“IN the real estate business, you learn more about community issues, you learn more about life, you learn more about the impact of government, probably than any other profession that I know of.” Johnny Isakson
Both the United Workers Party (UWP) and the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) in the past 24 years have held office for a minimum of two terms. During each administration’s term, representation was made at the highest level by the Realtors Association in an effort to get the industry regularised. Unfortunately, we are almost at the end of yet another term of government, and no decision has been made regarding the future of the industry. As far as I am aware, the most aggressive representation was made to this current Government to regularise the industry, even to the point where the Association presented draft legislation to the Attorney General, in an effort to speed up the necessary action.
Since 1989, Mrs. Karleen Greenidge has been at the forefront of organising the association to represent Real Estate Agents, and putting forward their position in respect of regulating the real estate industry. She introduced a professional approach to the industry many years ago. The story of the industry must be told, and at the core of blazing the trail, stands a woman of strength and vision. She owned the first REMAX international real estate franchise in St. Lucia.
I am appalled at the way pacesetters and dedicated leaders are treated in relation to recognising their contributions to industry and civil society. I will always recognise the contributions of those who are dedicated to a cause. After Mrs. Greenidge failed at sustaining the membership of the association on the first attempt, she continued to carry the vision, and on the second attempt, she succeeded in bringing together a team of practising Realtors who formed a steering committee to spearhead the formation of a “non profit organisation” namely, the Realtors Association St. Lucia Inc.
It took almost three years of negotiations, and filing of the necessary documentation to attain “non profit organisation status”. When it was finally granted, a meeting was subsequently convened to establish the Association as a legal entity in the later part of 2009. At that meeting, the writer relinquished the position as Chairman and handed over the administration of the association to a new Board of Directors, headed by Ms. Heather Floissac, who officially became the first President of the Association.
The Association continues to maintain a high level of membership and places high priority on education where it collaborates with Monroe College to train new entrants to the real estate industry, and established, practising Real Estate Agents. It is interesting to note that in spite of successive governments’ failure to recognise the industry, the industry is still being recognised for its ability to generate employment. Monroe College is currently offering various certified FREE courses, including Real Estate Training. The courses are sponsored by Monroe College in collaboration with Skills for Youth Employment in the Caribbean, and the UK government. The programme targets young persons aged between 15 to 30, who have recently been displaced, or need training to enable career advancement in their current job. It is very clear that the sponsors of the courses see opportunities for young persons to be engaged in worthwhile professions. It is time for the government to step up! Let those persons who have kept the profession alive, and those who seek to enter the industry at this time be given the recognition they deserve.
Other professions within the Construction Sector are regulated – Valuation Surveyors, Land Surveyors, Engineers and Architects, all these professions are governed by legislation. What is so different about Real Estate Agents, that there is no urgency to regulate their industry? The Realtors who promote their businesses through websites and on social media platforms make a serious contribution to promoting tourism and investment on behalf of St. Lucia. This is further proof that Real Estate professionals should be recognised.
It is time for the political parties contesting the upcoming general elections to make a statement on the future of the real estate industry, and meet with all persons who are engaged in the marketing, sales, and services in the real estate industry in St. Lucia, in an effort to understand at first hand, the opportunities available within the sector and challenges being encountered by real estate agents. Every opportunity should be taken to energise all sectors of the economy with the goal of achieving maximum productivity and economic returns.
Keep the faith, help is on the way. Let us continue to dream big, and expect miracles.
Freelance Journalist/Realtor/Business Consultant