Message from the Board

On May 10th the Board of Directors of the Attorneys’ Real Estate Councils of Florida hosted the Annual Florida ARECS Leadership Forum at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort in conjunction with Fund Assembly. This event provides an important opportunity each year for REC officers and directors from across the state to gather, share ideas and learn from each other.

This year’s theme was Building Successful Relationships with Your Local Real Estate Association and so the Board welcomed a distinguished panel of representatives from three local Real Estate Councils and two Boards of Realtors® to share their stories of success. 


Ramona Chance, President, North Florida Association of Real Estate Attorneys


Gary Davis, Director, Bay Area Real Estate Council (BAREC)

Erin Prete, President, Central Florida Real Estate Attorneys’ Council (CFREAC)

Cliff Long, Chief Executive Officer, Orlando Regional Realtor® Association

Ashley Wheeler, Vice President of Professional Development, Orlando Regional Realtor® Association

Jeffrey Zane, President, Attorneys’ Real Estate Council of Palm Beach County (PBREC)

Jessica Wittenbrink, Vice President of Programs, RAPB+GFLR


Seated (L-R): Ashley Wheeler, Erin Prete, Gary Davis, Jessica Wittenbrink
Standing (L-R): Lynwood Arnold, Ira Price, Cliff Long, Ramona Chance, Diana Davis Basta, Fred Jones, Rene' Rutan, Pat Nugent, Jeff Zane

Ramona Chance and Ashley Wheeler got the program started with an introduction to the Orlando Regional Realtor® Association (ORRA) and Wheeler’s objectives as Vice President of Professional Development. ORRA represents over 14,000 members across multiple counties and Wheeler said her focus is on making their members successful and one of the ways they accomplish that is through their partnership with Central Florida Real Estate Attorneys’ Council (CFREAC)Erin Prete, CFREAC’s President, added that their relationship has endured for over twenty-eight years! They work together on the Annual Legal Summit (f/k/a Law Symposium), where both attorneys and real estate agents can earn 7-8 hours of continuing education credit. Wheeler and Prete agreed that one reason for their success is that CFREAC assigns a liaison who works with ORRA’s Program Committee throughout the year to identify topics and then coordinate the creation of the programs with CFREAC. Those materials are provided to Wheeler who handles obtaining CE credit with the Florida Real Estate Commission. 

Gary Davis provided insight from the Tampa Bay area where the Bay Area Real Estate Council (BAREC) has had the challenge of covering a large territory and working to develop constructive relationships with multiple Realtor® Associations. They have achieved great success with two of them – Greater Tampa Realtors® and the West Pasco Board of Realtors®. Like CFREAC, BAREC has designated points of contact for each Association. BAREC provides attorneys and education programs for various Association programs including Legally Speaking, annual FR/BAR Contract classes and something that Davis described as a “Smart Lunch.” These are casual lunches around a conference-type table where real estate agents and attorneys discuss topics of the day in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.

The Realtors® Association of the Palm Beaches (RAPB) and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors® (GFLR) merged in 2017 and together with the St. Lucie Association of Realtors®, which joined RAPB a few years ago, now represent over 35,000 members - the third largest Association of Realtors® in the nation. Jessica Wittenbrink is the Vice President of Programs for RAPB+GFLR and she expressed her appreciation for the relationship she has developed with the Attorneys’ Real Estate Council of Palm Beach County (PBREC) and, in particular, its President Jeff Zane. Together they have developed an education program for area real estate agents that includes monthly New Realtor® Orientations, recorded webinars and two annual Law Symposiums. Because of the merger between RAPB and GFLR, those programs have now been expanded to Broward County where the Broward Attorneys’ Real Estate Council coordinates with PBREC and RAPB+GFLR to deliver top notch education to real estate members in that area. Wittenbrink added that, “aligning ourselves with such a credible brand as the Attorneys’ Real Estate Council adds considerable value to our organization.”

ORRA CEO Cliff Long, offered an impassioned invitation to the real estate attorney community to continue to pursue engagement with real estate agents. He explained that, “our industry is undergoing a jail-breaking and de-regulation of long-respected professions.” He added that real estate attorneys are not the only professionals feeling marginalized by technology and that Realtors® are facing threats of their own from Zillow®, OfferPad® and others. He encouraged real estate attorneys and real estate agents to work together to provide the consumer with the personalized service and protection they can get nowhere else. He closed by saying, “We must tell our stories. If we don’t, others will tell them for us.”