Now in its fourth year, the Mississippi Commercial Association of Realtors (MCAR) continues to arm its 175 members with tools to boost educational and networking opportunities — and sales.
The Mississippi Business Journal asked MCAR president Lawrence “Larry” M. Dudley III of Meridian, a Realtor since 1969, a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) since June 22, 1997, and a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, about the reason for its formation, member benefits, hot-button issues and what commercial Realtors really think about the possibility of banks entering the real estate arena.
Mississippi Business Journal: One of the primary reasons MCAR was formed on January 1, 2000, was for networking opportunities. What other benefits has MCAR realized in its first four years?
Larry Dudley: The first reason for the formation of MCAR was to network with other commercial brokers and to provide a format for commercial education that would be useful to the members in their businesses. We also wanted to provide an atmosphere where other licensees could be exposed to the differences between commercial real estate and residential real estate, together with an opportunity to attend educational courses designed for commercial. We have been very successful in bringing some superb commercial education to Mississippi and have even hosted designation courses for some of the commercial designations.
After the formation of MCAR, it was discovered through a poll of the members that one of the greatest needs was a method of exchanging property information and market properties more efficiently. With the growth of the Internet, an Internet information exchange was the obvious answer. Typical multiple listing services (MLS) do not service the needs for commercial-only practitioners because of the wide area covered by most. Using the typical MLS system would require many of us to belong to so many MLS services that it would be cost prohibitive. One individual may have properties scattered from the Coast to the Tennessee line. With the help of Catalyst, we were able to assemble a Mississippi commercial listing service that is located both at www.mcar.ms and www.ccim.net. By entering the data into one of these sites, it flows seamlessly into both. The growth of our web listings is expected to be phenomenal.
Other benefits have been the creation of commercial standard forms and increased association with economic development authorities.
MBJ: MCAR and the Mississippi Association of REALTORS (MAR) have similar views on many issues including legislative items. Where do the similarities end, and can you give us an example/examples?
LD: To date, MCAR has never been in conflict with MAR. In fact, most of MAR’s legislative agenda directly benefits commercial practitioners. This past legislative session, we were jointly successful in sponsoring a bill that empowers municipalities and counties to employ commercial real estate professionals for commercial real estate projects.
MBJ: What is MCAR’s position on banks entering real estate in Mississippi? If banks do enter the real estate arena, what is the likelihood of financial institutions outsourcing commercial real estate services to commercial Realtors?
LD: Many have mistaken the response to the real estate professionals’ opposition to banks in real estate as an attempt to protect themselves from competition, and some real estate practitioners may see that as the main issue. The more important issue, however, is whether or not having banks in real estate is good for the consumer. As banks take on more businesses, they control more of the deal. They already provide the loan, the insurance and the title insurance for the property. If banks also take on the real estate sale as part of this bundle, how is the consumer protected if a problem arises in any one of these areas? In the past, if an insurance issue arose, the consumer had their banker and real estate broker and the title insurance company on their side. If one party controls all sides of the deal and holds all the power of access to the funds needed for the purchase, who does the consumer look to for help? Independent brokers help the client look for the best bank loan, the best insurance rate and the best deal on the property, thus providing a true arm’s length position in the transaction.
If banks get into real estate, I don’t think there will be much outsourcing at all. Banks will hire their own brokers. In your smaller markets, you may see evidence of some outsourcing. See http://www.realtor.org/gapublic.nsf/pages/keepbanksout for more information.
MBJ: How much progress has been made by MCAR and economic developers partnering to pool resources and establish stronger relationships?
LD: MCAR and the Mississippi Economic Development Council (MEDC) have continued to share expertise and provide forums to strengthen the understanding and support for economic development activities throughout Mississippi. Forums have occurred in various parts of the state. For example, we will partner with MAR and MEDC to host a Smart Growth seminar on October 8, 2004.
MBJ: What are MCAR’s hot-button issues?
LD: MCAR is always concerned about private property issues. At the top of the list are issues concerning environmental, contamination, tax implications, job creation, impact fees and tree and sign ordinances. We support proactive positions through our political action committee (MARPAC).
MBJ: Just as a refresher, explain the difference between MCAR and other local boards.
LD: MCAR functions just as any other local Board of Realtors and falls under the overall umbrella of MAR. The difference between MCAR and other local boards is that we are a statewide overlay board. We try to promote a commercial real estate-specific agenda as opposed to MAR’s agenda of promoting all aspects of real estate. As commercial practitioners choose areas of specialization, there are National Association of Realtors (NAR) commercial affiliates. They include the following:
• CCIM Institute, which has a Mississippi chapter with 54 members composed of candidates and designees.
• Counselors of Real Estate (CRE)
• Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)
• Realtors Land Institute (RLI)
• Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR)
Mississippi commercial real estate practitioners may choose specialized career paths. Through NAR, dynamic affiliate organizations are in place to empower the commercial practitioner to continually increase their knowledge and skills with continuing education, networking and technological advancements. The commercial real estate industry is full of wonderful challenges and opportunities.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at email@example.com.