The 2018 Texas REALTORS® Conference drew members from across the state to San Antonio for an impressive slate of speakers and instructors as well as meetings. View photos from the event on Facebook.

The conference opened Friday, September 7, on a high note with keynote speaker Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, the first African American female combat pilot in the U.S. Armed Forces.

In a flight suit and leather bomber jacket, Armour recounted missions from her time flying a SuperCobra attack helicopter during the invasion of Iraq, where she made decisions that saved the lives of fellow Marines. In these scenarios, what determined missions success was a flightplan that gave her the ability to adapt, Armour said.

When issues threaten a transaction or your relationship with a client, you have to be able to adapt. She encouraged Texas REALTORS® to “think outside the cockpit” to find solutions to their clients’ needs. “Acknowledge the obstacles,” she said. “Don’t give them power.”

“There are no ground controllers in life,” Armour said. “You have permission to engage.”

Association Leaders for 2019 Installed

On Saturday night, Tray Bates was installed as the 2019 Chairman of the Texas REALTORS® along with Cindi Bulla as the Chairman Elect, Marvin Jolly as the Secretary/Treasurer, and Kaki Lybbert as the Immediate Past Chairman.

The 2019 Regional Vice Presidents were also installed during the Chairman’s Installation Reception and Dinner at the Hyatt Regency.

Distinguished Service Award Winners Honored at Board of Directors

At Monday’s Board of Directors meeting, Martha Dent of the Arlington Board of REALTORS® and J.C. Posey of Collin County Association of REALTORS® received the association’s Distinguished Service Award. Two new REALTOR® Association Certified Executive (RCE) designees were recognized: Ken Hogan, association executive of the Abilene Association of REALTORS®, and Steve Trine, manager of the Global Business Council at the MetroTex Association of REALTORS®.

Also John Smaby, 2018 NAR president-elect, gave an update: “NAR is focusing on making REALTORS® more successful and profitable.”

The Board of Directors adopted the 2019-2020 Strategic Plan, and approved the election of Brian Sales as 2018 interim and 2019 regional vice president for Region 6.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Headlines Governmental Affairs Events

With the November 6 general election only weeks away and the 86th Texas Legislature set to convene in January, the Governmental Affairs Forum provided Texas REALTORS® a wealth of information about the state’s political and legislative landscape.

Keynote speaker Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick discussed several real estate-related issues expected to be debated at the Texas Capitol next session, including property tax reform.

Texas REALTORS® also received a data-driven preview of the November general election from special guest Jeff Blaylock, publisher of Texas Election Source ( Click here to download the presentation slides.

And Jamie Gregory, vice president/deputy chief lobbyist for the National Association of REALTORS®, provided an update from Capitol Hill. Gregory explained that NAR is following several issues, including flood insurance. Click here to download the presentation slides.

Texas REALTORS® who attended TREPAC Night at the Alamo on Sunday heard from San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who discussed the important role the Alamo has played in the city’s history.

REALTORS® to Watch Recognized at YPN Night Out

The 2018 REALTORS® to Watch award winners were honored Friday at the YPN Night Out event at Alamo Beer Company. YPN Chair Kristen Smith congratulated Vanessa Dirks of Lubbock, Julie Reupke of Corpus Christi, Benjamin Rodriguez of Beaumont, Kathy Wade-Turner of Bryan-College Station, and Cameron Willmann of Permian Basin.

Forums Feature National Speakers

On Friday, National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun delivered an economic update to the Global and Commercial Forum, touching on the current state of the economy, the potential effects of trade wars, and international investment in U.S. real estate.

Yun predicted that the U.S. is headed for a higher interest-rate environment, and that if clients are waiting on rates to drop again, it probably won’t happen.

The fundamentals of the U.S. commercial real estate sector are strong, according to Yun, especially for offices with flexible space layouts. Yun did caution that apartment demand may be at its peak with significant pent up homebuying demand.

A smaller percentage of REALTORS® nationwide are working with international clients, according to Yun. “I would not be discouraged by this,” he said, attributing decrease to a jump in overall membership and newer agents not having yet tapped the international market.

Prospective buyers are reporting diminished optimism about whether or not it’s a good time to purchase a home largely because of increasing prices, according to Yun. A positive for Texas, is that much of the state still has moderately priced homes compared to major metros in other parts of the country, Yun said.

The Tech/MLS Forum on Saturday was live-streamed on Facebook, with speakers from voice-assistant company Voiceter Pro, NAR, and RPR.

Miguel Berger and Ami Berger from Voiceter Pro explained how voice-activated assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home are making an impact in the real estate industry. They demonstrated interactive audio home tours and games that engaged multiple parties in a home search.

NAR Vice President of Information Technology Liz Sturrock and NAR Project Manager Jason Normandin explained how blockchain technology works and the ways in which it might be used in real estate in the future.

Smart contracts using blockchain technology may be a ways in the future, according to Sturrock. However, using it for verifying property title information and enabling fractional ownership of real estate could happen much sooner.

Former Texas REALTORS® Chairman Shad Bogany, MLS/Technology Committee Vice Chair Ryan Bokros, and Kristen Smith joined REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR) Regional Director Kiki Wanshura for a panel about using RPR to boost your business. The RPR reports are so impressive, Bogany said, that when he sends one to a seller he feels like he’s already won the listing. RPR is the biggest member benefit REALTORS® get from NAR, Smith said.

Professional Development Sessions Draw Crowds

Continuing education sessions throughout the conference drew crowds for topics like tax strategies, and marketing property management.

In his class “Real Estate and the Chinese Business Protocols,” Pius Leung said that international business is now in your backyard with Chinese buyers looking at real estate in the U.S. International customers tend to be more loyal than other customers, Leung said, but you have to earn their trust. Don’t push international buyers, he said. They’ll go somewhere else. Personal contacts are much more successful than cold calling.

Charles Porter stressed to the Texas REALTORS® in his course on water rights for commercial and land agents that fulfilling your fiduciary duty to your client may involve learning about the water rights attached to the property. He encouraged members to walk the land, talk to the local water authorities, and educate themselves about items such as past water allocation and the size of water lines to the property.