Starting a REIA

Association founders and business experts alike advise keeping things simple. We present you several choices to choose from, or to make a combination of them. Many clubs or associations start very informally over regularly scheduled Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner at Dennys®. Or you can have a more elaborate Non-Profit or For-Profit Corporation meeting regularly at the Hilton® Hotel. The whole idea is to talk to other people involved in the same business that you are in, with the purpose of sharing information, experiences and even contacts for your benefit to do better your job.

Just like selling products or services to customers, there must be immediate benefits for members. It’s as simple as identifying a need and meeting it. In short, make it easy, worthwhile and fun to join. Part of that is keeping dues as reasonable as possible. The amount should be based on expenses- meeting room, office equipment, material, printing, postage, telephone, website, and the like. For instance, in 1997 the Realty Investment Club of Houston (R.I.C.H.) charged $100.00 per couple a year; and Brazos Valley Real Estate Investors Association (B.V.R.E.I.A.) charged $60.00 per couple per year. The RICH club charged more because it needed a lot of revenue to produce and mail newsletters and to service a group of 400 plus people, on the other hand BVREIA is a small group of around 30 members and usually has sponsors to cover some of the meeting costs.

*Note that costs do increase, and member’s dues will eventually need to be raised. In 1999, after more than 12 years at $85 per couple, DIG, the Diversified Investor Group in Philadelphia, raised dues to $115 for a basic membership, and $165 for a family membership to service its 350 members because its obligations had increased.

Whether your goal is creating a regional or national group, heed the following advice of successful Real Estate Investors Association founders.

  • Prepare a Mission Statement. The mission statement will give you a clear idea of the association’s objectives.
  • Departing from the mission statement, prepare a business plan outlining achievable goal, explaining benefits, the purpose and long range objectives.
  • Promote the group by highlighting its unique features. Clearly distinguish it from competing groups, such as your Real Estate Board association and Apartment Owners associations, just to mention a few.
  • DELIVER-WHAT-YOU-PROMISE! Bold, Hyphenated, and highlighted, because this is one of the major reasons some associations come and goes.
  • Run your organization as you would run your business, not a hobby.
  • Avoid internal politics and bureaucracy.
  • Plan programs and events six months to a year ahead to keep members excited and boost attendance.
  • Invest time in promoting the association. An inexpensive strategy is sending local radio stations and newspapers press releases several weeks before an event.
  • Involve members in all aspects of running the association, volunteers are the heart of any association.
  • Publish a newsletter, even if it’s only a page announcing the next meeting. Your members need the reminder each month.
  • Promote your group on the Internet, list your group on as many of the Real Estate related sites as you can find.
  • Build your own website if you can afford it. In today’s environment, it will pay dividends in building membership as people locate you on the Internet.

Everyone benefits from a well-run association. For members, there is the chance to talk shop with other real estate investors and professionals. For founders, there is the constant challenge and gratification of building and organization with a potentially far reaching impact on the business community at large. And for all, there is a chance to help other real estate entrepreneurs.

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