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Last week, we had a historic event in the lives of the Sarasota and Manatee Realtors Association and our 8,500 members. On Friday we celebrate the opening of our new RASM North office at 2901 Manatee Ave. W., here at Bradenton. This new state-of-the-art facility will provide a more convenient location for our Manatee County members to receive services and receive 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 long time, this may all seem very familiar to you. That’s because this location hosted the former Manatee Realtors Association from 1977 to 2008 before moving to Lakewood Ranch for a short time prior to the merger of the Manatee and Sarasota Associations. We hope this new facility will be a great addition not only for our members to use, but also a great addition to the Bradenton community.

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RASM is also celebrating another milestone this year as an active and contributing member of the region over the last 100 years. It all started in 1922, when the Florida Real Estate Board of Directors “Bradentown” hired the 6-member Bradentown Association of Realtors, growing to 257 members in its first year of operation.

At that time, Executive Secretary J.L. Wallace of the Florida Real Estate Association reports that “there’s no point in trying to get into the real estate business in Bradentown, if he’s not a board member, because he or she will receive little recognition.” The board initiation fee is $200, certainly a hefty sum. for 1922, but respect for the newly formed association was evident from the start.

The National Real Estate Journal reports that “the organization had the unconditional (unconditional) support of entrepreneurs in Bradentown, who felt that the Realty Board had proved one of the biggest factors in the development of their community; intermediary under a dual list system.”

In June 1923, the National Association of Real Estate Boards (now known as the National Association of Realtors), the Board of Directors elected the Sarasota Realty Board to members, with 21 active members. With the birth of these two councils, the real estate business in our two counties was redefined.

Now under the umbrella of NAR, Realtors are governed by the NAR Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, which was 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 one another in advancing the best interests of clients. The code has been revised numerous times to ensure that there is no room in our industry for hate speech or discriminatory behavior of any kind.

Over the years, the two associations underwent minor name changes, and in 1998, they became known as the Sarasota Realtors Association and Manatee Realtors Association. On January 1, 2015, the two boards officially merged to form the Sarasota and Manatee Realtors Association, with a combined 5,000 members at the time.

Over the years and changing markets, the association has remained alert to key issues that have the potential to affect the real estate industry and our clients’ private property rights. Whatever obstacles arise, the association is ready to meet those needs and overcome them. RASM has stood with its members over the years, offering support, and meeting the needs created by each unique market.

Helping to educate agents and raise the bar on what is expected of Realtors is the association’s primary goal. But local, state, and national associations of Realtors do a lot to advocate for property rights for our clients, and the profession itself. We monitor local, state and national politics every day to fight for the public and your rights as a property owner and tenant.

Lastly, Realtors are a group of philanthropists who work in their community every day 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. As a result, you will always find Realtors involved in various charities, nonprofit communities, volunteering for cultural facilities, and serving in public offices. This has happened over the last 100 years in our community where Realtors have helped shape the counties of Manatee and Sarasota into great places 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 Sarasota and Manatee Realtors Association.

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