For every Realtor® who still raise questions regarding whether he or she should embrace social media and emerging technologies, consider this perspective: Popular social media platforms, like Facebook, give you an opportunity to let followers – fellow Realtors®, clients and prospects, other business professionals – know you as a person. They get to know you as more than just a real estate professional through your online profile.
My followers on Facebook, for example, can learn through my posts that I’m into dirt bikes and a certain type of music. They learn some of my personal interests, and more about who I am, by reading what’s on my wall.
In mid January, I attended Inman Real Estate Connect in New York, an annual gathering of real estate and technology leaders. My participation at the event reaffirmed to me that social media is the direction that the world is heading in terms of communicating. The way we’ve communicated in the past is simply not working as well as it once did; print communications too often today get thrown out in the trash.
Today, a growing number of people expect their leaders to communicate through social media and video because these forms of communication reach a much wider audience. And, frankly, social media is much more sophisticated since it allows for two-way communication.
Some leaders will question whether they can keep up to date with technology since it changes so rapidly. My response is that leaders today must make the time to learn how to take advantage of social media and keep pace with the changing dynamics. They’ve got to make the effort to be in that space.
The key to successfully using social media is not a foreign as some may believe it to be. If you can go to a party and engage and interact with people face-to-face, you can take advantage of the benefits of social media. If you can surf the Internet, you can be part of the online discussion.
At the Inman conference, I was introduced to what might be the next big development in technology. It’s a new version of the user-generated online encyclopedia Wikipedia called Qwiki. It’s much more visual than Wikipedia, and I think search engines like Qwiki will dramatically change the way we go online to conduct searches. On Facebook and YouTube, imagery is so important because someone can view a photo and really become enlightened by it.
And, as we know, from a real estate and personal perspective, projecting a positive image is a key to success.
The mood among participants at the 2011 NAR Policy Conference held in Washington February 2-3 was more upbeat than I’ve seen it in years. Everyone was in a positive frame of mind, and Realtors® were cohesive in representing our interests on Capitol Hill. There was a very “REALTOR® Party” connection among the small sample of delegates I spoke to.
There also was a very valiant effort at the Town Hall meeting to tone down the emotion and bring a more rational discussion to the issues at hand. Town Halls were designed for information gathering and resulted in letting us prioritize issues. In my opinion, this is best done with less emotion and more deliberation.
REALTORS® came to Washington to state our collective position on these four issues:
1. Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction Proposal. The number one issue causing unrest in the housing market is the proposal to limit the mortgage interest tax deduction. NAR’s opposition to this topic was impressed upon the entire group, including the state association presidents, the association executives, the Federal Political Coordinators and the regional vice presidents. With the real estate market recovering in some parts of the country, this proposal is very unsettling; if the proposal becomes law, the value of home prices would drop by 15 percent. And, in this economy, we might as well just drain the swamp.
2. Privatizing Government Sponsored Enterprises. Our second issue takes us down several flights of stairs, and it’s a subject that we as REALTORS® have been studying for a fair amount of time – not just the issue but the solution. The government-sponsored enterprises in question are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The goal is to get rid of the rhetoric by some to privatize Fannie and Freddie, which would simply not work. Our position is that real estate is a cyclical business and needs some sort of governmental agency to assist the financial markets during the down cycle.
3. Flood Insurance Extension. In the past, Congress has been reticent to address an issue when a crisis is developing; they wait until it gets down to the wire. Last fall, both the Senate and the House passed a bill that will extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until September 30, 2011. REALTORS® want to see a more comprehensive NFIP reform bill that would be in place for several years. With just an extension, housing sales stops in some markets and people have to dance around to get a mortgage.
4. Conforming Mortgage Loan Limits. This is a similar issue to the flood insurance extension. The mortgage loan amounts that Fannie and Freddie can handle were due to expire in December, but they were extended through September 2011. Generally, the limit is $417,000 for single family homes. Congress had to act at the last minute to avoid a crisis because many of the high-end real estate markets have an immediate need.