Saturday, March 14, 2009

Now More Than Ever ...

Bart Stevens reports: I'm home from NERC - that's New England REALTORS Conference for those of you wondering but afraid to ask! I joined 11 others from Maine, plus another 150 or so other REALTORS from around New England, for a day and a half of terrific information and training at the Sheraton Harborside in Portsmouth. Lovely hotel for those not familiar with it and just steps away from the historic downtown area of Portsmouth (reminds me of the Old Port!)

This year's theme was "Now More Than Ever" and hosted by NAR Region 1 Regional Vice President Bonnie Guevin (from the great state of NH, must be why we were in NH!) Note this quote:

"Though national headlines and made-for-TV sound bites would have us believe that this is a time for fear and paralysis, the world continues to move along. Life happens, and the need to convey real property happens right along with it. Yes, we live in uncertain times, with foreclosure rates high and consumer confidence low, but it is because of that very uncertainty that we, as the consummate industry professional, must be more prepared than ever for a public that needs us more than ever.

Now, more than ever -

.. Accurate information is critical
.. Is the time to buy, with an abundance of opportunities and great rates
.. Buyers and Sellers need REALTORS to navigate the buying and selling process
.. Members need the tools of their local, state and national associations
.. Our adherence to the Code of Ethics is paramount to our credibility and success

Now, more than ever is the time to double up our efforts as association leaders to deliver those products and services that will benefit our members during these times."

Quite a little phrase, and quite a conference. Geared towards leadership, this conference is open to any and all REALTORS.

This conference was both topical in nature and well run. With a nice mix of local presenters and NAR representatives the conference remained well paced. Some highlights: Several key volunteers including our own Ron Phipps from Rhode Island (who is NAR First VP) spoke on industry trends, and what NAR is doing to assist us - such as NAR's new "Right Tools, Right Time" program. Adorna Carroll did a session on "Effective Meeting Management" - topical because of the lack of volunteers and the lack of time of those who DO want to volunteer.

Scott Spaudling, former reporter spoke on "Dealing With The Media When They Come Calling To Discuss The Real Estate Market." Fantastic speaker who knew what he was preaching because he use to be one of them! Bottom line, we know more about real estate than reporters and they NEED us. Don't be afraid of the big bad media, BUT do prepare yourself!

Day One wrapped up (just before the mandatory cocktail hour) with comedian Jimmy Dunn - an hour of absolute laughter! A great stress breaker, and contrary to comments I am publicly stating Carolyn Chodat (she's my CRS President counterpart in MA) and I have never been to France together! You had to be there for that one!

Monday evening found the Mainers gathered at a great pizza place downtown for a relaxing dinner (fantastic food) and a chance to network and chat. We were joined by REALTOR Steve Brown of Ohio and will remain indebted to him for so kindly picking up the tab for us struggling Maine Realtors. Steve is the 2009 NAR VP & Liaison to Committees. With several people present that I don't regularly see or do business with, it was nice learning a bit more about them!

Day Two started with a session by Peter Francese on "New England Market Demographics." Most of us have heard Maine has the oldest population in the country, but he relayed this is not necessarily bad - as older people generally have more money. He did stress the need to stop the trend of youth moving away from Maine; and also touched on what the next generation is going to be looking for in a home, neighborhood, etc. Gone (most likely) are the days of bigger is better - "Green" is the new buzz word. They want earth-friendly homes, are very much aware of operating costs, etc. Very enlightening session!

Wrap us was done by NAR Legal Counsel Laurie Janik - always a great listen. I think she summed it up right from the start: "Bet you never thought you'd see the day when legal counsel was the one bright item on the agenda!" Lawsuits filed were way down this past year and most were won by the associations involved.

I've attended 6-8 NERC (some have blurred) conferences and my hat is off to the NH Association for a job well done!

REALTOR Bart Stevens (CENTURY 21 Nason, Winslow) is the 2009 President of the Maine Chapter of CRS and Treasurer of MREIS. Pictured: Maine REALTORS Marc Chadbourne, Bart Stevens, Ed Getty, John Bragg and Helen Fox

Click Here for Ron Phipps' blog post about the NERC Conference.