AEs: Our Professional Future

March 1, 2001

As REALTORS®, we’re looking to our local and state associations for more services than ever before. Our REALTOR® associations serve as our business partners, information sources, educators, and support centers as we navigate through an increasingly competitive industry.

Our association executives have provided leadership, guidance, and stick-to-itiveness over the past several years to bring the real estate industry and its members, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the cyberage. We salute them; they’ve earned their spurs.

In other areas, the AEs have been similarly supportive of our industry. They’ve worked hard, and successfully in most cases, to ensure that our professional organizations are on sound financial footing. They’ve encouraged members to get involved in key political and regulatory issues, both locally and statewide. They’ve provided us with the best possible education at the local level. While they were doing all that, they had to move their associations away from MLS books to computers.

But, as the man said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” New challenges will continue to surface, and our AEs will need our full support, training, and resources so that they can continue to help our industry thrive. One of their challenges, for example, will be to lead us up the technology path--not just to ensure our computer literacy but to facilitate our skilled use of technology tools. That will require them to offer multiple tiers of training in the use of such tech tools as e-mail, Web sites, and handheld computers.

And that’s not all. By the first of next year, AEs will have to initiate new mandatory ethics training for all members and ensure compliance with the new ethics requirements. AEs themselves will also have to take new training in enforcing ethics and mediating disputes between members, a required service in 2002 for all REALTOR® associations.

Finally, there are the complicated and politically hot issues surrounding smart growth, which can be handled only at a local level.

When the AEs meet at their annual institute in March, they’ll be discussing what they need to lead our organizations in the next five to 10 years. They’ll be looking to us to respond with the appropriate resources so that they can carry out their important duties. Let’s support these professionals. I believe the AEs are the key to the future of our industry.

Richard A. Mendenhall is a fifth-generation real estate pro from Columbia, Mo. and was 2001 president of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

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