Last week, we had a historic event in the life of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee and our 8,500 members. On Friday we celebrated the grand opening of our new RASM North office at 2901 Manatee Ave. W., here in Bradenton. This brand-new state-of-the art facility will better provide our Manatee County members with a more convenient location to receive services and get additional training in the multimedia auditorium. It will also be available for rent by the public for events.
If you’ve been in Bradenton for a while, this can all seem very familiar to you. That is because this location housed the former Manatee Association of Realtors from 1977 until 2008 prior to moving out to Lakewood Ranch for a brief period of time before the merger of the Manatee and Sarasota Associations. We hope this new facility will be a great addition not only for our members to utilize, but also a great addition to the Bradenton community.
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RASM is also celebrating another historic milestone this year as being active and contributing members to the region for the past 100 years. It all began in 1922, when the “Bradentown” Florida Real Estate Board of Directors chartered the Bradentown Realtors Association with 6 members, growing to 257 members in its first year of operation.
At that time, Executive Secretary J.L. Wallace of the Florida Real Estate Association reported that it was “useless for a person to endeavor to go into the real estate business in Bradentown, if he is not a member of the board, because he would receive little recognition.” The board’s initiation fee was $200, certainly a hefty amount for 1922, but the respect for the newly formed association was evident from the start.
The National Real Estate Journal reported that “the organization has the unqualified (without reservation) support of the businessmen in Bradentown, who feel that the Realty Board has proved one of the greatest factors in the development of their community; brokering under the multiple listing system.”
In June of 1923, the National Association of Real Estate Boards’ (known as the National Association of Realtors today), Board of Directors elected the Sarasota Realty Board to membership, with 21 active members. With the birth of both boards, the business of real estate in our two-county area was redefined.
Now under the umbrella of the NAR, Realtors are regulated by the NAR Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, adopted in 1913 as one of the first codifications of ethical duties adopted by any business group. The code ensures that consumers are served by requiring Realtors to cooperate with each other in furthering clients’ best interests. The code has been revised many times to ensure that there is no room in our industry for hate speech or discriminatory conduct of any kind.
Through the years, both associations experienced minor name changes, and by 1998, they were known as the familiar Sarasota Association of Realtors and Manatee Association of Realtors. On Jan. 1, 2015, the two boards officially merged to form the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee, with a combined 5,000 members at the time.
Through the years and the market changes, the association has remained vigilant of key issues that could potentially affect the real estate industry and the private property rights of our clients. Whatever hurdles came about, the association was ready to meet those needs and tackle it. RASM has stood with its members year after year, offering support, and meeting the needs that each unique market created.
Helping to educate agents and raise the bar on what is expected of Realtors is the primary goal of the association. But the Realtor associations locally, state-wide, and nationally do so much for advocating for property rights for our clients, and the profession itself. We monitor local, state and national politics daily to fight for the public and your rights as property owners and tenants.
Lastly, Realtors are a generous group that work within their communities daily and they see firsthand how giving back helps us all. They have a vested interest in giving back to the communities in which they live and work to make them stronger and more desirable. Consequently, you’ll always find Realtors involved in various charities, community nonprofits, volunteering for cultural amenities, and serving in public office. This has been occurring for the past 100 years in our community where Realtors have helped to shape Manatee and Sarasota counties into a great place to live, raise a family and retire. And I look forward to watching it continue for the next 100 years.
Tony Veldkamp is president of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.