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Let’s Be Part of the Solution

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Stefanie Hahn

Stefanie Hahn

By Stefanie Hahn

At the recent REtechSouth conference in Atlanta I had the chance to see Robert Hahn of 7DS Associates speak on a subject he titled, “A Time for Greatness.”  This presentation was geared to association execs and REALTORS® who are leaders within their organizations – a group well represented in the RETSO crowd.  Since YPN has given me the opportunity to be a leader in my own state I felt compelled to attend and scribbled mad notes throughout the two-part session.

Let me say two things right away…

1.) Rob and I are not related.

2.) This is my interpretation of the presentation based solely on my notes.  If you want a deeper look, read Rob’s post-event blog post or talk to him directly – he likes to engage with others in this field.

The first thing I noticed is that Rob has little hope for our generation if things don’t change – not fatalistic, but just not hopeful.  The other thing I noticed is that Rob is really smart.  Combine those two things (little hope and big brains) and I knew this was something that had to be shared and something we could work on.

Rather than focus on the industry issues many of us already know exist (and during his talk he covered all the favorites including low industry standards, high turn-over rates, and public perception) I think we should use Rob’s talk as a clarion call to think about possible solutions.  That is what I have chosen to do.  I know others are too – in fact many associations are already considering new directions – but in this case perhaps doing it from a YPN perspective makes sense.

One of the first suggestions Rob made was to reform governance within the REALTOR® associations.  Perhaps organizations don’t need all these people to make decisions.  This one hits close to home, of course, since I just managed to earn a seat on my state board of directors.  I must agree with Rob though that many associations should consider whether longer terms are necessary (after all, just how much can you accomplish knowing you have just 365 days to get it done) and should give more thought to whether direct elections are the way to go.  Certainly from a YPN perspective, knowing you can “be a part of the process” from the outset may encourage more direct involvement.

Rob also advocates that local associations/boards who own their MLS service consider divesting.  As someone who uses technology in every phase of her life, I can see where this may have merit and would probably create some new opportunities for growth and technology advancement (for the record, my primary MLS is not association-owned).  It certainly warrants a look if service and communication needs are going to continue to grow at the pace we have seen over the last several years.  In today’s “share everything” world, having the best MLS is only going to make us all more successful.

Next consolidate – merge and merge again.  Take advantage of the advancements in technology, collaboration and member communication.  While I see pros and cons on both sides of this argument, I like Rob’s “ward captain” model whereby smaller groups get the representation they deserve while grabbing the benefits of the larger unit.  For YPN’ers this is a great idea, because the creation of new entities from old ones provides for new opportunities, new leadership, and new needs – all of which we are eager to provide.  Whether it is a viable option (actually whether it could even be considered in many places) we’ll leave for another time.

Choose what NOT to do – Not every group is good at doing every task – no matter their size.  Rob encouraged the group of association leaders to consider just what they do well and to maximize that value while leaving those things that may need help in the hands of others.  Sounds natural, right?  As a YPN leader who talks with many associations around the country about operational/technology issues, I know there are a ton of groups trying to manage the things they may not do well.  I encourage you to start looking at your abilities and see where others (especially your YPN’ers) can help.

Thank you Rob for the inspiration…for making our generation know that we have work to do if we intend to make real estate our career and intend to have strong associations that help us grow.  We can’t just watch from the sidelines; this really is “A Time for Greatness.”

Stefanie Hahn is the education director for Coldwell Banker Hearthside, REALTORS® in Malvern, Pa. Visit her Web site: www.StefanieHahn.com.

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Comments 3

  1. Stephanie- Thanks for sharing your notes. I sat on my local Realtor association a few years back and completely agree that longer terms are necessary. My position had a multi-year term, but the officers only had single year terms and it was painful watching them dance the same dance every year. We seemed to re-write mission statements constantly and have meetings about meetings without actually getting anything done. The leadership only seemed to understand the process the last few months of their term.

  2. Good information, Stephanie, but I would have to disagree on two specific points. I think the limited term is critical. We have our businesses to run, and personalities can get in the way of how an association is run if people linger and impose a “my way or the highway” agenda. Your AE is the necessary line of continuity. If an association reinvents the wheel every year, the problem is a lack of planning and goal setting. The limited time forces people to get down to business because they can not possibly put things off if they want to accomplish things, Also, they won’t burn out. By the end of my term as board president, I felt I had taken things to the next step and was leaving things in good hands for the next Board to take things into the future. I had had just enough. I still liked and respected the great people with whom I had worked so closely, and was eager to find other ways to stay actively involved in my association.

    As far as Boards who own their own MLS;s divesting, I could not possibly disagree more! At NAR round tables, the complaints were rampant among boards that had gone that route. They had no leverage to rein in unethical behaviors, and also lost many members who no longer saw the need to join the Realtor Association. Almost unanimously, these Boards regretted the decision to go non-Board owned, and were envious of our Board’s decision to keep our MLS under our firm control. Keep the camel’s nose out of the tent.

  3. Hi Geordie – thanks for commenting. They do seem a bit short to get anything done in my opinion too.

    Hi Anne – thank you for sharing your thoughts as well. Always good to hear from others who have been in the trenches. I’m glad that your experience as a board president was rewarding and productive. I definitely see what you mean in regard to burning out … and really, I don’t have the answer here. On the MLS divesting issue … I am lucky enough to work for a company that spans 3 MLS’s – 2 that are board-owned and 1 that is not. Of late, it seems that the board-owned MLS’s are struggling much more than the independent MLS, but again – I don’t have the answers.

    Rob’s session was inspiring to me because he was willing to talk about the ugly and uncomfortable issues and he opened a dialog for many of us in the audience that we can carry back to our local boards.

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