It’s my first—and perhaps only—year on the National Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors. As the current president of the Council of Residential Specialists, one of my most immense honors and responsibilities is to represent the more than 32,000 CRS designees in discussions that affect the entire association. Part of that responsibility is reading NAR’s proposed budget in order to be prepared for the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., in May.
But I had to take a break from reading and taking notes when I ran across a stat from the budget report that bothered me: It’s estimated that only 90,000 out of more than 1.2 million REALTORS® will hear some kind of presentation by the NAR Leadership Team at their state and local meetings throughout 2017. That figure doesn’t include those who will attend national meetings, since it’s evident those are the same people who are engaged at the state and local levels.
So where has the rest of the NAR membership gone?
The “invisible member” is who keeps me up at night. According to the numbers, we’re not engaging even 10 percent of our members in person. Some folks may get everything they want from REALTOR® Magazine or social media content, but those who aren’t making the commitment to come to NAR events are missing out on important messaging that affects their clients, businesses, and communities. I look at my own CRS group: We draw 1,000 of the 32,000 designees to our annual Sell-a-bration event, which includes our volunteers and leadership. So we’re not reaching that 10 percent level either.
Is it a money issue? It shouldn’t be. Most NAR events that happen on the state and local levels are free (or are paid for through member dues or sponsorships). Even on the national level, the legislative meetings are free to attend, though travel and hotel are at the member’s expense. (So not totally free—I get it.) Heck, even many of the educational sessions on all three levels are free.
Is it a busy issue? That’s probably the most common excuse for not showing up to meetings or events. Your buyer, seller, appraiser, inspector—whatever—can only meet during the time of the event, right? I hear what you’re saying, but somehow, I don’t really believe you. Something tells me that if a second potential seller called during that time frame, you’d find a way to schedule them for another appointment time. So I think that’s clear evidence that REALTOR® life beyond selling houses isn’t a priority for you.
Is it an issues issue? You just don’t care about what’s happening at the higher level, or maybe you would but don’t have the bandwidth to process it? Do you disagree with a decision NAR made or a service that was or was not offered or a politician who was or was not supported by the association? If so, why is anyone going to consider your views if you don’t show up and voice them?
What will it take? Every conversation I’ve had about events with any organization in the real estate industry centers around: “How do we get the members to show up?” Y’all, you have to tell me and your local, state, and brokerage organizers as well.
The education being provided is not what you’ve seen in the past. The classes offered for CRS and GRI designations, for example, have been overhauled, and there are new, engaging instructors who want to help your business grow.
Your association leaders want to know who you are and what you think. Don’t be intimidated by anyone’s title, because your peers are just like you and they want to help you and the industry as a whole.
Do you want better venues for meetings? More or fewer cocktail-hour events? More variety in the times of day these meetings or classes are held? More giveaways? Give us some ideas for what would encourage you to show up.
Here’s the biggest hurdle to cross: Only you can control your calendar. If your clients knew that your attendance at REALTOR® meetings could change their real estate experience entirely for the better, they’d be glad to work with you on rescheduling showings, open houses, or whatever around you. You have to show up, listen, voice your opinion, and bring what you’ve learned back to your clients through your increased professionalism and knowledge.
Real estate needs to raise the bar, you say? Well, that starts with you. Right here. Right now.
Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in commentary articles do not necessarily reflect the position of the National Association of REALTORS® or REALTOR® Magazine. Submit commentary ideas to managing editor Wendy Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org.