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The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS® and Rei Mesa, NAR’s Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.

Participants: Rei Mesa, President and CEO, Prudential Florida Realty, Real Estate Services, and outgoing Liaison for Large Firm Relations, NAR

Jeff Barnett, Regional Vice President, Alain Pinel Realtors, Los Gatos, Calif. And incoming Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR

Rei Mesa: What a difference a year makes! When I stepped into the role of the NAR Power Broker Roundtable moderator in December of 2011, there was an eight month supply of homes languishing in inventory around the nation and the median time on market was just over 100 days. The general outlook was still pretty grim and our focus as broker/owners was squarely on finding innovative strategies to help beat the odds and boost our bottom lines. But by this past September, the supply of homes was down to under six months, and the number of days on market had shrunk by more than 30 percent. This was significant change and great news for industry professionals who have weathered a six-year downturn, and who, forecasters say, can look forward now to a breakout year in 2013. So you’ll forgive me if I’m of two minds now that my term here is coming to an end—glad to be around as the good news continues to roll in, but a little sorry that I won’t be at the table as we talk about how to make the most of it. At the same time, I’m happy to turn the gavel over to a colleague who is perfect for the job. He is Jeff Barnett, regional vice president of Alain Pinel REALTORS® in Northern California, the fifth largest real estate firm in the nation. He’s been involved with NAR in various leadership capacities since 1999 and a man well-versed in making opportunity count. Welcome, Jeff. We look forward to your turn at the Roundtable.

Jeff Barnett: Thank you, Rei. I’m excited to be here at this moment in time when business optimism is growing daily—and I think I can speak for broker/owners everywhere in thanking you for a year of insight, great planning and direction. Good ideas are the lifeblood of our business, and you’ve brought together some great panels to share their ideas and best practices.

Rei Mesa: I know you will do nothing less, Jeff, and I look forward to staying involved in whatever way I can. It’s an opportunistic time for REALTORS® in just about every part of the country. Existing home sales are expected to show a rise of 9 percent this year, and in spite of low inventory and tightened credit, forecasters expect that to be followed by another 9 percent increase in 2013. The question for REALTORS® now is no longer how to survive, but how do we make the most of this market opportunity to grow and expand our businesses?

Jeff Barnett: You’re exactly right, Rei, and that’s my starting point for scheduling a new year of Roundtable topics. We are at a point where buyer confidence is climbing and interest rates are at lifetime lows. The expectation is that prices will continue to rise, and inventory will open up as more sellers realize this is the time to sell. Without question, it’s time for brokers to transition out of preservation mode and look for the best ways to grow. We need innovative ideas for educating consumers, targeted marketing, maximizing strategies and resources—and these are some of the issues our Roundtable panels will focus on in the year ahead.

Rei Mesa: It’s a good time to also remember there is strength in numbers…to be card-carrying members of the REALTOR® Party first, united in supporting NAR’s efforts to keep the issues in the public eye and urge legislators to do no harm.

Jeff Barnett: Absolutely, and those are areas we want to talk about this year—getting consumers involved in the fight against Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM)… ensuring that regulators consider and reconsider how their actions will affect housing—and, ultimately, the job growth that will continue to power the nation’s economic recovery.

Rei Mesa: I read the other day that National monthly home prices, on average, have shown seven straight increases. We haven’t seen that many consecutive increases in six years, and that means demand is strong. Roundtable discussions with some of the best practitioners in the business are one way to help brokers and agents capitalize on that trend in ways that keep us strong and relevant while serving the public interest.

Jeff Barnett: That’s my goal in the coming year. Rei, you couldn’t have said it better—and a note of encouragement to regular readers of this column: We want to hear what’s on your mind. If you can suggest provocative topics or solutions, you can reach out to me anytime at