AE Profile: Driving Change at the State Level

Since joining the North Carolina Association of REALTORS® as CEO in 2010, after 14 years with the Oregon Association, Andrea Bushnell, RCE, has been a driving force for change in the state. In May at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., she was honored with the William R. Magel Award of Excellence in Association Management.

Q. What are your most successful program​s or services currently?

North Carolina is on fire with new ideas and initiatives. This year, we’re launching a consumer outreach campaign to assist in rebranding NC REALTORS® and to help create a unified voice for consistent messaging statewide. The campaign, known as “NC REALTORS®—The Smart Move,” will convey the message that our REALTORS® are advocates for their clients and communities and an essential part of the property buying and selling process.

Our goal is to equip members and local associations to reach consumers in a way that advances the industry. The tagline “The Smart Move” will allow us to incorporate the many ways that using an NC REALTOR® is a smart move—they are the experts who can help you navigate through any transaction. Not only is purchasing property a smart move, but doing so in North Carolina is a smart move. Relocating your industry to North Carolina is a smart move. We’re spreading the “Smart Move” story from the mountains to the coast with eye-catching creative, a robust social media and public relations strategy, a showcase video,  and a contest with $12,000 in prize money.

Q. What has been the most significant evolution in the role of the state association?

State associations have grown substantially in sophistication and political acumen. We have grown well beyond our role as traditional lobbying organizations. Lobbying is still central to our advocacy efforts, but we have so many more resources at our disposal. For example, NC REALTORS® formed the NC Homeowners Alliance, which focuses on engaging consumers in our political issues. We have built a large database of consumers who want to participate in the political process for the protection of their real property investment. Consumers are included in our calls for action and they take action. It has been so successful that NC Homeowners Alliance recently rolled out a new initiative to increase the efficacy of its advocacy and the service it provides to local associations. The alliance is now available to participate in local associations’ issue campaigns and referendums with the full array of its public media activities: petitions, media appearances, town forums, and online websites and platforms. When local associations decide to take a stand on a community policy, regulation, or ordinance, the alliance will support local associations in any way it can.

Finally, in addition to our RPAC funding efforts, many states, including North Carolina, also have Section 527 or 503(c)(4) organizations that fund independent expenditure campaigns. In North Carolina, our 527 is the NC Property Rights Fund. I believe that we will continue to increase our level of sophistication and engagement in the future and will continue to make huge strides in our political influence.

Q. What has been the overall result of Core Standards on your local associations?

Awareness has been raised about what associations can and should be doing to serve our members. North Carolina’s local association AEs are amazing. They were not all thrilled with Core Standards in the beginning, but they dug deep and most now believe that Core Standards are good for the industry. This is great news because our local associations are the cornerstone of our success in North Carolina. NC REALTORS® additionally is taking advantage of the opportunity to look at how best to advance professionalism among our members because we are now, as an association, better able to create opportunities for professionalism and to support our members with more targeted, demographically aligned services. Core Standards has allowed us to literally upend the association and look with new, fresh eyes at how we engage our members with programs and services that are meaningful and truly valued. How exciting is that?

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