As a broker and business owner, I know firsthand how hard it can be to know you’re doing everything you can for your agents. You’re constantly asking yourself questions such as:
“Do my agents have what they need to thrive in their careers?”
“Are we on top of the latest changes in the industry?”
“Do I have any blind spots in my business operations?”
If you’re a smaller brokerage, finding and maintaining the resources needed to manage risk and keep your business, your agents and your clients protected is an additional challenge, especially when the speed and complexity of today’s housing market make those risks greater than ever.
The Austin Board of REALTORS® is here to help. This year, ABoR has launched a new series of Broker Toolkits designed to address these resource gaps in your business operations and help you and your agents stay ahead of the rapid changes in our marketplace. Each toolkit includes expert guidance specifically for brokers as well as ready-to-share resources for your agents. Here’s a brief overview of two of the Broker Toolkits we have released so far:
Broker Toolkit: Code of Conduct + Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy
In the last year, our industry has received an increasing number of complaints at the local and state levels about REALTORS® posting discriminatory speech and conduct online, especially on social media. Our Diversity Committee tackled this issue head-on, collaborating with ABoR legal counsel to develop a series of model policies that help brokers prevent and address complaints associated with harassment, discrimination and racism.
Our Broker Toolkit: Code of Conduct + Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy provides clear and specific examples of agent conduct requirements, as well as harassing and discriminatory behavior. The policies also clarify who is subject to following the guidelines and outline investigation processes and disciplinary actions to be consistent in how issues are addressed within the brokerage.
Regardless of whether ABoR’s model policies are a fit for your brokerage, it’s critical that brokers have policies in place that address agent conduct, harassment and discrimination and regularly train their agents and staff on these policies utilizing your policies in onboarding training for new hires and an annual review of brokerage policies for one’s entire office.
Championing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
This inaugural Broker Toolkit is the latest initiative by ABoR and our Diversity Committee to champion equity and inclusion and end discrimination in our marketplace. This fall, the Diversity Committee will be developing a follow-up report to our inaugural 2019 ABoR Diversity Report, established baselines, benchmarks and strategies building a REALTOR® community that mirrors the rich diversity of the Central Texas region and the clients we serve every day. In addition, ABoR has partnered with Leadership Austin to develop a series of articles that help foster inclusive conversations, including Leading Courageous Conversations to Level-Setting Our Dialogue. We hope you will join us in championing equity and inclusion in real estate by sharing some of these DEI resources, which you can find in the Document Library on ABoR.com.
Broker Toolkit: Managing Risk in Today’s Housing Market
In May, ABoR released its second Broker Toolkit: Managing Risk in Today’s Housing Market. Developed in direct response to the concerns ABoR hears from the broker community daily on the issues and obstacles REALTORS® are experiencing in the field, this toolkit includes a series of resources and best practices that can help you tackle emerging risks in today’s housing market head-on, including:
• Top Five Best Practices for Brokers Right Now
• Top 10 Issues Agents are Experiencing in the Market
• Property Showing Guidance for a Lightning-Fast Market
• MLS Training Resources for Buyer’s Agents
Don’t Forget About These Risk Management Resources
Texas REALTORS® Legal Hotline & Online Resources: The Texas REALTORS® Legal Hotline (800-873-9155) is an incredible resource. Agents and brokers can call Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to speak directly with a real estate attorney. In addition, the Legal & Ethics section on TexasRealEstate.com has searchable case studies and model policies for brokers.
Your Brokerage’s Legal Counsel: Brokers, if the only time you engage your legal counsel is when a problem arises, you can be putting your business at risk. When industry regulations shift or new guidance is released, be proactive about engaging your legal counsel to ensure your brokerage practices and policies are up to date.
Coming in July: Broker Toolkit for Changing ACTRIS MLS Enforcement Policies
Next month, ABoR will be releasing a third Broker Toolkit that will help brokers educate their agents on the upcoming changes to ACTRIS MLS enforcement policies that will take effect this August. The Broker Toolkit include shareable resources that break down each of the changes and each step in the new enforcement process.
Amidst continual industry change, limited resources and dwindling attention spans, I hope these Broker Toolkits not only help bring brokers peace of mind but empower all agents to help foster a more cooperative and professional marketplace. You can download all Broker Toolkits and more broker-only resources at ABoR.com/BrokerToolkit.