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Change Equals Opportunities

REALTORS installs first African-American woman president

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
Bill Boatman, 2012 President of Georgia Association of REALTORS, was a guest speaker during the “Installation of Officers and Awards Luncheon” at Metro South Association of REALTORS on Tuesday.

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz Bill Boatman, 2012 President of Georgia Association of REALTORS, was a guest speaker during the “Installation of Officers and Awards Luncheon” at Metro South Association of REALTORS on Tuesday.

Positive energy rippled throughout the room, as Metro South Association of REALTORS 2011 President Earlene Gardner passed the gavel to President-elect Barbara Dyer.

Gardner said Dyer became the first African-American woman to be president of the board in the association’s history, during the “Installation of Officers and Awards Luncheon” on Tuesday at the Metro South Association of REALTORS, in Morrow.

“It shows a lot of where we have come from,” added Dyer. “The board carries a lot of responsibility. For the board to trust me to carry all that weight ... they’ve made me feel so comfortable.”

The new president said she has been a part of the Metro South Association of REALTORS board for six years and has been a real estate agent for 15 years. The association serves members in Clayton, Henry and Fayette counties.

She said she will bring a lot of diversity to the board, and will concentrate in several areas that may improve the local housing market. “I am a little nervous, but I am also very, very, very excited, and you know, I really feel as though our board has come a long way in the progress that has been made here,” she said.

Dyer said voter registration among real estate agents is one of her main areas of concern. “I found out that quite a few Realtors on the Southside are not registered to vote,” she said, “and I am going to address that ...

“There’s not a whole lot that takes place in America, period, that doesn’t involve real estate in some shape, form or fashion,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re realty, if you’re buying, you’ve got property taxes, so real estate is involved in at least 70 percent of anything that moves in America.

“Realtors are supposed to have the public’s best interest, and it makes sense for these professionals to have an interest in voting and making a difference.”

She said the manner in which large banks are handling their internal processes on short sales is also troubling. Banks don’t demonstrate urgency in resolving short sales, which, therefore, prevents real estate agents from selling these homes, and, instead, opens the door for foreclosures, she said. “They are killing us and our clients and the community, because if we can’t get them sold, they are foreclosing, and when they foreclose, they are bringing down everybody’s value,” she added.

The solution is for banks to be more open, and have better communication with the real estate business, said Dyer. “Bank officials should come to events such as this luncheon, and speak to real estate agents,” she said. “They need to understand that a timely operation is extremely critical for the current housing market.

“I know there is another wave of foreclosures that they are about to release into the market ... It’s going to have another domino effect of properties not closing,” she said. “I think they are going to release them around the first of the year –– a very large number,” she said.

The 2012 president said that Clayton County houses more renters than homeowners, because a majority of residents have poor credit scores. The low scores are largely due to job losses, she said. “The bottom line is –– get these people back to work,” she said. “Once we get them back to work, they’ll be ready to buy.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of October, Clayton County had a 12.3 percent unemployment rate, compared to the 10.2 percent rate in the state.

Outgoing president Gardner said she is honored to have passed the gavel on to Dyer, and knows she will be a great leader. She said one of the challenges Dyer will face is increasing the membership of the association, which has died down because of the troubling economy. “They can’t sell enough to make a living anymore,” Gardner said.

Gardner said in all her years in the business, she has never seen the housing market experience such a fall, as it has in the last five years.

“I am seeing a lot of positive signs for 2012, [however,]” she said. “I think we are going to start to come out of this.”