Receiving the Award of Excellence as the Best REIA in the Country for an unprecedented fourth time is a wonderful accomplishment, but it doesn’t mean everything is fantastic inside AZREIA. Things are tough in the REIA world these days. Just two to three years ago National REIA had 240 member groups. They now have 180. That is 60 groups or 25% that no longer exist to provide support and service to real estate investors across the country. Virtually every group in the country has lost a lot of members and attendance at REIA meetings is down substantially.

Having run AZREIA for nine years, I understand a little about how the cycle runs. REIAs have their largest membership when real estate is booming like it was between 2004 and early 2008. All the press coverage was positive and there was lots of it. Housing values were rising and everyone thought they could make tons of money investing in real estate. Cover articles in Fortune, Time and every major newspaper in the country were being written daily about people making fortunes in real estate. Lenders were lending at reasonable rates. This drove a lot of new real estate investors to REIAs including AZREIA.

New real estate investors have many needs and AZREIA was there to help them. Membership was high, dues were low, meeting attendance was high, and demand for education was very high. All of these activities contributed to strong revenue streams for AZREIA resulting in enhanced services and support for all our members. Enter 2009 through today.

Today, Arizona is in the best real estate investing market ever across all segments of the market. Today, investors are truly making substantial sums and setting themselves up for tremendous future appreciation and tremendous wealth building. But, there are no positive news articles. New people coming to real estate investing is almost nonexistent impacting membership and education classes. Businesses supporting real estate have suffered greatly resulting is fewer dollars to advertise or support local organization.

These market conditions have affected AZREIA. Yes, our membership count is down. Attendance at our meeting is down, but only a little. But, throughout all of this change the level of support for AZREIA members hasn’t diminished.

AZREIA must continue to change to keep up with the needs of our members. We must change in ways that help us attract new members and retain current members. We must find ways to financially support important programs to the level that our membership demands. We will do all of these.

Over the next few months you will see new membership plans, new ways to pay for membership and ways to help support programs that you feel are important. This doesn’t mean things will cost more. I guess that may be possible, but if that is the case it will come with options. Here is an example:

Lobbying is very expensive. This year we announced a Government Affairs Posse to assist with coverage at the Municipality level. Several members have donated their time to attend City Council meetings to keep us apprised of what is happening. There are 90 or so cities around Arizona. It is easy to understand that it is unaffordable for AZREIA to hire a lobbyist for all of these municipalities. Having members help is a way to control cost.

Other things we are considering include a monthly membership option, delivering the AZREIA Advantage newsletter electronically unless you request a mailed copy, an annual education plan, a coaching program, the option to help fund lobbying effort, an on-line membership, and many others.

Regardless of the change that comes, AZREIA will always have great meetings, pertinent information, effective education and tremendous support for our members. We plan on earning the Award of Excellence every time we are eligible. We have the highest standards of any REIA in the country. Some things never change.

Smarter Investing,

Alan Langston