“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…. get on your way!”
MAR’s incoming president, Kevin Sears, is a man on the move, a president who has worked hard and thoughtfully prepared himself to serve the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®. He’s learned from his experiences, in the Association and in business, and looked forward to where he wanted to go, which guided him to this milestone within the organization.
His philosophy of truly examining “who we are, where we are, and where we are going,” has readied Kevin to help move the Association forward in the coming year. Kevin credits his upbringing, environment, and father for his hard work ethic and motivation to succeed in his career and lead Massachusetts REALTORS®.
Kevin was raised in Springfield, home to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Smith and Wesson, Indian Motorcycles, the Springfi eld Armory National Historic Site, and, of course, the most famous doctor of all, Dr. Seuss. Kevin grew up as one of six children watching his father, Paul Sears, build a successful real estate company, Sears Real Estate.
Kevin emulated his father’s strong work ethic and political passions as he grew up. He was a student athlete but worked several jobs in his youth, from paper carrier to maintenance man to high diver (even through fi re) at Six Flags Amusement Park, diving 75 feet through the air. Kevin also was politically active as a child, holding signs for Sears’ family supported candidates, and later running for local political office himself.
But the family business was in his blood and in 1994, after earning a B.A. degree from Providence College, he started his career in real estate. He received an M.B.A. from Western New England College some years later, earning his degree at night while working at the fi rm. Kevin has managed the rental business for the company for the last nine years and has settled into a beautiful historic home in the Forest Park section of Springfield with his childhood sweetheart, wife Molly, and their three children.
In addition to real estate, Kevin is busy in his community serving on several boards and committees, coaching some of his children’s sports teams, and is looking forward in his business as well as the Association to a positive future. “If we fi gure out who we are and where we are right now, we can determine where we will go to succeed,” Kevin states.
Who We Are
“I’ve thought about who I am; and my role as a REALTOR®,” he continues. He explains that taking a look at who you are helps you gain strength and conviction in the decisions you make along the way.
REALTORS®, Kevin believes, can accomplish anything. “Times are tough but REALTORS® are tougher,” he says. There have been roadblocks and hurdles, and “we’ve even been knocked down.” But REALTORS® pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and tackle the climb.
Despite many other areas of the country where decreases in membership have been more dramatic, membership in MAR is strong at just over 20,000, which is approximately 10% less than a year ago. The Association has worked diligently over the past year to communicate the value of membership, and this campaign will continue in 2010.
The Member Outreach Initiative, created to deliver the services and value items that the Association has to offer members, will continue in 2010 to remind us how plentiful the Association is in benefi ts and information for its
members. For members to understand and take advantage of the tools provided to them will help them to relay to customers and clients who REALTORS® are and what they have to offer them.
A strong voice for the real estate industry by virtue of their membership, almost 22% of the 20,000 Massachusetts members answered the Call for Action to extend and expand the Homebuyer Tax Credit last fall, and nationally REALTORS® were integral to the passing of that legislation. Kevin will work to continue improvement of that ratio on future local, state, and national issues affecting private property rights.
Also, to ensure further legislative clout, Kevin commends the dedicated contributors to the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC). In 2009 NAR’s contribution goal was met and many local associations exceeded participation goals set by MASS RPAC. Kevin is a strong advocate for MAR’s Government Affairs efforts and MASS RPAC. He has served several terms as a member and chairman of the MAR Government Affairs and MASS RPAC Committees, and has also served on NAR’s RPAC Trustees Committee and is a Federal Political Coordinator.
He is proud to be part of a membership stepping forward in their communities to meet the economic crunch head-on. Government Affairs will continue to carefully monitor legislation that will impact the industry, such as tax on sales commissions and transfer taxes, and use our PAC and Calls for Action to continue to be the “Voice for Real Estate” in Massachusetts.
Where We Are
In Kevin’s view, REALTORS® are in the most challenging, regulated, restrictive, uncertain, over-analyzed, and under-utilized market he’s experienced in the past 15 years of business. So, where does that leave them?
“We are in an unbelievable place to be able to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities available because of this market,” Kevin concludes. “If there was ever a time that competence and professionalism was rewarded, now is that time.”
Because of the Homebuyer Tax Credit, REALTORS® have a huge incentive to help buyers get off the proverbial fence and purchase the home they’ve contemplated over the last year. As an Association, from NAR through to the local Association, a drive was underway in 2009 and will continue in 2010 to help consumers learn about and act on the Tax Credit to help move the housing market.
NAR is expanding its substantial advertising campaign in 2010 relaying the deadline of the Tax Credit and the importance of using a REALTOR®. MAR has updated marketing materials on the tax credit to include a downloadable consumer brochure and advertising materials for members’ and local associations’ use. Additionally, MAR will launch its advertising campaign in January instead of the spring buying season to promote the Tax Credit and move consumers to take advantage of the incentive.
The Association will work to consistently examine the current market conditions and provide the tools and services members need to educate consumers and turn them into buyers and sellers.
Where We Are Going
One of Springfi eld’s most notable figures is Dr. Seuss, a pseudonym for Theodore Seuss Geisel, an inspirational, educational writer of rhyme and verse with storylines which relate to both young and old. “If you keep your eyes open, all the stuff you will learn,” is just one such verse which comes from The Cat in the Hat, and which epitomizes what REALTORS® have done to overcome the hurdles and take advantage of the opportunities available.
The outlook is still a bit rocky moving into 2010, but “agents have to recognize the trend and ride with it,” Kevin explains. He notes that the REALTOR® organization has recognized the challenges REALTORS® have faced, began integrating new tools and strategies, and NAR, MAR, and the local associations will continue the implementation of such initiatives in the coming year.
The NAR Right Tools Right Now campaign was a member-driven initiative that brought countless information and educational resources to the members for as little cost as possible to help them tackle the current market conditions. Right Tools Right Now will continue in 2010 and NAR is committed to providing members with opportunities that will help them succeed.
MAR will launch its free Online Continuing Education platform mid-year to provide members easy access to the educational requirements they need. Also added to the platform will be designation courses and other educational programs providing members with more ammunition to combat the market and produce confi dence in their customers and clients.
Kevin thinks that anyone in business should read and believe in the messages found in Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. “The book is encouraging, as it explains how challenges and pitfalls are inevitable, but those experiences help us travel to a better place,” Kevin says. He is convinced that in 2010 “we’ll do what we do best, rely on our GPS which as a REALTOR® is the Association at all three levels. We’ll drive around the barriers, have the GPS re-calculate our direction and as Ron Phipps, NAR President-Elect states, we’ll ‘stop looking at our feet, look up and see the wonders of the horizon.’”