Sam DeBord is managing broker and vice president of strategic growth for Coldwell Banker Danforth, past president of Seattle King Country REALTORS®, vice president of government affairs for Washington REALTORS®, and NAR president's liaison for MLS and Data Management. You can find his team at SeattleHome.com and SeattleCondo.com.
How Brokerages Can Best Leverage NAR
Learn how to take advantage of member benefits and tools to improve your brokerage operations and provide greater value for agents.
December 21, 2018
The 2019 Swanepoel Trends report, an annual analysis of the changes happening in real estate, examined the National Association of REALTORS®’ evolving relationship with brokers. As a consultant on the report, I found through our work that there is a tremendous amount of untapped value at NAR already available to brokers that needs to be highlighted and leveraged.
Brokers and managers are often keenly aware of the value that their REALTOR® associations provide to the organized real estate industry, such as the financial benefits, freedom from onerous regulation, promotion of business opportunities, and protection of consumers’ real property rights. But what are the benefits that help with operating a brokerage day to day?
Brokers have many opportunities to get the most out of their dues dollars and maximize the benefits they receive from NAR. There are a number of concrete ways to leverage its advocacy, tools, and network to improve a brokerage and increase value recognition for your agents.
Use Legal Guidance as Brokerage Meeting Content
Brokers need relevant, attention-grabbing topics to make sales meetings timely and useful for their agents. NAR regularly generates articles and legal briefs on the latest industry updates. This kind of premium legal guidance would be financially prohibitive for many brokerages to create.
Whether in a company newsletter, video update, class, or in-person sales meeting, brokers can deliver value to their agents and enhance their businesses by delivering this guidance to them. Rather than NAR appearing as an outside entity coming into their businesses, brokers can co-opt this information as an agent benefit that they provide by choosing to be REALTOR® members.
Meld Media Content into Industry Outreach
NAR’s communications department is broad, and its content covers virtually every topic being discussed in the industry. Much like legal guidance, this content can become the meat of a sales meeting or a regular company update from management.
Through REALTOR® Magazine, NAR communications, broker updates, and more, there’s always a fresh conversation for brokers to have with their team, an individual agent, or a recruit. Without reinventing the wheel, brokers can reuse high-quality media without the costs of their own communications department.
Leverage NAR’s Research Materials for Distinction and Visibility
NAR’s research department regularly produces statistical reports on a scale unseen anywhere else in the industry. Brokers can break down these insights into reports for agents, consumer outreach information for advertising, or news releases and outreach to the local media.
Widely recognized for their unmatched access to broad consumer and practitioner data, NAR’s research reports are severely underutilized by brokers who may not know how to properly leverage them or not realize that they have access to them. Brokers who desire to be the media go-to spokesperson in the local market have access to the insights that will make them newsworthy if they take the time to access it through NAR.
Emphasize a Culture of Professionalism
When it comes to respect of an occupation, it’s been said that real estate agents are viewed just above used car salesmen. Professional brokers and agents are appalled by the portion of the industry that creates this negative image for the rest.
Much of NAR’s identity has been built over the years through adherence to the Code of Ethics, and the licensing standards that the association has driven throughout the industry. Brokers can emphasize the superior professionalism of their organizations and congratulate their agents on being a part of that upper echelon of professionals, by referring to the ethical standards they live by as REALTOR® members. Commitment to raising the bar of professionalism is an attractive broker quality for almost any successful real estate agent. It engenders a company culture of pride that is attractive to others and builds growth.
Take Credit for the Network
The NAR network offers access to tools and discounts that agents couldn’t achieve on their own. These benefits can be pitched by a broker as benefits for joining a brokerage. You can position yourself as a broker who has knowledge of what tools are available and how to access them.
Companies that don’t have their own annual events or conferences can leverage NAR’s Tech Edge events, its midyear REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, or the annual REALTORS® Conference & Expo as a chance to go out as a brokerage together and see new technology, training, and tools that are making their way into the marketplace. Local and state organizations often create opportunities for brokerages, especially smaller ones, to attend events together that they might not otherwise, and come back better informed on industry trends.
Engage the Broker Network
REALTOR® events aren’t just for sales pitches and committee meetings. Brokers can benefit from the networking opportunities with other brokers around the country within the REALTOR® association’s networks. Whether local, state, or national, brokers can mastermind with non-competitors in other areas and get insight into what might improve their business through others’ experiences.
NAR has a unique position of being able to bring brand-agnostic events together when traditional competitors often collaborate and brainstorm on brokerage improvement ideas. Whether it’s financial models, brokerage technology, regional issues, or industry changes, brokers can hear viewpoints and see opportunities that may not be presenting themselves in their local marketplaces. There are few places in the industry where brokers can network with others at this scale.
Highlight Advocacy Wins that Put Money in Agents’ Pockets
Most brokers have heard an agent complain about paying REALTOR® dues. For agents, concrete answers provide value—money talks. While being careful to avoid purely political conversations and individual candidate campaigns, brokers can build talking points about how the association, through its member brokers and agents, is protecting the agents’ income, their ability to do business, and their clients’ ability to buy and sell real estate.
When the broker is the delivery vehicle for legislative and regulatory wins that benefits agents, he or she rightfully receives credit for those wins. Advocacy wins that stop point-of-sale mandates, rejection of transaction transfer taxes, pushback on increased property and occupation taxes—all of these things are wins for agents that can be explained in transaction and income figures.
Taking credit for NAR’s success, and allowing agents to understand and appreciate how that improves their lives, is critical to getting the full value of the association.
Have an Elevator Pitch
Ideally, a broker will integrate the value set that NAR provides into the entire brokerage organization. Its value will be prominent and clear. But sometimes a quick, concise answer is needed when an agent questions the value of REALTOR® membership:
“The REALTOR® association protects agents’ businesses through legal guidance and advocacy. It stops bad government policy that would harm buyers and sellers. It ensures agents’ businesses keep more of their money. Through research, education, and the REALTOR® network, it helps agents improve their skills, knowledge, sphere, and level of success.”
Proactively Search Out, Repurpose, and Own the REALTOR® Value Proposition
Brokers have many opportunities to deliver value and, in return, receive recognition from their agent base by using NAR resources to improve their businesses. By keeping abreast of the ever-increasing tools and services that are available, brokers broaden the toolset they can deliver without increasing their costs.
To fully capitalize on REALTOR® benefits, a broker needs to make them an integral part of the business value proposition as opposed to an ancillary association benefit. Integration the legal guidance, research, industry news, technology services, partner benefits, and culture of professionalism into the brokerage value package makes for a more harmonious platform of tools that a broker can offer to agents. With this strategy in place, capturing agent appreciation and understanding of their broker’s value as a REALTOR® member becomes not a pitch for dues dollars, but a loyalty-building service offering.