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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

The secret to self improvement isn’t always about improvements

(EDITORIAL) Self improvement and happiness go hand in hand, but are you getting lost in the mechanics of self improvement?

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Think back to your New Year’s resolutions. Now that it’s summer, how many of them are you still keeping? Think about which ones stuck and what went by the wayside.

If you’re like most of us, you had big plans to make yourself better but didn’t stay the course. I’ve only managed to keep one of my resolutions, but it isn’t always easy.

I want to take a look at why we can’t keep our goals. I think we’re always on a journey of self-improvement. It’s easy to get obsessed with reading self-help books or trying to learn new things. We want to be better. This spring, I went through a Lent study with a group of people. Lent is a time of growth and self-reflection, just six weeks. And yet many of us are struggling to keep up with the daily reading or maintaining a fast of something we willingly chose to give up.

Why do we fail?

I think we fail because of three things.

You might think I’m going to say something like we fail because we don’t have willpower, but I think that is the farthest thing from the truth. I’m no therapist, but I’ve read the literature on alcohol and drug rehab. It’s not willpower that keeps a person sober. It’s community. One reason I think we fail at our goals is that we don’t have a cheerleading team. I believe that we need people on our side when we’re trying to improve.

Secondly, I think we fail because we want immediate results. We have this mentality that things should happen quickly. I’ve written about this before. It’s like you workout once and want that swimsuit body. We get frustrated when we don’t see results right away. So, we move on to the next pursuit.

Do your goals lead to happiness?

Failure can also be because self-improvement goals don’t always lead to being better person. We do a lot of things because “we should.” Your doctor might think you need to lose weight. Maybe your boss wants you to be a better speaker. Meditation should make you a better person. Maybe you ran a marathon, and now you think you need to run an ultramarathon because that’s what your best friend did.

What makes you happy isn’t always what you should be doing.

Your doctor might be right, but if you’re choosing to lose weight because you want to make your doctor happy, you’re probably not going to stick with a program. If you’re trying to learn Spanish to make your boss happy, again, you’re probably not going to enjoy it enough to really learn. If you’re chasing after goals just to say you’ve done it, what value do your achievements bring to your life?

If you’re obsessed because you “should” do something, you’re going to get burned out and fail. Whether it’s New Year’s resolutions, a self-improvement project or giving up meat for Lent, you need solid reasons for change. And if you give something a try that isn’t for you, don’t soldier on. You don’t need to spend years taking yoga classes if you don’t enjoy it.

When something becomes a burden rather than bringing benefits, maybe it’s time to take a look at why you’re doing it.

When you don’t know why you’re knocking yourself out to be better, maybe you need to figure out a reason. And if you feel as if what you’re doing isn’t enough, stop and figure out what will satisfy you.

I’ve been doing a lot of meal prepping on the weekends. Sometimes, I want to quit. But it pays off because I have less to do throughout the week. It might seem like a burden, but the benefits outweigh the burdens. I’ve been able to eat much healthier and use more vegetables in my meals, which is the one goal I’ve been able to keep. I have some good friends that help me stay on track, too. I choose to eat more vegetables for my health. I think it’s a combination of all these things that is helping me meet my goal this year.

Don’t give up on making yourself a better person. Just don’t become obsessed over the program. Look at the outcome. Are you pursing happiness on a treadmill or are you really working to find happiness?

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Opinion Editorials

What I wish I knew about finances in my 20s

(EDITORIAL) They say money makes the world go round. So, let’s discuss how to be smart with finances before it’s too late.

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Being in my early twenties, something I’m still getting used to is the fact that I’m making my own money. This is not to be confused with the babysitting money I was making 10 years ago.

Twice a month is the same routine: I get my paycheck and think, “Wooo! We goin’ out tonight!” but then I snap back to reality and think about what that money needs to be put towards. The smallest part of it going towards fun.

It’s been tricky to really start learning the ins and outs of finances. So, I do what I usually do in any type of learning process? I ask for advice.

I used to be fixated on asking those more advanced in age than I what they wish they knew when they were my age. Now that I’m determined to learn about finances, that question has been altered.

I reached out to a few professionals I know and trust and they gave me solid feedback to keep in mind about building my finances, about what they wish they had known in their 20s. However, I don’t think this only applies to those just starting out, and may be helpful for all of us.

“It’s important to simply know the value of money,” says human resource expert, Nicole Clark. “I think once you start earning your own money and are responsible for your housing, food, etc. you realize how valuable money is and how important it is to budget appropriately and make sure you’re watching your spending.”

Law firm executive director, Michael John, agrees with Clark’s sentiments. “I wish I had kept the value of saving in mind when I was younger,” explains John. “But, still remembering to balance savings while rewarding yourself and enjoying what your efforts produce.”

There are so many aspects of finance to keep in mind – saving, investing, budgeting, retirement plans, and so on and so forth.

In addition to suggesting to spend less than you make and to pay off your credit card in full each month, Kentucky-based attorney, Christopher Groeschen, explained the importance of a 401k.

“Every employee in America should be contributing everything they can into a 401k every year, up to the current $18,000 maximum per person,” suggests Groeschen.

“401ks present an opportunity for young investors to 1) learn about investing and 2) enter the market through a relatively low-risk vehicle (depending on your allocations),” he observes.

“An additional benefit is that 401ks also allow employees to earn FREE MONEY through employer matches,” he continues. “At the very least, every employee should contribute the amount necessary to earn the employer match (usually up to 4%) otherwise, you are giving up the opportunity to earn FREE MONEY. Earning FREE MONEY from your employer that is TAX FREE is much more important than having an extra Starbucks latte every day.”

Whether we like it or not, money is a core aspect of our daily lives. It should never be the most important thing, but we cannot deny that it is, in fact, an important thing. It’s tricky to learn, but investing in my future has become a priority.

This editorial was first published in May 2018.

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Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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