Your New President: Family Man Works to Strengthen REALTOR® Family
Your New President: Family Man Works to Strengthen REALTOR® Family
In his home state of Utah, Booth--the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ new president--worked with an anxious young doctor looking to buy an investment property. They both were pleased when the doctor--a surgeon, in fact, who spent much of his day in the operating room--bought a midsize apartment complex.
''It was a 16-unit apartment complex,'' Booth recalls with a laugh, ''too small for a full-time property manager but too large for a busy doctor.''
So when tenants began calling the doctor at the hospital to report maintenance problems and demand repairs, both he and Booth realized they had goofed.
''People don't always know what they need. The guy was a klutz when it came to mechanical things--repairs, maintenance,'' Booth muses. ''If there was a fan belt off a motor, I think he would have called a repairman, but the guy could cut into your chest and do major surgery.''
So Booth says he ''did the right thing'' and helped the doctor sell the building and buy something more appropriate--without another commission, of course.
Rising Star Hits the Top
Since then, Booth has risen through the ranks of commercial real estate, successfully building a business, Mansell Commercial Real Estate Services Inc., with two partners, in Salt Lake City. He has also climbed to the top of the executive ladder at NAR, succeeding Art Godi as president.
These days, it's safe to say, Booth's transactions go quite a bit smoother. They're also quite a bit more lucrative.
There's a large computer company that uses Mansell for its real estate transactions all over the world and for managing an office park in the United States.Then there's Utah's largest school district, which has kept Booth busy buying and swapping land as it expands to house more children. And let's not forget the state of Utah, which hired Booth to take action on encroaching development next to the largest U.S. Air Force base, near Salt Lake City.
For the school district, says Booth, ''I buy, sell, lease, trade, consult. They may buy 20 acres thinking they're going to need a middle school; then the needs change, and they have to put up an elementary school and sell the extra 10 acres.''
As for the Air Force base, Booth is working with Utah state officials on a $10 million project to restrict new-home construction that could potentially interfere with the base's flight plan. He put together a team to assist officials in buying restrictive use easements in the area.
''If someone has a 10-acre piece near the Air Force base, the elected officials don't want homes built in that area,'' Booth says. ''The state and county decided to restrict what could go in the flight path plan and noise areas so that enveloping growth doesn’t restrict the growth of the base in the future.''
It isn't uncommon for Booth to put in 80-hour workweeks, which often include a grueling travel schedule as an NAR officer.But he insists he still enjoys the business of real estate, even when it takes him away from his family for the greater part of a month.
''Probably the reason I'm in this business is to buy some property myself,''says Booth, whose portfolio includes--what else?--commercial real estate properties such as a warehouse and apartment and retail buildings. ''If we tell people buy now, sell now, then why don't we do it ourselves?
''I try to find things that aren't listed or that aren't openly on the market to minimize the agency conflict,'' says Booth, who doesn’t hesitate to voice his strong values and beliefs. ''You never do it in conflict.''
It's a tough business, but one that has brought Booth many rewards. If you're interested in following in his footsteps, be prepared for some fatherly sounding advice--and an earful at that.
''In today's market I think it takes focus,'' he says. ''What specifically are your goals? Why do you want to be in real estate? If you have a goal, does it mean you're going to work 30 or 50 or 70 hours a week? Will you sell or lease, represent buyers or sellers? You'd better have some focus on what you want to accomplish and some monetary and service-oriented goals.''
Booth offers some pointers for veterans as well. Among them: Nix the quick fix.
''Redefine your areas of success now that you're experienced--what you like to do and are best at,'' he says. ''Set some new goals and be willing to pay the price to get the goals. If something took three years to accomplish, what difference does it make if you're going to be in it for your lifetime?
''Perspective is gained by increasing your knowledge. If there's something confusing or frustrating, attack it with a vengeance to understand how it works, how it affects you, and what your choices are,'' he says. ''Don't make decisions without knowledge. Get the knowledge.''
As for his family--his wife, Nina, and six children--Booth says they come first despite his demanding work schedule.
''He'll walk in the door, and it doesn’t matter how tired he is, he'll give the kids individualized attention, real quality time,'' says Nina Booth, his wife of nearly 25 years. ''From the first year we were married--in fact, since I've known him--he’s been a very busy person, always involved in or planning or organizing something. If there was a time slot open, he'd have to fill it with something.
''My mom used to say, ‘He's going to burn you out,’'' she says, chuckling. ''It's been an exciting life with him.''
For Booth, balancing his career and family is all in a day's work.
''I get up early and stay up late,'' he says in his typical matter-of-fact style. ''I pull out my briefcase and contracts after the kids go to bed. I don't mind doing that, because I've spent time with the family.
''The most important work I will ever do is within the walls of my own home,'' he says, quoting a church leader close to him. ''We do all these other things we think are important. What it comes down to is, the only thing we leave on earth is the legacy of our families. Were we honest, did we raise good kids, did we contribute to society? Other than that, who cares?''
In NAR We Trust
Russ Booth is on a mission.
With his no-nonsense style and straight talk, Booth says it's his priority to build trust and confidence in the volunteer leadership of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® among state and local associations during his presidency.
Through visits at state conferences and with local board members, Booth says, he intends to fight ''creeping cynicism at all levels'' regarding the NAR and its role in theREALTOR® family.
''There needs to be a better understanding'' among all levels of the organization, he says. ''We need to refocus joint goals and objectives to establish trust and confidence.''
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