Photo by andydr
Sometimes people surprise me.
I mean really surprise me. It happened today.
I’ve been having a conversation with Greg Swan over at Bloodhound Blog and I’m amazed at the misconceptions about the relationships of each of us to our local, state and national associations.
While there is a relationship between the local ,state , and national associations, there is no conspiracy among them to do anything.
Each local Association, and each State Association is comprised of individual volunteer members who choose the direction of their particular organization, and staff members who facilitate the decisions made by those volunteers. Every Association has different volunteer leadership and different staff. All of them operate in what they perceive to be the best interests of their Association. And all of them are different.
Those members are the same people that Blog and comment and tweet. No one is disenfranchised, and I don’t know of any association on any level that doesn’t welcome members who wish to volunteer their time.
But it seems that to some people , these groups are not opportunities to influence or improve the the industry , they are punching bags. Places to vent your frustration over the market, or a problem you’re having with a software vendor. The post at BHB was about standard forms, and the current vendor used by the Arizona Association of REALTORS.
Each State Association has their own system for creating and disseminating forms, crafted by their members (that means any practitioners that were interested in the Standard Forms Process) and mandated by their members though their governance. In Pennsylvania, there is a choice of vendors, or you can buy pre-printed forms.
Before states got involved in creating these standard forms (which was during my time as a real estate professional), smaller real estate companies used forms printed by local legal forms printers (non real estate related entities that are probably still in business in some form) and larger real estate firms created their own real estate contracts. That option still exists. – If you have a problem with your state’s forms, don’t use them -hire an attorney to draw your own forms and publish them on any platform you wish.
Of course, there is the other consideration – that the State Associations have managed risk reduction for their members by creating these standard forms, and it is probably a good business practice to use the form in case you are sued some day, or need to defend an action that you took in completing the form. The trade-off is if you use the group’s products, the group (not any individual) gets to determine what the form says and how it is disseminated. But it is a reasonable trade off – the same trade off that takes place in any group effort.
You are the Association
I always felt impacted by Eldridge Cleaver’s statement, “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem” There is no Monster in the Industry- neither NAR nor your State Association nor your local Association are out to harm you. Everyone of them is a group that you can contribute to and influence if you wished. They would probably welcome your efforts.
I believe that by not participating in the Association, you surrender your ability to make changes to the group. To me, the crucial issue is about participation. If you want to change things, be a participant in the change. If you are willing to let someone else drive, don’t complain about where the ride takes you.
Associations are driven by their members, and the direction chosen by those members is facilitated by their staff. But if you aren’t present at the meetings, if you don’t volunteer to create forms or choose vendors, then IMHO I think that you lose credibility when you complain about the direction of the organization.
And if you’re going to complain, even without being credible, can you at least get the facts right?