Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Passing The Gavel

A week from tomorrow I will preside over my final meeting as president of Columbus Real Estate Exchangors (CREE). December 11 will mark our annual holiday breakfast and awards program.

CREE, this remarkable organization of individuls -- truly the most creative people in real estate from throughout Central Ohio -- meets weekly to exchange ideas, learn about new commercial/investment properties on the market, and build on the use of 1031 exchanges to help our principals. As one member refers to it, our business is "the art of the exchange."

It is an exclusive group, I believe. For out of some some 7,300-plus members of the Columbus Board of Realtors, we number less than 200. But the impact we have on the industry, and for our clients, is infinite.

In the year since I took hold of the tiller, steering CREE through 2008, we have:

- Moved to a beautiful new meeting site, the Little Bear Golf and Conference Facility in southern Delaware County. It is a site that befits this group, as one of our members stated when we voted to make Little Bear CREE's home. After years of meeting in dank basements of masonic lodges, or forgotten (and smelly) rear training rooms of telecom companies, it was time, members said, to meet in a comfortable location. A location reflective the work we do on behalf of our clients. A location that spoke of the success we bring our clients who rely on our expertise to help them build wealth through real estate. Bill McCorkle, owne of Little Bear, is a great host and I thank him for making CREE feel so welcome.

- Grown membership from around 140 to nearly 200 real estate professionals and affiliate members servicing the real estate industry.

- Helped mediate a dispute between two respected commercial real estate agents. A team of CREE officers and members sat through meetings with both parties. While neither was likely happy with the outcome, the effort further facilitated communication and helped the parties avoid going to war with each other in court.

- Seen our reach grow, as commercial agents and lenders from areas far outside Central Ohio began making the weekly trip to the Columbus area to take part in what is now the largest regular gathering of real estate exchange experts anywhere in the state of Ohio. We have brokers coming from Medina (near Cleveland); Dayton (an hour to the west); Newark (45 minutes east); and lenders regularly coming up from Cincinnati (two hours).

I believe the infusion of new members speaks not only to the energy present in this dynamic group, but also to the wealth of knowledge available to those who take part on a regular basis. Forgive me if this sounds arrogant, but I know more than most real estate agents about weighing commercial/investment opportunities. It isn't just about getting a good price. It is far more complex. And yet, I am humble enough to admit I know I don't know everything -- that I would make it a point to be at CREE weekly even if I didn't have to. Because there is just that much new information shared weekly. I come out of there some weeks astounded at what I have learned.

I am proud of what we have accomplished during 2008. And am doubly honored not only that the CREE nominations committee back in 2007 asked me to serve as president, but that so many of CREE's esteemed long-time members have passed along their words of support for the growth, new vitality, new ideas and the even keel evident during the past year. My best wishes to my former right-hand, Tony Yacoub, who served through the first half of this year with me as CREE vice president, but who left Ohio for a tremendous opportunity in New York City. I have missed you these past few months my brother.

And I send my best wishes for a successful 2009 to the slate of officers nominated for the coming year: Phil Manogg of Furman Tinon Real Estate, president; my office mate Jim Simmons of Prudential CRES Commercial, vice president; Amber Balo, another sister of "The Rock" (forgive my Pru humor . . . she, too, is an agent with me at Prudential CRES Commercial); and Ryan Puckett, money coach and personal economy adviser with Columbus Financial Group, treasurer.

Special thanks for Ms. Balo who, as secretary, has followed through with my request to take detailed notes regarding the weekly marketing sessions, and "the sermon." Running a meeting, I don't hear the opportunities and details -- they don't process as well for me since I am keeping an eye on the room, moderating Q&A, and lining up the "next" presenter. Amber, thanks for making sure the notes were detailed so I could digest them each evening following our weekly Thursday sessions.

To my many colleagues at CREE, the Ohio Commercial Realtors Exchange Association (OCREA), and the Columbus Board of Realtors, I thank you for your support and friendship this past year. I could not have done it without you.

Finally, to one who when I was low reminded me that when handed lemons there is only one solution -- to make lemonade. You know who you are. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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