A handful of leaders with a vision for the future of real estate have staked claims to elected offices within the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors.
Jody Wainio, 2014 president, said good leadership is critically important as the housing market continues to recover from the economic recession and the industry stakes its claim in a landscape changed by websites like Trulia and Zillow.
“The Internet has changed everything, so truly understanding the value of a Realtor in a transaction is going to be key … to be that role model, so that our customers and consumers and clients understand what we bring to the table,” Wainio said.
Profiles of the six candidates vying for leadership positions are available online and members are encouraged to prepare before voting opens on Aug. 7.
Ryan Crecelius and Don Harris are candidates for the office of vice president. Whomever is elected to the three-year term ascends to the presidency with the winning candidate fulfilling leadership roles in the association and its for-profit sister business, the Wilmington MLS, before becoming president in the final year.
Wainio said a broad understanding of the real estate business is an essential qualification for the next vice president and president of the association. As the leader of more than 1,800 real estate professionals who are likely focused on day-to-day operations, Wainio said the ideal candidate will make decisions with the future of the industry in mind.
“It’s more like building a strategy for longer-term success,” Wainio said. “What I’ve tried to focus on is getting my members engaged in the business, understanding the political ramifications of electing officials making decisions that are not in the best interest of property owners.”
Crecelius said he founded his own brokerage firm, Do Good Real Estate, in response to the changing market. He added that he is a big believer in the need to adapt, and looks forward to helping others adapt if he is elected.
“We have a phenomenally run association but for me, it’s about having our membership understand that our industry is changing drastically and that we need to adapt, quick, because our consumers are changing fast and our value proposition to our clients is going to be different in two years, five years, definitely in 10,” Crecelius said. “It’s really about higher standards and keeping focus and being ahead of the curve.”
The president does not work in isolation, though, and Wainio said the ideal candidate would also be able to lead people, as the president works with the board of directors to make decisions in the best interest of association members.
“That’s the key in being a good president. Understanding people, how they work and how they think, and how can you help them be the best they can be,” Wainio said.
Harris, an agent at the Intracoastal Realty office in Lumina Station, said his philosophy of leadership is rooted in service, after graduating from the North Carolina Association of Realtors Leadership Academy in 2008.
“In anything where you’re working with people, listening is one of the better skills. If you can listen, and empathize and rationalize people’s needs, wants, desires and mold those into the greater good of a group of people, that’s what leadership is,” Harris said.
Crecelius and Harris both currently serve on the association’s board of directors.
Four candidates are running for three vacancies on the board of directors: Shari Cutting, broker at Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage; Debbie Lariviere, broker at Keller Williams Realty; Jeff Lesley, sales associate with Century 21 Sweyer & Associates; and Lori Speight, founder and broker-in-charge of Masonboro Realty.
The two candidates with the most votes will be elected to three-year terms while the candidate with the next highest amount of votes will be elected to a one-year term.
Wainio said the board of directors is ideally a diverse group, representing many different professions within the industry.
“We have people around our directors’ table that do different things. We have property managers, appraisers, members of large firms and members of small firms, brokers in charge of large firms and small firms. Everyone comes to help a different facet of the membership,” Wainio said.
While the directors are expected to represent the people they work with, they are also expected to make decisions to benefit the spectrum of real estate professionals.
“The directors need to have the best interest of the members at heart. … Their biggest challenge is realizing they’re making decisions as to what’s best for the membership, not necessarily what’s best for their small firm.”
Like the vice president, directors will receive orientation and training to groom them into the role.
Voting will be open Aug. 7 through 1 p.m. on Sept. 4 through the association’s website. Profiles for each candidate can be viewed at www.wrar.com.
The results will be announced at the 2014 Annual Meeting.