For the second edition of In the RESpotlight we are proudly featuring Ms. Christine (Chris) M. Todd, Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS® (NVAR) since 1989. During her tenure, Chris and her team have been credited with making vast advancements for NVAR and its members as well as the global real estate community.
NVAR has grown to become one of the largest and most productive associations in the country with over 10,000 members. Also, due to the changing ethnic demographics in the Northern Virginia region, their membership has changed as well, reflecting notable surges in the Hispanic and Asian segments of the population.
Given the challenges that diversity can present, we asked Chris, what she thinks is most important to NVAR members and what their biggest challenges are. “Remaining relevant. Our biggest concern is offering products and services to meet the ever changing needs of our diverse membership,” comments Chris. And NVAR works hard every day to do just that. “We custom tailor programs and services to fit their exact needs like educating brokers on real estate licensing boards rules concerning escrow accounts for small brokerage firms.” Being a resource for their members, creating learning opportunities and facilitating partnerships are all keys to their success.
For instance, NVAR recently formed a partnership with Google to offer Google REAcademy classes. These seminars addressed their members’ need to learn how real estate technology could work for them. The Google REAcademy teaches members how to effectively use Google’s products and services such as: QR Codes, SEO, virtual tours, maps and “cloud” computing technology in their day-to-day business. “Google is a cutting edge technology organization, our partnership with the Google REAcademy supports our members by bringing them the best-in-class training,” says Chris.
NVAR goes beyond meeting the needs of their members to making a big environmental impact on the community. Concerned about their carbon footprint when designing the new NVAR headquarters, they were determined to not only comply with but exceed EPA standards; as a result, NVAR was awarded Gold LEED certification. “As REALTORS®, we are proud that we set an example of how leadership and creative design can produce a beautiful building that is energy efficient and a great place to work and learn,” says Chris.
NVAR doesn’t stop at the community level. NVAR has been recognized by the National Association of REALTORS® as an Outstanding Ambassador Association in recognition of the work they have done over the past 20 years to nurture and help develop real estate associations in Poland and Peru. Chris and her leadership have traveled to Eastern Europe, Peru and Vietnam using NVAR and MRIS as role models for other nations to help them create a national MLS for their respective countries. “NVAR is a model association that has been used to help newly formed real estate associations in the former Soviet Union countries develop and thrive,” Chris explains.
From the global community to a single street in Northern Virginia, NVAR is tasked with many challenges. Most important is facilitating the business of real estate for its members and the public. Chris tells us: “appraisals are coming in too low, financial reform is over compensating for past abuses and the inventory of homes for sale is very low. This might mean sellers are overly cautious about selling their homes in a complex market and our agents are caught in the middle.” How do they help their members with this struggle? By creating unique opportunities for learning as much as possible about the national and local economy. An example of one of these programs is the NVAR Annual Economic Summit which features experts in finance and real estate. They also work with MRIS and its RealEstate Business Intelligence (RBI) division as resources to help their members build their arsenal. The RBI stats help give agents “the knowledge they need to help buyers and sellers make decisions based on facts, not the emotions or the latest media headline.” MRIS and NVAR also joined forces last spring to encourage sellers to contact NVAR members to discuss listing their properties for sale now rather than later. This campaign, entitled Demand is Back, focused on: driving awareness of Open House Weekend (June 4th and 5th) and promoting the general health of the Northern Virginia market. Using traditional media outlets to springboard these two messages, the Demand is Back campaign successfully drove traffic to HomesDatabase.com and helped NVAR get their message in front of a targeted audience.
And how do you spread the word about training, classes or information to 10,000 members, all suffering from being time-starved and in communications overload? Although NVAR utilizes a wide array of communications tools and social media, they find face-to-face communication is always the #1 way to reach their members. “When you can get a members’ attention for 20 minutes without interruption — that is the best. They are all so busy, so face to face time is just priceless,” says Chris.
Christine M. Todd has served as the Chief Executive Officer, of the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS® since 1989. She started her REALTOR® Association career in 1978 at the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. Christine has been selected by the leadership of the National Association of REALTORS® and the Virginia Association of REALTORS® to serve on numerous committees including, the NAR Board of Directors, Finance and Executive Committees.
In 1997 the President of the National Association of REALTORS® presented her with the NAR Award of Excellence in Association Management. Mrs. Todd currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Real Property Foundation, SentriLock Corp. and the REALTORS® Federal Credit Union. In her role as an association consultant she has presented dozens of seminars throughout Eastern Europe, Russia and Peru. Mrs. Todd is a Certified Association Executive and was awarded two honorary designations by the National Association of REALTORS® RCE and CIPS.