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Welcome, 2013! For those of us in real estate, it’s refreshing to see so many positive market indicators after a couple years of facing down challenging conditions. As a nation and in my hometown of Chicago, the real estate recovery seems on track.

Keeping recovery on track is another issue, however – and one that experience shows is better tackled cooperatively than as individuals or special interest groups. For that reason, I hope 2013 will be the Year of Partnership.

A powerful aspect of partnerships is that, when wisely and strategically created, they benefit the partners as much as their business climate as a whole. Working together, real estate professionals, government offices and grassroots community organizations can identify fresh, effective approaches to improving our nation’s residential and commercial real estate sectors. This serves our respective interests, of course, but also serves American home owners, renters and business owners. The nation gains.

Benefits to real estate and other industries that engage in partnerships can include, according to the U. S. Small Business Administration:

-A generally uncomplicated and inexpensive business structure.

-The advantage of creating efficiencies that conserve resources and possibly yield greater access to financing.

-The ability to capitalize on each partner’s particular strengths and skills.

-Involvement of highly motivated and capable employees.

A problem with the status quo is that many of the standard approaches we’ve taken to improving the plight of distressed homeowners and entrepreneurs don’t work anymore. Assistance programs established decades ago, or in some cases more recently, aren’t capable of serving today’s dilemmas that go hand-in-hand with a real estate market like we’ve never seen before and unprecedented alterations in the U.S. economy.

The retail real estate market in many hard-hit areas provides a good example. Whereas corporate-owned stores are backed by larger resources to help them recover from economic losses, that’s generally not the case with family businesses. Those entrepreneurs require new tools to make a difference in today’s market, creative thinking and fresh approaches beyond old standbys. These new tools can only come from cooperative, cross-discipline efforts that understand the importance of healthy local commercial districts to their surrounding residential neighborhoods and civic welfare.

Another example is volunteer work you may do in your own community. Whereas one volunteer-based organization is limited by the time available to its volunteers, two or more organizations working in force can accomplish more, faster.

Zeke_MorrisAs one who works in real estate, partnerships will help you tap into a greater pool of potential clients and more ability to profit. As a citizen, partnerships will help you live in a safer or otherwise more vibrant community. What’s to lose?

Please join me in making 2013 the Year of Partnership. It’s a win-win for our businesses, our nation and ourselves.

Ezekiel “Zeke” Morris is the 2012-13 President of the Chicago Association of REALTORS®