As I stated in my 2020 incoming address, the same rings true in 2021–it’s been quite a challenging year.
And with these challenges came a bit of turbulence. Again returning to remarks I began my term with, I would like to lean on the American folk legend Bob Dylan as he sang so presciently in 1964, “Oh, the times they are a-changin.” And just as Dylan’s anthem embodied the shifting American societal landscape during that turbulent decade, the title industry (like the rest of the world) is undergoing a turbulent era of change amidst the 21st Century and the Coronavirus pandemic.
As my term comes to a close, my message today remains the same as my message at its commencement, one of optimism and hope.
As anticipated, 2021 was full of hurdles, yet we persevered, overcame, and even thrived as an industry. I attribute much of our success during the last year to collaboration among our members. The guidance and collaboration amongst colleagues, friends and competitors through the Association reminds us and exemplifies the vital role the Association plays in our businesses not only on a daily basis but especially in the face of such unprecedented times.
Parking lot closings, closings out of car trunks, executive orders, “essential” businesses, essential workers, audio visual notarizations, masks, gloves, remote employees, cubical partitions, social distancing, 100’s of signature pages received with no documents, county clerk closures, Surrogate court closures, land record closures, the inability to file building loan agreements, inability to record documents, hand sanitizer, quarantine, contact tracing, hoarding toilet paper and Clorox wipes, remote closings, Zoom meetings, Teams meetings, front-line workers, RON, RIN, RULONA, COVID, PPE, PPP, N95, KN95, IPEN, PRON and TWIN and many more words and acronymns all became part of our everyday vernacular.
I am exhausted from thinking of it all now but yet again impressed by the fortitude of my colleagues and our Association. As an industry that is known for its resistance to change, we have proved we can pivot quickly and we can turn the ship around and avoid the iceberg. For this, we should be very proud.
We, as an industry, are not unfamiliar with the struggle of moving. Many not in the real estate “know” say that others should “move with the changes.” However, I think our industry proves that you should not move with the changes but move through them; only then have we embraced and adapted the changes, and only then are we ready for whatever will come next. When you move to a new home, you may bring some old furniture, argue with neighbors over property lines, etc. However, you also learn to redecorate and throw the best block party possible.
I had many goals for the Association when I commenced this journey. I believe, as a team of industry professionals, WE achieved most of these goals. The main goals I stated were to advocate for our industry and to timely provide relevant information to our members, these goals were undoubtedly achieved. We conducted many Zoom meetings with legislators and government officials. We disseminated information via multiple email blasts, the revitalized
newsletter as well as at each executive committee meeting through the industry updates and title tidbits shared. We reinstituted a very successful mentorship program, and we finally adopted revised recommended practices. Further, we collaborated more with the New York State Bar Association and strengthened our relationship with the Title and Transfer Committee.
None of the preceding could have been achieved without “a little help from my friends” in the industry. By “friends,” I mean all the members of this Association who volunteered time, served on committees and actively participated by attending meetings, sharing ideas and assuming leadership roles as committee chairs, and, of course, to Bob and Regina for seamlessly coordinating it all. Each of your contributions is truly valued and does not go unrecognized nor unappreciated. THANK YOU for making my term as president a productive, rewarding and enjoyable endeavor.
As many of you are aware, I was reluctant to step into this role, and many believe I cannot wait for it to be over; however, if truth be told, I am somewhat sad to leave the role. I truly found my term as president of your Association very rewarding, and I am glad I served. I served with great pride, honor and humbleness, and I look forward to continuing as an active member of the Association. We are a strong, unified and passionate industry, and I am incredibly proud to have served you and earned my place as a past president.
I know the Association is in very capable hands with James as your incoming president. To James, I share the words of T. S. Elliot:
“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start ….” James, while this is my end, it is your beginning.