Local Realtor ascends to state post

HOWLAND – Even just 10 years ago Thomas J. Williams never would have dreamed of attempting to tackle the role of president of the Ohio Association of Realtors.

It is his life experience – including those last 10 years – and the good team that surrounds him that prepared him for the post he took over in January, he said last week.

Williams, 61, spoke from his Howland Northwood Realty office just an hour after returning from an overnight trip to Columbus to handle duties as president.

”I am really humbled, honored,” Williams said. ”It’s very self-rewarding, but it’s not just for me. It’s for everyone who I come in contact with.”

As OAR president, Williams will lead efforts taking positions on issues and legislation affecting the real estate industry.

”I’ll do what I think is best for the members and the consumer and protection of property rights,” he said.

While the job will require a lot of focus and a few trips each month, he said he will maintain his Realtor position locally handling education, recruitment, mergers and acquisitions along with selling some homes.

”I still am here,” he said. ”My role has changed a little.”

Williams is the first Realtor from Trumbull County to hold the statewide post. More than a half-century ago, A.E. Reinman Jr. of Youngstown had held the post.

It was his involvement with the association that led to his election to the post, he said.

”Your experience is important. Ten years ago I would have never dreamed to run for something like this,” he said. ”The experience that I have behind me, along with the legislators that I know and the relationships that you develop over time has really helped me.”

A graduate of Youngstown State University, he said he was licensed as a Realtor in 1978 and also holds a brokers license and state appraisal licence.

Williams acknowledged the steady improvement of home sales brought on by lower unemployment rates, lending and the overall emergence from the Great Recession has made this an exciting time to serve as the state organization’s president.

”Our industry is definitely on a rebound,” Williams said, referring to improvement both statewide and locally. That includes both in number of homes sold along with improving sale prices.

Still, challenges as OAR president won’t be non-existent.

Among the first items on his agenda will be leading the organization in its response to Gov. John Kasich’s budget outline that calls for new professional service taxes on real estate sales. The proposal, which will be considered by the state legislature for approval, in exchange calls for a rollback on statewide income tax, but replaces it with new sales taxes on many professional services and increased severance tax on the oil and natural gas industry.

”We have not taken an official position yet, but it looks like we are going to be opposing it,” Williams said. ”Not just in real estate, but the consumer will be greatly affected when you factor in the taxes that are going to be levied on every service provided, you end up paying a lot more than the rollback is going to be.”

”It’s good to have a good team,” Williams said. ”I am not alone in this whole thing. It will be challenging and interesting, and I will do my very best.”

Williams said he recently relocated to Howland after living for many years in Mahoning County. He has one grown daughter, Stacey, who works as a professor in Tennessee.