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RISMEDIA, Jan. 2, 2008-As a REALTOR® and broker for 29 years-most currently with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, California-Dick Gaylord has seen more than his fare share of challenges and opportunities. Throughout it all, he has been steadfast in his commitment to the larger cause, an active participant in many organizations over the years, from the Long Beach Board of REALTORS® to the California Association of Realtors to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. During his tenure as 2008 President of the National Association of Realtors, Gaylord will encourage all Realtors to get involved, make a difference and work towards the greater benefit of the real estate industry as a whole. Here, Virginia Cook, 2007 Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations, NAR, interviews Gaylord on what he sees for the year ahead.

According to Gaylord, while 2008 will continue to see a more balanced real estate market, there is still ample opportunity for professional, proactive Realtors. Next year, more than ever, Realtors will be called upon to connect with consumers and provide the information and guidance that a more challenging market demands. In the meantime, Gaylord will lead NAR’s activities on Capitol Hill, championing the causes that matter most to Realtors, from health insurance to subprime lending regulations. For Gaylord, the year ahead holds a world of promise, for both individual Realtors and the industry as a whole.

VC: In your opinion, what are some the biggest challenges today’s Realtors are confronting?
Dick Gaylord
: Today, Realtors are facing some critical challenges. Consumers are more diverse in terms of age, experience and culture, and they are demanding more individualized service. They want information faster than ever before. We really have to listen to our clients and tailor our efforts to their needs.

Second, the real estate market is changing. It’s always been a local business, but now it’s harder to interpret what’s happening in local markets as conditions shift so quickly. You have to gather information and understand the local economy and how national trends are impacting markets.

With the recent decline in homes sales, the real estate market has become more competitive and there are different forms of competitors. Every Realtor has to ask why a homeowner or seller should choose me rather than the non-Realtor agent down the street.

VC: Why is it important for Realtors to participate in NAR?
I believe that if you aren’t involved in politics, you might find yourself out of business. Advocacy is not something we can pick up and put down. The members have to participate throughout the years, not jut when a bill comes up for vote. The reason we didn’t lose out when Congress changed last fall is because we had a solid relationship with the democrats. We’re going to continue to support that effort in ’08.

VC: What legislative issues will rise to the surface during your term?
NAR’s legislative priorities are determined by our members-they aren’t mine. Last year we surveyed members on dozens of issues and used the feedback to develop a three-tiered public-policy agenda: affordable housing, protecting consumers, and health care for small business. We’re doing our best to advance this agenda. We will also focus on our legislative success in the areas of subprime lending, affordable housing, flood insurance and health care.

VC: What advice would you give to new agents entering today’s market?
Back in 1978 when I had just gotten my license, I was also a lecturer and a speaker and I said, 10 years from now, the people who will survive in this business are those who continue their education and those who provide a level of service never provided before. That advice is even more valuable today than it was then. New agents should take advantage of every single resource NAR offers to help them learn about the business. NAR’s research helps members understand their local markets and our education gives you the skills to improve your service. It pays to be a Realtor.