BREA Elects New Board, Returns President Christine Wallace-Whitfield for 2nd Term
In one of the largest turnouts for an annual general meeting in its history, the Bahamas Real Estate Association elected a new board of directors, returned its president, Christine Wallace-Whitfield for a second term and heard plans that will take the nearly 700-member strong organization in new directions. Among the goals — stepped up ethics education, revised legislation and a serious crackdown on foreign agents operating in The Bahamas illegally.
“There are three goals that I intend to finish within this second year term,” Wallace-Whitfield told the crowd of nearly 100, a record turn-out for an AGM. “The first is our real estate legislation. We have had several successful meetings with the Attorney General’s office and notes have been exchanged, changes made which will all go toward revising the Act successfully, and that will be a great achievement for the association.” Legislation currently governing the industry was introduced almost 30 years ago.
According to Wallace-Whitfield, BREA’s board will place a renewed emphasis on ethics. A new entry-level curriculum that starts with three hours of ethics-related information has been prepared for what she described as a “much tougher and broader” course that will be introduced for the first time next week. The course will also be taught be a new instructor, former BREA President Patty Birch, whom Wallace-Whitfield lauded as “exemplary.”
“Education and ethics are important factors in improving the level of excellence in our industry,” Wallace-Whitfield told the crowd at the Nassau Yacht Club. “We are now taking a new approach. We have approved the new course outline that entails a seven day educational course, the first day being focused on ethics with a test given right after. A rest day on Sunday, and classes to resume on the Monday to Friday with the exam on the Saturday.”
In addition to the expanded course for hopefuls, BREA will host 3-hour breakfast sessions for industry veterans. Sessions will include representatives from banking, law and government to discuss matters related to real estate.
But the re-elected president’s strongest warning related to tackling what she called “a continuing saga of ongoing complaints of foreign realtors coming onto our shores here in the Bahamas who try to sell and conduct real estate business transactions.”
“We are seeing more foreign websites advertising our properties without our consent which is illegal. I am currently in conversation with Immigration, the Attorney General’s office, Florida Association of Realtors and our representative at NAR and the Chamber of Commerce who have basically agreed to assist us with this increasing problem. I have also met with a few Brokers/Agents in Exuma who to have expressed this serious problem. You will hear of this more in the news moving forward to bring awareness to everyone near and far. It is okay for a foreign real estate company to contact any licensed Bahamian Broker firm on a referral basis only, but it is not okay for them to do this on their own accord.”
Wallace-Whitfield thanked outgoing board members Silvina Andrews, Anthony Wells and Laura Kimble who were not running for re-election, Helen Dupuch, chair of the MLS committee and others who volunteer their time on various committees including education and ethics.