Incoming President of National Association of Realtors Has Filed for Personal, Corporate Bankruptcy

By David M. Kinchen
Gary Thomas
Gary Thomas

Times are tough for real estate brokers and the next president of the National Association of Realtors is no exception. If everything goes as planned, Gary Thomas, 68, of Mission Viejo (Orange County) California, NAR president-elect, will be sworn in as president of one of the nation's largest trade associations at the NAR convention in Orlando, FL. Nov. 9-12.

 

The only problem to some NAR members is that veteran Realtor Thomas has filed for personal and corporate bankruptcy, with combined debts of $13.2 million and assets of $1.7 million.

On Friday, Oct. 5, Stephanie Singer of NAR's Washington DC office confirmed to me that Thomas will be the 2013 president of NAR. She said there will be no change in the succession to the top spot in the Chicago-based Realtors.

Former Los Angeles Times reporter Mark Lacter, writing for the LA Observed site said on Oct. 4:


"Next month a fellow named Gary Thomas becomes president of the National Association of Realtors, which is a big deal because it makes him a spokesman for the nation's real estate industry. But as reported by the OC Register, Thomas had to file for personal and corporate bankruptcy because of the housing crash. His debt totals $13 million. Is this the sort of guy who should be leading NAR?

"'The real truth is hundreds of thousands of Realtors didn't file bankruptcy and managed their businesses - and honored their commitments,' said [RE/MAX President Vinnie Tracey]. NAR President Moe Veissi said a long and arduous vetting process took place over years before Thomas was picked for president and that an additional inquiry was launched in response to Tracey's concerns. Thomas answered questions to the board's satisfaction. 'It's at least a five- to seven-year process to get into a position to be considered as president,' Veissi said. 'He's been vetted and is qualified to lead the National Association of Realtors.'"

From last year's NAR news release about the 2012 officers"

ANAHEIM (November 14, 2011) - Maurice “Moe” Veissi, a Realtor® from Miami, was installed today as 2012 president of the National Association of Realtors® at the association’s Board of Directors meeting during the 2011 Realtors® Conference & Expo.

In 2011, Veissi was NAR president-elect, and he was NAR first vice president in 2010. A Realtor® for 40 years, Veissi is broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami, and specializes in land development and acquisition. Veissi served as the 2008 political fundraising chair for the Realtors® Political Action Committee. He also served on NAR’s Strategic Investment Reserve Advisory Board and was NAR regional vice president for Region V in 2005. The Florida Association of Realtors® elected Veissi president in 2002. Over the years, he has had the opportunity to chair most of FAR’s committees. FAR named Veissi “Realtor® of the Year” in 2003.

Gary Thomas, a Realtor® in Orange County, Calif., is NAR’s 2012 president-elect. Thomas has been a Realtor® for more than 30 years and is the CEO and founder of Altera Real Estate in Orange County. He served as the 2009 NAR vice president and liaison to government affairs. In 2004, Thomas was NAR regional vice president for Region XIII. He has served on NAR’s Board of Directors since 1995. In 2001, Thomas was president of the California Association of Realtors® and was named “Realtor® of the Year” that same year.

Steve Brown, a Realtor® from Dayton, Ohio, is the 2012 NAR first vice president. A Realtor® for more than 30 years, Brown is co-owner of Irongate, Inc. Realtors®. He was the 2009 NAR vice president and liaison to government affairs and served as the public policy national liaison in 2008. Brown has been a liaison for several committees, including Business Issues, Conventional Finance and Lending, Federal Housing Policy, and Federal Taxation. In 2007, he chaired the Legislative Forum, and in 2005, he was NAR’s regional vice president for Region VI.

William J. Armstrong III, a Realtor® from Damascus, Md., is the 2012 NAR treasurer. A Realtor® for over 20 years, he works for Mackintosh Inc., Realtors® in Frederick, Md. He has served on the NAR Finance Committee since 2003, and was president of the Maryland Association of Realtors® in 2000.

From the Orange County Register's Oct. 4 editions (link:http://lansner.ocregister.com/2012/10/04/critics-say-oc-broker-unfit-for-nar-presidency/166727/


Critics say OC broker unfit to lead NAR

October 4th, 2012, 1:00 am · · posted by Jeff Collins

The housing crash hit Orange County real estate broker Gary Thomas hard.

For years, the RE/MAX franchisee had been building his empire, all the while volunteering for a variety of high-level posts in the local, state and national Realtor organizations. As early of 2006, people expected Thomas to rise to the highest office in U.S. realty. On Nov. 8, he’ll officially be sworn in as president of the National Association of Realtors.

But bankruptcy and debt plagued Thomas, 68, once the Mission Viejo broker joined the NAR leadership team, preparing for his own year in the spotlight.

Some critics say Thomas’ financial reversal makes him unfit for office.

“The NAR president is the face and the voice of our industry,” said RE/MAX President Vinnie Tracey. “He represents 1 million members, and more importantly, he represents us to the public on Capitol Hill.”

Tracey and Thomas have a long association. Thomas formed his first RE/MAX franchise in 1985 and eventually ran 14 RE/MAX offices in Orange County.

The sign over Gary Thomas’ sole realty office still sports the name of a previous company he owned, Altera Real Estate.

But financial problems forced Thomas to quit RE/MAX and form his own chain, Altera Real Estate, in 2008.

In January 2011, Thomas’ corporation filed for bankruptcy. He filed for personal bankruptcy this past June.

The combined personal and corporate debts from the two bankruptcies totaled $13.2 million, while the combined assets totaled $1.7 million. Thomas’ creditors likely will get pennies on the dollar when the bankruptcies are completed.

RE/MAX’s Tracey said that since January, he’s been advocating that NAR prevent Thomas – now the president-elect – from being elevated to president.

Last March, he met in Chicago with NAR Executive Vice President Dale Stinton, NAR President Maurice Veissi, past President Ron Phipps and other board members and made his final pitch.

“I don’t think this is good for the industry,” Tracey recalled telling the NAR brass. “We have an obligation to let people know who (Thomas) is. I’m the guy standing up for what’s right.”

Thomas’ financial problems make him unfit to represent the industry, he said.

“The real truth is hundreds of thousands of Realtors didn’t file bankruptcy and managed their businesses – and honored their commitments,” Tracey said.

NAR President Moe Veissi said a long and arduous vetting process took place over years before Thomas was picked for president and that an additional inquiry was launched in response to Tracey’s concerns. Thomas answered questions to the board’s satisfaction.

“It’s at least a five- to seven-year process to get into a position to be considered as president,” Veissi said. “He’s been vetted and is qualified to lead the National Association of Realtors.”

Others in the Realtor leadership agreed.

“Has he had some unfortunate situations? Like all of us, yes,” said former NAR President Dick Gaylord of Long Beach. “But I don’t think anyone thinks he’s anything but competent, hardworking and honest.”

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