SPOTLIGHT ON: Ron Garafalo, HGAR’s 2021 ‘Realtor of the Year’
Mary Prenon | December 13, 2021
When Ron Garafalo attended HGAR’s 105th Annual Member Appreciation Day this year, he had no idea he would be walking away with the 2021 “Realtor of the Year” Award. The 2019 HGAR President admitted he was “stunned” when he heard his named called.
“I was 100% surprised and am truly thrilled, excited and grateful for this award,” he said. “I respect everything we do as Realtors, so this is such a tremendous honor.”
Garafalo, who also served as president for the former Orange County Association of Realtors, has worked with John J. Lease Realtors in Middletown for the past five years a sales manager. While Middletown is the largest branch with about 50 agents, the company also operates offices in Newburgh and Cornwall-on-Hudson.
One of his passions has continued to be HGAR’s Realtors Political Action Committee, as well the Legislative Committee. Garafalo also serves on NYSAR’s Fair Housing, Legislative and Education Committees. “With RPAC, sometimes people don’t understand the level of details and benefits it brings to both Realtors and homeowners,” he said. “It’s difficult to pass all that information along in just a sound bite.”
Garafalo calls RPAC “the best protection for our industry,” explaining that it supports candidates who support Realtor and home ownership issues. “Our industry is constantly under attack from proposed legislative policies that could hurt the real estate industry and homeowners,” he said. “That’s why we need RPAC.”
As sales manager, Garafalo concentrates on training and working with agents. “Even though the market is strong, and people are making money, it can still be stressful on agents dealing with multiple offers,” he said, recalling one recent single-family home listing that received 22 offers. “It’s still not unusual for people to bid up to $30,000 over asking price in this market.”
For 2022, Garafalo predicts the market will continue to be strong, as long as interest rates remain low. “We still see a lot of people moving up to our area from New York City, but it’s calmed down a bit from a year ago. We’re also starting to see more local people who want to either upgrade or purchase their first home,” he added.
For many years, Garafalo worked in sales management for Nestle Foods in Purchase before getting 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. It eventually grew to be 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.
Garafalo also holds his New York State teaching license and is an HGAR instructor. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf, traveling, and spending time with his two grown children. Like everyone else, his travel plans were affected by COVID, but he has recently started up again, visiting places like the Grand Canyon, California, Arizona and Nevada.
Next year, Garafalo will be chairing the HGAR RPAC Committee and one of his goals will be reaching the financial goal that NYSAR set for the association. “I’m going to encourage everyone I know to consider making just a $35 RPAC contribution when paying their Realtors dues this year,” he said. “If everyone did this, we’d reach our goal in no time.”