Is volunteering worth it?

I was asked this question the other day, and it’s one that I ask myself at the beginning of the year and throughout the year. Is volunteering for various Realtor associations worth it? The short answer – it depends.

One of the best benefits of serving in a volunteer role is simple – meeting other Realtors is beneficial. A wise person told me years ago that, in a multiple offer situation, if there were three Realtors bringing offers, the one known by the listing agent may have a better chance of acceptance due to the Realtors’ prior relationship. This may seem odd, but one of the components of an offer is the Realtors’ reputation. I ask myself, and work through this thought process with my clients all the time – “do I trust this agent“? Why or why not? How best can I protect my client? As the listing agent, if I have served on a committee with an agent, I am better prepared to assess them and their offer by virtue of my time on a particular committee.

Another benefit of serving on politically-minded committees is the knowledge gained through the meetings and the connections made. Simple, but time-consuming. Because of these committees, I consider myself better informed than the average Realtor on many matters that affect my clients – roads, developments, eminent domain, grantors taxes, land use policies and legislation – politics that affect and impact real estate. This too, benefits my business, in a sometimes more tangible way.

Locally, I chair the Government Affairs Committee and sit on the Board of Directors. For the State, I recently accepted an offer to be on the Public Policy and Governance committee as well as the request to be a Delegate (not really sure what that means yet, other than I have a couple meetings in Richmond throughout the year). Nationally, I just finished work on an MLS committee. All told, that is about 35 days of non-selling activity out of 365 days. (I said no to another request – a fleeting feeling of liberation!)

Nationally, meeting Realtors and Brokers of the caliber that serve on various Leadership Teams, Presidential Groups, etc. was fascinating (I lucked my way into this committee because of a meeting made through my participation in last year’s Leadership Academy). Seeing how the national Realtor organization looks upon technology, Realtors, the market was and is absolutely invaluable.

So far, the benefits outweigh the negatives. Check back in in November of this year to see how upbeat I am. Frankly, I am a bit overwhelmed by both the time commitments and the demands to stay informed.

There are at least two dangers to volunteering and participating so much –

1) Too much time spent away from representing clients in the buying and selling of real estate is fiscally (as well as to my psyche) damaging.
2) Becoming a RINO (Realtor in Name Only) is a possibility. By this I mean becoming a Realtor that does nothing but attend various meetings and attempt to set policies, the consequences of which are unknown -because said RINO does nothing but attend meetings. Real estate representation is a “boots on the ground” career that simply cannot be replicated in a board room.

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  1. Julie Emery February 11, 2007 at 15:13

    Volunteering, both within the real estate industry and outside it has definitely been good for my business and good for my clients.
    Contacts I’ve made through my participation in various REALTOR organizations have sent me referrals that have resulted in closed business and money in my pocket. That’s definitely good for my business.
    But, better in the long term is the knowledge I’ve gained. There are so many people in this business with so much knowledge. And it’s always impressive how many of them are willing to share that knowledge. It’s all good for my clients and good for me.
    And technology makes it easier all the time to be physically elsewhere but not out of touch.
    Now if someone would just add more hours to the day!

  2. Todd Tarson February 12, 2007 at 15:49

    Wow, couldn’t have said any of it better myself.

    Last year I was president of my local Association and a founding member of a new regional MLS. My production took a beating. Long term though, through all my volunteer activity I believe each and every moment was beneficial. The education alone was worth it.

    Good to see that you are so active, perhaps we will meet up at National or Mid-Year someday. (I’m not going to Mid Year this year but will be in 08 and 09 as Regional VP of AAR [Arizona]).