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REEA: Reborn and Ready to Educate Realtors for Today’s World

Jun 17, 2012

Posted by

Susan Springer

Susan Thomas Springer is a writer and journalist who has published hundreds of articles in magazines, newspapers, and online. Her writing services include ghostwriting, copy writing, marketing materi Read more

The 32-year old organization is rising from the ashes after almost dying.  REEA suffered financial problems, leadership setbacks and declining membership—but when asked to vote on whether or not to dissolve REEA, members realized how valuable the organization was to them.  Newly invigorated, REEA is reinventing its structure, listening better to members’ needs and embracing technology-based education for Realtors who are working hard to thrive in today’s challenging climate.

Enter Garton-Good

Interim President Julie Garton-Good, who was also REEA’s past president, ’92-’93, said the vote was a wake-up call.

“I’m very optimistic!  In two months we’ve totally turned things around.  We’re having monthly newsletters, we’re having bi-weekly webinars, the conference is back on, and we’re back in the black.  So things are really good.  We’re making it work now and it’s full speed ahead,” said Garton-Good.

She says REEA’s series of problems occurred mostly because the organization had not fine-tuned itself over the years.  She points out that even strong organizations must stay “lean and mean” and remember whom they are serving.  Today, the organization that lost its way is on the path to re-engaging its membership.

Members Speak

When we reached out to members and asked what they need, they told us three things.  They need to have constant, ongoing communication with other members who can share what they’re doing.  Two, they want tools to help do the job better.  And three, they love the benefit of networking online and offline with their peers,” said Garton-Good.

DREI Designation

A few decades ago, Garton-Good was the youngest person to earn REEA’s Distinguished Real Estate Instructor (DREI) designation.  It’s not easy to obtain (fewer than 100 people hold a DREI) and requires many hours of study and classroom time to demonstrate teaching excellence.  Since then, she’s written 10 books, spoken nationally and internationally and has been interviewed on various television networks as an industry expert.  She appreciates REEA for giving her a professional start in the real estate world.

“It really helped form who I am and what I was able to do,” said Garton-Good, who adds that many other members feel the same heartfelt commitment to giving back to the organization that helped grow their own careers.

“They’re really excited and they’re paying their dues, and we have some members who say, ‘Can we just send money?  Our dues aren’t due—but can we just send money?’” added Garton-Good.

New Goals and Tough Challenges

REEA’s new goals are to increase membership from 450 back up to 1,000 and to increase the number of educators who hold the DREI designation.

“We realize we can’t be all things to all people.  I think moving forward, probably our core group of speakers, trainers, and school owners will be our predominant base, and that’s going to help us fine-tune a lot of the services that we can provide,” said Garton-Good.

The membership goal comes with the challenge of increasing membership among young Realtors.  “Perhaps our greatest challenge is the Gen X and Gen Y brokers and agents who don’t really join.  They don’t show up; they are the “wild children;” they have their own agenda.  One of our big pushes is to figure out how to bring them into the fold because they really are tomorrow’s REEA,” said Garton-Good.

Another key goal is to provide educators with the high-tech tools they need to build skills for today’s Realtor who has a virtual office and very little time.  The new tools include webinars, online courses and telecourses.

Today’s Tools are Imperative

We’re trying to focus on what tools will make the educator’s job easier—and many of those tools, especially the online education, are what the agents are clamoring for.  The day of being able to take one or two days off to sit in the classroom is gone—that’s almost impossible for many people.  A lot of agents today no longer have the benefit of a weekly meeting—brokers are too busy and are, themselves, out competing with the agents,” added Garton-Good.

For example, she says webinars require more skills than adding voice to a Power Point presentation.  Instead, educators must compete for attention in today’s plugged-in world.

“You have to constantly keep them engaged.  You cannot assume that they’re not sitting there reading their e-mail while they’re listening to you.  You add in little things like ‘on this next slide you’ll see’ so they realize this is something they need to be watching and listening to—so they jump back on,” said Garton-Good.

She adds that while conferences may be on the decline, REEA members are looking forward to networking and seeing the next “new things” this August.

“Even though times are financially tight and many are saying let’s just do a virtual conference instead, our members are voting with their feet and they actually want to come despite the recent past when we’ve had some missteps.  They realize we’re still the same old group—we just had some growing pains, or some declining pains—and they are still interested in getting together,” said Garton-Good.

Annual Conference

She adds REEA is truly a vibrant group today—more than ever.  “This is a very nurturing, sharing group or they wouldn’t be teaching adults real estate,” laughed Garton-Good.

She concluded, “The REEA annual conference is scheduled for August 10-13 at Morehead State University in Kentucky.  Register and learn more about REEA at www.reea.org.”