Star Democrat, August 5, 2011
Realtor board sets example, buys building By CAROLYN SWIFT Business Editor The Star Democrat
EASTON The Mid-Shore Board of Realtors isn’t just preaching that now is the right time to buy; the trade organization for Realtors in Talbot, Caroline and Dorchester counties is leading by example, as well.
After renting a unit on Commerce Drive in Easton for more than 10 years, the board bought that space in June, marking the first time in the organization’s 58-year history that it has owned property.
“For the Realtor board to have an investment in real estate is a key statement right now,” said Lee Holt, president of the Mid-Shore Board of Realtors. “Market conditions are about as good as they’re going to get. We feel like it’s a winning situation all around to own today.”
The local real estate community for months has been telling clients that it’s a buyer’s market, given the favorable interest rates and availability of properties, Holt said.
“It was time we took our own advice,” he added.
So the board formed a committee to explore prospective properties in the area, and, after weighing the costs of both purchasing and renovating all of the buildings, eventually decided on the board’s current space.
“We liked this location it’s on the bypass (state Route 322), which gives us visibility, and it’s in a central location,” Holt said. “It also has a lot of parking for training and other events.”
An added benefit, Holt said, was that the organization didn’t have to move, which saved time and money, and has kept the office operating throughout the renovation process.
Scheduled for completion in early September, the renovations include completely remodeling the upstairs conference room; renovating the efficiency kitchen and bathroom; repainting and reflooring the lobby; and expanding and recarpeting the board room.
The biggest changes are taking place in the upstairs conference room, where workers have relocated the staircase that used to split the room in two, making it difficult to accommodate large groups for training or other events, said Debbie Wilkens, executive vice president of the board.
When the board previously held training sessions, only about 20 people could be accommodated in the upstairs conference room, Wilkens said, adding that the organization holds training sessions nearly every other week.
“The renovated space, however, will be able to hold more than twice that amount,” Wilkens said.
“Plus, it will be a classroom setting with desks, instead of having everyone squished in with chairs,” she said.
In addition to accommodating more people, the new space will allow the board to hold more than one meeting at a time, as a board meeting could be held downstairs, for example, while a training session is being held upstairs, Wilkens said.
“I’m very excited to be able to do more than one thing at a time,” she said. “We couldn’t do that before.”
“Throughout the renovation process, the board has received significant assistance from many of its affiliates, which have offered discounts on everything from construction labor to new decorations,”Wilkens said.
Affiliates that have helped to date include Scott Donnelly with High Tech Home Inspection, Jennifer Williams of the Law Office of Jennifer Williams, Floyd Wooter of Gold Win Construction, Solid Tops, Avon Decorating and Rooms anew.
After the renovations are complete, the board hopes to have more room to showcase some of the achievements of its members, as well as display affiliate information for the public.
“It’s going to be more user-friendly to both the public and the Realtors,” Wilkens said.