More than 25,000 Realtors from across the country will descend upon Orlando, Fla., this week to soak up sunshine and insight on the country’s sizzling housing market.

The National Association of Realtors’ annual conference and expo officially kicks off Thursday and continues through next Monday. Members of the powerful trade group will discuss a range of issues from minorities’ home purchasing power to federal policies affecting the housing industry to the economic forecast for real estate in 2005.

Inman News will be covering the NAR conference in Orlando throughout the weekend, and this week will launch a special five-part series on NAR leadership dubbed, “Who runs NAR.” The first installment, “A leading lobbyist for a powerful lobby” will appear Tuesday. Innovation at NAR will also appear on the Inman News Blog.

Inman Blog: Industry pros give their take on everything from home ownership, foreclosures, mortgages and real estate life to the weather,our economy, and politics. Check in daily to get the scoop.

NAR conference attendees will hear from political icons James Carville and wife Mary Matalin during the convention’s general session. Carville, best-selling author and Democratic political consultant, and Matalin, George W. Bush campaign advisor, will share their divergent perspectives on today’s issues, less than a week after the presidential election.

No matter the outcome of the election, it is sure to be a hot topic among attendees. NAR leaders are offering two briefings surrounding the election. NAR president Walt MacDonald and Jerry Giovaniello, NAR chief lobbyist, will analyze the elections’ impact on the real estate industry. In a second session, political analyst Charlie Cook will offer insight, analysis and commentary on the election results.

The event also features a gigantic real estate tradeshow where the latest cutting-edge technologies and innovative businesses can be found vying for Realtor attention. The tradeshow features dozens of prize giveaways and celebrity appearances by fitness guru Richard Simmons and television icon Erik Estrada.

Also available are dozens of classes and seminars for attendees on everything from sure-fire marketing strategies to attitudes of a six-figure producer. Classes on the latest technology include advanced maneuvers with a BlackBerry wireless device and making digital pictures stand out, among others.

As a testament to the event’s location in the heart of Disney, the convention offers, “Leadership, Disney Style,” which will outline the leadership model used at Walt Disney World Resort. The concept features every leader’s understanding of how they are telling a story about individual values, and a Disney cast member who practices these values will share ways to implement this approach. Other “Disney Style” topics will include service, management and loyalty.

Attendees also will have a chance to hear from Al Mansell, NAR’s 2005 president, and learn his priorities and goals for the coming year.

Mansell of Midvale, Utah, has been a Realtor since 1969. He is CEO of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Salt Lake City. He served as president of the Utah Association of Realtors in 1990 and was state “Realtor of the Year” in 1985. He is currently president of the Utah State Senate, and was elected to the office in 2000. He was first elected to the state Senate in 1994.

As NAR’s next president, Mansell is among those “movers and shakers” who keep the organization pointed in the right direction. The one million member strong association is now the largest trade group in the country, and operates under a seasoned set of governance rules, which includes an elaborate maze of committees, board meetings and a professional executive management team.

Just in time for NAR’s annual convention, the special five-part Inman News series “Who runs NAR” will continue throughout the week, with the first part starting tomorrow.

In Part 1, “A leading lobbyist for a powerful lobby,” we talked with NAR’s chief lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello, a significant player at the backstage of public policy.

In Part 2, “NAR’s top guns,” we identified NAR’s senior management team and unveil where these top leaders came from and what role they play at that organization.

In Part 3, “Volunteers who call the shots at NAR,” we caught up with some of NAR’s most dedicated volunteers who play a behind-the-scenes role, pulling the levers of the association’s engines.

In Part 4, “Tech guru shaped home listings site,” we spoke with Robert Goldberg, an NAR staff member who helped navigate the association through the woes of Homestore’s accounting scandal.

In Part 5, “NAR committees: The leadership pecking order,” we looked at some of the most powerful committees within the organization.

If you have a news tip or press release related to the NAR convention this week, pass it along to Jessica Swesey at, or Also, feel free to contact Inman News Publisher Bradley Inman during the event at (510) 290-9447.


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