6 Steps to ‘Friending’ Social Media

December 7, 2010

Social media tips, tricks, training and tools for real estate professionals are everywhere. Not a day passes when there isn’t someone exhorting agents and brokers to market themselves via social media.

Under the onslaught, many agents and brokers feel overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible task of making social media pay off, and working it into an already tight schedule.

Inman News interviewed several social media experts in the real estate sphere — and asked several brokerages to share how they deal with social media overload. Some common threads in their advice:

1. Have a plan. Agents who don’t identify their goals for social media marketing or assign themselves a consistent schedule are doomed to waste time, experts say.

“When agents first get involved in social media you typically see two problems — too little time spent or too much time. Developing a plan and goals for (social media) will help you set specific tasks that you want to accomplish.

Schedule the task, give a reasonable amount of time for the task — no more and no less — and stick to the schedule,” said Barrett Powell, a broker and technology consultant for the Southern Advantage Team at Coldwell Banker in Pittsboro, N.C.

“If you don’t schedule it, you won’t do it. Likewise, if you don’t follow the schedule it is easy to get sidetracked and spend too much time.”

Janie Coffey, owner of Papillon Real Estate in Coral Gables, Fla., said setting goals will help determine an agent’s schedule for social media.

“Do they want to add X people to their (sphere of influence)? Do they want to become omnipresent in their community? Do they want to become an industry influencer in their community? Once the goal is determined, they should carefully craft a plan of how they can implement social media to meet that goal,” said.

“A scattershot approach is not going to work well. Incorporate social media into your prospecting time (that is) blocked out each day. If you block three hours to prospect, decide how much of that is going to be social media and do it. Then, move on with the rest of your day,” Coffey added.

The brokers who Inman News spoke to spent a varied amount of time using social media for business purposes — from no more than two or three hours a week to nine hours a day.

“I advocate 30 minutes a day and start with a plan to manage one thing, such as Facebook. When you feel that has been accomplished, add a new tool. But do what’s easy and what you enjoy and see the benefits of,” said Jason Lopez, director of interactive business development with Southern California-based Century 21 Award. The brokerage has more than 1,000 agents.

2. Get to know each network. Not every social network will fulfill an agent’s goals. Facebook is generally best for nurturing an agent’s sphere of influence, experts say — friends, family, past and present clients, co-workers and other people you already know and want to stay in touch with.

“Facebook is the ultimate sphere manager. I connect with more than 500 people on a daily basis through Facebook. Some of these people are vital to my business as potential clients or referral sources, some are my colleagues, and some are my competition.

“You know the saying, ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?’ Facebook makes that easy,” said Stacie Staub, a broker associate with Live Local Real Estate Team in Denver, Colo.

Twitter helps agents connect with people in their market whom they don’t yet know, experts say.

“Twitter is a great way to connect with your community, small business owners, and community influencers with whom you might not otherwise ever have the opportunity to meet.

“Be helpful, thoughtful, and show your community real estate expertise. Approach it from a point of ‘How can I help?’ ‘What useful information can I share?’ etc.,” Coffey said.

Hosting Tweetups (in-person gatherings of people who use Twitter for a specific purpose) and TweetChats (real-time conversations on Twitter about a particular topic) is also a good way to build up community cachet, she said.

Similarly, LinkedIn is useful for connecting with business professionals in a market area, whether through online discussions, Q-and-A forums, or groups.

“Join LinkedIn groups in your area and be an active participant. LinkedIn is especially good (for helping) relocating professionals. Keep a vigilant eye for job-seekers and see if you don’t have a suggestion or connection for them,” Coffey said.

Like Lopez, Coffey suggested real estate pros start with a platform they personally enjoy and believe would be useful to reaching their target audience.

“Being on 10 or more platforms in a very superficial way is going to be far less productive and profitable than becoming a well-respected and trusted resource on a few, which you select and target,” she said.

3. Use social media aggregation tools. When agents are ready, there are a number of tools available to assist in managing multiple social media accounts: SocialMadeSimple, TweetDeck, Gist, Posterous, Ping.fm, TweetGrid, BatchBook, Gigya, and Roost. Many of these tools are also available as mobile apps.

Mike Kelly Jr., co-owner of the Hickory Real Estate Group in Hickory, N.C., uses the tool most mentioned among interviewees: HootSuite.

“We use HootSuite to manage our Twitter account. It allows us to save tweets and schedule a time to send tweets. It also allows us to set up feeds where we can see who has been tweeting about our area.

“For example, anyone who tweets with the words ‘Hickory NC’ appears in my feed and we are able to see what they are tweeting about. It allows us to engage with them as well as keep up with what is going on in our area,” Kelly said.

Kristin Maynard is the social media editor for Avery-Hess Realtors in the Washington, D.C., area. The brokerage has about 210 agents and uses the Roost Social Media Toolkit, which includes a Facebook publishing scheduler.

Maynard said she has only heard a few agents say that social media involved too much time for too little return. In those cases, she tells them that managing social media is not about “posting to Twitter every half hour.”

She shows them how to schedule their posts and use their smart phones to plan their day. She also reminds them that social media can be effective in brand-building, while it’s not a “hard sales tool.”

4. Don’t just post listings. By far the most widely cited social media taboo is the hard sell. And simply dumping listings into a social network is perhaps the single thing that agents can do that is most at odds with why consumers go to those networks in the first place, experts say.

“Consumers go to these sites for the same reasons we do. After all, we are consumers, too. We go to our social networks to socialize, to stay in touch with our friends, to create new relationships, to share our accomplishments, joys and trials, to get recommendations on businesses we should use or products we should buy, to invite friends to join us ‘IRL’ (in real life), etc.,” said Krisstina Wise, broker-owner and founder of The GoodLife Team, a boutique real estate brokerage in Austin, Texas.

“This can be compatible with how an agent uses these sites, if the agent can hold the fundamental truth that they too are consumers,” she said.

“If agents think they can take their listing feed and merely dump it onto their social networks, they will fail,” she added.

Dale Chumbley is a licensed real estate broker at Prudential NW Properties in Vancouver, Wash. and the founder of the “365 Things to Do in Vancouver, WA” Facebook page, which has been “Liked” by more than 13,700 people.

Chumbley shies away from aggressive marketing — visitors to his Facebook page get no more than a link to his blog to even hint that he is a real estate professional.

“The biggest issue I see is people feeling like they have to ‘push their wares’ online to be successful in real estate. All the business I’ve gotten in the last three-plus years from social media is from the relationships I’ve created. None is from information or listings I’ve pushed out.

“Most of my interaction online is purely social while still creating creative ways to gently remind people what I do,” Chumbley said. “Just having a Twitter account gets you nothing. If you’re not going to be part of the community and interact, you might as well not bother.”

Agents should focus on content that’s most relevant to their target audience, the experts say, as consumers may simply choose not to pay attention if they find an agent’s postings annoying, pushy, or uninteresting.

“The best agents have been able to generate interest in their online activities by focusing on the needs of the community they serve. And when they do share their listings on Facebook or Twitter, they’re doing it in a way that showcases a unique feature of the home, the neighborhood, and/or the community,” said Nicole Nicolay (aka “NikNik”), founder of Agent Evolution, which offers social media training and WordPress Web design services for real estate professionals.

Staub said, “I hate seeing agents who only post to Facebook when they have a new listing. Blah.”

Instead, agents should personalize their communications. “Who are you? What do you want people to know about you? Why are they going to feel instantly comfortable with you the first time they go to look at a property with you? Post that. Then, when you post your new listing, it will be just a part of the story of you and your business,” Staub said.

5. Know what social media is for and what it isn’t for. “It’s not an advertising channel; it’s a communication channel,” said Derek Overbey, senior director of marketing and social media at Roost. “If you talk to someone, you also have to listen to someone. It’s not a monologue. Don’t get on a soapbox. You also have to listen to what your community says.”

Like Chumbley’s “365 Things to Do” Facebook page, an agent is more likely to find followers when a social network profile focuses on a community — a small town or a neighborhood in a big city — rather than the agent.

“You can talk about hanging out at the wharf, the great restaurants, the great parks. Why you’d want to live in that community rather than (saying), ‘I have a house here.’ It used to be (homebuyers said) ‘ I love this house’ and tried to make the community fit, but now it (is more about) ‘Let’s look at the community first and see what houses fit in that community’,” he said.

The advantage to that strategy on Facebook, for example, Overbey said, is that when people find content interesting, they are more likely to “Like” or comment on it. Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm uses user interactions, in part, to determine what content shows up on users’ “Top News” feeds. (“Top News” is the default setting. Unlike Facebook’s “Most Recent” feed, not all content appears under “Top News.”)

“So with business pages, don’t just talk about your listings … because that’s not content that people are going to necessarily comment on or write a great response to. Post a photo of (your city) or a video of (your neighborhood) or ask a question about why they live in (a certain neighborhood). Make your content be more important to a larger audience,” Overbey said.

One aspect of prospecting for new business that social media can facilitate, but not replace, is face-to-face interaction.

“The No. 1 strategy I suggest is taking it (from) online to offline,” said Coffey. “Make a point to meet the new friends you’ve made offline for coffee, lunch, an event. Something magical happens when you connect face to face. If your business is referral- or distance-built (geographically focused), pick up the phone and call them, connect via voice.”

“I personally make a point to set up at least two meetings per week for coffee with Twitter friends I have not yet met in person. This has been huge to my business as it has to all of the agents who I’ve suggested it to.”

6. Be patient; deals won’t happen overnight. Some agents only try social media for a week or a month — not enough time to see results, experts say.

Chumbley’s Facebook page, for example, has been up for almost 10 months. He has closed only one transaction directly as a result of a connection through that page — but said he has about nine deals in the pipeline.

That kind of return “is amazing from one marketing channel,” Overbey said of Chumbley’s page.

Coffey also has realized business from her social networking efforts. “I get a good deal of business from my (sphere of influence) that I have groomed with social media. I might have met them through social media, but we built a relationship over time. I just didn’t tweet out, ‘Hey, can I sell you a house,’ ” she said.

Reprinted with permission from Inman News

Fannie Mae Tests New System for REO Offers

December 7, 2010

Fannie Mae has launched a pilot program in three markets in which it’s only accepting offers on properties in its real estate owned (REO) inventory when they are first submitted online by agents representing buyers.

If the six-month HomePath Online Offers pilot program is a success in the three test markets — Orlando, Fla., San Diego and Detroit — it will be expanded to markets nationwide, Fannie Mae said.

The stated goal of HomePath Online Offers is to provide increased transparency and efficiency in the REO bidding process by providing buyer’s agents with offer confirmations and allowing them to track the status of submitted offers.

By requiring that all offers be submitted by buyer’s agents, Fannie Mae may also be able to prevent “property flopping” — a fraudulent practice in which listing agents representing distressed or REO properties receive multiple offers but withhold one or more of those offers in order to help an investor purchase the home at a lower price.

In the three pilot markets, Fannie Mae is accepting offers for REO properties only from licensed real estate agents representing buyers — not listing agents or buyers — and only through the HomePath.com website.

Buyer’s agents must register to use HomePath Online Offers, a process that Fannie Mae says should take less than 10 minutes if agents have reviewed training material that includes webinars and answers to frequently asked questions posted on HomePath.com.

Listing agents are not allowed to accept offers from buyer’s agents via fax or hand delivery, or enter an offer into HomePath.com on behalf of a buyer’s agent.

“The goal of the pilot is to get the (buyer’s agents) to enter 100 percent of their offers into HomePath.com,” Fannie Mae advises listing agents in a FAQ. “HomePath functionality such as multiple offers only works correctly if all the offers are in the system.”

Realtors contacted by Inman News who specialize in REO properties in San Diego County, where HomePath Online Offers launched on Nov. 10, said they support the program and believe it will be a success.

Fannie Mae also launched HomePath Online in the Orlando-area market, including Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, on Nov. 10, and in the Detroit (Wayne County) market on Nov. 17.

“I like it,” said Rose Avedisian, designated broker for Bancroft Realty who has 20 years of experience representing REO properties. “I think that it’s a very straightforward approach to having Fannie Mae (aware of) all offers submitted on a property.”

Avedisian said the additional transparency — including having the seller’s addendum online — should help avoid last-minute surprises that can derail a sale. Sometimes, after weeks of negotiations, a buyer sees a seller’s lengthy addendum and doesn’t want to close the deal, she said.

Avedisian, who is currently representing about 30 Fannie Mae REOs, said HomePath financing also has fewer pitfalls than FHA-guaranteed loans. There’s a HomePath rehab loan for owner-occupants who want to make improvements to the REO property they are purchasing, she said.

REO specialist Greg Cocca of Allison James Estates & Homes, who works as an REO listing agent and a buyer’s agent, agreed that HomePath Online Offers will help buyers know what to expect.

Cocca thinks HomePath Online Offers will speed up the bidding process and give buyer’s agents “a little more control.”

As a buyer’s agent, “It would make me more comfortable” knowing that in a multiple-offer situation all offers are in plain view, he said.

HomePath Online Offers automates communication only between the buyer’s agent and listing agent. Listing agents will continue to transmit offers submitted to the system to Fannie Mae, and consult with their Fannie Mae sales representative or asset management provider (AMP).

Sales reps or asset managers will make decisions on each offer, and listing agents use HomePath.com to communicate that decision back to the buyer’s agents.

But HomePath.com creates a history of online offers that Fannie Mae and its AMPs can access — a capability that could be used to verify that all offers were considered, and that the best offer was chosen.

Although Avedisian and Cocca said they haven’t personally seen instances of “property flopping” in the San Diego market, a recent analysis of mortgage fraud by loan data aggregator CoreLogic identified Southern California, Phoenix, Detroit and Atlanta as “hot spots” for flipping and flopping.

Fraudulent property flips involve buying a property and selling it at an artificially inflated price — often to a straw buyer. In a property flop, properties are obtained at below-market value, so that at resale it generates a greater profit.

CoreLogic estimates that about 2 percent of short sales are part of an “egregious resale,” costing lenders about $310 million a year. The potential losses on REO sales are even greater, with about 4 percent of those transactions deemed a “suspicious resale.”

Reprinted with permission from Inman News

December Is Doubly Challenging

December 7, 2010

By Steve Hoffacker, CAASH, CAPS, CGP, CMP, CSP, MCSP, MIRM
Hoffacker Associates, West Palm Beach, FL

December has arrived – the final month of 2010. This is both cause for celebration and a little trepidation. December is doubly challenging because of this.

On the one hand, we have to complete 2010 and finish it strong. This is no time to let up.

On the other, this is the year-end letdown for people. It’s Christmas and New Year’s, plus some other celebrations as well. It’s family time, gift buying and giving, parties and fellowship. It’s the time to renew acquaintances and send out Christmas cards or emails. For some people on our list, this will be the only contact they have with us all year — the first they have heard from us since last Christmas. It works both ways. This is the only time we hear from distant family or friends as well.

Christmas is such a festive time. There are yard and house decorations (inside and out), tree buying and trimming, baking, menu planning, parties to go to and to host, college football bowl games, college basketball tournaments, the final weeks of the NFL regular season, and so much more.

If it’s cold and snowy, that’s another challenge. If it’s warm and sunny that may not set the right holiday mood.

With all of this going in our own lives (both at work and at home), the lives of our family members, and the lives of our customers and sales leads, is it any wonder that we hear people tell us that they just want to get through the holidays before talking with us about business?

That leads right into the second challenge that December offers. The first is planning for and really enjoying the holidays and the festivities.

Now, we have to shift gears and focus on business. The first part of the month is usually OK for talking business or getting people to sit down and talk with us. After that, it becomes more of a challenge.

If we have annual sales goals, personal performance goals, or anything else that we have based upon the calendar year, then we are under the gun to complete them. This makes it especially challenging if it involves other people — given that they are focusing on enjoying the holidays with their families and friends and not in talking with us.

If it’s a personal goal like weight loss, physical skills (running, swimming, biking), or something like learning a new language or writing or reading a book, we can do that ourselves and we can apply as much pressure to ourselves as necessary to make it happen.

If it’s a sales or business-related goal, however, it necessarily involves other people. We can call people all day long, but unless we speak to someone and they are receptive to our call we will have nothing productive to show for our efforts. The same is true of setting appointments.

We can meet with people every day and make a sales presentation, but unless they are receptive to making a purchasing decision, we aren’t going to be very effective.

December is underway, and we can’t turn back. We must press on. We are doubly challenged this month, so let’s gear up for making it a wonderful month on both scores.


NAR Backing Incumbents in Tight Races

November 4, 2010

The National Association of Realtors is a major player in nearly a dozen tight races in the 2010 elections, backing incumbents in both parties who hold influential committee assignments rather than seeking to upset the status quo.

Historically, NAR’s campaign spending tends to favor the party in power. Although Democrats are widely expected to lose seats in the House and Senate on election day, NAR’s 2010 election spending is weighted in favor of Democrats.

While the group continues to support Republican allies through its Realtor Political Action Committee (RPAC), it hasn’t thrown its weight behind Tea Party candidates.

In fact, where RPAC can exert the most weight — through independent expenditures — it’s supporting incumbents in several races who face challenges from candidates with Tea Party support.

“The principle guiding RPAC expenditures on candidates is that of supporting those candidates who supported us on real estate issues in the past, regardless of party affiliation,” said NAR spokesman Lucien Salvant.

Independent expenditures are guided by the same principle.

“The bottom line consideration is who’s best for the ‘Realtor Party,’ ” not whether a candidate is affiliated with Democrats, Republicans, or another party, Salvant said.

NAR has spent more than $11 million in the 2010 election cycle, according to campaign spending records compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and published Friday on the group’s website, OpenSecrets.org.

Most of that money — more than $6 million — has been in the form of independent expenditures for advertising, consulting and other assistance on behalf of candidates.

In 11 races around the country, NAR has racked up independent expenditures exceeding $300,000 in each contest, in all cases backing incumbents the group has been able to count on for support in the past.

Democrats have been the greatest beneficiary of RPAC’s independent expenditures, with about 61 percent going to candidates affiliated with the party, and 39 percent to Republicans.

NAR is also a minor player in hundreds of other races, contributing $10,000 or less directly to the campaigns of more than 400 House candidates and 60 Senate hopefuls.

So far, 58 percent of the nearly $2.7 million in contributions NAR has made directly to candidates’ campaigns has gone to Democrats, and 41 percent to Republicans.

By comparison, in the 2006 midterm election NAR spent $8.8 million, with 74 percent of RPAC’s $3.7 million in independent expenditures going to Republicans and 26 percent to Demorats. Of the $3.75 million RPAC shoveled into federal candidates’ campaign chests, 51 percent went to Republicans and 49 percent to Democrats.

By law, independent expenditures can’t be made in coordination with a candidate’s campaign. But they can be a deciding factor in close elections, as ads funded by outside spending flood the airwaves in an attempt to sway undecided voters.

OpenSecrets.org ranks NAR’s RPAC 16th in independent expenditures by groups in the 2010 election cycle.

With $6.07 million in independent expenditures, RPAC is considerably smaller than players like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($34.4 million); American Crossroads, a conservative group founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove ($21 million); and the Service Employees International Union ($15.6 million).

But RPAC’s independent expenditures put it in the same league as the National Rifle Association ($7.4 million), and ahead of some household names like the National Education Association ($3.2 million) and the AFL-CIO ($2.9 million).

NAR backs incumbents

NAR and other groups seeking to influence events in Washington, D.C., often favor the party in power because that party’s candidates control the congressional committees where legislation is amended or killed.

Through RPAC, NAR has made $1.2 million in independent expenditures on behalf of Pennsylvania Democrat Paul Kanjorski, paying for TV ads, consulting and other assistance. RPAC has also contributed $9,000 directly to Kanjorski’s bid for a 14th term in Congress.

Kanjorksi, the second most senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee chaired by U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., boasts on his website that his efforts “to promote homeownership have earned him numerous awards.”

The Financial Services Committee deals with housing, banking, capital markets and other issues critical to Realtors, and NAR has characterized Kanjorski as “a key ally” for his stance on issues of importance to the group over the years, such as keeping national banks out of the real estate brokerage and property management business.

Kanjorski, who’s also the fourth-ranking Democrat on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is in a close race with Republican Lou Barletta, who nearly unseated him in 2008.

No other group has invested more in this race, in Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. RPAC has outspent both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($683,000) and the National Republican Congressional Committee ($902,000) there, according to OpenSecrets.org.

The next biggest beneficiary of RPAC’s independent expenditures is Bill Foster, an Illinois Democrat who won the seat of former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert in a 2008 special election following Hastert’s resignation.

Like Kanjorski, Foster serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform committee. Foster lacks Kanjorski’s seniority, and is in a tight race with Republican state Sen. Randy Hultgren, who with Tea Party support defeated Hastert’s son Ethan in the primary.

RPAC has backed Foster with $797,000 in independent expenditures, and contributed $10,000 directly to his campaign.

In Southern California, incumbent Republican Ken Calvert is seeking a 10th term in the House, facing a rematch against Democrat Bill Hedrick, whom he narrowly defeated in 2008. This time around, Calvert has a large fundraising advantage over Hedrick and a comfortable lead in the polls.

Calvert is another longtime NAR ally, and sits on the House Appropriations Committee. RPAC has made $606,000 in independent expenditures on his behalf in the 2010 election cycle — more than RPAC has made for any other Republican candidate. RPAC has also contributed $10,000 to his campaign.

Another incumbent Republican getting big support from Realtors is three-term Rep. Dave Reichert, who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee tackles several issues important to Realtors, including tax policy, health care, and trade.

Reichert, whose Eighth Congressional District east of Seattle is home to many Microsoft employees, is in a close race with Democrat Suzan DelBene, a former Microsoft corporate vice president.

NAR’s RPAC has made $576,000 in independent expenditures on Reichert’s behalf, and kicked in $5,000 to his campaign.

In New Jersey, NAR is backing the incumbent Democrat in one of the most heated House races in the nation. John Adler, a freshman whose committee assignments include the House Financial Services Committee, is facing off against former National Football League lineman Jon Runyan.

Runyan, who retired from football in 2010, has never held politcal office but is running neck-and-neck with Adler in the polls, on a promise that he will “put an end to politics as usual.”

Adler broke with his party in voting against the health care bill, and supports extending the Bush-era tax cuts on capital gains and dividends. He has drawn the ire of the New Jersey Tea Party over a third-party candidate, Peter DeStefano.

The New Jersey Tea Party claims DeStefano was drafted into the race by Adler’s campaign manager to draw votes from Runyan, which Adler’s campaign has denied.

Adler has benefited from $574,000 in independent expenditures from RPAC on his behalf, and $10,000 in campaign contributions.

Through its independent expenditures, RPAC has also supported two other incumbents facing challenges from candidates with Tea Party support: U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Texas Rep. Chet Edward, D-Texas.

Donnelly, a centrist “Blue Dog” Democrat who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, is in a tight race with Republican state Sen. Jackie Walorksi, who’s been gaining in polls.

Walorski, who has an endorsement by Sarah Palin and support from local Tea Party groups, has promised to work to repeal the health care bill.

NAR’s RPAC has made $331,658 in independent expenditures on Donnelly’s behalf, and contributed $6,000 directly to his campaign.

In Texas’ 17th Congressional District, NAR is supporting incumbent Democrat Chet Edwards in a race against Republican Bill Flores, who has been endorsed by the Texas Patriots Tea Party.

NAR has made $3,408 in independent expenditures on Edwards’ behalf, and $10,000 to his campaign. Edwards, who worked in commercial real estate in the 1980s, has served in Congress for nearly 20 years but is trailing in recent polls.

Other House incumbents NAR is supporting with large independent expenditures through RPAC include Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa., $475,000), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo., $430,000), Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio, $324,000), and Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif., $321,000).

Loyal to allies

While NAR has directed most of its big spending at closely contested races, it’s also backing dependable allies who are in little danger of losing their seats, like Calvert.

In the Senate, polls show that Georgia Republican and longtime NAR ally Sen. Johnny Isakson is also likely cruise to victory over Democrat Michael Thurmond, the state’s labor commissioner. RPAC has nevertheless made $377,000 in independent expenditures on Isakson’s behalf, and contributed $3,000 to his re-election campaign.

Isakson, a former real estate broker who last year led the charge to extend the federal homebuyer tax credit, serves on six Senate committees with jurisdiction over commerce, health and small business issues.

Reps. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, and Judy Biggert, R-Ill. — who went to bat for NAR in 2008 in an unsuccessful attempt to block proposed changes to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) — have each received $10,000 from RPAC in this election cycle, although neither is facing a serious challenge at the polls.

NAR has also chosen to play only a limited role in some of Tuesday’s most controversial elections.

In Nevada, Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle dispatched the Republican Party favorite in the primary, and is threatening to end Democratic majority leader Harry Reid’s 24-year career in the Senate.

RPAC has contributed $8,000 to Reid’s campaign — a drop in the bucket in a race where each candidate is on track to spend more than $20 million.

In Delaware, support from the Tea Party Express helped Christine O’Donnell defeat nine-term Republican Congressman Michael Castle in the Senate primary election. Castle’s campaign got $10,000 from RPAC.

O’Donnell hasn’t received any funding from RPAC, but neither has her Democratic opponent, Christopher Coons.

In Alaska’s Senate Race, attorney Joe Miller also counted on support from the Tea Party Express to defeat incumbent Lisa Murkowski in the primary election. Murkowski is still in the race as an independent, and RPAC has provided $4,000 for her campaign.

Whether they belong to a union or a professional association like NAR, members of any group that spends a share of their dues and/or fees in political campaigns will grouse when that money goes to candidates they wouldn’t support themselves. Salvant said NAR does not track its members’ political party affiliations.

One way to see how closely NAR’s political contributions track with members’ beliefs is to comb through individual donations to candidates that are large enough to be itemized — $200 or more — and see how many contributors identify themselves as Realtors.

Federal Election Commission records show that in Nevada’s Senate race, seven Realtors — one residing in Nevada — chipped in a total of $10,950 to Reid’s re-election campaign from Jan. 1 2009 through Oct. 13, 2010. Four Realtors, including three who live out of state, contributed $200 or more to Angle’s campaign during the same period, for a total of $1,250, as an example.

In Delaware, O’Donnell landed $4,800 in contributions from six individuals identifying themselves as Realtors. Only one lived in the state. Castle got $9,050 from 15 Realtors, all but one of whom were Delaware residents. Democrat Coons landed $1,325 in contributions from three Realtors, one from out of state.

The following is a list of National Association of Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) Independent Expenditures, Communication Costs and Coordinated Expenses for the 2010 election cycle, as of Nov. 1, 2010, according to Center for Responsive Politics data:

  • Total: $6,024,765
  • Total for Democrats: $3,658,416
  • Total for Republicans: $2,366,349
  • Grand total spent by RPAC so far in 2010 election cycle, including independent expenditures and other expenditures, contributions: $11,218,449

Independent Expenditures by RPAC in Federal Elections

Candidate Office Total
Kanjorski, Paul E. House $1,202,164
Foster, Bill House $796,891
Calvert, Ken House $606,236
Reichert, Dave House $576,388
Adler, John H. House $573,729
Gerlach, Jim House $475,508
Perlmutter, Edwin G. House $429,908
Isakson, Johnny Senate $377,353
Donnelly, Joe House $331,658
Tiberi, Patrick J. House $323,756
Cardoza, Dennis House $320,658
Thompson, Michael Ray House $3,700
Burr, Richard Senate $3,408
Edwards, Chet House $3,408

Source: Center for Responsive Politics. Data for 2010 election cycle, as of Nov. 1, 2010.

Looking Toward The Finish Line

November 3, 2010

By Steve Hoffacker, caash, caps, cgp, cmp, csp, mcsp, mirm

Hoffacker Associates, West Palm Beach, FL

There certainly is more 2010 in our rearview mirror than there is ahead of us, but that doesn’t mean we should focus on what’s behind us. It doesn’t matter what didn’t get done that we planned. It doesn’t matter where we were successful. It doesn’t matter where we stumbled or faltered. It doesn’t matter what sales got away from us or haven’t happened yet. All that matters is where we go from here.

If we’ve had a fair measure of success so far this year, we can’t coast the rest of the way. If we have struggled so far this year, there’s still time to finish reasonably strong.

If you have ever heard or read reports about marathon running or tried it yourself, then you are familiar with the concept of “the wall.” This is an emotional and physical barrier that occurs around the 20-mile mark of the 26-mile race — or a little over three-quarters of the way to the finish. We are a little closer than that to the finish line of December 31, but the comparison is real.

The idea of the wall is that we get mentally and emotionally fatigued from running that distance and our bodies become tired to the point of wanting to quit. It’s pushing through and past this point that produces winners. A year is long time to compete.

We need to call upon our mental and physical reserves. Our conditioning, our preparation, our stamina, our determination, and our perseverance will propel us the rest of the way.

Now, December 31 is not the end of the race — unless we don’t plan on competing in 2011, but it is how we keep score for 2010. In that sense, it is the finish line. That is where the official clock will stop and we’ll be able to measure our accomplishments against our goals — number of sales, dollar volume, number of cancellations, number of new contacts, number of appointments set, number of presentations made, and number of conversions.

So, it’s definitely not too early to be looking at that finish line, but we shouldn’t be so focused on it that we stub our toe on an opportunity that is right in our path or overlook something important that we can take advantage of.

Perspective is the key. Look toward the finish line but have peripheral vision that allows us to take in a full scope of opportunities as they present themselves to us. We won’t necessarily use all of them, but we should be able to recognize them as they appear.

The finish line is fast approaching.

OPINION: Builders, Not Realtors, Must be Better at Getting to the Polls

November 3, 2010

By Howard Head

With the midterm elections just completed, the entire building industry should be hoping that we did indeed elect those who are upset about this horrible economy and will actually do something about it.

But, if you read the article about the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in this publication it will make you sick. While most of us are worried about our country, the NAR is concerned about getting back in office those who voted right on Realtor Issues. They apparently don’t care that the same legislators who voted for NAR also voted for Obamacare, Cap and Trade, and other issues that will ultimately sink most of those who are struggling to make a decent living. The new regulations will strangle small business owners throughout the country.

However, it figures. Chances are that the people able to attend and vote at meetings in Washington or wherever else NAR chooses to hold them are those who have already made their fortune. What do they care about saving our country? And they probably think it is a good thing to weed out some Realtors who are just competition to them. They probably don’t care about their kids’ future either.

However, because of how much rested on the outcome of the election, I have also been upset with the fact that not enough was done by our building industry to get out the vote. There is no question that the local, state and national home builders associations do a decent job of picking, endorsing and supporting candidates. But there has never been a real intensive effort to get builders, their families, and their subcontractors, out to vote. It was the same this year.

Why don’t we energize members to get to the voting booth with the right information and with every family they do business with.  Everyone knows of cases where builders could be put out of business by a local candidate who is anti-growth, but their spouse votes for that person because the kids go to school with the candidate’s kids.

How many busy builders do you know who really do not know who it is that will vote to put them out of business? Those builders may say that’s why I pay my home builders dues. Which would be O. K. if the association could also vote in place of the builder.

Those who say such things are right about one thing. It will probably take local builder associations to get a practical program to make sure that every local builder gets involved in the politics that can eliminate their very existence. Legislation has already been passed at the federal level that will eliminate lots of builders. It’s called Obamacare.

To make my case, think of what was done in this critical election to get builders to go vote. If you know something I do not, it would make my day. Did anyone or any organization call you once a week to remind you to vote. If you are a member of the National Association of Home Builders, did you see any real effort to get builders and their families and friends to go vote — in this election that may be the most important in the history of our industry.

The next election will be even more critical. Will you help to put your industry in a position to get builders everywhere to realize that when they snooze…you lose?

Visit NAHB’s ‘Eye on Housing’ Blog for the Latest Economics and Housing Policy News and Analysis

November 3, 2010

Housing and economics followers can get the latest economics and housing policy news, analysis, studies, charts and graphs from NAHB’s free new blog, “Eye on Housing,” at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com.

Featuring NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe, as well as observations and comments from NAHB economists Bernie Markstein, Paul Emrath, Robert Dietz, Peter Grist and Robert Denk, the blog also includes links to relevant housing stories and information from other news sources.

Blog entries will be updated on a regular basis as the news related to housing occurs. The blog also will replace the content in NAHB’s Eye on the Economy. While subscribers will still receive their regular issues of Eye on the Economy, the e-newsletter will serve primarily as a digest of the content featured on the “Eye on Housing” blog.

Readers can either visit the free blog directly at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com, or subscribe to the RSS feed on the blog to have the latest entries sent to them as they are posted.