Three Years Later—Grading Our Progress

Ann Garti | July 2015

I think we all like to believe that we embrace change and generally accept change until we have to deal with its reality.

Four years ago the leadership of three organizations—the Westchester-Putnam Association of Realtors, Rockland County Board of Realtors and the Orange County Association of Realtors—sat down at the table and began to explore the “what ifs” of creating one organization. Their collective purpose was never solely to create a bigger organization but, rather, an organization that could better serve its members, offer more services, and stabilize costs.

The folks at the table were forward thinking, big picture types who clearly understood that the whole could be, and of necessity would have to be, better than the sum of its parts.  Some of us, myself included, understood that for this project to succeed, there would be changes in the role we would play in a new organization.  It was an easy decision.  Having been involved in the industry for a long period, it was clear to me that smaller organizations, going forward, would be hobbled by a dearth of leadership, a loss in members who would gravitate to larger organizations offering more services and better technology at a lower cost, and most importantly, would not have the clout to advocate effectively for their membership.

So, how do I feel now that three years have passed? I believe our leadership was successful beyond its expectations. Certainly, we’ve experienced some glitches along the way, certainly some of our members preferred belonging to a smaller organization and certainly there are a few who never want their cheese to be moved.

The plusses really do outweigh any discomfort along the way.  We have established one technologically advanced multiple listing system, with a database encompassing data from eight counties, while lowering fees.  We developed and offer 22.5 hours of continuing education, on line, at the lowest price available.  All members will soon be utilizing a newer more advanced lockbox system, we are preparing to unveil an exciting new website offering ease of use and single sign-on capabilities and we have added a government affairs director to our staff to advocate our legislative positions more effectively. When we explain to legislators that we represent the interests of 10,000 members (and the people they touch) that sends a powerful message.

We’ve accomplished a great deal and, along the way, we’ve developed the culture of a dynamic organization willing to explore the newest technologies, being ever vigilant as to any new proposed legislation that would not be in our members’ best interests, and always keeping our members up to date on best practices.

I truly believe the aforementioned initiatives have earned the organization a report card grade of an A.       

Ann Garti is COO of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors and the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service. Previously, she served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Orange County Association of Realtors.

Ann Garti