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Realtors Stand Strong/Users/adamp/Desktop/Jan images/standStrong

The 2008 Florida Association of Realtors® leadership team wants to help you make this market your market.

The market fundamentals—strong job prospects, continued population growth and an interest from international buyers—have the Florida market on track to get better by year end. FAR’s leadership is optimistic that the year ahead will provide many opportunities for sales associates who are able to weather the storm.

“We have to speak positively on behalf of our industry,” says President Chuck Bonfiglio, CRB, broker/owner of Century 21 AAA Realty in Cooper City.

“Agents need to get back to basics and rethink the market value of the home and share with the owner realistic expectations,” says President-Elect Cynthia Shelton, CCIM, CRE, GRI, director of investment sales for Colliers Arnold Commercial Real Estate Services in Orlando. And, those basics aren’t the same as they used to be. “With technological advances, some of the basic marketing activities have forever changed,” says Bonfiglio. Treasurer Bob Hudgens agrees. “There are so many educational opportunities being offered now,” he says. “Sales associates need to take advantage of them.” Hudgens is broker of Century 21 Coastal Realty Services in Fort Walton Beach.

Florida Realtor magazine spoke with the 2008 FAR leadership team to discuss priorities and challenges for the coming year. “Our goal as leaders is to keep a positive attitude and help members remain profitable,” says Secretary Summer Greene, GRI, broker of Prudential Florida 1st Realty Coral Ridge in Fort Lauderdale.

Florida Realtor: What are your priorities in the coming year?
Bonfiglio: It occurred to me that no president has ever really implemented the entire strategic plan. There are so many goals we have that will help sales associates and brokers in their businesses, so one of my objectives is to implement that strategic plan.

Another priority is to build a nationwide coalition for natural disaster insurance. Every state has issues with natural disasters whether it is floods, hurricanes, tornados or fires. My goal is to build a coalition of fellow state Association presidents to work with legislators on this issue.

We’re very excited about building a leadership academy. This would provide prospective leaders on the local, state and national levels—even those wanting to run for public office—training to help them succeed.

Of course, we must continue to hold legislators’ feet to the fire on tax reform issues.

Shelton: I plan to help President Chuck build the coalition for natural disaster insurance using National Association of Realtors® (NAR) friends nationally to help us pull in their Congressman and Senators. We’re going to push to get something done this year. Florida needs assistance, and we want other states to buy in.

NAR has agreed to offer additional funds to get positive press out there about the Florida market. We want to get the word out about what Realtors are doing to improve people’s lives, both in housing and in the community services they provide.

Hudgens: The leadership team is working to implement the strategic plan, keeping in mind that we want to prioritize to best serve the members. We also want to do what we can to make sure Real Estate Industry Solutions, FAR’s wholly owned subsidiary, is a viable company that continues to support the needs of the members.

Greene: My goal is to support the leadership team in setting up an appropriate and aggressive legislative agenda. I also feel it’s important to assess and meet the true needs of our members. MLS Advantage (a service where participants in cooperating area multiple listing services can search and view properties in all participating MLSs) will roll out statewide, and we’d like to get members on board with it. We want to make it the best product available.

Florida Realtor: What business challenges do Florida’s Realtors face in 2008, and what does FAR plan to provide to help them meet these challenges?
Bonfiglio: Overpriced listings are flooding the market. They’re giving buyers more choices, but they’re also giving us a huge amount of inventory. Sales associates must learn to help sellers price their listings accurately so our listing inventory is more manageable.  We plan to expand the FAR Annual Convention and Trade Expo to better meet the needs of members. We want to offer them more educational sessions.

Brokers and sales associates must be ready and willing to put positive information out to the consumers. In addition, foreclosures are a problem. I think FAR needs to work with legislators to build a program that will help people refinance subprime mortgages.
Shelton: Many real estate associates haven’t seen a market like we are in now. We must help train them in the basics of pricing, prospecting and selling. If they’re spending too much time marketing properties that are overpriced, they’re wasting their time, and it’s not helping the industry.

The proposed FAR Leadership Academy will help Realtors get involved in being community leaders. FAR is also working to increase education and expand the annual convention and trade expo. There are new technologies being explored that will help sales associates tremendously.

Greene: We need meaningful property tax relief. Without it, the market recovery will be slower. I think insurance is on the right track, and we will start realizing deeper rate reductions this year.  One of the biggest obstacles I see is that we’re buying into the negativity that the media is feeding us. We need balance. We’re seeing some reforms in the Federal Housing Administration program.

 Florida Realtor: How can Realtors stay motivated in any market?
Bonfiglio: Education. We must educate ourselves with sales techniques that will carry us through any market. We’ve got to keep a positive mental attitude. Those of us who have been in the business have experienced similar markets. We’ve weathered a lot of storms, and it’s imperative that we surround ourselves with positive people.

Shelton: The time is now to be the best you can be educationally by obtaining one of NAR’s designations (For a full list of those designations, go to www.realtor.org/runivers.nsf/pages/designation.) Use this education to gain knowledge in the market/product you’re trying to work. Select a market/product and know everything you can about it. What are properties in the market really selling for? Know more about the market/product than anyone else. This will help motivate you because you become an expert. In addition, volunteer in the community. A balanced life is important for success.

Hudgens: It’s all about attitude. If you focus on the negative, it draws more negativity. I’m a strong believer in finding the humor in things. Sure, it’s serious when your sales are down, but you can still enjoy life along the way. Being involved in good things brings you good things. Any contribution you make to charity comes back to you. Donate your time to the community, and you will get it back tenfold.

With a positive attitude and the backing of FAR’s products, services and tools, members will be well equipped to weather any storm, according to Bonfiglio.

Greene adds, “Every day is a new opportunity to help someone else be a part of the American dream, whether it be homeownership, investment home, vacation residence or a new business. “The potential is there—now get going and grab it!”