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District 1 Conference: “Meeting members in their backyard”

District 1 Conference: “Meeting members in their backyard”

Aiming to “meet with members in their backyard,” four officers on Florida Realtors’ leadership team addressed more than 200 members from five local associations in Northeast Florida during the Annual District 1 Conference at the Marriott Jacksonville Hotel on Salisbury Road April 13.

Attending the meeting were a mix of REALTORS® from Amelia Island-Nassau County Association of REALTORS®, Gainesville-Alachua County Association of REALTORS®, Lake City Board of REALTORS®, St. Augustine-St. Johns County Board of REALTORS® and NEFAR.

During the meeting, Florida Realtors® President-elect Mike McGraw joined with Vice President Gia Arvin, Treasurer Tim Weisheyer and Secretary Chuck Bonfiglio, Jr. in kicking off the five-hour conference. Florida Realtors® President Christina Pappas was unable to attend the meeting.

Presiding over the event was Florida Realtors® District 1 Vice President Ron Harris, who is also a past president of NEFAR. Also speaking at the conference were three Florida Realtors® staff members, CEO Margy Grant, Vice President of Law & Policy and General Counsel Juana Watkins, and Economist & Director of Housing Statistics Erica Plemmons as well as four candidates for 2023 Florida Realtors®leadership positions, Roberta “Berta” Odom, Weisheyer, Bonfiglio, and Jorge Guerra, Jr., who are running for District 1 vice president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary respectively.

The keynote speaker was NEFAR member John Palumbo, an internationally known motivational speaker and author. During his talk, Palumbo captivated the audience by sharing the “Seven Secrets of Becoming the UnSalesperson,” which involved the psychology of selling and methods to better build trust and authenticity with clients.

Early in the meeting, McGraw discussed the important work the REALTOR® Party and RPAC. He encouraged the members to support the legislative body’s calls to action. “Our goal is to have the best RPAC culture in the nation,” said McGraw.

It is important for REALTORS® to get involved with Florida Realtors by signing on to take part in committee work at the state association, said Arvin. She encouraged the local members to send in committee applications before the May 13 deadline, and referred to a story on the Florida Realtors® website.

Weisheyer and Bonfiglio discussed the Hometown Heroes program, a proposed state constitutional amendment backed by Florida Realtors®, that gives front-line workers, such as police and teachers, a property tax break. The Hometown Heros Program and insurance reform are top legislative priorities, they said.

Also discussed was a need to encourage a higher degree of professionalism among the REALTOR® ranks as many new members have recently entered the real estate industry. Arvin said Florida Realtors® is working on creating a new designation – Board Certified REALTOR® – to help raise the bar within the association.

Arvin also mentioned two events she wanted members to be aware of, the Women in Real Estate (WIRE) Conference, which will be held Tuesday, June 7 at the Marriott Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa in Ft. Myers and the month-long Clean Up Florida Waters event that will be held throughout the month of July. NEFAR will be holding a day-long clean-up event throughout Northeast Florida on Saturday, July 23. The NEFAR event is being organized by NEFAR’s Community Affairs Task Force.

During her time on the podium, Grant recognized Millie Kanyar of NEFAR as being a newly minted member of the Florida Real Estate Commission. She also gave a shout out to Wendall Davis, a past president of NEFAR, for his past work defeating the Hometown Democracy ballot initiative, a “disastrous piece of legislation way back when” that said in order to change a local zoning ordinance you had to have a voter referendum.

Florida Realtors® received 80,000 calls to its legal hotline in 2021, Grant said, noting that the association has 10 full-time lawyers able to assist members at its live call-in center. She also congratulated District One REALTORS® for raising $178,321 for RPAC in 2022, which is 51.7% of their goal this year.

Watkins spoke next and discussed the continuing problem of Copyright infringement, noting that 23 new federal lawsuits against REALTORS® have been added to the list since December 2021. She also addressed ADA/FHA Website Demand letters and noted that on March 18, 2022, the Department of Justice published new information on web accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Plemmons discussed Florida Realtors® Sun Stats, and how members can get the most out of its new infographic tool.