Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate agent Kristin Smith stayed busy during the National Association of Realtors Leadership Summit in Chicago last week. As a member of the NAR Young Professionals Network advisory board, Kristin led a discussion about “Overcoming Objections from Leadership and Staff,” and she also participated in a panel regarding “Planning for Retirement in Real Estate.” Additionally, she was interviewed by the Real Estate Today radio show on the topic of “Why Millennials Should be Buying Homes.”
All of that activity made quite an impression on Denise Schultz, CEO of the Lakes Area Realtors Association in Wisconsin. In a blog post wrapping up the Leadership Summit, Schultz highlighted four speakers who inspired her, including former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, former Blue Angels pilot John Foley, and National Association of Realtors CEO Dale Stinton.
The fourth inspiring speaker was Kristin, whom Schultz described as “confident, charismatic, driven, and fully aware that she has something to say worth listening to.”
Real estate is a family affair for Leslie Rouda Smith, as she, her husband, and their two children are all Dave Perry-Miller associates. But Leslie’s interest in Realtors extends beyond her own household.
Through her leadership of Realtors associations at the local, state, and national levels, she has adopted an extended network of real estate professionals, looking out for their best interests as if they were members of her family.
On Tuesday, voters in Texas and across the nation will elect new legislators, governors, and members of Congress. And when those officials take office, they’ll be hearing from Leslie and her colleagues.
Lobbyists for the Texas Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors read thousands of bills to look for things affecting private-property rights and homeownership. The Texas association has also lobbied against taxes on services — such as Realtors’ commissions — among many other issues.
“We’ve saved the average Realtor tens of thousands of dollars in ways they never aware of,” Leslie says.
Only 30 percent of Realtors donate to the Realtors Political Action Committee, the only federal PAC that lobbies solely for private-property rights in homeownership. But, Leslie says, 100 percent of them reap the benefits.
“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” she says of the lobbying efforts. “Unfortunately, we’re at the table at all levels, but we’re still on the menu. That’s just the world we live in.”
Leslie’s involvement in Realtors associations comes naturally. The Ohio native’s late father, Harley E. Rouda Sr., was the president of the National Association of Realtors in 1991. (He also served as president of the Ohio Association of Realtors and the Columbus Board of Realtors.)
After moving to Texas in the 1980s, Leslie got a job in the relocation division of Ebby Halliday Realtors. It was there — literally at the corporate headquarters on Sigma Road — that she met Brian Smith, during an “Ebby School” coffee break. Three years ago, the couple’s children – Kristin Smith and Austin Smith – graduated from the same course.
Leslie rarely lists a property in her own name, opting for a behind-the-scenes role in the family business. But, through her leadership positions, she also plays a behind-the-scenes role in thousands of Realtors’ businesses. Her contributions led the Texas Association of Realtors to honor her with a Distinguished Service Award in September. Only one or two of these are doled out each year; recipients must have made significant industry contributions throughout their career and are also judged on their participation in local activities and civic organizations.
“I love the people I meet,” Leslie says of her work with the Realtors associations. “I love what I learn, and I love helping people.”
The global community grew more united last month when the World Cup soccer tournament began in Brazil. But Brian Smith, a Realtor with Dave Perry-Miller & Associates, got a jump on the competition when he visited Argentina.
Smith, who was appointed a President’s Liaison to Argentina by the National Association of Realtors, spent June 3-7 in the capitol city of Buenos Aires, meeting with industry leaders from all 13 of the South American nation’s provinces.
“It went really well; very good rapport, very relaxed,” Smith said. “We invited them to our November NAR meeting in New Orleans to continueour relationship. And I got invited back to go fishing, so it was a success!”
Anyone who knows Smith will recognize the importance of that invitation. He bills himself as the Country Connection, because he specializes in selling ranches and other rural properties. Consequently, Smith was a little out of his element in Buenos Aires.
“It was all concrete and steel. It was killing me,” he said. “I just wanted to get over to Patagonia or Bariloche, but those are three-to-four-hour flights. It’d be like me wanting to go to California because I was going to meetings in Washington, D.C.”
Smith, a Certified International Property Specialist, said the real estate business is much different in Argentina. There’s nothing like the Multiple Listing Service there, so properties are primarily marketed via word of mouth. But the bigger culture shock is that there’s no financing; all purchases are made with cash.
“There are U.S. dollars in the mattresses down there,” Smith said with a laugh.
This was not Smith’s first international business trip of 2014. In May, he and his wife, Leslie Rouda Smith, were part of a 25-person delegation that visited Cuba. The idea, Brian said, was to build relationships in advance of the potential warming of relations between the United States and the Communist island.
“If they lift the embargo,” he said, “there’s a lot of real estate to be developed down there.”