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News & Information: Orlando REALTOR® magazine - Special Feature

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012  
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Special Feature
From the January/February issue

ORRA’s 2012 Chairman of the Board, Stephen Baker, GRI, CDPE, steps into the association’s key leadership position following a decade of preparation. The REALTOR® of 26 years has served on a wide range of ORRA committees — from budget and finance to grievance to strategic planning — for exposure to nearly every facet of the association’s mission and function. Baker has also served as a director for Florida REALTORS®, and his extensive involvement in REALTOR® association leadership has been recognized with inclusion on multiple ORRA and Florida REALTOR® Honor Society rolls.

"I choose to be involved in ORRA because as a broker, I am mindful of the issues that face all of us as REALTORS®,” explained Baker in the November 2011 issue of REO Agent Magazine. "I want to ensure that ORRA is a force in promoting true change and that the association takes the concerns of all its members into account. The problems that I encounter are not just my problems – they are issues that affect all ORRA members.”

When he is not busy with ORRA duties or running his brokerage, RE/MAX Central Realty, Baker volunteers for the Center for Affordable Housing; the Children’s Miracle Network; and Camp Boggy Creek.

The third-generation dairy farmer and cattle rancher from Sanford has experience in the construction side of residential housing and dabbles in commercial real estate investment by maintaining a small portfolio of investment properties.

Prior to taking office on January 1, Baker spent some time with Orlando REALTOR® magazine to share his thoughts on priorities and objectives for his year as ORRA’s chair.

Why or when did you decide to get involved with ORRA?

By virtue of being a member, and owning a brokerage that provides services to other members, I had a vested interest in better understanding what our membership in ORRA, Florida REALTORS®, and the National Association of REALTORS® was all about. I have a tendency to try and understand things before I form an opinion or complain about them, so I started attending classes and other events. This attendance gave me opportunities to observe, ask questions, and eventually transition into participation.

What community issues should ORRA be addressing?

Our members, by combining their talents and expertise through ORRA, are part of an organization that has put itself in a unique position within the community to promote, provide, and support the availability of affordable housing, the protection of private property rights, responsible economic growth and development, the benefits of homeownership, and a quality public school system.

What are the greatest challenges facing the real estate industry that ORRA should address?

We need to continue to address the short-sale process with the banks. Our 2011 chairman, Mike McGraw, made great progress in establishing relationships with key people in the banking industry. In 2012, we hope those relationships will continue to give us a venue to have our voices heard where it counts. There are also key state and local issues that we must stay on top of through the ORRA Governmental Affairs Committee, i.e., the statewide septic tank issue and those issues specific to the Wekiva River Protection Area, the never ending sign ordinances, sales tax on commissions, the repeal of the local business tax that effects so many of our members, and the 2012 Yes on Amendment 4 initiative (an upcoming state constitutional amendment that caps non-homestead property).

There are also long-term or "big picture” issues to address, such as maintaining broker profitability, improving the competency level of all practicing REALTORS®, improving the REALTOR® image, and managing who controls and profits from the extensive data REALTORS® possess. As one of the larger local associations in the country, ORRA has the ability to take an active and progressive leadership role in these industry-wide issues.

What would you like to have accomplished by the end of your term?

I hope to end my term having led an association that has improved its ability to make positive contributions to its members, the community, and to the real estate profession. I also hope to increase the number of REALTORS® who benefit from the association by increasing member participating and improving their understanding of this valuable asset.

2012 ORRA Chairman of the Board Stephen Baker can be reached at sbaker@remax.net.


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