Year in Review with 2020 President Bobette Fisher
When Realtor® Bobette Fisher was sworn in as President of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors® (CTAR) in December 2019, she delivered an impassioned speech about leadership, telling her fellow Realtor® members “Don’t Stop Believin’!” and at the time, no one knew how important that battle cry that would become. At the end of 2019, the Association was poised for a successful, busy year and a forecast that the residential market growth that our region enjoyed would continue.
In January, CTAR hosted it’s largest-ever annual Residential Market Update and Forecast, with more than 850 members in attendance. Unfortunately, that was the last large-scale in-person gathering for the 6,000-member strong Association in 2020. With the arrival of COVID-19, the spring months began to look uncertain.
As the reality of the pandemic set in and lockdowns began, Bobette supported the work of local and state Realtor® leaders and staff in their conversations with elected officials to ensure that Realtors® would be classified as essential employees and could continue working to provide housing in a time that having a safe place to call home had never been more important.
In March, the Association and MLS staff began working remotely and again, Bobette lent her support to the local Association staff and encouraged their efforts to establish virtual Realtor® services. The staff was able to quickly pivot programming, education courses and professional development seminars to Zoom and continue support services and Association business entirely uninterrupted.
One of the most significant changes in early 2020 was the move to a virtual, on-demand new member orientation. The Association welcomes an average of 50 new members each month, who would normally gather in-person for the bi-monthly member orientation program. By April, the Association had the virtual orientation up and running, with no disruption to the membership and rave reviews from participants.
“The new orientation structure allows members to complete Realtor® orientation at their pace and on their schedule” said Fisher. “The on-demand setup is much more conducive to how Realtors® work and allows them to get the most out of their membership from day one. This was just the beginning of us taking the challenges this year presented and turning them into opportunities and enhanced services for our members” she said.
This service-focused approach helped Association membership grow by 3% this year, with nearly 600 new members completing the virtual, on-demand orientation from April-December.
As a working Realtor® with Carolina One Real Estate, Bobette had a full calendar in addition to her duties as President—serving a full roster of clients and working to safely adapt her business practices to meet the requirements and new protocols brought by the pandemic—conducting virtual showings and creating cohesion between the Realtor® on the other side of the table more than ever before.
“Our business has always required Realtors® to work collaboratively to get the deal done but in the early months of the pandemic, this was never more important and it was really inspiring to see our community come together to support each other” she said. “We all did things that felt a little unusual at first—going to showings and only being able to bring our clients in via FaceTime, for example—when restrictions didn’t allow the potential buyer to see the property in person” she said.
Making those adjustments paid off—as Fisher celebrates her most successful year on record, mirroring the record-breaking growth of sales and prices in our regional market. In 2020, year-to-date sales surpassed 2019 levels by November, and median price has risen by 8%, to $300,000.
By May, the Association had successfully navigated the lockdown, was providing CE, designation and certification courses virtually and the market was skyrocketing with pent-up demand caused by the lockdown. Then, following the murder of George Floyd, the Association’s focus widened to address unresolved issues of racism, inequity and discrimination in the real estate industry.
“Through long overdue conversations with our membership, we recognized that we were not doing enough to combat racism, discrimination and the inequities that exist in our industry” said CTAR CEO Wil Riley. “President Fisher, President-Elect Rusty Hughes and I participated in an eye-opening meeting with minority members of our Association—we listened and knew we had to act immediately to right the wrongs of the past and ensure that all Charleston Realtor® members feel included and that they have a voice in our local, state and national Realtor® Associations” said Riley.
The Association worked quickly to re-establish their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force, led by Realtor® Stephen Kohn and CTAR Board members Shakeima Chatman and Jon Stroud. The task force was charged with creating a culture statement for the Association, researching consultants and establishing a standing committee to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are considered in all aspects of Association business. The culture statement was unanimously approved by the CTAR Board in November and the task force is currently overseeing a survey to help guide the work of the committee in 2021 and beyond.
“The work being done by the DE&I task force will positively impact not only our membership and Association but also our community” said Fisher. “I am most proud of the work this group has done to bring our membership together and look forward to seeing all they will do in the coming years!” she said.
Through the summer and fall, Fisher worked closely with the Association’s legislative division and candidate screening committee to promote Realtor®-friendly candidates running for office in the November election and enjoyed the success of their work as many candidates won their respective races. The Association supported the narrowly-defeated affordable housing referendum in Charleston County. Undeterred, CTAR’s legislative division and leadership are working directly with local elected officials to address the longstanding issue of affordability in our region. “Access to safe and affordable housing that allows for families and individuals to easily commute to work, school and in navigating their daily lives is a primary concern for our public policy agenda going forward” said Fisher.
In December, Bobette led the 2021 Director Installation event and welcomed the new leadership teams to the Association, CHS MLS and the South Carolina Commercial MLS (SCCMLS). During the event, Chris Singleton delivered the keynote address and shared a message of perseverance, kindness and resilience—perfectly echoing the leadership style employed by Fisher in 2020. As she transitions to new leadership roles in the coming year, Fisher will continue her work in pursuit of affordable housing for all as well as fundraising for the Realtors® Political Action Committee (RPAC) in her roles next year as CTAR’s Immediate Past President and RPAC Fundraising Chair. Bobette will also serve as a Director with the National Association of Realtors® where she’s held several leadership positions over the course of her real estate career.
“Through an unprecedented year that presented a lot of challenges, Bobette was unwavering in her leadership and was always willing to do what needed to be done to ensure the continued success of our Association membership” said CTAR CEO Wil Riley. “In addition to having her most productive, successful year on record as a practicing Realtor®, she gave selflessly of her time, energy and expertise to move our industry forward, just as she has for many years in her numerous leadership positions” said Riley. “We were lucky to have such a strong leader at the helm this year and are proud of her representation of the Association in the community” he said.
With an expanding membership and growth in the regional housing market that seems unstoppable, Fisher’s leadership during a year that could have brought failure took the challenges and turned them into opportunities. As she encouraged members to do a year ago, Bobette never stopped believing that 2020 would be a success, regardless of what was thrown her way.
On behalf of the CTAR members, thank you, 2020 President Fisher, for your courage and leadership this past year!