From AEI 2013

AEs attending the 2013 AE Institute, March 18-21, spoke with RAE about their latest successes and challenges.


Brenda Roney, RCE, AE, Carteret County Association of REALTORS®, N.C.:

“The future of the MLS is our biggest challenge right now. Unlike a lot of industry leaders, I don’t think it will go away, but I think it’s going to be a different animal. What the MLS becomes will have a great impact on all of us.”


Jason Yochim, EO, Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS®, Canada:

“Technology is a very big challenge for us and I think one of the biggest challenges in the industry. At the street level real estate is unchanged: properties need to be shown, deals need to be negotiated, but it’s how technology gets us there. The rapid rate of advancement makes it a challenge to keep up with. I feel members fall into three technology camps: the early adopters, the late adopters, and those who will never adopt technology. I refer to technology as natural selection; it’s unfortunate that some great members are not going to be in this business much longer because of their unwillingness to adapt to technology.”


Wayne Edwards, CAE, director of professional development, Illinois Association of REALTORS®:

“The challenge has been adapting to a range of new technologies so that you can attempt to serve a broader range of members. We have a much wider range of member needs right now in terms of the delivery of an education product; for example, one group wants live classroom education, another group wants it online or self-study. Then we’re trying to blend some of those challenges with the state laws that we have to work with in terms of CE or pre-licensing requirements. We have rolled out a free webinar a month on a different subject each month, which has been very popular.”


Jeanette Newton, CEO, Dulles Area Association of REALTORS®, Va.:

“We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of very well-attended public policy forums lately; they’re coming in droves. We’ve had a variety of issues come up, including the funding of the controversial Dulles Metrorail project, tax issues, and a new mapping system in Loudoun County. We invited very knowledgeable county officials to come in and talk to members and we’ve had to turn members away because our room only holds 80. Any free informational program that can be offered to the members is very valuable.”


Sue Blumhoefer, AE, West Central Association of REALTORS®, Minn.:

“A big challenge for us is getting members involved in the legislative issues. Right now state lawmakers are talking about a sales tax on commissions and services and we need members to get involved, respond to calls to action, and talk to their local legislators. But it’s a challenge to get the word out. We have 310 members in a very large territory. Our call-to-action response is less than 10 percent.  It’s not that they think it’s the association’s job to do something about these issues, it’s that they just aren’t aware of these issues. We’ve been countering this by doing office visits. We’re going to all 90 offices in our association, and legislative issues are the first topic we talk about and we have seen some progress.”


Robert Conwill, MLS administrator, Jackson Assoc. of REALTORS®, Miss."

“A really big success for us is our new statewide public site that we launched in March. Seven boards are providing data for this and more are joining every day. It’s been a really good benefit for our members because it’s a public site and the data comes straight from the MLS and the leads go directly back to the members. One challenge for us, however, is keeping up with going mobile. Everything is going mobile today, and quickly. That’s going to be the next hurdle for us. We are working with vendors to get the mobility worked into our MLS technology and we’re seeing a lot more demand for it.”


Ann G. Drum, CEO, Gaston Association of REALTORS®, N.C.:

“Our upcoming housing fair is the most exciting endeavor we’ve undertaken lately. As soon as we heard about the grants available from My REALTOR® Party, we knew we wanted to host a housing fair for consumers because it’s something we never had the money for in the past. The event is June 1 and we plan to have all the answers to buying a house under one roof, with seminars as well as exhibitors from local banks, mortgage companies, builders, and free space provided for nonprofit organizations offering housing grants and related information.”


Myra Jolivet, VP of Public Affairs, MLS Listings, Calif.:

“I think for all of us relevance is the biggest challenge today. That’s going to be a keyword for a long time for associations and MLSs because there are so many changes in the marketplace and those changes bring about new business practices and models for the people we serve. And for the MLS, changes include the need to keep up with the evolving browsing habits by consumers and new consumer expectations. The key to unlocking this challenge is getting to know members and consumers more by surveying and other methods. There is no such thing as too much data. We all need to know our target audiences better to meet tomorrow’s challenges.”


George Postletheweight, RCE, CEO, Southwest Indiana Association of REALTORS®:

“Our greatest challenge in the last six months has been establishing a new regional MLS among 13 founding associations. It’s a different type of getting together; it’s developing a new board of directors independent of the associations. The regional MLS will have 5,000 members to give us better buying power for MLS services; an economy of scale was the business model behind it. A recent success was our leadership training and membership meeting featuring NAR past president Charles McMillan. We got very positive feedback from members and we were very proud to have him down here.”


Cathy Maxwell, EO, Lethbridge and District Association of REALTORS®, Canada:

“One of the greatest challenges I face, and that I see with a lot of the AEs that I’ve met here, is the governance. We have very successful REALTORS®, who are good at what they do but when they get into the directorship role they don’t know how the big machine works and it’s a challenge to gracefully and respectfully teach  them about governance. Big ideas and enthusiasm are great, but you also need good governance to make the association flow properly. We’re a small board, so we don’t have a leadership academy. I lean on my fellow area AEs to share leadership training resources and tips and tricks. We all want the same thing.”

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