You’re starting your NAR presidency during a time of persistent challenges for the industry and the economy. What will make 2021 a winning year for members?
Taking steps to meet our mission-critical strategic priorities—expanding housing equality and affordability, driving community development, championing members as consumers’ best source of real estate information, and enhancing member engagement. We must also address issues as they come. I have a strong regard for the governance processes we have in place. I know it’ll be a winning year because REALTORS® have proven themselves in 2020. We’re all in this together—and focused on the present.
In one of your first acts as 2021 president, you issued a formal apology for NAR’s odious past policies that contributed to segregation and racial inequality.
As an association, we were wrong—we were complicit. And we’re sorry. The real estate industry has a special role to play in the fight for fair housing. There’s an age-old proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” We didn’t take steps 50 years ago, so the next best time is today. Now we can be a part of the solution. Adding a ban on harassing speech to the Code of Ethics is another way we’re reinforcing our commitment to fairness.
You’re co-owner of 15 Sotheby’s offices in New Jersey. How have you run your business during the pandemic?
I’ve gotten used to virtual calls, virtual interviews, and virtual operations. But the person-to-person contact and interview process is irreplaceable. At my offices, we try to provide the safest environment possible. If anyone is exposed, we shut the office down and sanitize. To keep our agents going, we’ve held webinars, offered continuing education at no cost, and made sure to reach out to local management with positive messages. I don’t want to guess how many Zoom hours we’ve logged.
How have sports helped you in your work?
I love all sports. My passions are college basketball, baseball, and especially the New York Yankees. I also play on two softball teams. The camaraderie and the human interest stories of sports mean a lot more now than in my younger days. The day I stop competing is the day... I don’t want to think about it.
Sports have taught me how to be compassionate, how to be competitive, and how to interact with people from all walks of life. Just like in sports, I’m part of a team at NAR. This year, I’m the spokesperson, not the sole decision-maker. The people I’ve appointed as vice presidents and liaisons also have weighty roles as leaders in guiding the association.