Inman News this year compiled a list of the 100 most influential people in real estate, reflecting the industry’s best and brightest, as well as outside figures whose actions influence the home buying and selling business.
We handpicked 10 from the list who were the most memorable in 2005:
1. Erin Toll, Deputy Insurance Commissioner, Colorado, for her incremental role in sparking a nationwide investigation of kickbacks among title insurance companies, lenders, developers and real estate brokerages. The probe caused a chain reaction in states throughout the country and resulted in millions of dollars being refunded to consumers. (For a full profile of Toll, click here.)
2. Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, for reigning supreme over the 10-year housing boom. Greenspan leaves his post on Jan. 31 to his successor Ben Bernanke. We’ll miss him! (For a full profile of Greenspan, click here.)
3. Mike Long, CEO, Homestore, for pulling the company out of a major accounting scandal left by former management and finally bringing Homestore to profitability in 2005. Under Long’s leadership, Homestore could prove to be a leader in the online real estate space and remain a significant component to every Realtor’s business.
4. Mark Lesswing, Director of Center for Realtor Technology, National Assn. of Realtors, for his relentless efforts in keeping Realtors abreast of current technology issues. The Center has published informative reports on various security issues facing brokers, MLSs and agents, and has developed a tool that converts Web-based leads into cell phone calls, to name a few accomplishments.
5. Joshua Sharfman, Chief Technical Officer, California Assn. of Realtors, for his key leadership role in getting the association’s new transaction management system off the ground and widely adopted. The technology could serve to change the way much of the industry conducts business. Sharfman serves as the CEO of C.A.R.’s Real Estate Business Technologies subsidiary, charged with delivering the new system.
6. Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, for his leadership in ramping up enforcement efforts for RESPA violations in 2005, tripling the department’s enforcement staff and doubling its budget. RESPA, which stands for the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, governs the real estate settlement process. Jackson also led a series of roundtable discussions around the country this year to get industry and consumer feedback on efforts to simplify the home buying process.
7. Laurie Janik, General Counsel, National Assn. of Realtors, for shouldering the huge task of explaining and defending the association’s policies in the face of antitrust accusations. Janik has been head-to-head with U.S. Justice Department officials for nearly two years since the agency’s antitrust division opened an investigation of the trade group’s online property listings policies. Janik serves as the chief legal mind of NAR, protecting the association from legal disasters and cleaning up afterward if trouble ensues.
8. Angelo Mozilo, Chairman and CEO, Countrywide Financial Corp., for taking this company from its humble beginnings in 1969 to a global leader in residential finance and related services today. Under Mozilo’s leadership, the company has built its market share largely by aggressively pursuing partnerships with real estate brokerages and home builders. With the industry increasingly focusing on such partnerships, Mozilo is leading the pack.
9. U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division officials, for taking action to promote open competition in the real estate industry. In 2005, the department ramped up actions related to alleged anticompetitive practices, warning regulators in several states not to pass rules or legislation that they say could restrict competition and harm some discount business models. In addition, the department is aggressively pursuing an antitrust lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors over the group’s policies for online property listings display. Also this year, the agency scored a victory in tossing out former restrictions on real estate rebates in Kentucky and other states.
10. Stuart Wolff and Peter Tafeen, former Homestore executives, for leaving behind a legacy more than three years after leaving their posts at Homestore. Wolff, former CEO of Homestore, and Tafeen, former executive vice president of business development, manage to keep Homestore’s name in the news through ongoing litigation with the company and ongoing federal investigations. The Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Justice Department in April announced criminal and civil cases against Wolff and Tafeen, alleging the two participated in a scheme to artificially inflate Homestore’s online advertising revenues in order to beat Wall Street analysts’ expectations. The pair allegedly misled investors and analysts about the company’s true financial condition and blamed the company’s financial decline on Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
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