Welcome to another edition of “Ask the MLS.” Here, we talk to people running innovative MLSs around the country and ask them questions about their markets, their members and what keeps them up at night.
Today’s post features Jim Yockel, CEO of Greater Rochester Association of Realtors (GRAR). GRAR REALTORS serves more than 3,000 agents across the greater Rochester region. GRAR is also a member of the Broker Public Portal. Here’s what Jim had to say:
1. What makes selling real estate unique or challenging in the 13 counties covered by GRAR?
Our region covers a very broad geographic area — including high-end vacation homes in the Finger Lakes, extensive agricultural areas, several small cities, rugged wilderness and a modern mid-size city as the anchor.
It is difficult to be an expert in all of the various types of properties available. In some areas we have multi-million dollar lake homes a mile or two from an award-winning winery and vineyard, which is next to a century-old, family-run dairy farm. It makes working in this region both exciting and challenging.
2. You are committed to working collaboratively with other organizations to provide great products and services to your members and their clients. What does that mean for you on a more granular level? How are you achieving this?
We feel very strongly that everyone in this industry has something to offer.
We may be competitors at times, but we are all in it to serve the home seller, home buyer, and home owner. If we work together we can accomplish so much more.
We believe partnerships where we find ways we can leverage each others’ strengths while minimizing our weaknesses are the best way to serve our brokers and agents, as well as their consumers.
It began with a regional MLS Cooperative with some of our neighbors. Since then, we have tried regional approaches to advocacy, professional development, leadership development, community/economic development, and sharing general knowledge. We also work very closely with our local home builders association and mortgage bankers association.
It has been very successful, and we are always looking for new ways to partner.
3. What changes have you seen in your market over the last five years?
Like most of the country, we have seen an acute shortage of homes for sale over the last 7-8 years. This has caused a significant increase in prices and is impacting our affordability.
Generally, the Rochester and Finger Lakes region is very affordable compared to the national average, but it has been a big adjustment for our market.
4. What is the best way for real estate professionals to reinforce the value they bring to the transaction and to their clients?
We believe it all comes back to building strong personal relationships with your consumer. Technology is a tool, not a replacement for personal relationships.
We look at our role as an association and MLS as providing the tools our members need to succeed, so they can focus all their time on building personal relationships and building their business.
The more we can make the basic stuff easy and seamless, the more our brokers and agents can focus on differentiating themselves from the competition.
Sometimes we forget that we are on the consumer’s side. We are helping them to get through what can be a stressful and complicated process, and the more the association can do to eliminate stress for the agent and the consumer, the better it will be for all involved.
5. If you could have a different job for a week, in any industry, what would it be?
I would be an astronomer. I have always been fascinated by space exploration and learning about the mysteries of the universe. I would love to spend a week at an observatory looking through a giant telescope.