When I’m asked about what person inspired my passion for serving as a Realtor® volunteer , my father comes to mind. He was NAR President in 1991, and over the years I watched him run a large real estate company while still being a positive and passionate leader. And, an event played a role. Years back, I interviewed for a leadership position at a professional organization in my market. In fact, I interviewed at the same organization five times, and each time another candidate was selected.
It would have been very easy to say, “The heck with it,” and just give up. But I’ve learned to never give up if I’m passionate about a program or cause. If there’s not an opportunity in one place, there might be one someplace else. I went to another, smaller organization and was offered a leadership position on my first attempt. The lesson to share is that I kept my passion for leadership, which has resulted in a national position as Vice President on the 2013 Realtor® Leadership Team and my long commitment to the NAR Leadership Academy. And, I was just elected as Secretary/Treasurer of the Texas Association of Realtors®.
In our industry, there are many opportunities to make a difference as a Realtor ® based on your passion and expertise. The key is to identify where you can serve the membership the most. Through my involvement with the Academy, I’ve always maintained it’s important to mentor and groom future leaders – to engage them and let them find their passion
My biggest mentor and supporter has always been my husband. He’s a farm and ranch broker in our home state of Texas, and he’s been a leader in his very specialized segment of the industry for the past 35 years. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his support. And, I should call out two outstanding Realtors® — Dick Gaylord, for giving me the guidance that led to my role with the Leadership Academy, and Charles McMillan, who gave me opportunities to excel on a national level.
The Leadership Academy has, of course, been a big part of my life since its inception. I’ve had the honor of being associated with every class, and I’ve worked with just about everyone. That’s how I got my nickname of “The Godmother.” And, I’ll remain committed to help our future leaders find their way through the Academy. Applications for the 2014 class are due March 31, and we encourage all Realtors® who are interested to apply.
Education is critical to nurturing Realtors®, and I’m beyond honored to be a member of the Board of Regents and part of the development team working on Realtor® University, especially its Master of Real Estate program, which is a true master’s degree. When I was chair of the NAR Professional Development Committee, a Presidential Advisory Group was formed to study professional development, our image and raising the bar. The result was Realtor® University, and I’m proud to say that our idea is off to a rousing start and celebrated its one-year anniversary February 27.
If you’re not familiar with Realtor® University, there are five areas of concentration, and new sessions are offered every eight weeks. Learn more by visiting Realtor U calling 855-786-6546. So far, we’ve had participation from Realtors® in 26 states and Canada, and have students that range in age from 25 to 70 years of age – which is a good indication that you’re never too old to learn!
2011 marks the fifth Academy class, and I’m happy to say that I have been involved in every one of the five classes. Each year the board reviews and refines the program with the goal in mind to ignite the leadership passion of each individual.
What I enjoy most is the opportunity to help Academy participants find a place where they can reach their own personal goals. I firmly believe that mentoring is a key component of leadership, especially among volunteers. The Academy is a place where aspiring leaders find supportive colleagues. I think this is an advantage to the REALTOR association model, a place where people who’ve had individual success as entrepreneurs now have the opportunity to work collectively for the good of the profession.
I have a couple of passions that drive my involvement as a volunteer leader; the Realtors® Political Action Committee and professional development. I served as the fundraising chair for NAR this year. It’s an exhausting schedule of meetings, and it’s exhilarating. Especially when I see that moment of recognition for people when they realize the efforts the PAC funds shapes the future of our businesses. On the education front, I have been appointed to the REALTOR® University board of Regents. REALTOR® University is set to offer high-quality entrepreneurial and career-oriented programs in real estate. I want each of the Academy participants to make their own decisions, we have a great group that I know will take advantage of the networking and educational opportunities that are part of the Leadership Academy experience.
When my year as chair ends, for both the Academy and RPAC, it doesn’t mean my passion will dwindle for either cause. I believe that we’re creating the future by our actions today. Developing the future leaders for the National Association of REALTORS® is to create a compelling vision of the vitality of organized real estate.
I encourage all Realtors® to get involved in whatever drives your passions. In my twenty five years of being a REALTOR volunteer leader I’ve had many roles and plan to continue my involvement. Currently, I’m running for 2014 secretary/treasurer of the Texas Association of Realtors® and in 2013 at NAR I will be the Liaison to Committees for Gary Thomas.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” I aspire to leave a legacy of confident, motivated volunteer leaders. We’re always working on improving ourselves and on that course of personal improvement we need to be willing to learn from others. Participating in the Academy helps the participants grow as professionals, and serving as Chair this year helped me, too. I like to say I’m “under construction and will never be complete.”
The mood among participants at the 2011 NAR Policy Conference held in Washington February 2-3 was more upbeat than I’ve seen it in years. Everyone was in a positive frame of mind, and Realtors® were cohesive in representing our interests on Capitol Hill. There was a very “REALTOR® Party” connection among the small sample of delegates I spoke to.
There also was a very valiant effort at the Town Hall meeting to tone down the emotion and bring a more rational discussion to the issues at hand. Town Halls were designed for information gathering and resulted in letting us prioritize issues. In my opinion, this is best done with less emotion and more deliberation.
REALTORS® came to Washington to state our collective position on these four issues:
1. Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction Proposal. The number one issue causing unrest in the housing market is the proposal to limit the mortgage interest tax deduction. NAR’s opposition to this topic was impressed upon the entire group, including the state association presidents, the association executives, the Federal Political Coordinators and the regional vice presidents. With the real estate market recovering in some parts of the country, this proposal is very unsettling; if the proposal becomes law, the value of home prices would drop by 15 percent. And, in this economy, we might as well just drain the swamp.
2. Privatizing Government Sponsored Enterprises. Our second issue takes us down several flights of stairs, and it’s a subject that we as REALTORS® have been studying for a fair amount of time – not just the issue but the solution. The government-sponsored enterprises in question are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The goal is to get rid of the rhetoric by some to privatize Fannie and Freddie, which would simply not work. Our position is that real estate is a cyclical business and needs some sort of governmental agency to assist the financial markets during the down cycle.
3. Flood Insurance Extension. In the past, Congress has been reticent to address an issue when a crisis is developing; they wait until it gets down to the wire. Last fall, both the Senate and the House passed a bill that will extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) until September 30, 2011. REALTORS® want to see a more comprehensive NFIP reform bill that would be in place for several years. With just an extension, housing sales stops in some markets and people have to dance around to get a mortgage.
4. Conforming Mortgage Loan Limits. This is a similar issue to the flood insurance extension. The mortgage loan amounts that Fannie and Freddie can handle were due to expire in December, but they were extended through September 2011. Generally, the limit is $417,000 for single family homes. Congress had to act at the last minute to avoid a crisis because many of the high-end real estate markets have an immediate need.