PRESIDENT'S CORNER: A Look Back on a Very Productive 2018

Barry Kramer | December 2018

It’s been an honor to serve as your 2018 President. These past 12 months have been very busy and productive, and I’m proud of what’s been accomplished under my tenure. I’d like to review a few of the highlights.

Our Installation Gala in January was a smashing success, and I’m sure it was the first with a Broadway theme. It was a pleasure to welcome NYSAR President Christine “CJ” DelVecchio and other guests who supported HGAR by attending.

One of my goals for the year was to step up participation in our committees and councils. We created an e-mail that made sign-up easier and encouraged participation. I implemented the first-ever meeting of all Committee Leadership members to discuss plans and objectives for the year. This group also met mid-year to discuss our progress. Our Committee Chairs, Co-Chairs and Vice Chairs did a great job of putting together tremendous programs for HGAR members. Thanks to everyone who agreed to serve on a committee this year.

HGAR was well represented at NYSAR business meetings and other state and national conferences. As Chair of the NYSAR Co-op Working Group I was able to make this a legislative priority. Other members of HGAR who served in leadership positions, included Dorothy Botsoe, who served as Vice Chair of the Fair Housing and Cultural Diversity Committee.

Under the leadership of Leah Caro and John Olivero we had one of our most successful Lobby Days. In addition to a great turnout by our members, we had a good showing of legislators interested in hearing about our legislative priorities. Thanks to everyone who participated in Lobby Day.

Botsoe and Richard Herska did a fantastic job as Co-Chairs of our RPAC Committee, raising a record of more than $171,000. They had some really fun new events like Realtor Olympics and Zumba and worked hard to meet our goal.

One of my goals as President was to recognize the participation of members who have gone above and beyond for HGAR. I was delighted to present “WOW” awards to many of you. My congratulations to all award winners during our Annual Meeting and a special shout out to Renee Zurlo, Realtor of the Year! Thank you and congratulations to all of those honored!

Another priority of mine was to make our real estate school the best in the region. Under the leadership of Katheryn DeClerck, Phyllis Lerner and our new Director of Professional Development and Industry Relations, Theresa Hatton, we did just that. We’ve vastly improved our educational offerings and continue to make HGAR the go-to school for real estate education.

One of the events I am most proud of was our celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. This program, held at the Doubletree in Tarrytown, brought together representatives from groups like AREAA, WRO, NAGLREP, FIABCI, NAHREP, the Westchester Human Rights Commission and others that offered both a celebration of the Fair Housing Act as well as useful information for Realtors. Thanks to everyone who helped put that event together!

This year we worked with our partners and affiliates to forge meaningful relationships and increase participation. These initiatives included organizations like WRO, NAHREP and the Business Council of Westchester. By working together, we can add to the success of our members and our communities.

Led by President Carol Dorado and her team, the Women’s Council had a year of exciting programs. Isn’t it great that NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall was able to join us for an informative luncheon earlier this year?

I’m so proud of the Hudson Gateway Realtor Foundation, led by the Foundation officers, Maryann Tercasio, Drew Kessler and Bonnie Koff, the other Foundation Trustees, and the countless volunteers who devote so much of their time and energy. Every year the Foundation seems to raise more funds for great causes.

Our Commercial Investment Division had an outstanding year of well-attended programs and I know John Barrett has even more planned for next year.

The recent Global Summit held in New York City surpassed even last year’s event. The panels brought knowledge and expertise to advance Global Real Estate. A special thanks to Bob Shandley, who really worked hard to implement our own Global Council. Plans are already underway to make this event even better in 2019.

This year we’ve worked to help our membership thrive! We completed a merger with the Sullivan County MLS and have expanded our presence in Manhattan. Beginning next year, we’ll operate one of the largest MLS systems in the county now that our merger with the Long Island MLS is complete. Soon we’ll be launching a new website and other tools to help HGAR members.

Finally, I’d like to note the advancement of Co-op Transparency legislation in Westchester was one of my top priorities for the year. I’m pleased that a compromise was reached, and the legislation was signed into law by Westchester County Executive George Latimer on December 14th. The legislation creates a timeframe that co-ops must adhere to in processing applications, and provides that if a buyer is rejected, the Westchester County Human Rights Commission must be notified. This legislation was achieved after some 20 years of advocacy, and I want to thank everyone who helped with this achievement.

All of you who spoke at the County Board of Legislators or advocated for the bill’s passage to your County Legislator deserve credit for making the legislation a reality. We are working to achieve the same results in other areas, and I will continue my work to advocate for co-op legislation.

Again, it’s been a privilege and honor to serve as your 2018 President. I look forward to working with 2019 HGAR President Ron Garafalo and his team to continue to serve you next year.

Barry Kramer
Barry Kramer is 2018 President of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc