Thoughts on Leadership: REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Atlanta for the Relocation Directors Council Spring Meeting then off to our nation’s capital for the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo (follow the conversation on Twitter at #NARLegislative) held annually in Washington, D.C. to provide an opportunity for NAR members to take an active role in advancing the real estate industry, public policy and the association at large.

Of highlight for me during this thought-provoking conference was the NAR Top 75 Large Residential Firm Directors Forum, which took place earlier today and opened with a welcome speech from my friend Rei Mesa, 2017 RES Chair and dynamic president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty. The forum also featured brief updates from Jeff Barnett, 2017 RES Vice-Chair; Paul Bishop, NAR VP of Research; NAR SVP and General Counsel Katie Johnson; Alex Lange, CEO of Upstream; and Tracy Mahnken, SVP of products for

After the meeting concluded, I was able to catch up with some industry leaders, whose work is ensuring the necessary legislation is in place to best support a healthy housing market. These leaders included:

Jerry Giovaniello, SVP of Government Affairs for NAR. Mr. Giovaniello is the chief lobbyist of the NAR, representing more than 1 million members involved in all aspects of both commercial and residential real estate.

Sarah Young, director of real estate services for NAR who is currently focused on tax reform to benefit prospective homeowners. In a recent RISMedia story, she wrote: “While NAR has long touted the benefits of owning a home, it’s more important than ever to send a strong message to lawmakers about NAR’s proprieties as Congress considers tax reform proposals in 2017.”

Rei Mesa, RES Chair and member of our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network family, whose work with NAR is backed by more than 30 years of experience in real estate and a strong passion to create positive, effective and widespread industry change.

Joe Ventrone, VP and deputy chair for regulatory affairs at NAR. At the association, Mr. Ventrone is responsible for developing and analyzing policy on housing, real estate finance, business and technology, environment and commercial real estate.

Jim Imhoff, CEO of First Weber Realtors. He also serves as chair of the REALTOR® Party Corporate Ally Program, which provides an unprecedented advocacy partnership between NAR and its extended real estate corporate family; the Corporate Ally Program raises voluntary corporate funds to invest in both campaigns and issues at both the state and federal levels that are conducive to buying, selling and owning real estate.

So, what’s the message? Unlike other conferences, the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo is really about bringing together the movers and shakers in our industry with those who set the legislative policies that affect real estate markets and homeownership in the United States. It’s an important collaboration and one that generates discernible progress year after year. It also facilitates unique networking opportunities and you know how much I advocate for networking and creating meaningful connections! (Read more about that here.) The biggest lesson to be gleaned from this conference is really about the importance of working together, seeking help outside our industry and finding those who can move things forward in a way no one else can (in this case, by combining real estate leaders with the legislators responsible for setting policy). It’s fine—and necessary—to discuss problems and issues but reaction without action will get you nowhere. However, pair passionate reaction with strategic action and that’s exactly how you’ll find the change you seek.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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