AEs Virtual World: AETalk Celebrates 10 Years of Building a Community of Association Professionals Online

Although Web 2.0, online collaboration, wikis, RSS feeds, social networking, and blogging are the buzz today, association executives have been collaborating and, in effect, blogging and networking online since 1998, way ahead of the curve and the general population, says Saul Klein, CEO of Internet Crusade, the company that runs the AE listserv, AETalk.

“In early 1998, David Foster, association executive of the Austin Association of REALTORS®, approached me and asked if it would be possible to create an online community of executive officers for the purpose of sharing and collaborating, much as we had done for real estate professionals when we created RealTalk in 1996,” says Klein.

Rather than create a Web solution, such as online bulletin boards, which often wither and die for lack of use, Internet Crusade opted for an e-mail solution, knowing that the one place people frequent most often, typically multiple times a day, is their e-mail inbox.

“I set out collecting e-mail addresses of all the EOs I knew and with whom I had communication and then set up a l list,” says Klein.

The AETalk Listserv began with about 50 AEs, growing to more than 1,200 members over the past 10 years. “As the moderator, it’s my job to keep the conversation flowing and as such, I often ‘seed’ conversations when the list becomes quiet,” says Klein. His “did you know” conversation starters on topics ranging from strategic planning to lockbox conversions inform and spur discussion from both novice and seasoned AEs.

“There is always something to talk about when it comes to association management in the real estate industry. A simple question or comment usually generates thoughts and ideas as AEs respond and post answers and questions of their own,” he says. Today usually five to 10 stimulating posts and questions are submitted each day.

The latest version of AETalk has a Web interface component that allows for web access from any computer and provides a searchable archive of past posts. “In the future, we anticipate more AEs will be using the Web interface, but for now, the e-mail version remains the most popular, available in individual or digest format (or both),” says Klein.

New AEs say they find AETalk to be an invaluable reference as they navigate uncharted waters. Experienced AEs have an opportunity to share and thus strengthen the online AE community. “And just because a person is seasoned, it does not mean that they have faced every circumstance or situation. AETalk ties the AE community together, and many have told me over the years that, for them, it is indispensable,” he says.

If you would like to join AETalk, send an e-mail to and request to be subscribed. “Membership is free, all we ask is that you share you expertise with other AEs should the opportunity present itself,” Klein notes. 

Contributing to Communities

Keeping families of active-duty soldiers from losing their homes becomes one association’s new challenge

If Peggy J. Kayser wasn’t CEO of the Realtor® Association of NorthWest Chicagoland, she just might be head of a charity organization. Helping others is her passion, she says.

In the past few years, her association’s charitable foundation has focused its efforts on northern Illinois’ military servicemen and women and their families. In fact, the assistance program, Helping Our Heroes, was the reason the foundation was established, says Kayser. “Members of the association leadership brought up the idea of doing something for the families of veterans,” she recalls. “We weren’t sure exactly what we were going to do at first, then it evolved into establishing a charitable foundation.”

To date, the program has paid out more than $31,000 to 26 families of soldiers deployed overseas who were in jeopardy of losing their homes. Although mortgage lenders may not foreclose or seize property for a failure to pay a mortgage debt while a service member is on active duty, families who rent are not as protected.

“Several of the people who were renting were a day away from being thrown out of their homes,” says Kayser. “I personally talked to several of the landlords and told them a check from our foundation was coming by overnight delivery.”

In addition to rent and mortgage payment assistance, the foundation has helped with a security deposit for a new lease; plumbing supply reimbursement; two new furnaces; home inspection for a house with mold; legal assistance; and lawn care. “Just today I received an application to pay back-rent at a YMCA in Chicago for a vet who is homeless,” says Kayser. “It breaks my heart.”

Branching out from assisting military families, the foundation recently began directly helping soldiers by sending much-needed care packages.

“After hearing about at the NAR Leadership Symposium last August, we adopted a female soldier in Afghanistan,” says Kayser. “That led us to wonder how many of our members have family overseas. We sent an e-blast and got 18 names and have sent 88 care packages since November.” These packages typically contain requested items such as hand sanitizer, protein bars, individual Kool-Aid sticks, spices for MREs (meals ready to eat), cookies, Velveeta cheese, Goldfish crackers, bacon bits, disposable flashlights, and playing cards.

John Baker, who heads up Love Boxes, e-mailed Kayser asking for support of nine additional soldiers who are serving in the mountains and caves of Afghanistan. The soldiers are deployed to the firebases for six weeks, during which time they have no running water or electricity. The foundation pays for the supplies, and Kayser’s staff and members volunteer their time to assemble the packages.

Kayser learned that a solider in the main camp is making fresh bread in bread machines and sending loaves out to the soldiers in the firebases. “We sent four used and three new bread machines, in addition to 20 boxes of light wheat bread and 40 boxes of white bread mix,” she says.

“We and our members are really excited about what we are doing,” says Kayser. For more information, visit

’08 Public Awareness Campaign: Just the Facts

As the National Association of Realtors®’ public awareness campaign enters its 11th year, the focus is on providing the public with facts about the nation’s housing market.

In 2008, the campaign will focus on countering some of the recent negative national media reports related to the housing market with facts about the value of housing as a long-term investment. It will also help local and state Realtor® associations educate consumers about actual conditions in their local real estate markets.

The 2008 campaign features two new buyer-focused advertisements:

“Building Wealth” emphasizes the importance of homeownership in creating long-term wealth. Using data from respected third-party sources, the materials demonstrate the effect that homeownership has on household wealth.

“Home Values” demonstrates the long-term value of housing as an investment, sharing NAR housing data that shows that home values nearly double every 10 years.

Both ads encourage buyers who are on the fence to contact a Realtor® who can start them on the path toward owning a home.

The ads also direct consumers to a new NAR microsite,, which educates potential homebuyers about the value of homeownership, provides resources and research about the current housing market and industry issues, and, of course, helps buyers and sellers find a Realtor®.

Also in 2008, NAR’s Hispanic outreach campaign continues to reach this important and growing consumer segment with new television and radio commercials, print ads, outdoor and bus shelter ads, posters, and Web banners, all available for state and local association use.

Low- or No-cost ways to Join the campaign

Local and state associations don’t have to spend big bucks to reinforce campaign messages with local audiences. Here are some ways to use campaign materials at no cost:

  • Download the radio spots to play for “on hold” callers.
  • If your REALTOR® members are frequent advertisers in local publications, talk to ad representatives about running a print ad at no cost, or consider an in-kind exchange (place an ad in your member publication on behalf of the newspaper, informing members about the paper’s advertising costs, circulation, and demographics).
  • Download the free Web banners and use them on your association’s site.
  • Include an article about the public awareness campaign in your member publication, encouraging members to use the materials available to them through the campaign Web site.
  • Add a link to the campaign Web site in your member e-mail communications and on your association’s site to inform Realtors® of the resources available to them through the campaign.

To visit the campaign site, go to For assistance with any public awareness campaign outreach effort, contact Stephanie Singer,

Effort to “Green” Members’ Image

The Seattle-King County Association of REALTORS®, Wash., recently launched a multifaceted environmental program. The hope is that the program will not only promote responsible environmental awareness by REALTORS®, but also create an image that REALTORS® are sensitive to—and supportive of—well-grounded and responsible environmental efforts.

“REALTORS® have often been branded by the media, public officials, and the public as developers or land pavers with no regard to the environment,” says David Crowell, the association’s director of governmental and public affairs. “Our REALTORS®’ Environmental Council was formed in part to dispel that public perception and promote the fact that Realtors® do care and are great stewards of our natural environment.”

The association’s environmental program aims to improve the quality of life in the area by providing effective grassroots leadership and legislative advocacy on environmental issues, supporting environmentally aware real estate practices, and educating members and the public with informational brochures and classes.

Seattle’s member education program hosts projects that provide “on-the-ground benefits for the environment,” says Crowell, including a recent event where nearly 40 REALTORS® planted more than 500 trees and shrubs.

The program, which will be overseen by the Realtors®’ Environmental Council and set up as a 501(c)3 organization, is the first of its kind among REALTOR® associations, according to Crowell.

’08 AE Work Groups to Address Key Issues

Under the leadership of chair Diane Ruggiero, RCE, CAE, the 2008 Association Executive Committee has formed several work groups to tackle issues ranging from what an AE needs to know to run an association to helping associations prepare for an AE transition.

  • AE Competencies Work Group will review the AE Competencies and Body of Knowledge in which an AE should be proficient to successfully serve the evolving REALTOR association.
  • AE Transition Work Group will prepare associations for chief staff executive transitions and assist in developing exit plans.
  • Generation AE Work Group will involve generation X and Y AEs in AEC activities and groom them for future leadership positions, as well as determine what young AEs’ professional development need are and how they can help associations relate to younger members and consumers.
  • Leadership Programming Work Group will identify content for the Midyear Leadership Express program, the Leading Edge in Association Management program, and the November Entrepreneurial Excellence Series.
  • M1 Policies Work Group will review M1 policy and enforcement issues.
  •  Profile Survey Work Group will review and update the State and Local Profile Survey questionnaire.

MLSs vs. the FTC: One Win and One Draw

Milwaukee’s Multiple Listing Service Inc. has agreed not to block the Internet display of properties being sold through non-traditional, lower-cost brokerages as part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The consent agreement doesn’t constitute an admission of a law violation by the MLS and no monetary fine is included in the settlement.

The FTC claimed the MLS violated antitrust laws and illegally restrained competition by adopting rules that blocked the listings from being transmitted to popular real estate Web sites, such as and

In its complaint, the FTC asserted that consumers are harmed by rules calling for non-traditional listings to be blocked from the Web sites “because it inhibits a lower-cost option to sellers and increases search costs to buyers.”

The action against the Milwaukee MLS follows a 2006 sweep by the FTC alleging similar conduct by multiple listing services in other local areas in several states.

In another case, the FTC claimed Michigan-based Realcomp II Ltd., which operates the multiple-listing service in southeastern Michigan, violated antitrust laws by blocking nontraditional listings. Yet in a December decision, a Washington, D.C., court dismissed the complaint, stating that the FTC’s lawyers hadn’t proven that the Realcomp policies “unreasonably restrained or substantially lessened” competition. The FTC plans to appeal.—Source: the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Get Your Message in the Guide

NAR’s 2008 Membership Reference Guide provides associations the opportunity to include information about their member benefits in the guides mailed to their renewing members. The guide summarizes NAR’s member benefits, and includes an NAR membership card personalized with the member’s name and unique M1 Member ID number.

Only your association’s message will appear on the front cover flap of the guides sent to your members. Fees start at $50 for associations under 5,000 members. For more, visit or contact Karen Bebart, 312/329-8359, Deadline is March 7.

Have Your Member Orientation Kit ?

By now, all state and local association executives should have received their copy of the National Association of Realtors®’ 2008 Member Orientation Kit. The kit includes a variety of materials to assist association staff in welcoming new members and communicating the benefits of membership in NAR.

The contents are meant for use in an informative orientation or refresher seminar and include REALTOR® pins; member orientation DVD; NAR promotional materials CD formerly sent separately as the “Promotional Update Kit;” orientation guidelines; NAR marketing materials calendar; and the “Face of Real Estate” mosaic poster. The kit’s contents are also accessible online at For more information, contact Rebecca Daly,

New Benefits Partner:

New REALTOR® Benefits Program Partner infoUSA offers NAR members an ongoing discount on the monthly subscription fee to and, an Internet-based subscription service that helps sales representatives and business owners find new customers and increase sales. With unlimited access to leads and mailing lists, and hundreds of search selections, clients can find the right prospects in minutes. InfoUSA offers 12 databases, which are composed of comprehensive business and consumer data. Visit or call 866/872-8120 and mention discount code 151NAR.

Shapiro Receives Community Leadership Award 2007

The 2007 recipient of the Terry McDermott Community Leadership Award is Carol Shapiro, rce, CEO of the Eastern Middlesex Association of Realtors®, Mass. Shapiro was recognized for her involvement with the American Cancer Society and the Adopt-a-Woman program, which provides free mammogram screenings for women who can’t afford them. She is also heavily involved in the Angel Flight and Earth Angels programs, which provides transportation for cancer patients and their families. Shapiro is also active in the Bell Foundation, which provides extra after-school classes for lower-income children, encouraging scholastic achievements. Shapiro will be recognized during the 2008 Association Executives Institute in Boston.

Fair Housing Honors for Mich. AE, President

Association-sponsored antihousing discrimination program wins Fair Housing Leadership Award

In 2005, when complaints were filed by the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit against a local real estate company for alleged violations of fair housing laws, the Michigan Association of Realtors® took quick action. The result was a comprehensive statewide training program on fair housing for real estate practitioners, which recently received metropolitan Detroit’s Fair Housing Leadership Award.

“I think it is positive news, not just for us but for the entire Realtor® and fair housing community,” says association CEO Bill Martin, rce.

The association’s “self-testing” fair housing program was designed to help members evaluate their real estate practices in terms of fair housing guidelines and determine whether each client was being treated equally. Martin and 2007 President Furhad Waquad, who spearheaded the program’s creation, were honored by the Fair Housing Center for their efforts at the 10th Annual Fair Housing Leadership Awards Reception, held in September. “We hope the project will thrive and encourage similar associations to follow with their own fair housing programs,” says Martin.

Peggy Comeau’s Legacy of Leadership

Veteran association executive Peggy Comeau died on Nov. 17, after a battle with lung cancer. Comeau was CEO of the Honolulu Board and Hawaii Associations, then became the executive vice president of the Realtors® Association of New Mexico where she presided until her resignation early in 2007 to focus on treatments. Comeau participated in many Realtor® association professional development programs and was a long-time member of NAR’s Member Policy and Board Jurisdiction Committee as well as the NAR Finance & Strategic Planning Committees. The New Mexico association named a leadership award in her honor, and she was able to attend the ceremony for the first recipient. The award is given to a member of the state association who has demonstrated loyalty and selfless contributions to the organization.

CRB Offers new Courses for License to Associations

The Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers (CRB), an NAR affiliate, has five new courses that state and local associations can license and offer to members. These half-day and full-day courses include teaching and hand-out materials. New courses for 2008 include “Technology Management: Develop and Deploy an Effective Strategy for Your Office;” “Analyzing Your Company for Profit;” “Marketing Management: Attract and Keep Customers for Life;” and “Performance Leadership: Attract, Develop and Keep Successful Sales Associates.” Updated courses for 2008 are “Managing and Leading Teams,” “Managing Generational Identities,” and “Balancing the Scales of Risk Management.” For more information, visit or contact Kristin Carey, 312/321-4431,

AE Professional Development: Successful Students

The following students successfully completed Realtors® Association Management Self-Study courses between Aug. 29, 2007 and Jan. 14, 2008. Students are eligible to receive points toward their REALTORS® association Certified Executive (RCE) designation.

REALTOR® Association Management Self-Study Course:

James Abele, Cincinnati Area Board, Ohio
Dean Anderson, Placer County Assoc., Calif.
Kenny Anderson, Chicago Assoc., Ill.
Christine Angulo, Realtors® Assoc. of the Palm Beaches, Fla.
Sharon Arnette, Heartland MLS, Inc., Kan.
Mary Jane Bauer, Realtors® Assoc. of Acadiana, La.
Mathias Bergendahl, Pinellas Suncoast Assoc., Fla.
Arthur Blanck, Metro Tex Assoc., Texas
Carole Burgess, Mid-Florida Regional MLS
Leanora Corona, Northern Rhode Island Board, R.I.
Brooke Curnow, Utah County Assoc., Utah
Barbara Dart, Heartland MLS, Inc., Kan.
Nancy Davis, Kansas City Regional Assoc., Kan.
Lesbia De Jesus, Chicago Assoc., Ill.
Becky East, Henderson Audubon Board, Ky.
Sherry Farris, Heartland MLS, Inc. Kan.
Karan Flick, Fort Wayne Assoc., Ind.
Breanna Frederixon, Southern Twin Cities Assoc., Minn.
Kevin Goedker, Century 21 Brainerd Realty, Minn.
Cindy Green, Kansas City Regional Assoc., Kan.
Bob Hart, Kansas City Regional Assoc., Kan.
David Hendrick, Martha Hendrick Realty, Ore.
Rick Hodges, Tucson Assoc., Ariz.
Cathy Holefelder, Heartland MLS, Inc., Kan.
Jeffrey Hornberger, National Assoc. of Realtors®
Susan Hostetler, Kansas City Regional Assoc., Kan.
Maliabeth Hughes, Utah County Assoc., Utah
Nancy Hull, Estes Park Board, Colo.
Kristine Jaynes, Saginaw Board, Mich.
Charles Kasky, Maryland Assoc. of Realtors®
Jessica Kern, Chicago Assoc., Ill.
Terry Ketchem, Charleston Trident Assoc., S.C.
Stephanie Lance, Bullhead City Mohave Valley Assoc., Ariz.
Linda LaRock, Jackson Area Assoc., Mich.
Frances Long, Bay Area Assoc., Md.
Janna Mead, South Metro Denver Assoc., Colo.
Dororthy Murphy, Chicago Assoc., Ill.
Maureen Nelson, Outer Banks Assoc., N.C.
Adrienne Nichols, Pennsylvania Association
Kathryn O’Leary, Eastern Connecticut Assoc., Conn.
Brian Paul, Southland Regional Assoc., Calif.
Sara Perry, Charleston Trident Assoc., S.C.
Lynnette Polk, Chicago Assoc., Ill.
Michelle Polston, Heartland MLS, Inc., Kan.
Debora Poole, Northern Kentucky Assoc., Ky.
Joanne Ruffner, Southeast Arizona Assoc., Ariz.
Monica Schulik, Arizona Association
Sue Talcott, Heartland MLS, Inc., Kan.
Christy Tays, Kansas City Regional Assoc.
Tonya Vanderslice, Jefferson City Area Board, Mo.


Becky East, Henderson Audubon Board, Ken.
Laura Flournoy, Eastern Shore Assoc., Va.
Sharon Lamesfield, Traverse Area Assoc., Mich.
Maureen Nelson, Outer Banks Assoc., N.C.
Laura Sallie, Greater NW Indiana Assoc., Ind.

Advanced REALTOR® Association Management Self-Study:

Jamie Beasley, Greater Tyler Assoc., Texas
Jean Beck, Hilton Head Area Assoc., S.C.
Kiddy Boswell, Abilene Board, Texas
Carole Burgess, Mid-Florida Regional MLS, Fla.
Ryan Conrad, Lehigh Valley Assoc., Pa.
Laura Flournoy, Eastern Shore Assoc., Va.
Lenora Hope, National Assoc. of Realtors®, Ill.
Jeffrey Hornberger, National Assoc. of Realtors®, Ill.
Terry Ketchem, Charleston Trident Assoc., S.C.
Stephanie Lance, Bullhead City Mohave Valley Assoc., Ariz.
George O’Neill, National Assoc. of Realtors®, Ill.
Brian Paul, Southland Regional Assoc., Calif.
Sara Perry, Charleston Trident Assoc., S.C.
Kathleen Picardo, Hunterdon/Somerset Assoc., N.J.
Suzanne Silva, Greater Providence Board, R.I.
Daniel Sutherland, Outer Banks Assoc., N.C.
Rose Wanosik, Tuscarawas County Board., Ohio