Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 2, 2015

GCAR entering new year debt-free

The 2016 GCAR Board of Directors is (L-R): Jennifer Cooper, director; Travis Close, immediate past president (currently president); Kim Bass, director; Geoff Ramsey, director; Janice Robertson, director; Barry Hamilton, director; Jennie Brockman, secretary-treasurer; Denise Murphy; Mark Hite, president-elect; Nathan Walldorf, president; Robert Backer, director; and Brenda Pargeon, director. Not pictured: Jon Hughes, director; Paula Palmer, director; and Brandi Pearl Thompson, director. - (Photo by David Laprad)

Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors (GCAR) President Travis Close had only good things to say during the organization’s 2015 annual meeting, held Thursday, Sept. 24 at GCAR.

Close’s biggest announcement prompted vigorous applause from the several dozen members attending the meeting: Current leadership at GCAR has made it possible to pay off the debt on the association’s current facility, enabling the organization to enter the new year debt free. Close delivered the news via a YouTube video that pictured him holding the golden shovel used to break ground on the association’s current facility on Oct. 25, 2006.

“When our leaders decided to sell the old building and build this one, they did it in a manner that wouldn’t jeopardize GCAR’s sound financial footing,” Close said. “We contributed some funds from our reserves, but without reducing our reserves below a necessary and comfortable amount. GCAR financed the remaining balance with the goal of retiring the debt as soon as possible.”

In more good news, membership numbers and revenues are up for both GCAR and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

GCAR added 103 members in 2015 to boost its membership to 1,657. MLS subscriptions increased by 107, bringing the total number of subscribers to 1,661.

More members means greater expenses. GCAR’s operating costs increased $17,464 to $324,860, while MLS expenditures rose $62,859 to $698,471. However, higher revenues more than covered the added expenses on both fronts. GCAR’s revenues increased $56,467 to $434,895, while MLS revenues rose $79,240 to $725,608.

“Overall, the association and the MLS are in good shape,” Close said.

Close was also pleased to report GCAR members have once again exceeded their Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) goal for the year. With 35 percent of the association’s members participating, GCAR has raised $44,545, which is 204 percent over their goal of $21,810.

“We’ve been bringing up the importance of investing in RPAC at the new member orientations, and it’s gone over really well,” Close said.

Although fewer members participated than Close would have liked, many of those members who did contribute gave more money than before, allowing the organization to more than double its objective. For example, in 2014, only two members gave between $99 and $199; this year, nine members contributed funds in that range.

Close urged members who have not made at least a $15 investment to do so before the end of the year. “We need your help to push our participation percentage higher,” he said.

Director Janice Robertson then delivered a summary of important events at GCAR in 2015.

In encouraging news, she reported that former executive officer Francie Ryder is doing well as she undergoes treatment for pancreatic cancer. Doctors diagnosed Ryder with the disease earlier this year. “Please continue to remember Francie in your thoughts and prayers,” Robertson said.

Robertson also said 2015 has been a banner year for GCAR in terms of its participation in the national and international real estate community.

This year, Carol Seal, the association’s CEO and executive vice president, was chair of the advisory board of the 2015 Joint AE Institute, held in Vancouver, British Columbia. The AE Institute provides professional development opportunities for association executives. Every five years, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) partners with the Canadian Real Estate Association to present a joint AE Institute.

In addition, the NAR invited Close to participate in its Leadership Academy, and the Tennessee Association of Realtors (TAR) selected Close as a divisional vice president. Finally, as reported last week in the Hamilton County Herald, Realtor Randy Durham has been elected and installed as the 2016 TAR president. “Mr. Randy, we are proud of you,” Robertson said to Durham, who was present.

GCAR members also experienced several changes in 2015. The association switched to the FlexMLS platform in February, and last month, it swapped lockboxes. “Change is never easy,” Robertson said, “but it brings great things.”

GCAR and the MLS were proven capable of great things when each organization responded to the tragedy of July 16 by donating $5,000 to the Chattanooga Heroes Fund, established by NFL quarterback Peyton Manning to help support the families of those who were killed and wounded in the attack on the U.S. Navy Reserve Center.

The $10,000 total donation prompted a call from Manning to Seal. Robertson played the voice message the former Tennessee Vols quarter back left for Seal, in which he thanked GCAR and the MLS for their contribution. “I appreciate your generosity, and assure you it will directly impact these families, who truly need it,” he said.

To wrap up the meeting and release everyone to enjoy the catered barbecue meal waiting outside, Broker Vicki Trapp announced the results of the election for the 2016 GCAR Board of Directors.

The prevailing candidates for 2016 included: Mark Hite as president-elect; Jennie Brockman as secretary-treasurer; and Jennifer Cooper, Jon Hughes, Paula Palmer, Brenda Pargeon, and Brandi Pearl Thompson as directors. The directors will also serve in 2017.

These candidates will serve under the leadership of 2016 President Nathan Walldorf and alongside six returning directors, who will be fulfilling the remainder of their 2015-2016 terms, including Robert Backer, Kim Bass, Barry Hamilton, Denise Murphy, Geoff Ramsey, and Robertson. Close will serve as immediate past president.

“Thank you everyone who ran,” Trapp said. “It’s not easy putting yourself out there, but we appreciate your willingness to serve.”

“Let’s unite and work together,” Robertson said. “We work for different companies, but that’s not what matters. What matters is we support this body and its leaders.”

GCAR members will come together again for Fall Festival, which will take place Tuesday, Oct. 20 from 4-7 p.m. 

To see more photos, pick up a copy of the Hamilton County Herald.