Saturday, July 31, 2010

Last Day for 10% MLS Discounts

Today is the last day to get 10% off your MLS invoice. You can easily pay online by clicking this link  or stop by the Board today. The R-Store and the MLS are open- they can pass your check on to the accounting department and mark it received today.

Take a minute to check out the okmar website. We have used your suggestions and comments to revamp it.

Finally, it is an amazing OK gorgeous day today- get outside  and enjoy it while you can; weather reports are predicting 100+ degree heat for all of next week.

Monday, July 26, 2010

OKCMAR & Politics- SAY WHAT???


Yesterday my staff received an angry phone call from a member. She was upset that OKCMAR was involved in politics- and had invited an NAR endorsed candidate and local OKCMAR member to speak at the RCA luncheon. Her words, paraphrased"OKCMAR should not be involved in politics" & "If I would have known that my RPAC dollars were going towards supporting candidates I would not have contributed". While I respectfully appreciate her opinion I can not help but do a "Say What??? When one joins a trade association they are joining a group of people who band together to promote their industry- that is what an association exists for. Group pricing benefits and ancillary services, such as MLS, are just that benefits and services, they are not the purpose or higher goal of the group/association.

To say REALTORS® and their group force as an association/trade association should not be involved in politics is to say we have no interest in ensuring the quality of life in Oklahoma (through economic development, affordable housing, private property rights, environmental sustainability) and preserving our industry and ability to make a living. RPAC Is Your Insurance of Continued Ability To Do Business and Insurance that the American Dream of Home Ownership Continues and is Attainable to the Largest Group. Our code of ethics is based on the widest distribution of land to the widest population. It is what separates the United States of America from every other country in that the average citizen can own not only their own home but the land it sits on, a freedom we all take for granted but very little of the world enjoys.

If REALTORS® weren't involved in politics the first time home buyers credit which stimulated millions of dollars in home sales nationally during the worst recession in decades was a direct result of REALTORS® (and their associations) in politics. REALTORS® in politics is what created the second time buyers move up credit. I myself spoke on your behalf to our federal legislators to convince them how imperative an expanded credit was to our economy. These credits bolstered our industry & the Oklahoma economy (and OKC REALTORS® home sales) in the face of economic crisis.

 It was REALTORS® in politics that pressured congress to extend the national flood insurance program last month safeguarding homes across the USA. It was REALTORS® in politics that forced Mortgage Modification programs that kept millions of Americans in their homes and out of foreclosure. It was REALTORS® in politics that prevented sales tax on real estate agents' commissions. If it weren't for REALTORS® in politics the mortgage interest deduction which gives great incentive to own rather than rent, would have been eliminated decades ago. Not only do REALTORS® need to be involved in politics to safeguard the American Dream of home ownership if it weren't for the REALTORS® the many freedoms (talk to me about eminent domain laws), rights and privileges we take for granted today would not exist. Please do not tell me REALTORS® do not belong in politics. Legislative advocacy is one of the core components of our corporate charter with the state of Oklahoma and our non-profit status with the IRS. To fully understand the association role in political involvement I urge readers to visit NAR's REALTOR® Action Center.

As to the second part of the member's complaint I can't help but question the member's understanding of what RPAC is. I can only take responsibility for those members who have gone through orientation since my employ, where we do make it very clear what RPAC is. I try to touch everyone else through the OKCMAR eblasts, website and quarterly magazine and this blog, as to what RPAC is and only hope that they read it.

First RPAC exists to fund political campaigns and issues mobilization. I am not sure what the member thought RPAC was for but RPAC stands for REALTOR® Political Action Committee. 30 cents of every RPAC dollar stays here locally at OKCMAR and can not be used for state or federal elections. What this means is that OKCMAR can not contribute to  our own member, Mike Thompson's campaign- we can only financially support campaigns on the local level. Last year OKCMAR donations went to a local REALTOR® running for school board, a local REALTOR® currently in office as OK County Treasurer, all 3 county commissioners, Mayor Mick Cornett and OK County Clerk. 35 cents goes to OAR to fund state candidates (like the governor) and .35 goes to NAR of which they will use some to fund federal campaigns, such as that as REALTOR® Mike Thompson running for US congress.

REALTORS® are 1.2 million as of last count. OKCMAR and its MLS are 4000 REALTORS®. There is no possible way that any candidate will be the 100% choice that all members want to support and agree with their politics. Please read about the goal of the REALTOR® Party, which is bi-partisan, at the REALTOR® Action Center. Sometimes the REALTORS®' RPAC contribution will go towards a candidate they personally do not approve of; however the candidates that NAR chooses to endorse and fund ALL are REALTOR®-friendly and are identified as espousing the value of home ownership & private property rights. NAR specifically endorses REALTOR® candidates because there is no one who can understand our industry and how important it is to the American society quite like another REALTOR® working the trenches- just like you. NAR is committed to supporting, with RPAC dollars, REALTOR® candidates. Learn more at the REALTOR® Action Center.

On a final note (and please dear readers forgive the soapbox) perhaps today, 1/3 of your RPAC investment went to a candidate you were passionately against for whatever reason, but realize that tomorrow, 1/3 of someone else's RPAC investment will go towards the person you strongly believe in but they do not. I am 100% confident that the National Association of REALTORS® [NAR] thoroughly investigates and analyzes every federal  candidate running for their alignment with the REALTOR® party and RPAC dollars are well spent. I know your OKCMAR legislative committee does and commits its share of the RPAC dollars to those local candidates who espouse the value of homeownership and private property rights. Also remember each and every one of us holds the ultimate power in that we have the freedom to vote- that is where individually we can make a difference.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kudos to the OKCMAR RCA

I had a wonderful phone call with NAR volunteer leadership yesterday. Mike Tharp, Vice Chair for the 2010 NAR Commercial Leadership Forum, has asked me to present at the NAR national convention this November. It was amazing just to talk to him for an hour about what his Commercial Overlay Board is doing in Portland, OR. In one year he took their membership from 300 to 600! We spoke of how important RPAC is to the commercial REALTOR® and that how current NAR legislative initiatives, if successful, should help stimulate commercial financing. I personally think the initiative of increasing the commercial paper asset limit for credit unions is singularly the most important in getting liquidity back into commercial financing. He had a lot of questions about our RCA and our CIE. After our discussion, he indicated that he understood why OKCMAR had been brought to him as an RCA to feature as a success story to the national membership and also to be comfortable that I would be a prepared & knowledgeable speaker. When I listened to him speak with pride and passion about his commercial industry and their board it brought back home how incredibly essential association-engaged REALTORS® are to our industry and to the US economy. I think back three years ago to that small core group of RCA leadership and just am astounded at what they have been able to accomplish over the last three years. The RCA is having its commercial luncheon at Ted's on May Ave from 11-12 next Wednesday -it may not be too late to attend and learn what this group is contributing to OKCMAR but I suggest calling no later than Monday morning.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

CEO Commentary:

Has anyone ever seen the old movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles with the late John Candy & Steve Martin? For those of you who haven't I would highly recommend renting it for a good laugh. Sometimes I think I am destined to re-live parts of that movie in my life over and over. Having just come back from another trip I look back with a roll of my eyes- I am in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand the value of the national training I receive and how it directly impacts the service proposition and delivery to the membership but sometimes......

This particular trip to Indianapolis to participate in the REAL TRENDS AE Advisory Council was relatively sparse in its P,T & A moments but had a few.  As I was getting ready to leave the week before last I pulled up my itinerary, literally as I was leaving for the airport (shame on me for waiting so long to do this) , and realized that my return flight was leaving at 6am Wednesday morning but I only had booked the hotel through Monday night. Quick phone call, not really, to the hotel and it is all fixed but for some reason he can't just add to the reservation he has to make a separate one? Does anyone else wonder what takes those hotel people so long to check you in? I am always like, "What are they doing? What takes so long? Is it in secret code? Does every hotel computer move at the speed of a glacier?"

I had taken a few days off before the seminar began to stay with my son in Bloomington. He drove an hour to pick me up from the airport. And of course my phone is dead when I arrive so he spent another half hour circling the airport. I did see him drive right past me! I ran after him like an idiot but to no avail.  Why was my phone dead? Because although I had purchased my tickets 3 months in advance and had business class which lets me choose my seats (I am horrifically claustrophobic and although I don't mind a middle seat I just can't sit in the back rows of the plane) for some reason Frontier had bumped me to , you guessed it, the back of the plane. While I was able to fix this for my current flight- getting my original seat request of row 2 (so if my seat was available why did they bump me?), the attendant could change my OK & Denver flights but not the return flights- I need to call the 800 number.

After 29 minutes on hold, I know this because the I-phone has a timer on calls, I go up to the attendant and ask why they just can't change my return flight seats and am told "I am too busy getting ready to board this flight to help you -call the 800# " at which I put my phone on speaker and show him the timer and said I could not get through". His response, they are very busy at registration and walks away. Okay I guess they are busy bumping people from their seats. At minute 39 I put the phone on speakerphone and let all their customers listen to Frontier expound how their customer service is superior to all others and I keep it going until the ticket agent brings me a different phone number to call. Just as I am taking the number at 53 minutes Frontier finally answers. Personally I think they were waiting to see if I would just give up and hang up. "No problem Miss Kennedy- we have you back in row 2 for your return flights" So why did they bump me in the first place? A mystery only Frontier will ever know the answer to. Upon arrival in Indianapolis my phone is dead.

My luggage arrives in baggage claim with a huge new stain on the front- par for the course. I spend two delightful vacation days and Saturday with my son and his girlfriend. My agenda starts Sunday afternoon so we enjoy a nice drive into Indy. I get into the hotel- I have no reservation. "We have a reservation for you arriving Tuesday Night and leaving Wednesday"- the clerk says to me cheerfully. Why do they do that? I am obviously standing before them on Sunday- why do I get that look that says "Your Turn". So then I must ask, "Well I am here now, I had a reservation, I added a day to it, the clerk said it was no problem." The response- "he must have changed your reservation" - Your turn- "Well could I get a room today?" Finally the lightbulb goes off in her head that perhaps I need to stay in their hotel tonight. Thankfully, they honored the REAL TRENDS block room rate for the three night stay. but I had to ask, it wasn't offered.

After much learning and exchange with my fellow AE's I return to my hotel room to pack and am a little nervous about how early my flight is. I am flying on a Wednesday and I know that is "commuter day" having missed a 6am Wed flight once before. It is a 30 minute drive to the airport. So I set my alarm for 3:45am to make sure I don't miss the cab I had ordered a day ahead to arrive at 4:30am. I write my travel report for the Board of Directors. Kelli McNeal, our OKCMAR Communications & Marketing Director, has sent me an updated version of the OKCMAR annual report. There are several "holes" she needs me to fill and I need to proof the document for accuracy and for typos. I look at the clock it is 12:18am when I finish the report. Of course, now I am worried I will oversleep. I turn off all the lights and the TV and proceed to stay away awake- the last time I look at the clock it is 2:53am. So with under an hour of sleep I head down to the lobby to catch the cab. I will sleep on the plane I tell myself. Ha!

I arrive at the airport to learn my flight has been delayed one hour- I think wistfully of the 60 minutes of sleep I could have enjoyed. I left my neck pillow in the office and am too cheap to buy another one and it is like 30 degrees on the plane and I am dressed for OKC return weather. I ask the attendant for a blanket. His response which I guess was supposed to be humorous "Oh honey we haven't offered blankets since gas was $30 a barrel".  So I chattered and shivered sleepless to Denver. For my 2.5 hour layover. I did not sleep on the return flight although I desperately tried. I get into OKC at 1:12pm. The travel gods throw me an appeasement, my stained luggage is the very first off the track. I am so happy to be back in OKC! As I am bringing in my luggage to my house I hear my son's girlfriend's voice in my head, "You are so lucky to get to travel as part of your job!" I think I will buy her Planes, Trains & Automobiles for Christmas.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Your 2011 Nomination Slate

We are very pleased and excited about this year's slate of Board of Directors nominees. For several years now the board has been working on diversifying its body. It has been a consistent goal to have representation geographically and also in business model. As noted the current board has representatives of large, mid-size (what I like to call in Wisconsinese- boutiques) and small or one-man brokerages, franchise and non-franchise firms and non-traditional business models. As the board has become more diverse over the years this year the committee focus was on being inclusive of membership. As many may note last year we added an affiliate seat to the Board of Directors, ensuring this very important segment of our membership has a voice at the table. Also the commercial REALTOR® has a predominate role and guaranteed voting seat on the board. This partnership with our commercial alliance has proven integral in increased reach and membership for OKCMAR.

This year was a challenge due to switching to a three year cycle, replacing 4 directors each year instead of 6 (a side benefit is longer terms allowing directors to grow into their role), and the OKCMAR bylaws requirement of 75% owner or managing broker represented on the slate. In simple English 6 of the 8 nominees need to be principals in their firm (owner, designated REALTOR, or managing  broker). This leaves only two positions open for non-principals. There is also the commitment to move LT7 alumni into the nomination slate.

The nominating committee excelled within these parameters and challenges. Of the two non-principals placed on the slate one is an LT7 alumni (Shelly Pryor) and one is a director who is  filling  the last 6 months of a two year term a seat on the OKCMAR & MLSOK Board of Directors (Julie Buthion). The 6 principals include a franchise with a commercial leg, a builder, an international broker, an appraiser, a large franchise that has worked closely with staff in implementing MLS technologies as a consistent beta-tester & a boutique independent. Inherent in this candidate slate is geographical representation.  I am so very proud of the effort the nominating committee and in OKCMAR leadership for continuing to ensure that the "voices of the many" are heard in the OKCMAR board meetings. To view the slate and member biographies click here


I just returned from Indianapolis where the semi-annual REAL TRENDS AE advisory council  met this month. This is a wonderful opportunity that the board has allowed me to participate in and also quite an honor for me to be selected by REAL TRENDS to serve on their council. This session we critiqued the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS ®(MIBOR) and its MLS corp, BLC®. BLC® stands for Broker Listing Cooperative®. They do not even refer to it as an MLS. They believe that the acronym MLS is too widely used as a public term and does not adequately represent what a Multiple Listing Service is and does.

For many of you who know me, you know I am not easily impressed. I also hold to the notion that OKCMAR and MLSOK are far superior to other associations and their MLS systems. However, I will tell you that MIBOR and its BLC® give OKCMAR a run for our money. Their strengths are governance (transparency,  accountability, & policy) and legislative advocacy. These REALTORS® are making an incredible difference in Indianapolis and the communities where they live and practice.  Take a minute to visit their website and view their Superbowl/Centennial Legacy Project- use the navigation bar on the left to view the video detailing the project.

At these sessions we all have an idea sharing session where we go over things that worked and things that didn't in our associations. I left the meeting with  numerous things I would like to eventually implement at OKCMAR. The conference resulted in a two page report for the board of directors and a slew of ideas! I cannot wait for the time it is OKCMAR's turn to host this group- it is booked through 2012 so 2013 may be the year we get to host or not. I am so proud of what OKCMAR has accomplished in three short years- frankly it is amazing... and yes... we are still the very best in my eyes but we will always strive for continuous improvement.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Holiday Brings Some Good News for REALTORS®

My cookout got rained out! But the good news is I have an overhang on my front porch and my guests mingled between the front porch and my living room. Even though it was wet and icky there is just something about the fourth that beckons folks to go outside. July is starting out with some very good news:

Eligible pending transactions will see some relief as the tax credit for said pendings has been extended to September 30th & the National Flood Insurance Program has also been extended through September 30th. Read More...

It is very important to recognize that the tax credit pushed inventory into the market that would not have otherwise been there creating sales that normally would have taken place over the summer. We need to recognize that and expect to see a slower than normal summer. This is the time to take stock in where you are spending your dollars. Make sure you have replaced costly systems with those available for free in your MLS, look at your marketing dollars- consider replacing paid media with free social media, look into the frameable link in the public sided MLS site as a way to integrate MLS listing search within your website at no additional costs.

Slow times are a time to re-invest in yourself. Make sure you are marking your calendars for the membership conference, Sept 8th & 9th,  which includes both OKCMAR luncheons (RPAC Awards Lunch- Election Lunch). This low cost conference has free CE and panels designed to help you increase your business. The conference caps off with the affiliate expo where you can network with industry-related professionals to best streamline and economize your current processes.

Look at enrolling in the monthly auto-pay for MLS fees to make payments a little easier. Read the eblasts and magazine for tips on free technologies you can be using to set yourself apart. Remember a down market is when the successful garner market share. This is an opportunity that will not come around, according to economic cycles, for almost 15 years. Rather than look at it with gloom and doom recognize it for the incredible opportunity it is for you to stand out in the marketplace.