By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
So many announcements are made at NAR’s annual meeting that it’s easy to lose sight of just how trend-shifting some of them are. At the opening forum of the 2009 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego yesterday, NAR CEO Dale Stinton made back-to-back introductions of two initiatives that stand to define how you’ll do business in the years ahead.
The first is the REALTORS® Property Resource, something NAR leaders first started discussing several years ago then gave the go-ahead about two years ago as part of NAR’s massive Second Century Initiatives.
When it launches in the second quarter of 2010, it will be a database of 147 million parcels of real estate accessible to all REALTORS®. For each parcel you’ll have quantitative data—size, assessment, and so on—plus qualitative data: comments from you and your colleagues on what’s really key about the property.
Any database that has 147 million of anything is a massive resource; when the data consists of the amount and quality of the information that Stinton describes, you really get a sense of its scale. It will put an unprecedented amount of informaton at your fingertips, making you a go-to resource for your customers that would have simply been impossible years ago. If you think about it, it’s exactly the kind of thing that associations should be doing for their members: pooling their resources to undertake massive projects that shift the long-term competitive landscape in their favor.
Stinton’s announcement was in the manner of a status update. Much of the technology steps have largely been taken. Project leaders are now writing the business rules and the ethical standards that will govern the use of the data.
The other announcement was for HouseLogic, the huge consumer Web site that just came online for members and will roll out for consumers in early 2010. Once again, the scale of the effort is striking. The site is state-of-the art in all ways: navigation, interactivity, resource, and media rich. You can say it’s the perfect marriage between Silicon Valley and your favorite magazine—the one you read cover to cover and whose articles you tear out, give to others and file away. And the one whose back issues you hesitate to throw away because you know you’ll remember something you read in an issue years ago that you’re going to want to find again.
The idea is for the site to be a work tool for home owners. It’ll be a living site that you use almost like you use Google, Wikipedia, and Facebook—to stay on top of what’s happening right now and to share and communicate with others. It’s a site that will empower home owners with knowledge to care for the biggest investment they’ll likely make with confidence and insight.
Since this tool is being brought to them by their most trusted source when it comes to the home—you—the spillover benefits to you stand to be great. But the site’s value for your business is also more immediate and practical than that: Its deep and rich content is yours to use on your own Web site. That enables you to offer up many of the same resources to your customers yourself.
NAR’s leaders talked about much more than these two initiatives at the forum, of course, all of it vital to your business—like the extension and expansion of the home buyer tax credit, extension of the Fannie, Freddie, and FHA high-cost loan limits, and the association’s efforts to help smooth short sales and resolve implementation problems with the new appraisal guidelines, known as HVCC. But I highlight RPR and HouseLogic because these are brand new tools that stand to change the way you do business deep into the future.