Is It Worthwhile to Become an Affiliate of Your Local Realtor Association?

May 27th, 2018

Darrin in LA asks:

I’m new to RE photography and recently signed on as an affiliate member at my local Realtor’s association. What I was really after was a roster of members, which I did receive. Other benefits mostly involve me spending more money to sponsor events, classes, etc. So I have signed up for one such event. Time will tell if it was worth the money.

That gets to the crux of my question. As a new business owner with a small marketing budget, I wonder how many real estate photographers are members of their local associations. If they are, what is the benefit that gives them the biggest bang for their buck? If they are not, why have they decided not to join the local association?

I have a couple of comments about local Realtor associations:

  1. To me, a much better way to get a list of local Realtors is to just sit down with Excel and look at the agent pages of the local office websites for your local offices. In addition to getting contact info, you will be able to pick out the listing agents from the buyer’s agents (you are only interested in marketing listing agents) and you will also be able to see all the top listing agents by seeing how many listings they have and what price range their listings are in. Sure, this takes a while but it is well worth the time. This exercise gives tremendous insight into your local real estate community.
  2. Many real estate photographers become affiliate members of the local Realtor’s association as you have. The purpose a real estate photographer would become an affiliate member of the local association is to meet the Realtors. That is, to have another way to meet potential clients and become visible in the local Realtor community. Realtors are social people so the best way to market to them is by getting to know them face to face. Affiliate membership is a way to become part of their social group.

What are the experiences of those of you who have joined your local Realtor association? Is it worthwhile?

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10 Responses to “Is It Worthwhile to Become an Affiliate of Your Local Realtor Association?”

  • While I am both a Realtor and a photographer, can’t really say if MLS membership is worthwhile while straddling both sides. HOWEVER…each Association has it’s own rules and regulations and would not be surprised if most had a similar prohibition. Specifically… shall not be utilized for recruiting purposes. Messages, advertisements or e-mails indicating an offer of employment … Can you obtain the information – absolutely, however, any solicitation needs to be in the context of reviewing their website, not a mass mailing/e-mailing list generated from MLS.

  • I joined one of our local realtor associations so that I could obtain an electronic lockbox key. About 25% of my clients use them and without the key I probably wouldn’t have them as clients.

  • I’ve been asking myself this same question, although my primary goal for doing so was to get an electronic key and make life easier for my agent-clients. I’ve had a few requests for ekey capabilities from realtors… but not enough yet to justify the cost. A secondary benefit would just be to be able to promote the fact that I was an affiliate member and have passed a background check to get an eKey. Curious if this might be a good enough reason to become an affiliate member?

  • As an affiliate member you can attend MLS sponsired events. You will also be invited to events hosted by other affiliate members and by brokers. Go to these and you’ll meet agents face to face. Chat and exchange business cards. Follow up with a call or email. Besides real estate agents, you’ll always meet loan officers, home warranty reps, home inspectors, title and escrow officers, etc. many who update their own marketing pictures regularly. I have acquired more business from personal contact than by sending mass emails. I’m an agent and receive a lot of solicitation emails everyday. Most go to my trash without looking at it. I will open it if it’s from someone I know or met.

  • I joined my local MLS as an associate member at the behest of one of my best clients – she wanted me to have a Supra key so she could save money by not sending anyone or showing up herself to any particular photoshoot she hired me for. I resisted for a long time because she was the only one asking for that, but eventually, I capitulated. I have since fired her as a client because of her incessant need to save money (even though she was turning about 20 or so properties a month) – generally at my own expense.

    I probably only use that stupid key about 5 or six times a month, so it likely is costing me more than it’s worth, but it is really handy when I need it. I did notice a very sharp uptick in the amount of real estate related spam immediately after joining, which kind of pissed me off, considering I was paying them for membership and they were selling my info, as well. I don’t use my membership for anything else other than the key app. My wife is a realtor so if there is anything RE association related that we want to attend, I would just go along as her guest.

    So, your mileage may vary, as they say!

  • A long time ago we joined the local mob and all we got for it was an invite to all the different meetings, seminars, breakfasts, you name it to sponsor their event….. Total waste of money. We still get spammed with tons of crap email, junk mail and phone calls for robo idiots.

    Now, we cater to our clients with the option of putting a combo box on the property for access if they want to save themselves the trip out to open the door and then wait in their auto while we shoot. Those newbie agents that insist that they are required to be at the property by mls rules…. well, that’s up to them, but after a couple of shoots, they all have gone the way of the combo box.

    Not sure if the fees are the same across the nation, I doubt it, but now the E-Key fee alone is around $15 a month, then there is the monthly affiliate fee

  • If you are a member of a Real Estate Association, you agree to be bound by their rules, so it’s a good idea to carefully go through those rules and evaluate how they might affect you. I was going to get an affiliate membership ($250/yr) and then reconsidered after reading the rules. I can’t recall the specifics, just that I felt it would put me in a tough spot regarding my photos.

    It’s possible with at least some of the Supra boxes for the agent to generate a one-time code that you can use to access the keys. I either get that code the day before or have them give me the number when I arrive at the property. One of my clients usually has combo boxes as well for the contractors to get in and they give me those combos instead of the Supra box code to make life easier all around. The Supra box codes I’ve been given only work once, so it’s a good idea to keep that in mind and not lock everything up before you are certain you don’t have to get back in for anything.

  • Ken, was curious how you utilize the one time code IF you don’t have an eKey to go with it? I don’t think you can use a one time code (eKey) without being registered… or am I wrong. Can you do this (use a one-time code) without being an affiliate member?

  • @Chip, The Supra boxes in my area have a keypad to enter a code. No card required.

  • @ken. Thanks, I haven’t seen that type of Supra, but I’ll certainly check that out.

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