You have your New Year’s resolutions, here at VAR we have ours. They’re simple: For 2010 we’re focusing on six core projects we think will benefit our members most. They’re not all new, but they’re all important.
Each project has a leader — a member of VAR’s management team assigned to see it through to completion. A VAR officer partner is also assigned to each goal. Read on to learn more about what we’re doing, and why it should matter to you.
The details after this jump:
Project: Advance and protect Virginia Realtors®’ business interests in the 2010 Legislative Session
Leader: John Broadway, Vice President for Law & Policy
Officer Liaison: John Dickinson, President-Elect
The chief priority for Law & Policy in 2010 is to develop, promote, and ensure the success of VAR’s Legislative Agenda. And make no mistake — it’s one of the most aggressive we have ever introduced. And yes, we’re on the lookout for bills that would negatively affect your business, too. Rest assured we’ll do everything in our power to keep those bills from becoming law.
You can also count on VAR to keep you informed about the legislative process. Every week during the General Assembly session, VAR brings you Capitol Connections: a comprehensive and concise summary of the previous week’s legislative actions affecting Realtors®, property owners, and prospective buyers.
Through RPAC, we’ve helped elect legislators and executive branch officials who understand real estate and property ownership issues, and we’ll be making use of that influence during the current General Assembly session. We’ll also be mobilizing our members, particularly at VAR’s annual Realtor® Day on the Hill, February 17.
If you can’t attend Day on the Hill, the next best thing is to respond to VAR calls to action. We only send them when your participation is crucial to ensuring the legislative outcomes we seek, so when you get one, please take a moment to respond. It literally takes less than a minute.
When the General Assembly adjourns, we’ll start planning our 2011 legislative agenda by working with the Public Policy Committee and local associations to develop strategies for addressing new issues affecting our members, their clients, and property rights in general.
Project: Inform and engage Virginia property owners through the Virginia Homeowners Alliance
Leader: Ben Martin, Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Officer Liaison: Trish Szego, Vice-President
In 2010, the Virginia Homeowners Alliance, a VAR-directed grassroots advocacy program for Virginia property owners, will focus on informing more than 700,000 Virginia homeowners about issues that impact their piece of Virginia.
Through a series of e-mail newsletters covering public policy issues that affect property values and rights in communities all over the Commonwealth, we will establish the Virginia Homeowners Alliance as a trusted source of information. We’ll create a bridge between Virginia property owners and Realtors® so they can join forces when bad legislation or regulation threatens our common interests.
At least three Virginia Homeowners Alliance newsletters will be sent during the General Assembly session, plus one in June (just before most new laws go into effect) and one prior to the 2011 General Assembly session. Of course, we’ll continue to encourage homeowners to sign up for the Alliance, but our focus will be providing information and building its reputation.
Project: Reinvent VAR’s Convention & Expo to build a high-profile business meeting you’d be crazy to miss
Leader: Tracey Floridia, Vice President of Career Development
Officer Liaison: John Powell, Immediate Past President
Hopefully you’ve heard that we’ve essentially rebuilt our annual Convention & Expo from the ground up this year. (We’ve partnered with the Hampton Roads REALTORS® Association, too.) Our goal is to make it a must-attend event for real estate professionals up and down the east coast.
First off, we renamed it the REal Show. And no more moving around: For at least the next three years, it will be held in early fall at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. (That makes planning a bit easier, doesn’t it?) And because the VBCC is so large, we can offer more education and expand the show. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a certified green facility, either, so we’ll be doing our part for the environment.
Virginia Beach is a great destination, too: Lots of hotels to choose from, and beautiful early-fall weather so you can enjoy the boardwalk, the oceanfront, boating, fishing, golf, and more.
Speaking of more, that’s our mantra when it comes to education. More sessions, more options, and more high-quality speakers. (We’ve even asked the membership to help choose our keynoters.) And there’ll be more real estate, less reporting about what VAR is doing; we’ve separated our governance meetings from the education sessions.
Like we said: You’d be crazy to miss it.
Project: Educate members about the ethical considerations in short sales and foreclosures through The Code is Good Business campaign
Leader: Lisa Noon, Vice President, Member Outreach
Officer Liaison: Cindy Stackhouse, President
Thanks to short sales, foreclosures, REO, and auctions, Virginia real estate practice has a host of new ethical dilemmas for Realtors® that make doing business more difficult than ever before.
Protecting our members from legal and ethical pitfalls is one of our most important jobs, and there are a lot more of those pitfalls these days. So in 2010 we’re upgrading and updating our Code is Good Business campaign to make sure all Virginia’s Realtors® know the Code of Ethics inside and out, especially as it applies to lender mediated transactions, such as short sales and foreclosures.
From case studies to videos to authoritative content from VAR’s attorneys, we’ll be providing more information and tools to help Realtors® keep their ethical duties to their clients and their fellow real estate professionals. And in the long run, Realtors® who take advantage of the expanded campaign will make more money by bolstering their reputation as competent and ethical agents in their hometowns.
Project: Leveraging your expertise for the good of the profession and enhancing your value proposition
Leader: Scott Brunner, Chief Executive Officer
At its core, VAR is its members. And while most of our 30,000 members didn’t join VAR just to be a volunteer, the services we deliver are only as good as the member expertise Realtor® leaders provide in their state and local associations. We simply wouldn’t be effective without our volunteers — hundreds of committee members, directors, liaisons, officers, and others just like you.
That’s why in 2010, we’ll be doing more to identify members with critical expertise in key subject areas on which VAR is working, and engage those members in the effort. The result, we believe is better policy proposals, better programs and services and better overall member value.
At the same time, it’s true that not every Virginia Realtor® has time to volunteer with the association. But every member should feel engaged in and served by VAR. In the year ahead, we’ll be looking to enhance your connection to VAR by creating a variety of tools and touchpoints that reinforce the value you receive for that dues check you stroke once a year.
Project: Provide better, more reliable housing market economic data to the media, policy makers and our members
Leader: Rick Lugg, Vice President, Finance & Administration
Officer Liaison: John Daly, Treasurer
As stakeholders in virtually every MLS in the Commonwealth, your local association of Realtors® – and VAR, too – are increasingly called upon by the news media and policy makers to provide authoritative information about home sales in Virginia markets. Recently, Housing Virginia, a non-profit organization promoting housing affordability in Virginia, asked VAR and its local associations to help it develop a statewide housing affordability index based on MLS data.
In response, VAR is partnering with local MLSs to develop a platform for providing real-time data from every MLS operating in Virginia. This project will enhance VAR’s understanding of the Virginia housing markets through the use of an expanded data set aggregated from MLSs across the Commonwealth. VAR and the local Realtor® associations will be able to provide the most up-to-date data whenever governments, the press, or other organizations have a need for it. The Realtor® association family will also have improved access to home sales data for use in press releases, Web sites, and other publications.
Ultimately, Virginia Realtors® will benefit from this project as VAR and its local associations develop deeper understanding about market trends in the Commonwealth. We’ll be able to pass along market analyses to help you learn more about what the numbers say is happening in your area, and to position Realtors® as the authoritative source of market data.
No doubt about it, 2010 is a full-steam-ahead year for VAR. Even though we’re focused in on these six core goals, we’ll continue to provide all of the other great services you’ve come to expect from us like GRI, Commonwealth magazine, member outreach services, programs for real estate specialties like property managers, and all the rest. Watch for more information about each of these programs throughout 2010, and please contact VAR if you have any questions.