Photo by Monique Schoenfeld, Town Crier
It's time Realtors stopped doing things on their own, Ed Albers, past president of the California Realtors Association, told a small group of real estate brokers at the Peninsula West Valley Association of Realtors (PenWest) monthly marketing meeting last Thursday.
"Our Realtor family faced a sort of crisis over the last few years. We compete instead of cooperate and we blame each other for real and sometimes perceived transgressions," Albers said. "We think we can 'go it alone' without the help of others in the organization, but it's time we started to recapture the spirit of association."
Albers mentioned problems for independent real estate brokers from the Internet. Online real estate marketers such as Altera and Home Tour are beginning to do a lot of business on the Internet. These operations use employees, who handle multiple transactions at a time. The trend could lead to more real estate employees and fewer independently operating real estate agents.
"It's our political survival of the real estate industry," Albers said. "Can you imagine an employee handling 15 transactions all at one time. If we want success, simply put and direct, the Realtor organization must use its collective power. Using our strategic alliance, we will be able to influence public policy by reaching directly into each congressional district, each state house and local legislative body."
Albers mentioned the cooperation and communication necessary to preserve the mortgage interest deduction. The real estate industry can take a bow knowing that the combined voice made the difference between a healthy housing market and potential economic chaos.
"When we promote and support a legal environment favorable to real estate, our collaborative efforts pay off." Albers said. "Working together in public policy and legal areas, we can recognize the potential good or harm in a legal issue when it appears and take action for the benefit of property owners and Realtors nationwide."
Eric Morley, former PenWest public affairs director, presented a legislative update from local and state governments. Currently affecting real estate agents is a proposed business tax license for all Realtors doing business in San Jose.
Asking for cooperation from real estate brokers, Morley said PenWest and the San Jose Realty Board both oppose the tax. But if San Jose is successful, then every city in the county will also consider the tax. This is another instance where Realtors must collaborate instead of going it alone.
According to Morley, another issue is economic growth and quality of life. The problem is how to retain our quality of life and still retain the economic vitality of the Valley.
"A lot of councils are grappling with this issue. We have letters to the editors of local newspapers and this will become a top-level issue," Morley said. "It is now important that the Realtor community start to help balance this problem. We Realtors are on the front line and should be ambassadors. When it's on the agenda of city councils, Realtors should be at the table.
Albers concluded that if Realtors don't start to organize and collaborate on local levels, then state and local agencies will falter.
"We are beginning to act more like a dysfunctional family than a truly collaborative organization," Albers said.