2018: Our Association’s remarkable year

By Jason Gentry, Association/CarolinaMLS President

What a year it’s been.

As 2018 has flown by, so much has occurred to benefit us as Realtors® and our community. We’re fortunate to live in a growing, business-friendly environment, and despite lower home inventory this year, we’re on track to close about the same number of sales in 2018 as in 2017 — 45,000. While we’re all eager for inventory to rise, 45,000 closed sales reflects a healthy market.

At the Association, accomplishments have been even more remarkable: expansion of CarolinaMLS, advocacy for our profession, initiation of a new headquarters building and rebranding, and growth of our Housing Opportunity Foundation. Here’s a closer look.

Expansion of CarolinaMLS

In the internet age, providing accurate, useful and timely information to buyers and sellers has never been more important. CarolinaMLS helps us to use MLS data to cultivate and serve clients, and continued growth of the MLS is aiding that.

In early 2018, CarolinaMLS grew by acquiring the N.C. Mountains MLS and began serving Catawba Valley (Hickory/Lenoir area) as its MLS provider, or wholesale vendor. We are continuing to have conversations with interested parties about joining CarolinaMLS.

Growing CarolinaMLS through acquisitions and wholesale vendor relationships helps us boost our individual businesses — not only geographically, but through more online products and services through the MLS. The larger our subscriber base is, the more efficient and cost effective it is to offer new online tools that help us serve our buyers and sellers.

Advocacy for Realtors®

In addition to ongoing government advocacy work in 2018, your Association took to the airways, cyberspace, print media and even outdoor billboards to promote the consumer benefits of using a Realtor®.

The “Realtors® Play Many Roles” consumer awareness campaign, which ran from March through October, promoted our Code of Ethics requirement and the critical roles we play to ensure smooth transactions.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the highly successful ad campaign:

  • Digital (websites and mobile): About 2.5 million impressions (consumer views) on sites and apps like Yahoo, CNN, Spotify, Pandora and weather.com
  • Facebook: About 500,000 impressions
  • WSOC-TV: 107 ads with 4.2 million impressions
  • WBTV-TV: 123 ads with about 2 million impressions
  • Bounce TV: 148 ads with about 1.5 million impressions
  • Digital billboards: 15 locations for about 3 million impressions
  • Other: print ads in Charlotte Magazine, The Charlotte Post, La Noticia and Creative Loafing; email through qnotes and Qcitymetro; content in digital newsletter Charlotte Five; and sponsorships with the Charlotte Knights and Arts & Science Council Culture Feast

New Headquarters, New Branding

As of late 2018, our new headquarters is on schedule and projected to open late June or July 2019.

In only a few months, you’ll be enjoying state-of-the-art classrooms, a much larger Realtor® Store with a view of Pearl Street Park, a “genius bar” to get answers to your CarolinaMLS questions and a “family room” to relax between appointments.

Our construction company, Myers & Chapman, has been fantastic to work with, as has developer Peter Pappas, whose Midtown project includes our new building and parking deck. On Dec. 3, we helped dedicate the extension of Pearl Street Parkway, which runs in front of our new complex.

Our rebranding work, led by Mower agency, began in the summer and is wrapping up in late 2018 and early 2019. If you’re one of the more than 5,000 members who participated in our online surveys — thank you! That was a big help.

In addition to helping us target our marketing efforts and messaging, the rebranding results will likely bring new names for the Association, CarolinaMLS, Mingle School and Housing Opportunity Foundation. Stay tuned.

Growth of the Housing Opportunity Foundation

Despite parking limitations due to our headquarters construction and other development near our current building, the Housing Opportunity Foundation (HOF) had a banner year in 2018.

The Foundation and REBIC hosted civil rights activist John Perkins early in the year for a discussion on Fair and Affordable Housing. In March, CRRA and the Foundation kicked off a month-long awareness campaign in April in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee that included a 33’x28’ fair housing wallscape located on an uptown parking deck seen by 108,000 people daily.  It was also an honor to receive the “50 Years of Opening Doors” award from the Community Relations Committee on behalf of the foundation.

Realtors® Care Day celebrated its 10th anniversary, with approximately 700 of us helping homeowners with repairs at 26 sites in our region.  In addition, the Realtors® Care Day Food Drives collected more than two tons of food for The Harvest Center in Charlotte and the Mooresville Soup Kitchen.

Nearly 500 runners and walkers participated in the third-annual Strides for Shelter 5K, which allowed the Foundation to donate $20,555 to the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte to address homelessness. Project REACH (Realtors® Engaging and Creating Hope) attracted 125 Realtor® volunteers who assisted five nonprofits: Friendship Trays, Refugee Support Services, Ronald McDonald House, Matthews Help Center and Veterans Bridge Home. The Foundation also donated $500 to each of the participating agencies.

The Foundation also named Erin Santos, founder of the Isabella Santos Foundation, as its Humanitarian of the Year.  The Isabella Santos Foundation was established to raise awareness and funding for research and a cure to neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer that ended the young life of their daughter, Isabella. For nearly 10 years, the Isabella Santos Foundation has been a driving force in increasing awareness and has raised over $2.5 million in funding.  Erin Santos received a commemorative crystal award and the ability to designate a charity of her choice to receive $5,000 from the foundation, which she designated to be The Isabella Santos Foundation.

Speaking of donations, the Foundation also gave $65,000 through its two grant programs to 15 nonprofits and eight area Habitat for Humanity chapters to address unmet housing needs.

Like I said, it’s been quite a year.