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Editor’s Note: The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of Realtors® and Steve A. Brown, NAR’s Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.

Participants:
Steve A. Brown
, Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR; and Executive Vice President, General Manager, Crye-Leike Realtors®, Memphis, Tenn.
Jim Imhoff, Incoming Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR; and Chairman/CEO, First Weber Group, Madison, Wis.

Steve A. Brown: The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Bad times are as valuable as good times; they are occasions a good learner would not miss.” For those of us who have navigated the past few years, truer words were never spoken—and in the year since I stepped into this moderator’s chair, we have tried to tackle the issues and solutions that help us to grow as brokers and agents. The key is to recognize and identify trends and to make the challenges work for us—and few people are better equipped to help us do that than our incoming Liaison and Roundtable moderator, Jim Imhoff. Jim is chairman and CEO of First Weber Group, the largest real estate firm in Wisconsin, with 1,400 agents in 54 offices statewide. A past president of the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association, where he was honored as REALTOR® of the Year, Jim has served as an NAR Director and on the REALTOR® Political Action Committee. Today, he serves with several economists on the boards of two financial institutions. I will miss the chance to moderate discussions like this, but I pass the gavel with full confidence. Jim, welcome to the Roundtable!

Jim Imhoff: Thanks, Steve. It’s a position I take on with energy and excitement, because there’s no better way to learn and grow than from brainstorming with our peers.

SAB: I think we can agree it’s been an up and down year, and that much of what we’ll face in 2015 will depend on what happens on the legislative and regulatory fronts.

JI: That’s true. The tight lending environment has been a tough nut to crack. It’s encouraging that the FDIC has finalized the Qualified Mortgage Rule (QRM), in ways NAR contends could go a long way toward making credit more available, ultimately improving sales.

SAB: I also think we need to emphasize that FHA remains a great alternative for low-cost loans for buyers with steady jobs and good credit. With all the media stories about tight credit, a recent study showed some 76 percent of potential buyers are more than just a little confused about whether they could qualify for a mortgage. Getting people to “Ask a REALTOR®” could alleviate confusion for many.

JI: Another issue I’d like to address is how to reach the millennials who, for a variety of complex reasons, have not been ready to buy homes. They like their mobility, and they grew up with a different mindset than their parents. We need to get out the message that real estate, in the long term, is still a savvy investment.

SAB: Personally, I look forward to the economic indicators you surely will address in future Roundtables and to the sharing of insights on what makes a good firm better.

JI: Including more strategic planning, which is a topic I take to heart. I’m talking about tactical, calculated strategies that power business growth and development…that’s the kind of hands-on, nuts-and-bolts support I want to bring to Roundtable readers.

SAB: I hear you, Jim, and like the vast majority of brokers surveyed for NAR’s 2014 Profile of Real Estate Firms, I expect a good year in 2015. I’m proud to have been a part of the Roundtable effort, and just as proud to hand the job over to someone of your experience and focus.

JI: Thanks to you, Steve, for a memorable year, and for the hearty welcome. Emerson also says the definition of success is “to win the respect of intelligent people and bring out the best in the others.” If that’s not the definition of a REALTOR®, I don’t know what is.

For more information, visit www.realtor.org.

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