At the first Women's Council of REALTORS® meeting Ashley Dietch-Schaefer attended in 2012, she felt a little out of place. She didn’t know many people because she was still fairly new to the business, but as soon as she began engaging in conversations, she knew she had found her real estate tribe. She immediately began working on local WCR committees, and in 2017 she served as president of WCR West Michigan.
“I like the people. They believe in the same things I believe in and they want to grow their businesses the same way I do. It has advanced my career in a way I never expected,” says Dietch-Schaefer, broker-owner of Hello Homes GR in Grand Rapids, Mich.
For broker-owners who want to expand their business network or seek ongoing education, support, and camaraderie, there are a plethora of associations and organizations pertaining to the industry. These groups represent diverse interests and specialties, such as the REALTORS® Land Institute, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, and Asian Real Estate Association of America.
“The world a is global environment now, and you can’t live in your bubble, especially if you want to thrive in a changing economy,” says Tom Truong, 2019 president of AREAA and leader of Team Truong with eXp Realty in Boston.
The efforts of these organizations reach the local, state, national, and international levels through community service, lobbying, education, and certifications. But it can be difficult to know where to find the right fit.
Learn how to choose a group that will benefit your business and satisfy your desire to be involved and make a difference.
An Inside Look at a Few Associations
Because the real estate industry is experiencing more noise than ever, building a community is one of the biggest benefits of getting involved in an organization, says Jeff Berger, founder of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals and agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Jupiter, Fla.
He adds one good reason for joining his organization: The LGBT community has $1 trillion in buying power and wants to do business with individuals and businesses that support them. After joining NAGLREP, you build a member profile that is searchable in its online member directory, which receives about 75,000 unique visitors per month from LGBT home buyers, sellers, and referring agents. Fifteen percent of its members are allies who do not identify as LGBT.
“It’s so important for allies to embrace the LGBT community for both human rights and to better their business,” Berger says. NAGLREP has more than 2,500 members around the U.S. with 37 local chapters. They are engaged with their local REALTOR® associations and often host lunch and learn educational events. The group’s national conference is Oct. 1–3 this year in Palm Springs, Calif. About six CEOs from the largest real estate brokerages in the country will be speakers.
Truong, who is also a real estate coach and talent scout for eXp Realty, says AREAA and other associations like it have a strong voice in the industry. He latched on to AREAA because it boosts brokers and agents and addresses significant industry issues, such as affordable housing.
He is most proud of the fact that AREAA championed the “No OTHER” campaign. Members were successful in lobbying Congress, the White House, and the U.S. Census Bureau to give Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders their own box to check on the quarterly census reports on homeownership by race and ethnicity.
“It’s a big win because we didn’t have [accurate] reports on homeownership rates. We were lumped into the ‘other’ category,” Truong says. That meant Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders weren’t being counted as a single group, and certain funds weren’t coming into their communities, he explains.
With the new category in the housing reports, real estate practitioners have discovered that Asian Americans are moving to unexpected places. In turn, AREAA responded by launching chapters in Birmingham, Ala., Jacksonville, Fla., and Ventura and Solano counties in California.
Who is Joining Real Estate Organizations?
Some people may be hesitant to join a group because they think they won’t fit in—such as men joining the Women’s Council of REALTORS®.
“Ten percent of our council is men and always has been,” says Heather Ozur, 2019 president of WCR and team lead of The Ozur Group with Keller Williams Realty in Palm Springs, Calif.
The organization began 81 years ago, when women weren’t even getting paid to sell real estate, Ozur says. One of WCR’s missions is to create industry leaders within their own organization, at other real estate associations, in local communities, and in an individual’s business. They have more than 12,000 members of all ages, ethnicities, religions, and real estate positions, with 250 local and state chapters across the country.
“Those local networks are the grassroots of who we are,” Ozur says. The core value of the council is professional credibility, and the council encourages collaboration with local real estate associations and other entities such as the Young Professional Network. “Many of the members start their journey in real estate by volunteering within the Women’s Council. This gives them a path to get involved in local government and other areas. It gives them the confidence.”
5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Membership
- Attend the group’s national conference. “It’s the best way to network with members from across the country,” Berger says. “If you are unable to travel, attend your local chapter events if there is an active chapter in your city.”
- Show up early to meetings and events—and stay late. You’ll pick up more information and build relationships, Truong says. Plus, many organizations welcome other types of industry professions, such as bankers, loan officers, attorneys, title company employees, and contractors. Making connections with those members will not only build up your referral list but also help your clients.
- Find a cause you’re passionate about. Choose an organization that stands for something you can get behind and be passionate about, Ozur says. Attend as many local events that organization offers so you can get to know people.
- After you join, take advantage of members-only Facebook or LinkedIn groups. “It’s a great way to engage with members for referrals and to share ideas. The engagement within these groups is amazing,” Berger says.
- Work on a local committee. By working on a project, you get to know other real estate professionals on another level, which creates more meaningful connections, Ozur says. It also helps you gain leadership skills. “It’s not necessarily about becoming the president of that organization, but to be the leader within your own business,” she says.