The New York State Association of Realtors will hold their annual fall conference from Sunday, September 30 to Wednesday, October 3. I am a state director on the MLS and technology committees, so I will be in attendance. Association meetings cover a broad range of matters, and consumers should know that their interests are first and foremost. Crucial issues like equal housing, ethics, legislative matters like the mortgage interest deduction, and dozens of other subjects are addressed in depth in our sessions.
There was a time when I viewed participation at the association the way I viewed the high school yearbook committee- the cool kids patting each other on the back, perhaps subtly angling their own agendas, and mostly meaning well but not contributing meaningfully to the public or rank and file. I could not have been more wrong. I have recently been nominated for my 4th term as MLS Vice President. It has been eye-opening. The volunteers who fill these positions do incredibly important work to determine policies that set the tone for a better industry for both our trade organization and, more importantly, the public.
The biggest challenge is the fact that we don’t have a crystal ball to understand the ramifications of policy- for example, the recent controversies on listing syndication all came about because, years ago, NAR membership decided that our value as broker was greater than that of gatekeeper of data, and enormous transparency was promoted so consumers could view listings easily and ubiquitously. It was overall better for consumers, but there are growing pains like data accuracy and ownership of content. Zillow, perhaps the biggest and best known listing syndicator out there took notice of my thoughts on the issue and chose me to be on their Agent Advisory Board, and we had our first meeting in Seattle last week. I will write about that in the near future. Suffice to say, there is partnership and mutual interest in the industry across the lines, and in my view that is sourced by policy we create at these meetings.
Technology is tricky, however. Who knows how the growing information highway will best serve us? I think of Future Shock– change these days is so rapid most people can’t keep up. Think of parent with a 13 year old on Facebook. My parents were worried about me on the phone and 6 TV channels in the 70’s. Today, I have 1000 TV channels, the whole Internet, cell texting in the not too distant future, and who knows what else. The metaphor is the same for real estate in an industry where the flow of information is overwhelming and no online algorithm or vector can accurately warn the consumer of rugs that smell like cat pee and a thousand other issues.
Anytime hundreds and thousands of people gather together and collectively seek answers to the question of how to do our job better you can expect good things. It isn’t easy, I am not a fan of being 4 hours from home and business, but it is needed.