Philippine Association of Real Estate Boards, Inc.
Sound mind, Sound body
If there’s a silver lining to COVID-19, it’s innovation. Never before have innovative thinkers — from scientists who developed vaccines, to entrepreneurs who made the digital shift to survive — put their minds together to find creative solutions to a litany of challenges posed by the global pandemic.
One of these challenges is on mental health. According to online journal Scientific American: “While COVID is prima facie a physical malady, the disease has placed a massive burden on already strained mental health systems around the world. Prior to the pandemic, mental health conditions were a leading cause of disability worldwide. Rates of diagnosis have been rising across all age demographics for years, costing the global economy an estimated $1 trillion annually.”
Real estate professionals are not spared of these mental health issues.
When the pandemic shuttered many businesses around the world, it took a toll on the health of workers in the real estate industry who depend on face-to-face meetings and sales calls to help clients find the perfect home, office, or business locations. This prompted the Philippine Association of Real Estate Boards, Inc. (PAREB) to launch the Members’ Empowerment Program. PAREB is the umbrella organization of licensed real estate professionals, including consultants, appraisers, brokers, salespersons, developers, and other professionals who want to advance their career in the real estate industry.
“The mental health and well-being of our members are our primary consideration during the critical period when no business activities are forthcoming,” said PAREB. “Many members are used to meeting clients during the morning, attend meetings, conferences, and other activities in the afternoon, and meet some more in the evenings. All of these normal activities are what members usually do and which was totally prohibited during the early days of the pandemic.”
PAREB has been at the forefront of the real estate industry since 1960. While it has been initiating programs to serve, not only the stakeholders of the real estate industry, but also its members, it saw the need to heighten its member engagement to help them cope with the lockdown restrictions.
“A sound mind is a sound body!” PAREB said. “The association needs healthy people to be able to advance its agenda and achieve its goals. Members’ health and well-being is suddenly threatened with the onset of the COVID-19 virus. PAREB members are not used to being held captive at their own homes, isolated, and with nothing to do,” it explained.
Seeing that the members need to synergize their talents, their needs, and also their skills, PAREB decided to embark on a program to empower members, albeit remotely. The organization immediately tasked its business committees to continue meeting its members and create innovative and novel activities. “Members need to be empowered to continue acting normally in the new normal,” it said.
Tasked specifically for this purpose was the Business Fellowship Fridays (BFF) Committee, which engages members “who are not really into real estate despite having real estate licenses. They may have businesses handed down from older generations, businesses that were born of their passion, or businesses that became a hit because of the necessity of having them,” PAREB said. ”These, in a way, made members who are not keen to practice the real estate profession still engaged, inspired, and empowered.”
Engagement activities also included live selling and skills demonstrations. Artists within the association donned on their creative hats to entertain members during these activities. Fun-filled activities such as raffle draws were held to spur interest and encourage members to participate.
“The Association made sure that its members are productive even during the lockdowns, and in spite of other emerging situations like the Taal volcano eruption. It engaged its members to concentrate on project selling using the technology that suddenly became the trend with the new learning and business platforms that came into fruition. Even the Multiple Listing Service Committee created new ways of doing things. Learning, networking, fellowship, and multiple listing exchanges were made online,” PAREB reported.
To continue policing its ranks and curb illegal real estate practices, the association also launched education campaigns spearheaded by its Task Force Anti-Colorum. Seminars became held to build the capacity of newly licensed real estate salespersons.
Its PAREB Cares Program also ensured the association continuously responds to social needs. One innovation is the Community Sharing, which drew inspiration from the community pantry concept that mushroomed during the pandemic. PAREB identified and targeted communities not being served by community pantries nationwide. It also ran a contest among its member boards to achieve optimum results even if resources were limited.
For its empowering campaign, PAREB was cited in the People Empowerment Category of the ANG SUSI Awards, the first and only search for the best associations and association executives in the Philippines which recognizes the association sector’s contributions to national sustainable development. The award was bestowed by the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE), the “association of associations” in the country.