Suburban Realtors Alliance (SRA) represents approximately 14,000 realtor members in 238 municipalities and four counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. To stay on top of emerging opportunities to advance key initiatives, examine trends and potential threats on the horizon, and keep members up-to-date on real estate developments, SRA relies on Curate.
Erin Smist, government affairs manager at SRA, shares her tips and best practices for a successful local government strategy.
Jump on Opportunities
SRA seeks to impact public policy that benefits real estate and protects private property rights, and it serves as a resource for shareholder members, consumers, local governments, and elected officials. With Curate, SRA has immediate access to relevant information that can help identify opportunities and alert members so they can take action when they arise, with an up-todate database of local government documents.
One example of this is that many municipalities create ordinances without considering the real estate perspective. Knowing what ordinances are being discussed allows SRA to have those conversations and offer their side of the story, starting a dialogue. Curate helps streamline the process by making it easy for the organization to find contact information for key officials and stakeholders of a local government in seconds.
“Both the staff at municipalities and elected officials can be helpful in different ways,” says Smist. “We’ve built relationships with solicitors that have interests in other municipalities, so we’re able to get a leg up when we do have an issue crop up in another municipality that they are representing.” These relationships can open doors for SRA and its members.
Identifying trends is essential for SRA because ordinances and legislation are usually not limited to one municipality. Often, when one municipality proposes something, “then more will do it, because they all seem to talk to each other,” Smist says. “The ideas get passed around for sure in local government.”
Working across 238 municipalities means 238 sets of rules and regulations. Using Curate, Smist can easily spot trends and predict what issues municipalities might face based on their neighboring areas. “Curate helps us see through to what we need to see,” she adds.
Being aware of these trends gives SRA direction in asking members for their feedback, getting engagement, and receiving guidance or unexpected insights from them.
Seven days is not a long time to put together a full campaign, so being able to see those minutes and get ahead of the issue before it is fully formed by the municipality is really important to us.Erin Smist, Government Affairs Manager
Suburban Realtors Alliance
With an easy-to-use interface and a wealth of data from more than 12,000 local governments and 4,000 school districts across the country, Curate helps the organization prove its value to its members.
Get Early Alerts on Harmful Policy
Being alerted to potentially damaging policy is crucial for SRA and its members. Curate allows the organization to uncover legislation and regulations early and help members avoid negative impacts. For example, SRA recently discovered that a municipality was looking to pass a sprinkler ordinance that would impact mostly rental properties. “It is something that if we hadn’t seen it early in the process, it would have been very difficult for us to find the other players who are impacted by this and talk to them and get in front of this issue,” Smist says.
A sprinkler ordinance may seem like a relatively insignificant issue, but this could have a huge impact on SRA members. This legislation could create a big cost to property owners who would be required to retrofit with sprinklers. “It could be very expensive and take quite a bit of equity out of a property,” Smist explains.
Finding out early about legislation like this helps SRA create a game plan with plenty of time. “A lot of times with ordinances, they only need to be advertised seven days in advance, so we would have very little time to do this,” Smist says. “Seven days is not a long time to put together a full campaign, so being able to see those minutes and get ahead of the issue before it is fully formed by the municipality is really important to us.”
Without Curate, SRA wouldn’t have known this ordinance was being proposed until much later, after it had already been drafted, and would have only had seven days to respond. With early notice, Smist’s team was able to tell landlord groups and homebuilders that this should be on their radar and create an action plan.
Better Inform Members
SRA’s ability to keep members up-to-date on news, opportunities, and risks helps prove its value. The organization sends a weekly news brief to members discussing what is happening in real estate within the region.
“This is something that brings a lot of value to our members because it puts the news into a bite-sized form for them,” Smist says. “We use Curate as a source because that’s one of the ways we’re able to look at what’s happening on the different planning commissions and boards across the region.”
In addition to a weekly newsletter, SRA has municipal information on its website and a database with legislation impacting real estate across the region. “We really try to put the information in the hands of our members because it is important to them,” Smist adds. “We’re here to help them, we’re not here to make local government something that’s removed from them.”
SRA uses these educational opportunities to make local government accessible to its members. “We want to put it in their hands and make sure that they understand that this is the level of government that has a huge impact on real estate in our region,” Smist says.
About Suburban Realtors Alliance
Established in January 1998, the roughly 13,000-member Suburban REALTORS® Alliance is a subsidiary corporation of the Bucks County Association of REALTORS® and Tri-County Suburban REALTORS® located in southeastern Pennsylvania. The Alliance is affiliated with the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®.
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