Gerald McQuirter is the second vice president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), local chapter, Dearborn Realtist in Chicago. He is making innovative changes to what a real estate board does for its members. He has plans to increase broker income, allow independent brokers to work together under a new affiliate broker program, and boost recognition in the commercial market.
We recently had the opportunity to talk with McQuirter about his plans for the NAREB. We were joined by Gerald Williams, who is the current president of the Dearborn Realtist Board, and serves on the Finance Committee of the Chicago Association of Realtors. Williams is also the managing broker for All Points Realty Group. He specializes in distressed and REO real estate, and works with investors as a consultant on residential rehabs as well as the general contractor on his own portfolio.
Gerald McQuirter first saw the opportunity for a program to connect independent brokers when he was in a class for broker upgrades. In the class of 20, 16 were small independent brokers, and 4 were part of larger firms. “The majority of brokers are independent. […] How can we make these independent brokers part of a collective to work together?” That’s where the idea was formulated to put together a coalition of independent brokers. A webinar was put together about creating an affiliate of brokers. “When brokers are independent, it’s just that. They work individually.” By combining their strength, independent brokers can make more money and work smarter with hours that are less grueling.
In the commercial market, agents are under-represented, and McQuirter intends to change that. “We’re not properly represented in that arena because a lot of people don’t understand or know how that particular arena works.” There is a particular opportunity for agents in urban markets. “We’re looking at a huge turnover in urban areas, so there’s a lot of opportunity there because there’s foreclosures. A lot of people, they put a sign up, and they’re done.” McQuirter intends to educate people so they can take advantage of opportunities they may not otherwise know how to actualize.
McQuirter and Williams talk about the importance of keeping and nurturing small and independent brokerages. “An independent broker makes his own decisions. It makes the system more efficient and less cumbersome,” says McQuirter. Williams adds further the analogy of the small business versus the large business. “If you took away the small businesses in America. America would probably go down. Small businesses are just as important as large business. We have to make sure that we can take care of that group. And that’s the small independent brokerages.”
McQuirter adds, regarding brokers and REO, “We want to take on brokers, so we can supply new brokers with opportunities from the buyer’s stand point. We also want to start acclimating people to the REO business. That’s a huge business right now. We’re working with each other on some of these programs right now, and some of them we’ve carried to fruition.” There will be training programs – first time home buyer programs. Williams adds that the board itself was born out of independent brokerages. “If you look at the real estate landscape now, there’s hundreds of small firms. We aren’t catered to by anyone. It’s important that we create something that works for us. People say, why don’t you guys join one of the larger firms? But we’re independent because we’re made that way. It’s how we do business as people. Because things are moving so fast, it’s impossible for the independent broker to keep up with everything, and we sort of become each other’s keeper in terms of keeping up. I can think of many, many examples where this board has benefited me where I found someone doing the same thing I’m doing, whether REO, or something else, and I can reach out to that person.”
McQuirter says that connections are paramount for small business. “Because we’re in the same organization, we have a network. We understand that there’s enough business out here for everyone to get paid. We look at the long-term growth.” McQuirter says he wants to grow membership income from the mid-20s to about 45 thousand dollars a year. “If we can find that much growth with independents, then everybody wins.”
Increasing membership profitability is one of the most important features of a real estate board, according to Williams. McQuirter says, “We’re in a really good point in the business. We’re working with CAR to learn how to be more effective as a board. Running it the way it’s supposed to be run. We’re excited to be working with them.”
Speaking about other boards, McQuirter says, “You must keep in mind that each board serves a different purpose. They target different things. One targets the political arena. Another is about regulations, keeping us in line. The National Association helps govern us. They all have different purposes.” Williams adds that, “The biggest thing I notice about our industry. I think the real estate industry is the best about making sure each group has representation. When I think of all the different affiliate groups that have come about in the last ten to fifteen years, there is a lot of inclusion. There are groups with Hispanics, Asian trade groups. There is a group for women. All of these have popped up just to make sure that we can have inclusion. And I think the NAREB has really been at the forefront of these changes. And I think we should be applauding our industry for having that depth.”
Although Williams says that technology is crucial, he adds that the industry will always be about connections. “It’s always going to come down to relationships. When I pick up the phone to call someone, who do I know that’s going to be there to pick up that will help get done what I need to get done?”