Technology Changes How YCAR Delivers Services

BOARDMAN, Ohio -- As the economy continues to improve and the real estate market along with it, more individuals are becoming real estate agents, as reflected by the rising number of members in the Youngstown Columbiana Association of Realtors.

As of June 10, membership in the organization stands at 537, up from 511 a year earlier, says the CEO of YCAR, Jessica Perry. Thirty members have been installed during the tenure of this year’s president, Charley Althof, a licensed real estate agent since 1976, she adds.

At YCAR, presidents first serve as treasurer, then president-elect, before assuming the presidency, serving one-year terms in each post.

“Something that makes our board unique is that we have never had a recurring president,” Perry says. Since its inception, YCAR has had a different president every year, “something that we pride ourselves on because it shows the dedication of our members,” she remarks. Having a new president each year brings new ideas and relationships, she says.

“The benefits I think are endless there,” she comments.

“Everyone has a different perspective in regard to the business of running the organization,” says Althof, who is affiliated with Mayo & Associates Inc., Boardman. “Obviously personalities are different” and each president has his own  experiences he brings to the position. 

Perry joined the YCAR staff as assistant to the previous CEO, Debbie Schiffhauer, and became CEO after Schiffhauer resigned last year. Several candidates were interviewed “and we felt that Jessica had the background and qualifications to be hired,” Althof says. 

The real estate market has improved dramatically in recent years, the industry veteran remarks. While the last winter, especially severe, slowed the market “considerably,” conditions have substantially improved since, and individuals realize that entering the real estate industry “is a viable business career decision to make,” he says.

YCAR, which covers Mahoning and Columbiana counties, offers an array of benefits to its members, including classes in professional development (Ohio requires 30 hours of continuing education credits every three years for license renewal), mediation services, advocacy on legislative issues at the local, state and federal levels –  even health benefits.

“We are here to serve our members,” Perry says. “Certainly we have different functions – several different opportunities for our members to be involved – but we also offer services to help them in their profession.” 

The organization andits members have evolved along with “time and technology,” Althof says. He cites a purchase agreement that once needed only a single page but today takes four pages.

“We’re always adjusting based on market conditions, technology and different processes for our real estate sales,” he comments. Among the areas technology has changed are advertising and marketing and how they make information available to the public.

“Everything’s done electronically,” Perry adds. YCAR’s new website is a resource that members can use to find opportunities for continuing education, or to search for a title company or inspector. “It’s an endless amount of resources there,” she says. 

She notes that a document sent via email is considered a binding, legal document.

“Hand delivery of a document is very rare today,” Althof adds.

“The only thing I can’t send via email is a notice of a hearing,” Perry points out. “If we have an arbitration or an ethics hearing, I have to send the hearing notice via certified mail.”

Pictured: Charley Althof and Jessica Perry.

Editor's Note: This story first appeared in the MidJune edition of The Business Journal.

Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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