SPOTLIGHT ON: Ron Garafalo
Mary Prenon | January 2019
HGAR’s 2019 President
In 2011, Ron Garafalo became the president of the former Orange County Association of Realtors. Now eight years later, he’s repeating himself, but this time, his presidency for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, has expanded his administration’s responsibilities to four counties, New York City and approximately 12,000 Realtors.
“I’m very excited and passionate about this opportunity, and about our association and what we do as Realtors,” said Garafalo. “I’m so honored to serve in this position.”
Like all new presidents, Garafalo realizes it’s going to be a balancing act between his responsibilities as sales manager with John J. Lease Realtors in Middletown, and his role as leader of one of the largest Realtor Associations in the nation.
With that in mind, Garafalo has two main goals for 2019—raising the level of professionalism for Realtors and achieving HGAR’s RPAC goals. “A lot of times we hear about the negativity in our profession, but we don’t discuss it other than taking an Ethics course every two years,” he explained. “I think we need to have more conversations about this throughout the year. There’s a value in that and it raises our level as a whole.”
A constant advocate for the Realtors Political Action Committee, Garafalo is determined to increase awareness of RPAC among HGAR members, educating them about what RPAC does and why it’s so important for the real estate business and potential homeowners. “I think our recent victory with the co-op legislation (in Westchester County) is extremely important and we need for everyone to get passionate about how RPAC can make significant changes in our lives.”
In December, Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed a new law to reform co-op purchases, culminating in one of the biggest legislative victories in the history of HGAR.
Under the new legislation, co-op boards will have 15 days to notify buyers whether or not their applications for purchase are complete. After that, boards will have 60 days to accept or reject the application. If an application is rejected, the co-op board must send a notice of the rejection to the county’s Human Rights Commission. Failure to meet these deadlines could result in hefty fines. The victory in Westchester followed the successful effort by HGAR to have Rockland County pass co-op reform legislation earlier in the year.
Garafalo noted that RPAC is continuing the battle for full disclosure of why co-op candidates are rejected. “We also want to keep fighting for a first-time home buyers’ savings program,” he added. Other 2019 RPAC initiatives include a proposal for a permanent 2% tax cap and continued opposition of proposed increases to the mortgage recording and transfer taxes.
As sales manager, Garafalo heads up an office of close to 50 Realtors. Closing in on almost 20 years in real estate, his concentration these days is on training and working with his agents. “Even with today’s technology, it’s still all about relationships and always doing what’s in the best interest of your clients,” he explained.
Garafalo worked for many years in sales management for Nestle Foods in Purchase before delving into real estate. An Orange County native, he began working as an agent with Coldwell Banker in Middletown and within a few years he was managing the office.
Later, he left Coldwell Banker to start his own real estate agency – Real Estate United in Middletown. He and his business partners grew the brokerage to one of the largest offices in Orange County, with more than 50 agents. However, after five years, the partners decided to go their separate ways and Garafalo joined John J. Lease Realtors in Middletown.
He then did a three-year stint with BGH Rand in Goshen before returning to John J. Lease Realtors. Garafalo also holds his New York State teaching license and is an HGAR instructor for several courses including Salesperson Licensing, Code of Ethics, Fair Housing, Agency and others. In addition, he still serves as a NAR and NYSAR Director, and sits on five NYSAR committees.
In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf and traveling. In 2017, he went to Italy and last year he and his children—Meagan, 28 and Nick, 24—spent Christmas in Cancun, Mexico.
He also has a new hobby of flipping houses. “I used to work with my dad who was a carpenter and I’m just using what he taught me,” said Garafalo. So far, he and a business partner have managed to flip two houses.
“With all of the added responsibility this year, it’ll probably be a much slower process,” he admitted. “We’ll just take our time on nights and weekends. I know I’ve got a lot on my plate this year!”