Board of Realtors to engage politically |

Board of Realtors to engage politically


The Park City Board of Realtors intends to become more involved politically, said new president Mark Seltenrich in an interview Wednesday.

A long-time member and officer of the board of directors, Seltenrich was sworn in along with two new board directors at a Thursday luncheon.

Local politicians are doing fine, he said, and national politics are out of its scope, but the board intends to better assert its position on certain issues that affect quality of life, he explained.

"With 850 members, if we were an employer, we’d be one of the largest employers in town," he said. "I think it’s time for the Board of Realtors to be more involved locally."

It doesn’t have a lot of money at its disposal for contributing to campaigns or hiring lobbyists. Seltenrich said the intent is about "putting our two cents in there."

Issues at the top of the list include preservation of open lands and preventing money from flowing out of the Park City School District for equalization.

He doesn’t anticipate the effort will divide members of the organization.

"Overall, the positions we’ll advocate the majority will agree with those positions," he said.

Rather than focusing on partisan politics, Seltenrich said the board hopes to influence individuals in the state Legislature. He hopes to get them to either agree with or at least take a closer look at issues affecting the Park City area.

The board already participates with the Utah Association of Realtors in lobbying lawmakers about bills that could affect the profession, but more advocacy is needed on local issues, he explained.

Another goal of the board in 2010 is to "ramp up" its fundraising activities through its philanthropic committee. The board has always sponsored events such as a turkey drive, golf tournament and home show. But there’s a desire among the board to streamline and "get serious" about its philanthropic efforts, he said.

Despite the challenges, Seltenrich said there’s plenty for Realtors to be optimistic about in 2010.

Continued foreclosure activity is depressing prices, inventory levels are high, economic uncertainties persist and credit, albeit cheap, is still hard to get.

But there are many bright sides, he said. Realtors, as salespeople, are optimists by nature because they truly believe in their product: Park City.

Real Estate is a long-term investment, and at the end of the most recent decade, median prices in Park City were up 65 percent from median prices at the end of 1999. Average sale prices were up 93 percent. A 6.5 percent average annual increase makes Park City a great investment, he said.

But more recently, there’s been a fixation on how much prices have fallen since the peak only two or three years ago. It was a hard fall, but the median price the best way to judge the vitality of the market is only down 32 percent from the peak in 2007, Seltenrich said.

If the long-term potential and the short-term drop are considered as part of a larger picture, that picture says now is a great time to buy, he said.

Too much inventory means buyers have a lot of properties to choose from. Interest rates are at an all-time low. The stock market is steadily improving. Consumer confidence is going up. Park City is still the most accessible ski town with three world-class resorts and the newest hotels are raising its profile among luxury travelers.

The glut of inventory may last awhile, and it’s certainly hurting local homebuilders, but homes in certain price categories will be absorbed faster than others, he said. That means sellers and Realtors dealing with lower-priced properties will see a recovery much faster than the market as a whole.

Seltenrich succeeded Lincoln Calder as president of the Park City Board of Realtors, has lived in Park City since 1984 and has been a Realtor for more than 20 years.

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