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Leading Women: Vicki Cox Golder

by Dianna Kawell

Vicki Cox Golder

For NAR's 2010 National President Vicki Cox Golder, CRB, there is never a moment to sit still, but this expert time-manager is ready for her hectic year ahead.

She's called, with just a couple days' notice, to Washington, D.C., to testify before Congress about the latest policy changes proposed by the FHA. It's one of many political issues NAR will have to address in the new year.

"After the tax credit expires in April, we know it will not be renewed," she says. "We hope that the market will be strong enough, but we have to make sure it is strong enough by addressing all the issues that also impact the market before it expires." These issues include everything from keeping FHA stable as its market share has drastically increased, to current issues with poor appraisals.

Learn more about Vicki's inspiring background in this Official NAR Video:

"MID (the home mortgage interest deduction) is also of great concern," Cox Golder says. "Also, liquidity to commercial real estate needs to be enhanced. Banks are leery to loan to commercial right now, and that could be the next shoe to drop."

And don't forget the importance of the health care debate to the real estate industry, where NAR reports that 27 percent of members currently do not have health insurance. "We want our members to have the opportunity to join a group policy to have a lower cost than their private policies," according to Cox Golder.

Even in light of her installation as NAR's president, Cox Golder acknowledges that she hasn't let go of the reigns with her extensive community involvement. "I’ve heard other presidents say they dropped everything else the year they were president, and I didn’t want to do that." Over the years, Cox Golder has contributed time and resources to the school board and fire department board in her community of 12,000 outside of Tucson, AZ, as well as an organization she founded to assist senior citizens in need.

Also, when a lot of builders slow down in a market such as this, Cox Golder's real estate business is moving full steam ahead with residential development. "Not many builders are building and you can get really good deals because engineering and other costs are down. We think it's a great time to be working," she says. "The last market lasted a long time. You never know how long a market will last, so you need to be ready for it."

And, if all that weren't enough, Cox Golder actually lives on a working cattle ranch that requires its own set of responsibilities. So how does this "wonder woman" maintain that life balance that so many successful women find to be a constant struggle? We covered that and much more when we recently spoke with her before the holidays.

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eConnect: You lost your father to a heart attack when you were 19 and lost your mother to a car accident when you were 20. Then, you fought to keep your family together, taking over custody of your three younger sisters and raising them in addition to the young son that you already had. Why was keeping custody of your sisters so important to you?

Vicki: I came from a strong family background and believe in the importance of family. If the state took custody of my sisters or one went to this end of the country and the other went there, I would have regretted it. I thought we were better off sticking together. My sisters didn't know until recently the hardships we went through, like having our home behind in the mortgage payments, and often did not understand the decisions I made. In difficult times you want to shield the children. They were stressed enough with the loss of their parents.

eConnect: Where did you find the strength and maturity to go through this process?

Vicki: I've always been focused and goal-driven, and that's important for success in anything you do. And I'm stubborn. Just ask my husband. I get my mind on something and just go for it and stay on that path until it gets done. At that age I didn't fully understand what it meant to raise my sisters. I was a young adult and had to feel my way through it, and it was a growing experience for me too. I’m up for challenges, and that's the way it's always been.

eConnect: Most women want to know how successful women like yourself balance their time with family, friendships and career – and especially your extensive community involvement. What are your secrets to success with time management?

Vicki: Half of my life is community involvement. It's all about setting priorities. I'm very organized, and you have to be. Every Sunday, we have our family dinner at my house no matter how exhausted I might feel. I don't want my children or grandchildren to see me do all this other stuff and think they are not as important to me. And I feel enriched when they are here.

It comes down to choices. You have to decide what is most important to you. Family has always been most important to me. And I'm reaping the benefits of the seeds that I sowed early in life with taking care of my family because they have helped me too when I've needed them. Every chance I get I tell them how much I appreciate them.

eConnect: What motivates you to be so involved in your community?

Vicki: I think you have to give back. My husband and I have done a lot to grow this community. If you are going to benefit from the community, you need to give back to the community. I feel passionate about it, and if you love what you do, then it's really not work. As REALTORS®, in general, we talk about community involvement. For me, it’s certainly helped my business and that of all the agents in my office because of my involvement.

eConnect: With all the economic strains on home sellers, how do REALTORS® counter when consumers choose to sell FSBO or push for reduced commissions?

Vicki: Most consumers go online before they purchase. NAR is providing communication tools so REALTORS® can help consumers to realize the value and benefit of hiring a REALTOR® before they sell. Through launching houselogic.com and our advertising campaigns we can get consumers on our side. With the first-time homeowner's credit, I think consumers know who made that possible. We are taking steps to protect their property rights and address the issues that come up at the local, state and national levels. I’m very proud of what we have accomplished so far.

eConnect: What has been NAR's biggest accomplishment over the last couple of years?

Vicki: I think it is definitely the "Second Century Initiative" funded by the Board of Directors. We will launch the REALTOR® Property Resource this spring, which is a Web site where members can get all the information they need about a property. It will not replace the MLS. Just the idea to me is a major accomplishment.

I'm very lucky to have been part of a leadership team that sees eye to eye. We've never had the buy-in before that we have now with leadership, staff and members who are not afraid to step out of the box. A lot of MLSs, including the larger regional ones, are involved and have agreed to give us their data. Going through the county records is much more difficult. We'd rather have their co-operation... We are able to plan now with some great game-changing ideas with things we have not been able to accomplish in the past.

eConnect: Where do you see NAR five years from now? How will it be different and the same?

Vicki: In the past three years, we are already faster on addressing issues. It's probably going to be a smaller NAR with more professionalism. We are working toward a REALTOR® University, which is now in beginning stages, to heighten professionalism of our members, because we do handle the largest transaction that most people will ever conduct in their lives. And there's a level of trust that needs to be there. We are going to see threats with higher taxes and taking away the benefits of owning real estate. And we have to be there to make sure that doesn't happen. Otherwise, real estate will become like any other commodity where you don't see the benefits of holding on to real estate over time.

Dianna Kawell is editor of Women's Council’s eConnect newsletter.

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