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Offer members business-building Value

September 1, 2009

At a time when REALTORS® are weighing the benefits of staying in the business, you’re more likely to hear this question: What do I get for my dues dollars?

Many associations communicate their benefits with lists of services and programs, rarely taking the extra step to describe the advantage a member would derive from participating. Obviously, the association appreciates the immense benefit of legislative advocacy, for example. Members (and potential members), on the other hand, need you to spell it out for them.

Today’s consumers are so overwhelmed by promotions from every possible source, their top priorities are determined by WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). If members can’t see what’s in it for them clearly and quickly, they most likely will not look further.

Collectively, we can do a better job of developing and promoting both the tangible and intangible benefits available to REALTORS®. It is up to us, as association leaders, to not only take the steps to identify what the WIIFM is for every program, but to also translate it into an interesting and even sexy message. Otherwise, our members may simply never know what we offer.

The next time a member asks you, “What’s in it for me?” you can answer with some (or all) of the benefits listed on the following pages. Better yet, if you regularly communicate the value of membership, you can preempt the question “What do I get for my dues dollars?”

— Alice Martin, VP of AE and Leadership Development,
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®


How to use this feature: In no particular order, the following 22 benefits (along with the “what’s in it for the member”) are provided by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® to all members. You are invited to use this information in your publications and promotions, in print and online. However, it’s important to augment this list with specifics about your association’s unique benefits, charity work, discounts, and services, including: home tours, state-run legal or technology hotlines, your homes magazine, the REALTOR® member roster, and the public side of your MLS, to name a few.


1. Learn From Fellow REALTORS®

Do you want to improve your resource base by expanding your network of business contacts? Members say the chance to network with other members is one of their most prized benefits. The chance to bounce ideas off one another, learn about job opportunities, and hear about project shortcuts and new software or tools is especially valuable. Through local, state, and national conferences, networking sessions, and social events, the REALTOR® association—some 1.2 million members strong— enables you to learn from peers locally, nationally, and internationally.

2. Know More, Sell More

To navigate today’s real estate climate, you need the latest information available. NAR offers an array of resources—online, in print, and in person—that provide all the important news, useful tips, and hot trends you need to best benefit your business. As part of the REALTOR® family, you receive local, national, and global real estate research and insights. For example, find out about the median home sales price in your area or the value of homes sold in your state at Realtor.org/research. Plus, learn more about the business activity, sales strategies, and incomes of your fellow practitioners through the annual member profile available for free download at http://www.REALTOR.org/RightTools.

3. Government Influence

Today’s political battles significantly affect the future for REALTORS® across the country. Whether they’re fighting against taxes on your commission or lobbying for better health insurance for the self-employed, REALTOR® associations’ skilled lobbyists are hard at work every day protecting your livelihood. REALTORS® compose the largest professional trade association in the world, and as such, our political affairs staff is instrumental in ensuring that the REALTOR® perspective is incorporated into pending legislation before Congress and in state legislatures. Stay informed about our lobbying agenda and get involved in public policy issues critical to the real estate industry at http://www.realtoractioncenter.com.

4. Protecting the Rights of Homeowners

A sound and affordable housing market is key to your business success. That’s why we work with local, state, and national lawmakers to ease property taxes, protect the federal mortgage interest deduction, ensure the availability of affordable homeowner’s insurance, and champion the Homebuyer’sTax Credit, among a wide range of other issues.

5. Making a Difference in Your Community

Whether sending aid to hurricane-devastated communities, building homes for low-income families, or collecting clothes for a local shelter, caring for communities is an important part of the REALTOR® association mission. Charity work is often its own reward, but it also garners media attention and improves the perception of REALTORS® throughout their communities.

6. Have a Voice, Make a Difference

Become a leader in the real estate industry with a voice to make change. By volunteering to serve on local, state, and national REALTOR® committees and workgroups, you’ll work alongside some of the most respected people in the industry to shape the future of the profession, enhance services to fellow members, and further political goals. You’ll also be eligible for specialized leadership training that will not only supplement your leadership skills, but also further your professional growth.

7. The Value of the REALTOR® Brand

Every day, NAR works to let consumers know you’re the best in the industry. By communicating the importance of choosing to work with a REALTOR®, we explain what sets you apart. The REALTOR® brand is a powerful marketing tool that only members can use. It is supported by the high standards of integrity, honor, and service defined in our Code of Ethics, to which only members of NAR can claim adherence. The REALTOR® brand is publicly promoted across the country by an award-winning, multimillion-dollar awareness campaign to educate the public on the benefits of working with a REALTOR® and about how REALTORS® differ from other real estate practitioners.


8. The More You Learn, the More You Earn

Tap into new opportunities in your market—and as much as double your salary—by gaining advanced credentials that set you apart from the rest. Earn the prestigious Graduate REALTOR® Institute designation or take courses to learn special skills for working with clients with specific needs. Take courses and earn continuing education credits online through REALTOR® University or at your local, state, and -national REALTOR® association.

9. Real Savings and Exclusive Offers

From national partners—including FedEx, Dell, Lowe’s, Avis, Budget, and Hertz—your REALTOR® membership ensures offers and savings on products and services through NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Program.

10. Insurance Options and Financial Services

Through the REALTOR Benefits® Program, members also receive special pricing for a variety of insurance and warranty needs that can save you hundreds of dollars annually. Select from auto and home insurance as well as home warranties for all of your properties. REALTORS® Core Health Insurance (RCHI) provides guaranteed-issue, affordable, limited medical plans, which are exclusively designed and priced for REALTOR® members. To meet the unique financial and cash-flow needs of real estate professionals, members have access to the member-owned financial cooperative, the REALTORS® Federal Credit Union.

11. Of Special Interest to New and Young Real Estate Professionals

When you’re new to the industry, you need special guidance. Join the national Young Professionals Network to connect with other young and new real estate professionals. At the Young Professionals Network blog, you can talk about sales and marketing, technology, prospecting, the latest business challenges, and how to build your business. Network online at http://ypnlounge.blogs.realtor.org or in person at a variety of national and local events.

12. Media Outreach on Your Behalf

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is in constant contact with media outlets nationwide. Not only does NAR provide them with accurate housing data and forecasts, we also dispel myths about the housing industry. This ensures that the truth about the market and about working with a REALTOR® is made public. When we speak out on behalf of you, homebuyers, and homesellers, we are a trusted media source for REALTOR® commentators, like you, who can provide insights into local markets.

13. Resources & Handouts for Your Clients

Do the consumers you work with have questions on mortgages, home inspections, taxes, and insurance that you struggle to answer? Access our library of customizable “Handouts for Consumers” to provide your customers with accurate information on a wide range of issues. Plus, direct your customers to REALTOR.org for detailed information about additional homebuying and homeselling issues.

14. Be Recognized for Your Work

In addition to the local and state award programs that honor your hard work in your community and the industry, members are eligible to enter the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ REALTOR® Magazine Good Neighbor Awards and the HOPE Awards, which recognize and reward members’ community dedication.

15. Save Thousands in Legal Fees

The association offers legally binding dispute resolution mediation and arbitration services to settle business disputes between members. We also offer members and consumers the opportunity to address complaints regarding possible violations of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Code of Ethics or association bylaws in an unbiased and uniform manner.

16. International Reach at Home and Abroad

Are foreign buyers or immigrant communities a growing part of your real estate market? Do you want to position yourself for participation in a global marketplace? The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® seeks to render the global market accessible to and profitable for all REALTORS®, and offers a wide variety of programs and services to help REALTORS® succeed in the international arena within your local market.

17. Stay in Touch with the Trends, News, and Talk

Stay up-to-date on real estate industry news and trends through a variety of print publications, Web sites, blogs, and e-mail newsletters. In addition to your local and state communications, you’ll receive the award-winning REALTOR® Magazine. Plus, choose from a wide variety of specialized e-newsletters subscribtions (by updating your profile), and access thousands of pages of industry information on REALTOR.org.

18. Find Your Profitable Niche

Want to break out from the crowd and create a moneymaking niche in your market? Earn a specialized designation that sets you apart. The association offers courses and certifications in green and environmental real estate, working with seniors, working with international buyers, buyer representation, relocation, resorts and second homes, property management, and commercial real estate.

19. Technology Services

Every REALTOR® needs an edge. Get yours through technology resources designed to streamline your business, secure more listings, attract greater attention to your homes, boost customer service, and much more. Through the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ Center for REALTORS® Technology, members have access to resources and training to help them get the most out of the latest technology.

20. Part of the No. 1 Real Estate Web Site

REALTOR.com® is the most visited homes-for-sale site, with more than 7 million consumers visiting each month. All REALTORS®’ listings are automatically posted, most are updated every 15 minutes, and include four free photos on each listing.* A new online resource (www.BenefitsAtREALTOR.com) outlines free benefits including marketing tips and how-to videos, your own blog, and much more. *(To receive this benefit, you must be an MLS participant and your MLS must be a REALTOR.com® data content provider.)

21. Live Events: REALTORS® Conference & Expo

Get money making new ideas and the right tools from more than 200 programs and 500 exhibitors at this annual event. Network, build your referral base, and share ideas with industry leaders and peers from across the country. Members always save $100 off registration.

22. World’s Largest Real Estate Library

Never again be without an answer. The national association’s Information Central serves as your lifeline for all questions related to the real estate industry (800-874-6500). Our knowledgeable staff is ready to provide assistance and locate information in an efficient and timely manner. In addition to hundreds of online toolkits and resources, members receive access to myriad real estate periodicals (online content), free of charge, at REALTOR.org.

 

Here’s where your dues dollars go

In addition to detailing member benefit programs and services, many associations break down the services in real dollars and cents. One approach is to assign a value to a service. For example, required continuing education might cost a real estate practitioner $200 somewhere else, but you offer it for $50, that’s a savings of $150. Add these figures up and you have a value of membership in the tens of thousands. Alternatively, if you have a program-based budget, you can show where dues dollars go. For example, $10 out of every membership goes to the annual expo, $20 goes to MLS operations, $80 goes to NAR, etc. Members respect this type of transparency.


Most valuable right now

There’s no doubting that the economy’s effect on the real estate business has been substantial. So right now the best way to show membership value is to promote the tools that can help members not only ride out the downturn, but profit in spite of it. Of course, that’s the message behind the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ largest membership benefit promotion ever, Right Tools, Right Now. This program offers hundreds of business-building benefits for free or at cost. For more, direct your members to http://www.REALTOR.org/RightTools.