The future of Boston real estate: A Q&A with GBAR Realtor of the Year Marie Presti

by Stephanie Sims and Natalie Terchek

What makes you so passionate about working in real estate?

There is nothing that makes me happier than helping people with one of their most important financial assets. I feel like I make a real difference in their lives, and I’m able to guide them and coach them throughout the process. It makes me feel great when, after I’ve helped them buy or sell, they tell me how invaluable I was to the process and to them. I love the long-term relationships that I’ve developed over the years. So many of my past clients have become my friends. I’ve gotten so close to some, I’ve even hosted their housewarming parties. And I have done some of the cooking! Italian is my specialty.

As president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, what will your main goal(s) be?

First, I want to continue to increase the communication between the association and its members. Given our association is so large (we are the largest local Realtor association in New England, with close to 10,000 members), this is a huge challenge for us. Our 2017 President, Melody Skye Roloff, has done an excellent job of reaching its members by offering free regional member meetings across our five regions. We call them RealTours. By us “going to the members” to give updates and educational programming, we’ve been able to reach many more than ever before and get feedback. Next year, I want to enhance the program by offering the RealTour member meetings quarterly and including member recognition and spotlights at them.

Second, our members said that enforcing our code of ethics through mediation and arbitration processes was very important to them. To help make this process more efficient, we are in the process of implementing an online system to allow someone to submit a “request for review” when they see somebody not acting as they should. I want to encourage both our members and the public to use this system to help educate the other members. We are trying to demystify this process and streamline the timeframe. We want to all play in the same sandbox happy and ethically.

Third, I recently had an incident at an open house where I felt my safety was at risk. There also have been recent crimes against Realtors in other states, including Beverly Carter, who was murdered three years ago in Arkansas and whose family has recently sued the brokerage company for lack of safety training. We are making Realtor safety a top priority for 2018 and the necessary training is being offered throughout the year, particularly in September, which has traditionally been Realtor Safety Month. The association needs to train our brokers to have more guidelines for Realtors to protect themselves from harm.

Last, but not least, I would like next year to be the year in which the public joins us to speak out for protecting private property rights. In the past several years, we have taken on key issues, like fighting to protect the mortgage interest deduction on homeowners’ taxes, extending the national flood insurance program and opposing expansion of the state’s room occupancy tax to include rentals of 30 days or less. In 2018, I am hoping that all homeowners in the greater Boston jurisdiction join the association, because together we will have a larger voice. If our homeowners join with us, we will have an even bigger one. We will also be doing a series of marketing campaigns to educate the public to speak up to their legislatures to defend private property rights.

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