Here’s a thought every Realtor® should take to heart: If you’re not helping to shape legislation that benefits the real estate industry, someone else will be; and that person may be determined to work against what’s in the best interests of the housing market and home ownership.
One constant for me as a Realtor® is to combine my business affairs with remaining politically active. Early in my career, I cut my teeth serving on behalf of the Massachusetts Realtors®, on both Government Affairs & RPAC and learned how important it is to have a voice in politics. In fact, I was born on Election Day in 1971, the same day my father was re-elected to the Springfield (MA) City Council!
As Chairman of the National RPAC Trustees, I participated in the 2011 AE Institute meetings held in Dallas, March 18-22. My objectives when meeting with the Association Executives were twofold: First, spread the word about RPAC and encourage AEs and their members to contribute; and second, I wanted to help inform the AEs about NAR’s new Political Survival Initiatives and encourage them to support the initiatives and to get involved.
RPAC has been around for more than 40 years, and in Washington it’s one of the largest and most well respected political action committees. The key to its success has been its focus on getting members of Congress to support the Realtor® Party, no matter what their political party affiliation. It doesn’t matter if the legislator is a Democrat, a Republican or Independent; we just want them to be a major supporter of the Realtor Party.
From a long-term perspective, we plan to expand our involvement with the AEs in order to help bring their associations more into the political process. Right now, Realtors® work with members of Congress to advocate for the Realtor® Party. We especially want to enhance that model at the state and local level. If we can get a Realtor® to make friends with someone on their city council, maybe that person will get elected mayor, or to the state legislature, or even to Congress. Elected officials who are on our side when they break into politics should continue to support Realtor® and home ownership issues their entire political careers.
And, one personal goal: Get newer Realtors®, like those involved with the YPN group, involved in the political process and contributing to RPAC. It can start with a contribution, which is an investment in your own business, it makes you part of the political process and can contribute to your success.
I simultaneously served as NAR RPAC Trustee and as part of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy in 2008. I like to think that my journey through both was successful for a couple of reasons. First, we are so fortunate to have such dedicated staff members who helped guide me through the process. And second, I try to take advantage of my strengths and core competencies, while getting help when I needed some help. I believe that NAR’s new Political Survival Initiative will add enormous muscle to a key strength of this organization, and I’m proud to be part of it.
Technology clearly has transformed the way we live. But from another perspective, technology also has transformed the way leaders communicate with constituents, stakeholders and influencers. Furthermore, it has changed the real estate industry.
Realtor® leadership today can instantly disseminate news to members across the nation, get direct feedback and monitor the dialogue in real time. Ten years ago – even five years ago – we did not have the same proliferation of electronic devices like mobile smart phones and tablets or social media platforms that we have today.
Now, NAR leaders can quickly and effectively inform the entire membership about advocacy issues, pending legislation and industry trends, and instantly be part of the ongoing conversation. This exchange of information is powerful because it lets leadership make informed decisions quickly.
From the perspective of a Realtor and business professional, I maintain that in the near future, more and more agents will embrace applications designed to make the transaction process more efficient and user-friendly. The era of paper contracts and ink signatures is slowly starting to fade. Soon, we will be part of a business environment built upon an online platform for streamlining the transaction to remove the archaic and cumbersome aspects of doing a deal today.
A passion for technology led me to take on the position of Technology Liaison for NAR, where my responsibilities are to act as a conduit between the senior leadership team and my forum – the Tech and Business Issues Forum — at Mid-Year and National meetings. And, I also serve as the liaison to Information Central, NAR’s online data clearinghouse, and the IT Group, which is responsible for many national technology and related projects.
Two factors fueled my passion for technology: 1) A desire to make my own business more efficient and less time-consuming; this opens opportunities to pursue other interests. 2) An unending fascination for all things related to technology, especially hardware. (From a hardware perspective my “research and development” budget is getting a bit out of control!)
Technology plays a significant role in letting me operate my business, which takes me far beyond my home in Minnesota. I have business ventures and partners in Thailand, Costa Rica and India. Through enhanced technology, doing business across time zones is relatively effortless compared to a few years ago. And, it’s made the sales process much more refined and professional.
From an industry perspective, this is a very exciting time to be a Realtor. We are at a tremendous crossroads due to technology, and we’re playing a role in the evolution of this business. But from another perspective, I don’t think technology will ever replace the need for a Realtor. The smart, savvy Realtor will continue to leverage technology to increase volume while at the same time increasing service, reducing overhead and freeing up valuable time.