REALTORS® left their screens behind to attend the 2022 Texas REALTORS® Winter Meeting, the first large-scale in-person association meeting in almost two years.

More than 700 members attended the February 11-15 event at the Hyatt Regency Austin. At the Opening Session, 2022 Chairman Russell Berry remarked how great it was to see everyone outside of the boxes of a video conference call. Health and safety precautions were in place as REALTORS® reconnected, earned CE credits, and enjoyed fun and enriching sessions together.

“Resiliency is all about how you grow through challenges and opportunities,” said keynote speaker Eileen McDargh, award-winning motivational speaker, author, and executive coach. She shared humorous and moving anecdotes demonstrating adaptability, agility, humor, and alignment.

After McDargh’s keynote presentation, Texas REALTORS® Chairman-Elect Marcus Phipps led attendees in a toast to Berry, the first in-person recognition of Berry assuming the helm of the association’s Leadership Team in 2022.

Leaders Look Forward

Berry called on members to “forge ahead” during a speech at the STARs Reception.

“Those two words have never meant more than they do at this moment in time. We have to keep moving forward, building upon our successes, and learning from our opportunities. We have to do what our members expect and more, and we have to do better than we have. That is our job, and our members expect us to continue to provide great services and push the envelope,” he said.

The association celebrated Leslie Rouda Smith Day in honor of the 2022 NAR president and 2016 Texas REALTORS® chairman. Texas Rep. Jeff Leach presented Rouda Smith with a proclamation and called her a leader of leaders who leads with character, integrity, and devotion to the industry and the people.

“I’m so proud to call Texas my home state,” Rouda Smith said. “Texas REALTORS® are truly the best in the business. It’s the honor of my lifetime to be your 2022 National Association of REALTORS® president.”

The association welcomed several distinguished guests to the Winter Meeting: Rouda Smith and NAR Vice President of Advocacy Kaki Lybbert, both from Texas; TREC Chairman Scott Kesner and Executive Director Chelsea Buchholtz; Louisiana REALTORS® CEO Norman Morris and 2022 President Eloise Gauthier, NAR Region 10 Vice President Logan Morris, and longtime REALTOR® leader Marbury Little; as well as Texas REALTORS®-endorsed candidates for NAR offices Greg Hrabcak from Ohio and Kevin Sears from Massachusetts.

Awards Honor Outstanding Contributions

Texas REALTORS® honored several members, programs, and local associations for their work in 2021.

  • William C. Jennings Award for commercial transaction of the year: Cesar Cepeda [see page 22], Greater McAllen
  • Education, Innovation category, Real Talk, MetroTex
  • Education, Marketing category, Opening More Doors in 2021, Houston
  • Education, Series or Shorts category, High Stakes & Hot Market, Austin
  • Education, Legal category, Broker Toolkit Series, Austin
  • Educator of the Year, Michica Guillory, Houston
  • Lehman Governmental Affairs Achievement Award, San Antonio Board of REALTORS®
  • Grassroots Advocate of the Year, Socar Chatmon-Thomas, Austin
  • Tom D. Morton Award for an association executive’s accomplishments and service to members, Monica Pena, Greater McAllen
  • Texas REALTOR® Good Neighbor Award, Carmen Williams, MetroTex.

During the executive board meeting, CEO Travis Kessler honored two association executives who have earned special designations:

  • American Society of Association Executives CAE designation, Mike Barnett, executive vice president of Texas REALTORS®
  • REALTOR® Association Certified Executive (RCE), David Ramirez, CEO of the Brownsville-South Padre Island Board of REALTORS®.

Members Learn the Latest

Winter Meeting included educational sessions covering some of the hottest and developing topics in real estate.

Deirdre B. Mendez, Ph.D., director of the Center for Global Business at The University of Texas at Austin, was featured at the global forum “Global Shift: Navigating Business Relations Abroad.” Mendez engaged the audience with information on how to build connections across borders and provided tools on how to tactfully approach new business situations.

2022 Texas REALTORS® YPN Chairman Kylee Garza moderated the YPN forum “Climbing New Heights: Exploring New Paths to Leadership.” The session featured a panel of previous REALTORS® To Watch Award honorees who shared advice on the various paths to leadership, how they got started in leadership, and how to stand out among the ever-growing pool of industry professionals.

The diversity program “Creating Greater Inclusion in Associations” began with a keynote session by Leonard Moore, Ph.D., George Littlefield Professor of American History and former vice president of diversity and community engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. Moore’s session was followed by multicultural and allied organization priority updates and a panel of local diversity leaders from Houston, Fort Worth, Austin, Corpus Christi, and Amarillo.

Michica Guillory, Commercial Committee Vice Chairman and Texas REALTORS® senior instructor, dispelled myths and explained a growing agricultural business in “First, It’s NOT Marijuana: Legal Hemp Laws and Texas Real Estate.”

Risk reduction was the focus at “Wait, TREC Rules and the Code of Ethics Aren’t the Same?!?” The panel discussion featured TREC Executive Director Chelsea Buchholtz and Texas REALTORS® Senior Associate Counsel David Jones.

Texas REALTORS® senior instructor Jodi Sherretts taught how members can “Protect Yourself with Paperwork” and covered documentation and common mistakes.

Texas REALTORS® senior instructor Marion Napoleon explained how members can “Turn Your Designation into Dollars” by leveraging the credentials’ unique resources to your advantage.

Property taxes—and ways to lower them—were the subjects of the Public Policy Forum. Public Policy Oversight Chair Mario Arriaga moderated a discussion with Daniel Gonzalez, founder/CEO of Gonzalez Public Affairs & Consulting; Elizabeth Peetz, vice president of governmental affairs at the Colorado Association of REALTORS®; and Gavin Massingill, lobbyist and former chief of staff to the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

“An Inside Look at the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Elections” came courtesy of Texas Supreme Court Justice Evan Young. In his keynote, Young said Texans can be involved in the judiciary as much as they can with the legislative and executive branches of government. “Monitor the dockets—especially of the Texas Supreme Court—and if it looks like we have a case that may affect your business, file an amicus brief. I’m surprised by how few we get. We want them.”

Scott Braddock, editor of the Quorum Report, and Jeremy Wallace, political reporter for the Houston Chronicle, recorded a live episode of their Texas Take podcast, in which they discussed candidates and dynamics of the upcoming primary and general elections.

Samantha Brown, Team Texas Director at the Texas Economic Development Council, discussed economic trends during commercial real estate programming. She said a strong and growing economy, a pool of available and more affordable talent, and lower taxes are making the Lone Star State’s brand stronger than ever. Lawrence Dean, senior vice president of Advisory-Texas for Zonda, addressed residential building trends and commercial real estate. A panel of REALTORS® from commercial real estate associations discussed best practices during and after the pandemic.

Author James Haley, whose biographies of Sam Houston and Jack London won the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America, addressed the TREPAC Awards and Investor Breakfast.

TREPAC celebrated its 50th anniversary with a fundraising party and major investor appreciation event. Attendees enjoyed food and drinks and a performance from Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel. TREPAC also hosted a Super Bowl watch party and volleyball fundraiser.

Directors Discuss Association Business

The association’s board of directors elected 2023 Leadership Team members Secretary/Treasurer Jef Conn and Chairman-Elect David Alan Cox. Marcus Phipps was announced as chairman in 2023, with Russell Berry serving as immediate past chairman. Also pictured is President & CEO Travis Kessler.

The board approved the election of 2023 regional vice presidents: Region 2: Max Puello, San Angelo; Region 3: Tim Beary, Arlington; Region 3: Brenda Taylor, Greater Lewisville; Region 4: Amanda Phillips, Greater Texoma; Region 5: Debbie Conner, Longview; Region 6: Skeet Doss, Permian Basin; Region 7: Emaly Baehr, Central Hill Country; Region 8: Sonya Powers, Highland Lakes; Region 8: Lennox Alfred, Fort Hood; Region 9: Angie Williams, Lufkin; Region 11: Shari Kirk, Corpus Christi; Region 12: Sid Thom, MetroTex; Region 12: Jeff Varnell, MetroTex; Region 12: James Martin, MetroTex; Region 12: Belinda Epps, MetroTex; Region 12: Bette Washington, MetroTex; Region 13: Cortney Gill, San Antonio; Region 14: Shae Cottar, Houston; Region 14: Jo Ann Stevens, Houston; Region 14: Jemila Winsey, Houston; Region 14: Mike Wong, Houston; Region 14: Thomas Mouton, Houston; Region 14: John Nugent, Houston; Region 14: Jennifer Wauhob, Houston; Region 14: Deborah Spangler, Houston; Region 14: Cindy Hamann, Houston; Region 15: Bill Morris, Austin; Region 15: Job Hammond, Austin.

Secretary/Treasurer David Alan Cox briefed the board on membership numbers and budget details. Membership has risen more than 9% since last year and now totals 156,020 members.

It’s not too early to mark your calendars for the next major in-person REALTOR® meeting: the 2022 Shaping Texas Conference and Trade Expo takes place September 15-18 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. Stay tuned to learn more and register this summer.