As a San Francisco real estate broker, you’ve faced a lot this year. What’s it been like in your city over the past couple of months?
At least when you’re sheltering in place, you can go outside. During the wildfires, when the air quality reached hazardous levels, that wasn’t safe. We can never take anything for granted—not even air. Real estate mostly halted for a few weeks during the fires, but we closed transactions because we had learned from the pandemic. All of these things prepare us for the future.
What have you learned from all of this?
Crises—the pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes—magnify the strengths and weaknesses of our business models and policies. The pandemic catapulted products and services that are indispensable. It also spotlighted long-standing issues, like affordability and housing discrimination, that have long needed attention.
We had to go full bore on many unexpected legislative issues this year. What advocacy and policy achievements are you most proud of?
I’m proud of how the local, state, and national levels were able to work together to ensure real estate was deemed essential around the U.S., especially in places like Pennsylvania, where it proved difficult. Without this designation, our industry would have struggled far more and the economy would be in worse shape. We were able to keep people safe and keep business moving. I’m very proud of our fair housing work and the efforts of the Fair Housing Policy Committee, which we created before the events of 2020. Our legislative successes, too, like COVID-19 relief for independent contractors and small businesses, are critical to strengthening communities.
The pandemic has turned NAR into a pro at hosting virtual conferences. What are you looking forward to at Annual, Nov. 2–18?
With a virtual format, so many more members can see what their association does for them, and, hopefully, we’ll convert them to attend in-person meetings in the future. The conference spans 17 days. Registrants can take everything in at their own pace and even get on-demand access to recorded education sessions for a month, with an option to extend that period.
What will you most remember about 2020?
I’ll remember the resiliency and adaptability of members and staff. In some ways, being a “virtual” president was more demanding; when you’re out of town, you get a reprieve from the home responsibilities. When my presidency ends, I look forward to not having 45 new emails every time I put down my phone. But I have no regrets. I’ve seen our members working at their finest when people needed us most.