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Birch returned as BREA president

Patti Birch was returned as president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association(BREA), with Franon Wilson taking on the vice president post in the association’s elections held yesterday.

Also elected to the BREA leadership for 2011-2012 were Sara Callender as treasurer and Gino Maycock to the post of Secretary. Birch said that 2010 proved a challenging year, but that many plans were underway for the 2011-2012 period, aimed at improving the building up the professionalism of members and creating greater opportunities for them.

“Outside of unforeseen events, this year we are putting an emphasis on networking and business opportunities for our members,”Birch toldGuardian Businessafter the election results were finalized yesterday.

One of BREA’s initiatives to continue to grow networking opportunities is the implementation of an IDX feed. The IDX will allow realtors to have their own websites link into BREA’s Multiple Listing Services(MLS), effectively allowing cooperative brokerage on thousands of listings. Birch said that for those participating members the feed will’level the playing field’as even small brokers with a website will have same access to listed properties that many larger firms have, even with no exclusive listings of their own. Prospective buyers also benefit as they get to choose the realtor they want to work with, but still access the database’s entire inventory. Under the system the agent on the buying and selling side split commissions.

The contracts to implement the IDX have all been agreed and signed, according to Birch, with the end of April targeted to rollout the program. All BREA members will have the opportunity to participate and Birch said for those who choose to there would be no fees charged beyond the monthly fee for MLS participation–currently less than$50.

BREA is also hoping to expand its member’s networking capabilities to international markets. The association is hoping for approval to have the IDX feed link into worldproperties.com–the official website of the International Consortium of Real Estate Associations(ICREA). With over 43 different countries across the globe, it will create more global access to listings, dramatically increasing market access. A Russian interested in a Bahamian property could use the site to locate a suitable listing, Birch explained.

Foreign realtors cannot practice in The Bahamas, so Birch explained that a referral fee would go to the buyer’s agent under the ICREA link if approved. The referral fee she explained is smaller than the brokerage commission. The ICREA board has yet to approve the application but Birch said as BREA had been invited and Bahamian listings were desired, she saw no reason why the approval would not come.

This year also saw a bid for a greater representation in BREA leadership from Grand Bahama realtors, said Birch, with five representatives coming down for the election and three people from Freeport on the ticket. Birch said it was the first time that had happened and welcomed the active Freeport chapter’s commitment to ensure their voice was heard. From Freeport, Donna Jones of H.G. Christie was newly elected as director to serve for two years.

Other directors elected to start their two-year term included Cara Christie of H. G. Christie, Zack Bonczek of Remax Paradise Realty, Ken Chaplin of ERA Dupuch, and Stuart Halbert of Bahamas Realty.

Directors with one year left to serve include Mike Lightbourn, Sally Hutcheson, Carla Sweeting, Rachel Pinder and Wendy Johnson.

Birch and Wilson both ran uncontested in the election, but according to Birch that is in keeping with BREA’s culture. Explaining that the presidency was very demanding, Birch said that typically the vice president during a president’s second term would get the necessary preparation and grooming to take up the presidency the following year. Wilson would likely move into the presidency next year, she said, though all positions are open to be contested during an election.

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