. After some debate, the board voted that the rule would be retroactive. For more information, call the NAR policy department at 800/874-6500, Ext. 8399, or e-mail orpstdspolicy@
Nevada Defeats Background Checks
The Nevada Association of RealtorsŪ worked exhaustively to defeat a regulation that would have required background checks for every real estate licensee at every renewal—not just at the time of license application as in many states.
We support protecting consumers, but there are administrative factors that would have made implementing this requirement very challenging, says Sally Young, the association’s communications director.
Irene Vogel Named 2007 McDermott Community Service Award Recipient
In recognition of her many contributions to the local community over the past decades, Irene Vogel of the Greater Las Vegas Association of RealtorsŪ was selected for the 2007 Terry McDermott Community Service Award. Vogel’s contributions to Variety, a charity that meets the needs of disabled and disadvantaged children, led to the creation of the Variety Day Home, a care center for at-risk children. Variety Day Home recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and dedicated its refurbished playground in honor of Vogel. In addition to her work with Variety, her fund-raising efforts on behalf of the local community college have supported administrative initiatives, as well as faculty and student needs. Vogel is also a dedicated volunteer at the local public broadcasting station. She will be formally recognized during the 2007 AE Institute in San Diego.
Can Associations Find Value in Blogs?
When Jon Weber’s board of directors asked him to create an association blog, he paused. After all, he wondered, what if blogs are just a passing Internet fad? Will a blog be a drain of resources with no reward? Weber, director of member services and MLS technology for the Minneapolis Area Association of RealtorsŪ, isn’t the only AE mystified by the value of blogs for associations.
“While they’re well intentioned, I’m not sure it’s good to try to create something just because everybody's doing it,” says Weber. “My research points to the fact that successful blogs have an edge to them by posting either controversial or opinionated commentary, which runs contrary to the mission of most associations.”
On the other hand, blogs, short for “web logs,” offer a wide range of content—from personal diary entries to news to marketing tools. Plus, they’re inexpensive and require minimal technical know-how. Real estate practitioners use the medium to interact with their community and reinforce their professional expertise.
Even so, success in the blogosphere is relative. Internet studies by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in July show that 57 million American adults, or 39 percent of Internet users, read blogs and about 12 million American adults keep a blog. Yet even though a new blog is created every second, the average blog is read by one person, according to Google.
Despite the bleak readership statistics, blogs can be popular modes of communication for niche audiences, and some RealtorŪ associations are already trying their hand at this flexible medium.
“An unusual aspect of our blog is that we are doing it in conjunction with the local major daily paper in Marin,” explains Edward Segal, CEO of the Marin Association of RealtorsŪ, Calif. They included a link to the blog on their real estate Web page and gave control of the site to us to post what we want, when we want. We don’t allow the public to post content to the site until we have reviewed it. It's a good thing, too, since we've been spammed a lot, or people are trying to post obscene messages, or derogatory comments about RealtorsŪ.”
Launched in January, the Marin Association’s blog (http://blogs.marinij.com/realestate/) covers more than 40 real estate-elated topics. The association’s board members were the first invited guest commentators on topics in which they have expertise.
There’s little doubt that blogs have the potential to be useful community-building and communication tools for associations. Not only do they have the capacity to transform online membership magazines into interactive platforms, they also offer real estate rookies the opportunity to get advice from industry veterans. They also provide yet another avenue for promoting events and education offerings.
Have an association blog? Send details to RAEnews@realtors.org.
Association Convention Attracts Record Crowds
Nearly 11,000 real estate professionals from more than six states, and nearly 500 exhibitors, attended the 2006 Triple Play REALTORŪ Convention and Trade Expo at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Dec. 5–7. Hosted by the New Jersey, New York State, and Pennsylvania associations of RealtorsŪ, Triple Play provided an opportunity for real estate practitioners to network, learn more about the industry, hear from nationally recognized speakers, and earn professional designations and certifications.
More than 60 education sessions covered appraisal; brokerage and management; commercial, legal, tax and environmental, professional development, sales and marketing, and technology. For more, visit www.realtorstripleplay.com or call 866/229-2386.
AEs on the Move
* John Dulczewski has been named the new executive director of the Greater Boston Association of RealtorsŪ, and assumed the post on Dec. 18. Dulczewski spent more than 17 years with the Massachusetts Association of RealtorsŪ and a total of 20 years working as a staff specialist with RealtorŪ organizations.
* Russell Hokanson is the new CEO of the Seattle-King County Association of RealtorsŪ after 12 years with the Snohomish County-Camano Association of RealtorsŪ.
AE Professional Development: Successful Students
The following students successfully completed RealtorŪ Association Management Self-Study courses between Oct. 9 and Dec. 20, 2006. Students are eligible to receive points toward their RealtorŪ association Certified Executive
Management Self-Study Course
Linda Adams, Greater Las Vegas Board, Nev.
Angella Baker, Kanawha Valley Board, W.Va.
Kristyne Blake, Aiken Board, S.C.
Marietta Blount, Jan Juan County Board, N.M.
Sylvia Chipman, Paradise Assoc., Calif.
Toni Cockeram, Brunswick-Glynn Board, Ga.
Mike Cotrill, Greater Tulsa Assoc., Okla.
Ron Covert, Southern Twin Cities Assoc., Minn.
Nancy Deichert, Bismark Mandan Board, N.D.
Carl DeMusz, Northern Ohio Regional MLS, Ohio
Christine DeRosa, National Assoc. of RealtorsŪ, Ill.
Jennifer Eberle, Pulaski County Board, Mo.
Joanna Freiberg, Youngstown Columbiana Assoc., Ohio
Lori Hagenow, Manitowoc County Board, Wis.
Judy Jackson, Northern Arizona Assoc., Ariz.
Janet Fichtner, Wyoming Association
Karen Gaitan, Assoc. of the
Palm Beaches, Fla.
Steve Haid, Collin County Assoc., Texas
Vivian Herrmann, Egyptian Board, Ill.
Terrie Hull, East Metro Assoc., Ore.
Tessa Hultz, St. Louis Assoc., Mo.
Gail Katz, Assoc. of the Palm Beaches, Fla.
Kara Kuhrts, Illinois Association
Joanne Leblond, Assoc. of Pioneer Valley, Mass.
Connie Lynch, Southwest Riverside County Assoc., Calif.
Kat McCoy, Pinellas Suncoast Assoc., Fla.
Sue Millager, Greater Chapel Hill Assoc., N.C.
Barbara Murray, Mansfield Board, Ohio
Jolynn Newhouse, Knoxville Assoc., Tenn.
Joann Overzet, Traverse Area Assoc., Mich.
Brenda Quinn, Egyptian Board, Ill.
Ann Revoredo, Beverly Hills/Gr. LA Assoc., Calif.
Donna Roach, Knoxville Assoc., Tenn.
Bonnie Rosenberger, Assoc. of Citrus County, Fla.
Cheritta Smith, Beverly Hills/Gr. LA Assoc., Calif.
Bunny St. Clair, Northeast Washington Assoc., Wash.
Janet Stroud, Kenosha RealtorsŪ Assoc., Wis.
Ida Tang, Assoc. of Pioneer Valley, Mass.
Dianna Tofell, Klamath County Assoc., Ore.
Okella Trice, Beverly Hills/Greater LA Assoc., Calif.
Ryan Tucholski, Dearborn Board, Mich.
Robert Wagoner, Kansas City Regional, Kan.
Robert Weir, New Castle County Board, Del.
Kaaren Winkler, Washington Association
Advanced Administrative Concepts Self-Study Course
PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS MODULE
Kiddy Boswell, Abilene Board, Texas
Lee Ann Devine, Metropolitan Indianapolis Board, Ind.
Glenda McCormick, Winston Salem Regional Assoc., N.C.
Advanced RealtorsŪ Association Management Self-Study Course
Modez Brunet, Bayou Board, La.
Pauline Dickson, Assoc. of the Palm Beaches, Fla.
Wendy DiVecchio, Greater Las Vegas Assoc., Nev.
Shannon Harner, Jackson Area Assoc., Mich.
Dale Henson, Greater Las Vegas Assoc., Nev.
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