Q & A with Jack Levine, chairman of the Miami Association of Realtors

Jack Levine has been a broker since 1973 and is the president of Levine
Realty, a residential and commercial brokerage. In September, he was
elected chairman of the Miami Association of Realtors, the newly formed
association with 23,000 members. Levine talked to The Real Deal about the recent series
of mergers that created the association, the impact of combining the
organizations and the outlook for the South Florida real estate market.

How did the recent mergers go down?
Back in Mid-June, we had the two large associations, Greater Miami and the Miami-Dade association, each of which had about 11,500 members.  at a meeting to talk about some data sharing programs, a discussion ensued where some people suggested we ought to talk about coming together. It had been talked about for years, but never really happened, because the associations had different business models. The leadership said, let’s give it a shot and talk. A week later we met, with a leadership team from each of the two associations, and we hammered out a deal in the afternoon, setting a closing date with a short, Aug. 1 timeline. About 5-6 weeks later, we closed on the merger.

How did the last merger take place?
Subsequently, there was the merger with the Northwestern Dade Association of Realtors, which happened in November. We were having discussions with them, and asked them if they wanted to come on board — they had about 500 members, and they agreed. On Oct. 29, we merged with them.

What is the effect of the mergers?
The mergers were not at all due to any financial urgency. This was purely about what could be done to enhance the services and tools for the associations’ respective members, and that was the main driving force. If we can purchase [a service] in quantity with 24,000 members for all sorts of services — and we have about 70 different programs we provide to our members — we are able to basically afford and get these programs and services.

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What are these kinds of programs?
One program is called RealList, one is iMap. The Miami-Dade County association had a tax service program, where a realtor would have access to the tax information and profile of every property in the county. Miami-Dade County had RealList, and the Realtor Association had iMap, two very different programs. Typically, the association will provide one service. But because of the merger, we are able to provide both services to our members, and that’s very exciting. They are a bit different in terms of what information you can get and what documentation you can get.

What do you see in the South Florida real estate market?
Sales numbers are definitely up, pending sales have been up dramatically over time. We’re still challenged in terms of price. I fell that, just by little stories I hear from my agents and other members in the association, I think we’re pretty much at the bottom on pricing and the stress to the marketplace. We have a long way to go, a lot of foreclosure and short sales that have to be liquidated for us to see some bright lights, but it’s definitely turning.