By Jamie Ridge

Blog

How Building An Online Municipal Database Benefited Our Realtor Members

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jamie Ridge

 

 

 Today’s guest blogger is Jamie Ridge, president/CEO of the 11,000 member Suburban Realtors Alliance in Malvern, PA. The Alliance provides local government affairs services for the Suburban West, Montgomery County and Bucks County Associations of Realtors.

 

The Challenge

One of the unique features of Pennsylvania’s commonwealth form of government is a large number of small municipalities, some with less than one square mile of real estate, but each with their own idea of how real estate sales should be regulated.

Acting as a “shared GAD” organization for three large Realtor Associations just outside of Philadelphia, our organization (Suburban Realtors Alliance) is tasked with helping 11,000 REALTOR members keep track of these regulations, which include everything from municipal “point-of-sale” inspections to bans on open house signs.

So how do we accomplish this task in a region that covers four large counties and 238 municipalities?

The Solution

Our answer is a comprehensive municipal database that provides a “one-stop” solution for our members and their clients. Powered by Accrisoft’s Accrisoft Freedom content management system (CMS), the database has quickly become the single most popular feature on our website.

Suburban Realtors Alliance municipal database 

How do our members feel about the database? Is it considered a value-added service? The individual page views that it has received – 40,000+ since its launch in late January—equal nearly half of the total views for our entire website during that same period. Because the municipal database is the only password-protected portion of our site, we are confident that these page views are being generated by our REALTOR members.

 

For an introduction to our municipal database, watch this video: 

 
Why The Municipal Database Is So Valuable

According to a 2012 study by governing.com, 28 US states have more than 1,000 individual municipalities within their borders, with Illinois topping the charts at 6,968 and Pennsylvania and Texas not far behind with over 4,850 municipalities each.

The “old way” of keeping track of the various real estate regulations promulgated by these cities, towns and boroughs was for Realtor Associations, or individual real estate brokerages, to create Excel spreadsheets or PDF documents featuring vague information for each locality. Municipal inspection required? Code inspector name? Hours of service?

After determining whether a town or borough called for a code inspection or other “point-of-sale” regulation, it was up to individual Realtors to visit the municipality’s website to view the full criteria. If you’ve visited a small town’s website recently, you’ll understand the frustration that members feel when this information is impossible to find, or non-existent.

Thankfully, our members don’t have to go through that torturous task any longer. They just visit our website, click on a municipality, and detailed information is readily available in an attractive format that works perfectly on laptops, tablets or smartphones.  No more guessing where a borough has hidden their inspection requirements, or being told they must wait for a call back from the local code inspector.

 

Add A Municipal Database To Your Realtor Association Website

The good news for other local Realtor Associations that would like to feature the same valuable content on their website is that the database template is now available through Accrisoft. After spending many hours on its design and functionality, and learning first-hand how popular it is with our members, we want to share this proven asset with other members of the Realtor Association family.

Could your membership benefit from a time and frustration-saving tool like the Suburban Realtor’s Alliance municipal database? Would you like to know more about its capabilities?

Send your questions to me at jsridge@suburbanrealtorsalliance.com, or call (610) 981-9000. I’m happy to talk with Realtor Association executives or government affairs directors who are interested in this type of solution for their members.

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