VOL. 133 | NO. 53 | Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Wiuff Looks to Boost Engagement As MAAR Board President
By Kate Simone
Lauren Harkins Wiuff, a broker at Marx-Bensdorf Realtors, has begun her tenure as the 2018 president of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors board of directors. Wiuff, who will serve a one-year term as board president, is also a lifetime member of MAAR’s Multi Million Dollar Club. At Marx-Bensdorf, she leads a team that includes her sister, Stephanie Sheahan.
Experience: I am a third-generation real estate professional. I have 16 years of experience working in residential real estate in the Memphis market.
What talent do you wish you had? I wish I knew how to play the piano. My grandmother was an excellent pianist and my mother always tells me I have my grandmother’s hands. I love music, so I’m hopeful that I’ll get to learn one day.
Who has had the greatest influence on you and why? My parents. My father is one of the hardest-working men I know. He taught me to never take anything for granted. My mom has a quick wit and a very clever sense of humor. She helps me see that hard work can sometimes be made a little easier when tempered with a little levity.
What are your goals for MAAR in the coming year? To continue the tradition of success of the past leadership and the incredible MAAR staff. In the next year, I hope to deepen the engagement of our members with the organization so that all can take advantage of the many benefits, including technology advancement, legislative advocacy and professional development.
During and immediately after the Great Recession, the number of Realtors declined significantly. A decade later, has it rebounded to pre-recession levels? No. Around 2006, we had gotten up to more than 5,000 Realtors in Memphis. Over the recovering years, that number dropped as low as 2,900. Over the last four years, our membership has grown to about 3,700.
How high could the interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage get by the end of 2019, and at what point does the rate become a deterrent for first-time homebuyers? Economists are telling us that the interest rate is going to rise about four times this year alone. However, when I started in 2002, the interest rate was 7.5-8 percent and that didn’t stop people from buying homes. Homeownership is still the American Dream and the best investment most families make. Plus, they always have the option of refinancing down the road.
Realtors have been saying for a couple of years now that inventory remains low. What are some catalysts that could turn that reality and get homebuilders pulling more construction permits? Homebuilders want to build as much as Realtors want to sell. A change that could facilitate more inventory is for some of the avoidable obstacles that builders face to be alleviated, in addition to materials costs leveling out.
How important have virtual tours been to the housing industry, and what do you see as the next invention that will change how people buy homes? Virtual tours are very important. I think the next step is virtual reality tours via which homeowners can direct tours of homes they’d like to see remotely, whether they are across town or across the country. The VR and drone technology is so readily available and cost-effective that I believe it will streamline the process, helping agents and clients alike to maximize efficiencies.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? My marriage. My husband, Brian, is my greatest cheerleader and is supportive of everything I do. I owe him much of my success. He always encourages me to take chances. It’s much easier to take a leap of faith when you know there is someone there to catch you … or help dust you off.
What do you most enjoy about your work? Every day is different. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure book. There’s always change and challenges, but I love it. I also have the unique opportunity of working with my sister, Stephanie Sheahan. We’ve been business partners for five years. We have a lot of fun while getting a lot of work done!
If you could give one piece of advice to young people, what would it be? Don’t give up. Sometimes, you may get discouraged, but you have to stay the course. I think of that Frank Sinatra song, “Pick yourself up, dust off, start over again.” Nothing in life worth having is easy. Work hard for what you love, and surround yourself with people who encourage you to do just that!
Phillip Rogers Jr. has joined the Memphis Private Client Group of Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc., the broker-dealer subsidiary of Stifel Financial Corp., as senior vice president/investments and branch manager. Rogers has more than 15 years of investment industry experience and comes to Stifel from Wunderlich Securities.
Hollywood Feed has promoted Christa Gilliland to regional manager for its Memphis and North Mississippi markets. For nearly five years, Gilliland has served as store manager for Hollywood Feed's Broad and Union Avenue locations. She also played an integral role in opening Hollywood Feed's Fresh Bakery, which supplies baked dog treats to each of the natural and holistic pet retailer's stores across the Southeast.
Jessica Stone of Belle Forest Community School and Antoinette Jones-Richardson of White Station Middle School have been nominated for the 2017-18 national LifeChanger of the Year award, sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation. The award recognizes K-12 educators and school district employees across the United States who exemplify excellence, positive influence and leadership. Stone, a secretary, was nominated by an anonymous colleague. She was recognized for her work with getting to know each of the 1,200 students at Belle Forest. Jones-Richardson, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, was nominated by her principal, Charlotte Danley.
Certified public accounting firm Reynolds Bone & Griesbeck PLC has added four interns. Christian Lewis, who will split his duties between RBG’s audit and tax departments, is a University of Memphis student. Audit intern Elizabeth McCarty will graduate from Mississippi State University in May. Tax department interns Madeline Howard and Brandon McLarty will both graduate from the University of Mississippi in May.
Creative Aging has elected its 2018-19 officers and a new board member. Officers include: Jason Gibert, co-owner and director of sales and marketing at Senior Care Management Solutions, board chair; Jennifer Roberts, community volunteer, vice chair; Jessica Robinson, community volunteer, secretary; and Randy Wright, chief operating officer of The Dive Shop Inc., treasurer. Rachel Cheek, a community volunteer, has been elected as a new board member. Continuing to serve on the board are Cathy Ainsworth, Dana Avant, Lynn Doyle, Michael Escamilla, Judi Gray, Tyler McLaughlin, Elsie McLemore, Rob Marczynski and Sunny Ross.
Trezevant has announced new officers for its board of directors: David L. (Casey) Bowlin, chairman; Merilyn G. Mangum, secretary; John D. Ivy Jr., board vice-chairman, chairman of the finance committee; and Bruce B. Hopkins, immediate past president. The organization also welcomed C. Penn Owen III as a new board member and Cyndi S. Coury as board chair of the Mary Galloway Home. Returning board members include: Dr. James H. Calandruccio; Matt R. Crow; Rev. Don E. Johnson (retired); Mimsy Jones; Estella H. Mayhue-Greer; Stephen C. Reynolds; Dr. E. Todd Robbins; Shade W. Robinson; Deborah O. Schadt; Bruce C. Taylor; Frankie Wade; A C Wharton, Jr.; and Dr. George F. Wortham III.