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WCAoR 2023 Leadership Installed; Award Winners Recognized

Awards Winners Recognized

As 2022 came to a close, it was time to welcome the incoming leadership at the Williamson County Association of REALTORS during its annual installation & awards banquet, and show appreciation to the outgoing board members for their dedication over the past year. This year’s industry awards were presented in the following categories: Distinguished Service Award, Affiliate Company of the Year, Affiliate Member of the Year, Builder of the Year, Rookie of the Year, REALTOR® of the Year, and President’s Award.

The Board of Directors and Directors hands were proudly raised as the oath was read by City of Barlett Mayor Chad Mees. Board of Directors incoming President Jennifer Tucker-Neely, Amazing Realty; President-elect Kim Dale, Realty Texas; Treasurer Julie Jones, Keller Williams Lonestar, Candy Cooke, Real Property Counselors, Inc., secretary; and Past-President Michele Sherwood, Keller Williams Round Rock, accepted the oath to lead the association forward. The Directors installed were Alisha Austin, Homes in Heels; Amanda Keeley, Freedom Realty Texas; Darian Rausch, Urban to Suburban Realty; Jason Dishongh, Whiskey Oak Realty; Kristi Sanguinet, Magnolia Realty Round Rock and Tara Knight, Keller Williams Round Rock.

Jennifer Tucker has lived in Central Texas since 2006 and previously lived and worked all over the world: starting in Birmingham, AL with stints in Leeds England, Seattle Washington, Manila Philippines and now in Austin Texas. Prior to focusing full time on real estate and investing she had a very successful career in corporate America.

Barbara McLaughlin of Realty Texas was presented with the Distinguished Service Award. Affiliate Company of the Year went to Green Scene Home Inspections and the Affiliate Member of the Year is Heidi Shavor of Old Republic Home Protection. Brohn Homes was announced as the Builder of the Year and the Rookie of the Year is Rasheeda Dillingham of Realty Texas. The REALTOR® of the Year award was presented to Ruby Johnson of Urban to Suburban Realty and the President’s Award was accepted by Jason Dishongh of Whiskey Oak Realty.

Congratulations to the leader that will take us through the year and to all the award winners.

Level Up 2023: WCR Is Ready, Are You?

I am looking forward to a successful year as we begin the new year, I am  extremely excited about what lies ahead. Our Chapters membership numbers are steadily increasing as we continue to educate our community on the benefits of being a member of the Women’s Council of REALTORS, Austin Chapter (WCR).

This year’s first “New Year, New You” event was held at LendFriend, and we were excited to host it. There was a photographer on site, Sarah Lynn, who provided all registered attendees with two headshots. In addition, there were stations where guests could create a vision board and have it framed. Our belief is that setting goals is essential to success, and displaying them daily is a smart way to stay on track.

January 2023 Monthly Luncheon

The topic of this month’s monthly lunch will be “Shifting Your Mindset”. The event will take place from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thursday, January 26 at the Centro Event Center in downtown Round Rock. Speaker Dragan “Slayer” Trajkovski is an expert at using Peak Performance Strategies by Tony Robbins to achieve the most successful results for the world’s most successful and influential leaders, entrepreneurs, actors, and athletes. One of Dragan’s greatest passions is seeing individuals achieve something they never thought possible. I am looking forward to seeing you at the meeting.

We are hosting our very first new member orientation October 12 from 1-2 at LendFriend in one of the conference rooms.  If you are a newer member and would like to learn more about the various benefits Women’s Council offers, please do not miss this.  We would like to give you a t-shirt, provide you with your new member pin, and send you home with a folder of tools you can access in your free time.

Remembering Cor’Dlaine “Cordie” McGhee

I am saddened to share that Cor’Dlaine “Cordie” McGhee passed away after a lifelong battle with various health issues, ultimately pulmonary failure. She was positioned to take over the membership recruitment chair in 2023 and there could not have been a better fit for this important position. I knew the second I met her at the negotiation panel that we hosted that she was a very special individual. She had this innate ability to light up any room that she entered and welcome any and all people that stepped into her path. It was no accident that she was brought into my life. Cordie sprouted her angel wings on Nov. 18, one day after the day she was to be installed in her newly appointed position. Cordie will always hold a special place in the hearts of the WCR Austin family and she will always be remembered and sorely missed!

I wish you a fruitful 2023 and I am looking forward to serving our members and our community in the coming months.

Be The Light That Inspires Others

It is with the utmost humility that I take on the role of 2023 President of the Williamson County Association of REALTORS®. It is no small honor to be installed as the leader of this remarkable organization. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously. As I have prepared for this role and the year ahead, I have had the honor and privilege to be surrounded by many talented leaders to observe, listen to, and learn from. In the past five years I’ve served as a Director, the Treasurer and the President-Elect of this Association alongside some truly amazing folks that have mentored me and guided me.

During my time serving this Association we have seen a 20.4 percent growth in Williamson County. This staggering growth has directly impacted our profession and our daily work. Judge Bill Gravel said recently “Williamson County has become the Technology Superhighway of the World.” We’ve seen Apple expand, Dell Technologies continues to invest in Williamson County, Samsung arrive on our doorstep, school bonds passed in every city that proposed bonds, road and bridge projects and water infrastructure improvements — all pointing to continued growth in Williamson County housing. Forbes even recently reported Williamson County as one of the fastest growing counties in the country. We experienced this growth and development during COVID, one of the most challenging times in modern history. It was because of outstanding leadership that this was made possible for Williamson County. What a great place to live and do business.

In 2017, I earned my Texas Real Estate Leadership Program (TRLP) designation and committed to a full year of learning and leadership. Our TRLP leader often challenged us to reflect back on what drove us to become leaders and who influenced us the most. So, in preparation to serve, I’ve looked back even further beyond my most recent years of being surrounded by such inspiring leaders. It’s not just the past few years that have brought me to this podium. Instead, it’s a lifetime of learnings and lessons, of efforts to be better and grow more.

As a very little girl my daddy wanted nothing more than a little boy to teach how to re-wire the electric panels, fix the plumbing to the swimming pool pump and repair the lawnmower. He got me! And I was the most helpful flashlight holder a little girl could be. I listened to every word he said and watched closely because I wanted to learn as much as I could. That flashlight came in handy. It was here that I built the foundation for learning to listen and to grow. My daddy taught me so much and I’m so thankful for those many lessons.

As an adult, I raised two kiddos as a single mom and built a real estate career, ultimately building a brokerage in Williamson County. Keeping the light shining and making sure that it was bright was my motivation and inspiration to ensure that my kids would see the path forward and stay focused. Some days it was difficult to hold the flashlight alone and it was through this life experience that I truly and deeply realized that successful leaders don’t lead alone. They need the right folks around them. Leaders need others to lean on, to learn from, and to take support from. Leaders can’t do it alone — ever. I’m grateful for the leadership lessons that my children have taught me.

What I know about myself is that I’m always willing to hold the flashlight. It doesn’t matter what the job is, it doesn’t matter who is doing the job. If I can be a part of something with you and learn from you, then I know I’ll be a better person from spending time with you and learning from you.

My hope this year is to illuminate the light together. To focus on you, on Williamson County, on Central Texas, and all that we must learn along the way. By shining the light together, we can see our path forward. We can sit down and talk about what we need to learn. We can shine the light on what needs to be fixed, in the direction we need to go and on all our celebrations.

Here at the Williamson County Association, we have the most dedicated group of people sitting in our committee chair seats and volunteering. Our staff and our assocation executive dedicate so much time and energy to making each day a success. By shining our lights together, we can only expect to have a bright year ahead.  

View of the Year Ahead, Here’s What to Expect

As your Austin Board of REALTORS (ABoR) & ACTRIS President, I am declaring 2023 as our Year of Connection. As you know, one thing about our business is that it’s all about cultivating connections and strengthening relationships with our clients, colleagues and community. We should never lose sight of how important it is to find time to connect with one another.

A great place to start connecting is at ABoR. Now more than ever, leveraging the benefits provided by ABoR and ACTRIS keeps you in the know and gives you the opportunity to better serve your clients. Getting plugged into our Association and learning about issues affecting our industry has made me a better professional. This has ultimately allowed me to serve my clients at a much higher level.

As I was thinking back over how I became involved at ABoR, I remembered ABoR’s CEO Emily Chenevert coming to speak at one of our brokerage sales meetings. She talked about the importance of advocacy, why it was essential to our business, and how we could get involved in the decision-making that impacts our business. There are so many opportunities to make industry connections. From events like Coffee with a Council Member to REALTOR® Day at the Capitol, ABoR Advocacy gives you a direct line to connect and engage with key decision-makers in Central Texas. Over the years, my business has thrived, and I largely attribute my success to my involvement on the Legislative Management Team, TREPAC, and other advocacy opportunities at ABoR.  

If your calendar is already overflowing with appointments, one easy way to give back to your community is to invest in your industry. This can be done through TREPAC or the ABoR Foundation. Both opportunities positively impact the real estate industry right here in Central Texas, whether it’s protecting property rights, promoting homeownership, or providing resources for housing, education, and disaster relief. 

I challenge you to get involved with the Association, TREPAC, ABoR Foundation, ABoR Global, or other organizations right here in our backyard. As REALTORS®, we are uniquely positioned to care for and be ambassadors for those who live around us. Take the time to learn from your colleagues who have been in the business for a long time, call on a mentor, or write a thank you note to someone who has impacted your personal or professional life for the better. Communication, connection, and community are the keys to personal and career success.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this Year of Connection, it would be to reach out to each other, lend a hand, bridge the gap, introduce people to each other, and ask members to join us. We are stronger together when everyone has a voice and is represented. I will work hard alongside our Boards of Directors to create opportunities for members to have a seat at the table. This will enable them to join the conversation at the local, state, and national level. So, how will you get involved and stay connected?

Learn more about ABoR volunteer opportunities at ABoR.com/Volunteer.

AmeriFirst Financial of Texas

Helping Families Pursue Their Dreams of Homeownership

Founded on more than thirty years of industry experience, AmeriFirst Financial helps families realize their dreams and goals of homeownership. David McMillan, a loan officer with AmeriFirst in Austin, takes his role and AmeriFirst’s responsibility very seriously, saying, “It is a great company, doing good production, especially in the challenging market we are in right now.” Although he has been in the mortgage industry for more than 32 years himself and has seen many challenging markets, and while they always turn around, he believes “this one is right up there at the top of the most challenging.” Yet, he believes in the products that founder Eric Bowlby has developed for him and the rest of the team. 

As McMillan shares, “the products offered by AmeriFirst Financial are homegrown, providing loan officers with products to sell and the ability to partner with real estate agents, especially in a challenging market.” Modeled after Keller Williams and ExP’s profit and revenue sharing model, Eric Bowlby developed a product that assists real estate agents in obtaining their mortgage license and pays them to originate a loan. They are then incentivized to recruit other agents and loan officers, creating a downline of residual income. This product, RELO Funding, is appealing because it creates partnerships with influencers in various areas, including individual real estate agents, title companies, etc., connecting people across the industry. 

It is this out-of-the-box thinking that continues to bring value to clients, agents, and loan officers. As the regional manager for the Austin Branch, McMillan understands how rising interest rates impact the housing market, especially in an area like Austin, which has long been one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. With large corporations building and thriving in the area, the onslaught of new jobs sparked the need for housing and, more importantly, the means to pay for that housing. AmeriFirst’s unique approach to mortgage lending ensures affordability, especially when homebuyers are focused on their monthly payments as interest rates continue to rise. 

But, AmeriFirst is not just focused on clients; their team of loan officers plays a critical role in their business, and taking that same approach of thinking outside the box, management ensures their employees can attain the financial freedom and success they desire. As McMillan explains, “historically in this industry, loan officers have gotten almost all their business from real estate agents. They get into partnerships with real estate agents, they market to real estate agents, and when a realtor has a buyer, they refer them to the loan officer. That’s how we (loan officers) get our business. Well, if they can lead generate, so can we. We’ve partnered up with some of the country’s top lead generators to find borrowers for our loan officers and buyers and sellers for our real estate agent partners and give them leads as well.” Because AmeriFirst takes care of its employees, there is a sense of family and a tight-knit group, many of whom have been together for a long time. McMillan’s group alone has been together for 15 to 20 to even 30 years. 

Another value add for AmeriFirst’s agents is the Austin Real Estate Podcast Network. David has partnered with Sandy McIlree (the old JB & Sandy Show, and now The Sandy Show on 25 stations through iHeart Media) to do video and audio podcasts talking to agents about their listings and the market at large. Useful tools for an agent’s marketing and social media. 

Although the mortgage industry in Austin has typically remained and worked locally, the Austin branch is casting a wider net, generating leads and serving clients across the state and the country. To do this, the company sponsors a personal development program, Educate 2 Earn, encouraging employees and real estate professionals to continue learning, developing their skills, and trying new things, all while providing continuing education credits to REALTORS. 

Lastly, while expanding its reach outside of Austin in the lending arena, AmeriFirst leadership has not forgotten the importance of nurturing the local community. The family-like culture of the organization encourages giving back as part of its foundation, with individuals participating in a variety of local activities and charitable events.

Relationship-building is paramount to growth and success in this highly competitive industry, especially in a booming real estate market. AmeriFirst prides itself on creating those opportunities for real estate agents, loan officers and processors, and others in the industry to engage, learn, grow, and develop. If you are interested in learning more and creating more lead-generating relationships, reach out to David and the AmeriFirst team at https://dmc.amerifirstloan.com/ or to learn more about RELO, visit www.relodmc.com.