SAN FRANCISCO — If the National Association of Realtors could send fliers to former clients on your behalf, would you want it to?

That’s one question the trade group’s new predictive analytics group is asking members in an effort to identify ways to potentially leverage agent data to better serve its members.

Led by Todd Carpenter, former senior manager of industry engagement at Trulia, the group’s aim is to tap existing troves of data on agents to deliver more value to Realtors.

NAR Data Strategies Committee Chair Ted Loring, who is helping with the effort, recently floated several ideas — some of which were premised on future access to agents’ transaction histories — that provoked mixed reactions from an audience at the Emerging Business Technology Forum held at the Realtors Conference and Expo in San Francisco.

Some of the ideas would be possible only if NAR or its affiliates gained access to data held by organizations including multiple listing services and third-party vendors.

To begin exploring ways to use “big data” on Realtors, Carpenter — who is now managing director of data analytics at NAR and will work closely with NAR’s Center for Real Estate Technology — has introduced #DataBetaPalooza, a program aimed at recruiting initial data partners for NAR.

In a presentation intended to gather input from members, Loring suggested that by using agent data, NAR could guide members who need additional continued education (CE) hours to opportunities to earn those hours before their licenses expire.

Though one attendee expressed concerns that NAR might turn such monitoring into a “profit point,” most audience members expressed support for pursuing that possibility.

NAR could also potentially drum up more financial support for its lobbying efforts if it crunched data on members, according to Loring.

He said the organization could conceivably target potential donors based on their responsiveness to NAR “Red Alert” emails.

“If there were 12 calls for action, and I responded to all, that speaks to commitment of political donations,” he said.

But soliciting contributions in that manner could induce “donor fatigue,” some audience members said.

“The more impounded I get by those emails, the less I feel like doing,” one attendee said.

The opportunities for NAR to use agent data to help members would increase significantly if it were able to tap agents’ transaction histories.

Loring highlighted the value of transaction history by pointing to how Netflix and grocery chain Safeway leverage such data to benefit consumers. Safeway recommends specials based on previous purchases, he noted, while Netflix recommends new movies based on previous movies viewed.

Along those lines, if an agent’s transaction history showed that he or she specialized in luxury sales, NAR could market luxury sales-geared tools and programs to that agent, he said.

And imagine if NAR or its affiliates had data on individual closings?

Realtor organizations could potentially take the work of maintaining contact with former clients off of agents’ hands, Loring said.

“The idea here is using that information to create a program that would connect with those consumers and drip feed them information that would keep them interested in the Realtor that they had been working with,” he said.

That could mean anything from sending agent-branded marketing materials to clients on an agent’s behalf, like quarterly market reports, or occasionally nudging an agent to contact former clients.

Loring said there are many possibilities, but at the end of the day, there is great potential for NAR and its affiliates to use “big data” to solve a common problem faced by agents.

“There’s a disconnect between desire to create lifelong relationships and our ability,” he said.

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