The world is abuzz with conversations about disruptive innovation—how the smartphone impacted the computer industry, how Hotwire, Expedia and other sites impacted the travel industry. Clearly, the most obvious example of disruptive innovation in the real estate industry right now is the recent Zillow Trulia merger.
Whether you realize it or not, disruptive innovation has been going on for hundreds of years, so (to a degree) we’ve come to expect it. But, what happens when there is disruption at my local Realtor® association? Will I reap the same benefits that I did when smartphone became a household item?
Local Association Causes Disruption
San Diego County has several Realtor® associations. In order to use our countywide Multiple Listing Service, Realtors® must be a member of one of those associations—the largest of which is San Diego Association of Realtors® (SDAR). I’m a member of North San Diego County Association of Realtors® (NSDCAR).
In the years since I joined the association, there have been at least two member votes as to whether NSDCAR should merge with other associations. Agents at NSDCAR vehemently objected, stating that NSDCAR has a significantly smaller population, members would not receive the personal service, and moreover, the large pool of assets owned by NSDCAR might be used to offset another organization’s debts.
So, NSDCAR continued as an autonomous organization. The association offers free and paid educational opportunities, training, and other membership benefits, including discounts on a number of things. With the help of many Realtor®, affiliate, and associated professional volunteers, NSDCAR schedules weekly marketing sessions at several locations around North San Diego County. The weekly marketing sessions include pitches for the Broker Open Houses (held immediately after the meeting), opportunities to share new listings not on tour and buyer needs, collections for association-endorsed charities, and information about what is going on in the industry.
I’ve been attending these meetings for years. As a Broker, I’ve found that if my agents write offers on properties listed by regular attendees these meetings, we are more likely to get those offers accepted. It’s also a great way to stay in touch with the real estate market. It is also a perfect, easy opportunity to network and create new business connections.
Then, all of a sudden, the disruption begins again—expect this time we are not voting on merger. Monday August 4th, the Board of Directors (without consent of the members) voted to change the format for these weekly marketing sessions. Effective September 1, the only affiliates or associated professionals (also members of the association) who will be permitted to attend the meetings will be those that actually sponsor the meeting (read: pay for food or room rental). According to a recent email from NSDCAR, the goal is to make the sessions “work harder” for our agent members. The email continues, “The singular goal is to devote more time each week to the primary purpose outlined above while offering Affiliates and Associated Professionals who sponsor those sessions more exclusivity and closer contact with REALTOR® members attending.” Notably, those Realtor® partners would not be permitted to attend the Broker Open Houses after the marketing session, either.
As of July 31, 2014, NSDCAR had 4862 Realtor® members, 276 Associated Professionals, and 138 Affiliates. While the non-Realtor® members are not an overwhelming bunch, they comprise a large portion of the members of the meeting, contribute significantly to our charities on a weekly basis, and rely on those meetings to network with their clients (the Realtors®). In the state of California, for example, those individuals who sell title insurance have significant legal limitations as to what they can pay for, and they are not permitted to contribute finances to sponsor value events. Since that change five years ago, the marketing session has been their lifeblood.
When Disruption Hits Home
In order to be an effective real estate professional, I need to leave my drama at the door. That is, I cannot waste my time focusing on activities that disrupt my ability to grow my business or the businesses of agents at my office. One of the key ways that I build my business is through relationships—not only with agents and brokers but also with affiliates and associated professionals. By shutting those people out and bringing this drama front and center, the association seems to be disrupting our industry and taking me away from the activities that I want to do each day.
Consider the impact of disruptive innovation. The smartphone changed the course of communication and significantly impacted landline usage. Online travel sites managed to reduce the number of working travel agents. But what about at my Realtor® association? How will this association disruption impact me?
It is an interesting dilemma: While disruptive innovation may lead to the downfall of the incumbent (as they did in my examples above), how does this play out in the association? Will it be the downfall of their Realtor® members, affiliates, and associated professionals? Or are they only disrupting themselves?
Ontario Real Estate Association launches quirky quiz for real estate pros
(BROKERAGE NEWS) Now you can get your real estate geek on with this quiz aimed specifically at real estate professionals. In Canada. But you can play along too.
Pop quiz time:
Who loves quizzes?
D. Everyone, including Canadians
I’m banking on D, because seriously, who doesn’t love quizzes? Even when you know they’re a timesuck and you can keep retaking them until you get a satisfactory answer because I am in Ravenclaw, NOT Slytherin, okay Pottermore?
Now you can get your real estate geek on with quizzes aimed specifically at real estate professionals. In Canada. But you can play along too.
OREA’s quirky quiz
The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) launched a fun quiz for Realtors to get members engaged in their community in a surprisingly uncheesy way.
OREA recently released What Kind of Realtor Athlete Are You, a quiz designed to help Realtors gain insight into their work style. The site notes, “the things that make for a successful athlete, such as dedication, training, focus, intelligence, and a solid work ethic also make for a successful Realtor.”
Congrats to me, I’m an endurance runner that works hard to prepare my clients for the big event.
Even as someone who will take every clickbait quiz offered, OREA’s was pretty entertaining. As a non-Realtor, it gave me some lighthearted insight into the work Realtors put in with their clients. The quiz was well-designed and surprisingly entertaining. And not an in-your-face teamwork required-reading forced-fun kind of way.
Simple gestures like this can help Realtor members stay excited about their jobs. Or provide something that’s technically work related to do on a lunch break. Check them out for yourself to discover your hidden Realtor athlete skills or historical Canadian real estate knowledge.
High profile CEO, Russ Bergeron exits MRED after four years
It now appears that long-time industry vet, Russ Bergeron, is no longer with the Midwest Real Estate Data LLC, which operates the nation’s largest MLS.
Well known industry veteran, Russ Bergeron appears to no longer be the President and CEO at Midwest Real Estate Data LLC (MRED), which operates the largest MLS in the nation.
Regarding the reason for his departure, MRED tells us that they have “no comment at this time,” and Bergeron has not responded to our requests for comment, and has been silent on Twitter since June 19th (which is very abnormal for his account). Bergeron’s Twitter bio is now blank and the URL offered points to LinkedIn, which proclaims that he is the Former President & CEO of the company, listing no current employer.
Four years is not an alarmingly short period for any corporate leader, particularly after his serving 17 years as the CEO of SoCalMLS, but for this vocal figure in the community, the radio silence and updated LinkedIn account has our interest piqued.
Will Bergeron be one of the latest recruits to the Zillow machine, or is he going solo? Did he exit for greener pastures, or is there friction between him and his previous employer? At this time, there is no telling what his next move will be.
We will update this story as we learn more.
For those unfamiliar, here is a bit bout Russ Bergeron, per his LinkedIn bio:
Russ Bergeron, former President & CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data LLC (MRED), a real estate data aggregator and distributor that provides the largest multiple listing service in the country (by listing volume) to over 40,000 customers with comprehensive property information encompassing northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin and northwest Indiana.
Russ is known throughout the world for his leadership in bringing technological advances to the multiple listing industry. In recognition of his leadership and innovation, he has been named one of the nation’s 100 Most Influential Leaders in Real Estate for the years 2009 through 2014 by Inman News. Under Russ’ direction, MRED was recognized by Inman News as 2013’s Most Innovative MLS. In January, 2014, Russ was named to the first Swanepoel Power 200 (SP200), a recognition of the 200 most powerful people in residential real estate in 2013.
Russ presently serves on the Boards of Directors for the Council of MLSs (CMLS); Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO); and MLS Domains Association (dotMLS). Russ currently sits on the realtor.com, Supra, CoreLogic/Realist®, and NAR MLS Executives Advisory Boards. He is a member of the Realtors® Property Resource (RPR) Advisory Council and has served on the Trulia Advisory Board and Illinois Association of Realtors® Strategic Planning Committee.
Prior to joining MRED in 2010, Russ was the founding CEO of Southern California Multiple Listing Service (SoCalMLS), a position he had held for seventeen years. During his tenure, SoCalMLS earned and maintained an enviable reputation for excellence in technology and service while membership grew from 7,000 to a high of over 55,000.
For more than ten years, he was a member of the management team at Planning Research Corporation (now CoreLogic). There he held several key positions including Product Manager, Manager of Systems Design and Development and National Installations Manager for a wide range of MLS-related products.
State association turns the tables, begins grading agent rating sites
Agent rating sites have long hoped to better connect consumers with qualified agents, but in Pennsylvania, they’ve decided to grade the graders.
If you are tired of complaining about bogus agent rating sites, you’ll love what the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors (PAR) has just published. After years of research, PAR has just published a report card on the major agent rating sites. Surprisingly, some sites actually do a good job of rating agent performance… not surprisingly, some don’t.
For years, the Realtor organization has been trying to decide what to do about the public’s demand for agent ratings. After all, other industries – teachers, doctors, restaurants, lawyers, etc. – were already subject to public ratings, why not Realtors?
At all levels of the Realtor organization, members have debated this issue. Should the organization set up it’s own system, partner with a third party vendor to ensure unbiased data, or just let someone else do it and deal with the problems? These are the exact questions PAR wrestled with before deciding the marketplace was already flush with rating sites.
PAR decided the ship had already sailed on the Realtor organizations’ opportunity to set the standard for agent ratings. Instead, it seemed like the best thing to do was to sort through the morass of systems and help agents and the public know which sites provided the best, most realistic ratings.
Why Should We Care?
Ratings are, at the very least, influential to consumers. To agents, they are often irritating. As far as professionalism goes, they are critical. I have been writing about and championing agent ratings for years. In my personal opinion, we have to succumb to ratings if we really want Realtors to be judged as professionals.
Also, for years, I have said that we need to embrace ratings and make sure they are done correctly instead of allowing bogus sites to do it for us. After several attempts to have the Realtor organization be the agent ratings leader, I have realized it is better to leave agent ratings up to others. While some sites are weak and not realistic, a few others have gotten it mostly right.
I still think we, the Realtor organization, could do a better, more accurate job of rating agent performance. I realize that politically, this would be near impossible for us to accomplish. There are no other trade organizations that I know of that have offered the public a rating system for their members, so why should the Realtor organization be the first?
A Cry for Professionalism
Despite the fact that many members of the Realtor organization cry for an increase in agent professionalism, very few have been willing to accept an agent rating system. The best example is the Houston Association, but even that system is optional for agents. Nowhere is there a truly open, mandatory rating system that is embraced by the Realtor organization.
Sure, some agent rating systems can be gamed or even misleading, but what other alternatives do consumers have? At least now we have a report card for the rating systems that help both agents and the public to separate the good rating systems from the bad.
These rating systems may not be perfect, but they are a step in the right direction toward separating professional agents, from those that still need some work. While I still think the Realtor organization could have done a better job at rating agent professionalism, it is comforting to know that some of the existing sites at least provide us with a decent evaluation.
Now, we need to make sure agents are monitoring these sites. The public will be relying on this data, good or bad, so knowing which sites provide the best data is key to protecting your professional image.
[notification type=”note” title=”Special Note From The Editor:”]In addition to PAR’s report card on agent rating sites, you can offer your own ratings of the ratings sites (that’s one heck of a tongue twister) by visiting the Realuoso Expo on Agent Ratings Sites. More companies will be added in coming days as The Expo grows.[/notification]
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