By: Susan Shackleford
On Jan. 1, Jennifer Frontera will take over as president of the association and CMLS.
While many members may not envy her position at this time, Frontera relishes it. She thrives on change, which is what she believes Realtors® must embrace to adapt and re-invent themselves to succeed in today’s market.
In late 2011, Reflections asked how she views the state of Realtors® today. “Some are having their best year, some are struggling,” she says.
Her theme for the year, “Be Water,” is a concept she draws primarily from Asian and Native American philosophies. “It’s something (the late actor and martial artist) Bruce Lee used to say — be fluid, be open, be water,” she says.
To learn more about her theme and how Frontera sees 2012, you’re invited to read on.
Tell us about your theme, “Be Water.” It’s about embracing change. Water is flexible and finds its way. It adjusts to things around it, but can be firm and powerful. We traditionally associate leadership with rock, strong and unchanging. I see rock as our foundations in life, such as our values, our family, our real estate license and our Realtor® Code of Ethics. Those rocks are with us, our foundation, but we need to be water — to be fluid and adapt to changes.
What changes are you thinking of? Technology is moving quickly; the government is always regulating our industry; there are changes in appraisals and lending; consumers have ever-growing access to information on the Internet; and their confidence in the market is low.
What can Realtors® do about buyer reluctance? Realtors® have to lead the transaction — not just be the center of it. We need to be more involved. We need to demonstrate to consumers the value of buying a home and educate them on new lending requirements. Realtors® need to dig in on the details and be the professional who provides the answers and knowledge. We need to lead the transaction.
What does “Be Water” mean on a practical level for Realtors®? Realtors® who are struggling need to explore the resources available to them through the association, MLS and elsewhere. Be open to new ideas and learning what’s different about the market and how to deal with it. Go to classes; learn more about technology. Figure out how to differentiate yourself, whether it’s by using social media, establishing a niche, focusing on short sales, bank-owned properties or something else. Be like water, flowing to new ideas and skills.
What about Realtors® waiting on the return of the old market? We are not going back to where we were before. Things have changed.
How do you put such major change in perspective? This is not the first time our industry has had a rough time. As I sit in Room 305 at association board meetings, I see the pictures of all the presidents we’ve had. Those men and women led the industry through tough periods without the amazing technology we have. Also, our city and region didn’t have the desirable national profile or growth it does today. We need to make use of our advantages.
What kind of changes can members expect at the association? For one, we are combining the installation of officers with the Realtor® EXPO to save costs. The event is Feb. 28 at the Blake Hotel in uptown Charlotte. The installation is a formality; our officers and directors begin serving Jan. 1.
We are introducing an updated version of the TEMPOTM system called Fusion. Fusion will work on most browsers and a mobile application for the iPad will arrive soon after.
What is the visioning process? It’s a planning session I suggested given the market downturn, and a desire to focus on the essentials and just a few new projects. It’s in lieu of a full-blown strategic planning session, which is not only more expensive but not as pertinent at this time. We don’t have the budget to take on major initiatives.
Nonetheless, the visioning session was highly beneficial. We invited more than just the association and CMLS boards. We included committee chairs, committee members, some former presidents and others I felt would make a contribution. I was gratified that more than 60 of the 75 invited attended the session in late 2011 at the association.
The facilitator also surveyed participants before the session and spent a day at the association getting input from staff. As of this writing in mid-December, the facilitator is compiling the report. We expect the association and CMLS boards to vote on it in January.
You’ve indicated that you want to hear from the membership. How is best to reach you? Yes, I want to know what people are thinking. I hope members will feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.