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Opinion Editorials

Would you join the Association if you had free access to the MLS?

With new poll results in, we found that agents were very vocal on one specific topic, so let’s dive deeper into it.

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Applying local logic to the national scene

Chicago Agent magazine recently sent out a comprehensive survey to our Chicagoland database of agents and posted it for our readers to take on our website. Our goal? To find out how things are changing and, hopefully, improving in the industry for our recent “Truth About Agents” issue. For instance, agents are making a higher average annual salary (it increased to $95k in 2011 from about $70k in 2010) and are spending more of their incomes on marketing (5.8 percent in 2011 vs 4.9 percent in 2010), which suggests to us that, in Chicagoland at least, we are creeping back towards a housing recovery.

But one of the more interesting questions we asked agents was if they had access to the MLS, would they still join an association? In 2010, 64 percent of agents said they would still join the association, and last year, 67 percent said they would. Keep in mind, NAR raised its dues last February, and still there was a 3-percentage point increase in favor of joining an association.

Agents were very vocal on the topic

Since agents were vocal about how they felt about that, as well as recently over an investment in Chicago that no one knew about, if a situation like this ever arose, what benefits that NAR does provide would agents miss out on? Here’s a quick list:

  • Financial protection: Realtors Federal Credit Union merged with Northwest Federal Credit Union to fill the “unique” financial needs of agents everywhere, according to NAR’s website.
  • Partner Benefits: there are various affiliates that work with NAR to give agents discounts at FedEx and FedEx Office, Budget car rental, phone lead tracker Ifbyphone and Lowe’s, among many others, to help agents in their business.
  • Insurance: NAR offers plans for individual agents and their families for health, cars and homes.
  • Educational opportunities: NAR not only has a library with thousands of digital books, audiobooks, instructional videos, journals, reports and guides, but the association also provides free monthly webinars, various courses and its own Realtor University to further agent education.
  • Advocacy: The chance to get involved in government affairs and help develop, advance, and implement the federal legislative objectives of agents and the association.

Even though members gripe about an increase in dues and wonder how exactly NAR is spending that money, at least according to Chicago agents, the benefits NAR provides is still worth hanging onto the membership, and clearly, people don’t typically join NAR only for MLS access.

But, since AG is a national website, what about the rest of the agents nationwide? Would you still join the association, even if you had access to the MLS without it? Why or why not?

Stephanie Sims is the managing editor of Agent Publishing, which currently has online publications in Chicago, Houston and Miami. With expertise in evaluating housing markets, website content and social media strategy, and reporting information agents want to know about, Stephanie can be found at her desk with coffee that got cold or not eating lunch because she’s busy planning editorial assignments and interviews for the Agent Publishing websites.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. RussBergeronMRED

    August 28, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    I don’t believe the original question included the word free.  This is a strangely worded question.  I think it would have been more effective had it been written as “If you did not have to join the association in order to gain access to the MLS would you still join the association?”.
     

  2. hempler

    August 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    No. Do I really need to say anything else?

  3. Eric Hempler

    August 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    no

  4. Katie Willson Cosner

    August 28, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Why not ?

  5. Velda Miller

    August 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Probably not.

  6. Catherine Del Rey Kolodin

    August 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    no

  7. Joe Loomer

    August 29, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Screw NAR, I’m moving to Chicago!  A better than 30% increase in average salary over ONE YEAR??!?!   Either the sampling size was so small as to make the results skewed, or a completely different class of agent took that survey.   As for the actual question?  Probably not. 
     
    Navy Chief, Navy Pride.  

  8. beachtowne

    August 29, 2012 at 9:15 am

    The question, as phrased, is meaningless and seems to have been so as to get a high percentage of surveyed agents to answer “Yes”…
    The question – “If you access to the MLS, would you still join the association?”
     
    It should have been, “If you access to the MLS, would you still (PAY $400/YEAR TO) join the association?

    • Erin Round

      September 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm

       @beachtowne Agreed, its two different beasts

  9. rqd

    August 29, 2012 at 10:12 am

    How many agents collect a “salary”?   I sense the answer provided may have been gross revenue before expenses which may or may not include agency split.   The article also mentions marketing expenses were up over 18% from the prior year.  Did all expenses go up at a similar rate?

  10. RussBergeronMRED

    August 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    In the words of that great philosopher Dr. Gregory House “Everybody lies”.  And nobody lies more than people taking a survey trying to either say the right thing (of course I watch PBS) or inflate the truth to appear more successful, profitable, smarter…

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Opinion Editorials

Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for

(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.

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Man holding money in the dark representing false salary transparency.

It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.

Don’t be this employer

User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.

Don’t obfuscate wage information

Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.

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Opinion Editorials

3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)

(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.

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Clean work desk representing the need to declutter.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization

(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?

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Women in a meeting around table, inclusion as a part of stopping gender discrimination representing invisible work.

Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.

Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.

Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.”  Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.

There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.

What we want to do:

  1. Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
  2. Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
  3. Distribute the work equitably.

Here is a simple example:

Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.

Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.

Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.

Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.

Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.

You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs.  According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.

*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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