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Dream Big!


The Florida Association of Realtors®’ district vice presidents look forward to a year of increased communication with FAR’s boards and associations and a cohesive plan for future years.
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Here’s what they had to say about their biggest regional challenges, how they hope to empower sales associates and what motivates them to succeed.

District One
Stan Batten
Stan Batten Real Estate, Lake City

The biggest challenges we have in our area are affordable housing for first-time homebuyers. We also need more infrastructure to allow higher density growth that requires less land.

Finally, more cooperation between government levels is necessary for better land-use plans.

I hope to lead by example, showing Realtors® the benefit of becoming involved with their local boards and their state organization.

I’m motivated by a desire to help people. It’s a good feeling to know that you’ve found the right home or property that fits the individual’s needs and budget. I’m also glad to give back to the community through volunteer work at local schools and civic organizations.

District Two
Kathy Starkey
Sales Associate
ERA Showcase Properties and Investments, Merritt Island

Since this is a coastal region, obtaining affordable insurance coverage is undoubtedly our biggest market challenge. Another issue is tax increases: Property assessments have jumped, and the higher taxes are a burden for many owners.

Providing educational and information support is the key to empowering our sales associates.

After 22 years, real estate is still a passion for me. I enjoy serving as a role model, showing how one can be a top sales associate and still be active in real estate associations.

District Three
Andrew Barbar
Barbar Real Estate Company, Boca Raton

From a sales standpoint, the largest challenge in our region is affordability. That’s not just the price of the home, but the cost of ownership with regards to insurance and taxes. We need to advocate measures like the portability of Florida’s Homestead Exemption and a national catastrophic fund to help reduce those costs.

In today’s shifting market, the big challenge for sales associates is becoming more skilled. I believe the key to being successful in a buyer’s market is training, training and more training.

In real estate, what you can conceive, you can achieve. The relationships you develop over the years with your sales associates and clients adds to the enjoyment of coming to work every day.

District Four
Luis O. Landrian
West Lakes Properties Realty, Inc., Miami

The top challenges facing our region are rising real property taxes, rising insurance rates and a leveling off of property values.

 We need to reach out to all Realtors in the region with more information on the challenges ahead of us. And, we need to inform our elected officials that we are a large professional association that knows how to pull together as an industry in addressing those challenges.

I bought my first house through a Realtor who was so helpful in making my dream of being a homeowner come true. I decided then to get my real estate license and use my knowledge and professionalism to help others make their dreams a reality.

District Five
Scott Whitlock
Sales Associate
Premier Realty of Southwest Florida Inc., Cape Coral

Southwest Florida continues to be a highly desirable place to live. We must be diligent in protecting our natural resources, which in turn provides for our great lifestyle. Just as importantly, we need to make home ownership an affordable and realistic goal for everyone. 

I believe in the saying that “knowledge is power.” FAR and our local associations offer an unbelievable number of opportunities to grow our knowledge and skills. We need to get more brokers and office managers to buy into these educational and training opportunities.

I like the independent nature of real estate and the idealism of working within our Code of Ethics.

District Six
Susanna Madden
RE/MAX ACR Elite Group, Inc., Tampa

Our district’s primary concerns are escalating taxes, rapidly rising insurance costs and unbridled growth. We all want to continue to enjoy good housing and a quality lifestyle in the Tampa Bay area in the years to come.

Also, because this district is a frequent destination for second homes and investment buyers, there is great concern that a tax break be found for those who don’t qualify for Homestead Exemption or the Amendment 10 (Save our Homes) legislation passed over a decade ago.

Knowledge equates with professionalism and power. Most of all, I want associates to view their business as a lifelong career that has education and ethics as its cornerstones.

I’m motivated by helping to make the American dream come true [for my clients.]

District Seven
Pete Craft
ERA/Breese, Craft, and Hensley, LLC, Mount Dora

Our biggest challenge is affordability and getting the consumer to adjust to today’s pricing. That is essential to overcoming our huge current inventory.

Our associates need more education on topics like how to manage their time, how to prospect better, how to work harder and how to be more knowledgeable about the marketplace.

I have fun every day in my career. I like the real estate business—seeing the look on a seller’s face when they get a big check, when buyers close on their first home and when a struggling sales associate turns the corner and achieves success.

District Eight
Robin A. Schwartz
Phillips Realty, High Springs

Throughout our very diverse region, the biggest challenge is growth. Our smaller towns and counties must be careful about growth management, so we can balance quality of life with new development.

Communication has always been my favorite form of empowerment. I hope to visit all the boards in the district so we can learn from each other.

I became interested in real estate many years after buying my first house from an estate. It was an interesting transaction, and I learned so much in the process. Our firm concentrates on selling vacant, unimproved land, and I love to search through the woods and locate the corner markers. I also enjoy spending time with my family.

District Nine
Pamela Smith
Sales Associate
Real Estate Counselors, Inc., Pensacola

The real estate challenges facing our region include affordable homeowners insurance, especially for waterfront properties. Many buyers are hesitant to purchase a waterfront home because of the high cost of insurance.

I plan to emphasize the power of professionalism through education, encouraging sales associates to get involved in their local associations and attend the Florida and national association meetings. 

I’m motivated by the ever-changing technical challenges of real estate and the opportunities to meet them head on. I’m always looking for a better way of accomplishing a task or systems that allow me to be more efficient. 

District Ten
Benjamin Crosby
Crosby & Associates, Inc., Winter Haven

The biggest challenge facing our region is stabilizing the housing market, reducing the oversupply of homes and bringing supply and demand back into balance. On the commercial side, we need to accommodate the continuing strong demand, particularly from new retailers who service the residential market.

We should encourage younger sales associates who have never experienced a buyer’s market to be patient. We also should encourage education so all sales associates will be able to better counsel buyers and sellers.

As someone who’s been in the investment business for more than 30 years, I enjoy helping people make prudent financial decisions. Whether looking at land, commercial real estate or a new home, people want to make wise investment decisions that will pay off for them down the road.

District Eleven
James “Jim” Balistreri   
Balistreri Realty, Inc., Pompano Beach

We must overcome the negative press about the condition of our marketplace, which is causing buyers and sellers to freeze in their tracks. By comparing our current numbers to those of four or five years ago, people would see that we are back in a more normal marketplace.

Empowering sales associates by encouraging them to get back to the basics of the real estate business [is vital]. Many associates are not used to carrying 10 to 20 listings in an active portfolio, with each one taking several months to sell.

I’m proud to be a member of the Realtor association, making a tangible difference in people’s lives.

District Twelve
Renee Clark
Sales Associate
Clark Investment Properties, Inc., Kissimmee

Housing prices have skyrocketed over the past 18 months and people are having a hard time affording homes in the area. Another challenge is property taxes, which are going up at an alarming pace.

I would encourage sales associates to undertake a marketing program to promote themselves and their community, and to attend as many training classes as possible. We can all come out ahead if we do what is right, follow the laws and just have fun.

Working with wonderful buyers and sellers continues to motivate me in my 15-year real estate career.  There are so many aspects of this business and every day is a new adventure.  
District Thirteen
Lynn Parker
Managing Broker
RoseBay Real Estate, Bradenton

Since our district runs along the Gulf of Mexico with several barrier islands, insurance is the greatest challenge we face. Our buyers are often finding it difficult to obtain insurance and are shocked at the expense and limited coverage available. 

I want to empower associates by reinforcing their professionalism, while freeing up their time by using the proper back office tools. Products like MLS Advantage, TransactionDesk and Forms Online Gold are designed to accomplish this goal.

I enjoy helping others achieve their goals. Being able to share that with our associates—and learn from them in return—helps keep me going.