REALTORS® are the experts on the local housing market as well as the home buying and selling process. They know communities, home values, and whether now is or isn’t a great time to sell a home. Collectively, along with their association, they represent an enormous wealth of information, yet getting that message out to consumers is often a challenge.
REALTOR® associations across the country work to position themselves and their members as the definitive source for housing data and market analysis. Whether it’s redistributing market information and reports from the National Association of REALTORS® or your state association of REALTORS® or generating your own local market analysis, REALTOR® associations show they are the voice for local real estate by keeping members and consumers informed.
As a source for information on home financing, housing assistance programs, and fair housing, associations boost their members’ value in the eyes of consumers.
Case Study: Our Consumer Campaign: The Housing Translator
By Kailey Waring, marketing, communications and design manager, Seattle King County REALTORS®
“Complicated language, policy, and prices—our housing market can be confusing. But not when you have Seattle King County REALTORS® by your side. For over 100 years, REALTORS® have been passionate about creating healthy communities and a balanced housing market. We want to help you understand all the nitty-gritty, the nuances, and anything and everything you need (and didn’t realize you needed) to know about housing policy.”
This statement above is on the opening page of the HousingTranslator.com site, which is the cornerstone of our Housing Translator campaign, designed to reach out to consumers and demonstrate REALTORS®’ understanding of today’s complex real estate market. The goal of the campaign also is to position the association and its members as leaders in proposing solutions for those who desire to be homeowners in our region.
Here’s how it worked
The spark for Housing Translator came in June 2016 after our 22nd Annual Housing Issues Briefing. This special event is for state senators, state representatives, legislative assistants, and candidates for the state Senate and House. The event features experts’ and consultants’ take on the housing market, consumer preferences, and the policies that may be solutions to the vexing issues of affordability and supply. The information was so powerful and relevant, we knew we needed to share it with a wider audience.
First, the association developed a set of legislative principles and initiatives to correct the current housing shortage, which is the top challenge for our members and the clients they serve. This shortage of inventory manifests itself as ever-increasing home prices, multiple offers on existing homes, inflated offers on homes of marginal value, and accepted offers of sale tens of thousands of dollars above asking price. We felt this critical lack of supply must be addressed for consumers to view our housing market in a positive light.
One of the regulatory solutions we chose to advocate for: legalization of mother-in-law cottages and other accessory dwelling units to increase supply without impacting a neighborhood’s character. We also supported improved transportation systems and increasing the amount of buildable land in the area through the Growth Management Act.
With our legislative priorities in place, we sought PR representation to create a targeted media campaign with the goals of increasing awareness of the value of membership among the 6,000 members of the association in King County; educating members and consumers about the legislative efforts made by REALTORS®; and promoting the use of REALTORS® by consumers.
In January, with local agency Green-Rubino, we launched a multisegment, integrated campaign that includes television advertising buys, digital media ads, radio spots, bus ads, and news and features in local media outlets, all driving consumers to HousingTranslator.com for more information. The website featured an easy-to-navigate list of FAQs such as, “Why aren’t there enough new condos?” “Is it better to rent or buy?” “What would it take to create more affordable housing?” and “How do interest rates impact buying a home?” The site also explained the role and value of REALTORS®.
By the time the initial campaign wrapped up in April our digital media materials logged 10.7 million impressions, reaching approximately 67 percent of adults aged 35 and over in the Seattle area.
Our association’s volunteer leadership was so impressed that we launched a short-term summer campaign, and we’re currently discussing ways to keep it going in the future.
Case Study: Our Consumer Campaign: Orlando is a fabulous place to live
Facebook posts boasting the vitality of Orlando and its housing market generate a tremendous amount of likes and shares among the members of the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association. In fact, social media posts that get the greatest engagement are those that are specifically designed for members to pass along to their consumer followers.
“Market-related content and ‘Orlando is a fabulous place to live’ content are our best performers on social media,” says Lisa McDuffie, the association’s communications manager. “We almost always include some sort of ‘Call Your REALTOR®’ language in our posts so that members recognize them as content to spread to consumers.”
The association’s social media materials, distributed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn refer readers back to the association’s REALTOR®-branded, consumer-focused website, Orlandorealtors.com, which also features a “find a REALTOR®” member directory and houses a wealth of area market information for buyers, sellers, and renters.
Spotlight on Housing Market Info
Orange County REALTORS® in California have established themselves as the go-to source for housing market and housing policy information for community leaders, elected officials, and real estate practitioners. But now their new and extensive consumer-facing website (http://www.realdealoc.com) is set to broaden their reach. The site features useful and sharable videos and infographics as well as monthly reports on the association’s 13 distinct communities.
The “For Real Estate Pros” section has information directly for members, while the rest of the easy-to-navigate site features in-depth information aimed to cement OCR as the source of housing information and advocacy in Orange County.
“We are planning on launching a print version that will primarily be for members to use in their firms, but we will also be sending it to our community partners and local elected officials,” says Tony Capitelli, the association’s government affairs director.
Case Study: Our Consumer Campaign: The tools you need to buy a home in Maryland
At MarylandHomeownership.com, the consumer-facing website from the Maryland Association of REALTORS®, features a wealth of reliable information on homebuying, housing assistance programs, fair housing, avoiding foreclosure, and much more. “With the growing nationwide crisis in housing affordability, Maryland REALTORS® need to continue to be proactive in our consumer outreach efforts, both through our members and directly to the public,” says association CEO Chuck Kasky.
“MarylandHomeownership.com provides an effective platform to present REALTORS® as the best resource for home buying expertise.” The website also gives members a REALTOR®-branded place to refer clients to and has been recently updated to include a searchable database of mortgage programs and down payment and closing cost assistance incentives for first-time and low-to-moderate income buyers. The site is intended to be a clearinghouse for all information related to the home buying process. “The website complements our Workforce Housing Certification education program, which prepares REALTOR® members to guide working individuals and families through what can be a challenging and confusing process,” says Laurie Benner, the association’s director of housing programs.