By Bob Walsmith Jr.
2022 President
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors

One of the many privileges of being the 2022 Santa Barbara Association of Realtors (SBAOR) President is that I am lucky enough to attend various meetings during the year sponsored by the California Association of Realtors (CAR) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The first such meeting is being conducted next week by CAR. It was supposed to be held in Monterey, but due to the pandemic it will be done virtually.

I think that a huge misconception that the public has about real estate agents is that they just represent their clients in buying or selling a home and put out open house signs on weekends. Oh, and cash large commission checks. Believe me, there is much more that professional Realtors do on a day-to-day basis.

Realtors care deeply about their communities, the environment, the economy, the rules and regulations that affect us all, and of our neighbors, just to name a few things.

These meetings that I am about to attend, along with a few other dedicated local Realtors and our wonderful staff at the SBAOR, deal with serious subjects that are affecting us all and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Subjects such as affordable housing, more housing, fair housing, tenants’ rights, taxes, climate change, are just a few of the very important topics that will be discussed next week.

I would like to point some topics that I will be keeping my eye on next week.

Affordable Housing – I know more than most because I live in Santa Barbara, just how expensive it is not just to buy a home, but to even afford a decent rental. With the average home price in our area last year at almost $4.0 million and the median sales price being around $1.8 million, how can the average family afford the ‘American Dream?’ This is a topic that is of vital importance and needs to be carefully thought out and discussed so that more families can achieve what a great many of us take for granted.

More Housing – It is estimated that in California alone, there is a shortage of over 4.0 million housing units. That is a staggering number.  And it is only getting worse. There seems to be no easy answer to this problem. What if a community wants to stay ‘small’ and doesn’t want to grow too much? Don’t they have the right? However, don’t residents have the right to want to not cram in a small apartment? California ranks third in the country for occupants per household.

Fair Housing – It is a continuing struggle to make sure that landlords, real estate agents, home sellers, builders, mortgage lenders, etc. treat people equally, fairly and void of discrimination. A lot of us take this for granted and/or don’t think it exists but it does, and we need to eliminate it all together.

California Coastline – Smart Coast California is an organization that was founded in 2019 to promote and advocate for private property rights and smart land use policies affecting California’s 1,100 miles of coastline. People from all over the world travel here to live and play on our beaches for its beauty and amusement. We need to make sure that we make smart decisions on how to protect our coast for those living here now and for future generations. We even have two local Realtors on the Board of Directors of this great organization.

Government Affairs – Not many people know that Realtors and staff are very active in meeting with local government agencies to make sure that the interests of our clients and constituents are being heard and implemented. There is a large amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that the members of our community always feel like we are working for them.

Home Insurance Premiums – With California experiencing wildfires in record numbers the past few years, most notably locally the Thomas Fire and Debris Flow, trying to find affordable home insurance can sometimes be a difficult task. Premiums can vary widely from house to house on a given street. Realtors are constantly working with government agencies and insurance companies to try and find rates that don’t break a family’s budget wide open.

Professional Standards – This is a topic that is close to my heart. Most Realtors are extremely ethical and hold their clients interests at the forefront of everything that they do. But we can always do better. To strive to make our profession better each day is something that we all should aspire to do.

Land Use and the Environment – Realtors and our allies are at the forefront of trying to find ways to better use the land that we have and to protect the environment in which we all live and breathe. We only have so much land and as we all know these days, our environment is a very fragile thing.  We must constantly strive to be better stewards of our land and our environment.

As you can see from this list of topics that will be covered next week, Realtors are not just worried about where to position their open house signs or how to spend their next commission check, but they are concerned and fighting for the same things the rest of the public is thinking about.

The next time you talk to a Realtor, ask them about any of these very important topics, or anything else that might be on your mind. You might also want to thank them for all that they do for you and your neighbors!

Bob Walsmith Jr. is a native to Southern California and a Realtor® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Santa Barbara. During his work with the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, Bob has served on the CORE Committee, Education Committee, been Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, and the Multiple Listing Service Committee. He also is on the Board of Directors of the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara. Bob lives in Goleta with his beautiful wife Julie. When not working, Bob enjoys playing golf, fine wine, fine dining, and walking our beautiful coastline. Bob can be reached at 805.720.5362 and/or


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