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GNAR President Denise Creswell On The Behind The Scenes Work

Denise Creswell

REAM: As a member of the leadership, how do you hope to advance the mission of the Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS® (GNAR)? What steps have you taken toward that end?

Creswell: Our mission is to support our REALTOR® members, our industry, and the rights of homeownership. We continue to provide excellent educational opportunities to our membership as well as ways in which they can engage with each other and within the community. As an association, we are involved in conversations regarding transit as well as affordable housing, and we’re proud to promote the efforts of our public education system. We understand and appreciate how important these initiatives are for Nashville to remain one of the most desirable places to live in the country.

REAM: Tell us about some recent events the association planned for members.

Creswell: On Oct. 14, GNAR hosted the Middle Tennessee REALTORS® Convention at the Music City Center. This is an annual event for us, and it’s open to all REALTORS® not just those in our membership. We also offered continuing education classes, relevant breakout sessions, networking opportunities, a trade show and a keynote speaker at our membership luncheon. This year’s speaker was Jonathan Smoke, the chief economist at He has over 20 years of experience in the housing market research field. It was fascinating to hear his analysis of the Nashville market and where he feels it’s headed.

REAM: How has your involvement in the association benefited you and your career? How do you think it could benefit others like yourself?

Creswell: My involvement in GNAR has benefitted me in ways I probably haven’t even realized yet. I have a much deeper appreciation for the structure of the REALTOR® organization and how it truly benefits its members as well as consumers. It’s easy for REALTORS® to get so busy overseeing their day-to-day workload that sometimes they don’t realize how the work that’s done behind the scenes allows us to simply keep doing our jobs. I can appreciate that now because I have that knowledge. In my position, I’ve been given the insight into more community issues like transit and affordable housing and the opportunity to better understand them. There is a ton of work that goes into bringing these issues to the public. Also, I have made some incredible friendships along the way and feel very blessed.

REAM: What advice do you have for a member looking to increase their involvement in the association? For a member hoping to join the leadership?

Creswell: My first piece of advice is to just show up. Attend events, be actively involved in committee work and get to know other members. We have an amazing Leadership GNAR program where 10 members are chosen each year to participate. The class learns more about the objectives of the association, how it’s run, what opportunities exist to become more involved, and they learn important leadership skills that are critical in any leadership position. There is an application and selection process and the class typically begins in the spring.

REAM: What changes in the real estate community does the leadership anticipate will affect the association and its members? How are they seeking to overcome these challenges or benefit from the advancements?

Creswell: A priority for us is to remain engaged in legislative issues at the local, state and national levels that affect our industry and the rights of property owners. At the local level, we’re addressing legislation that would provide more affordable housing opportunities. We’re also engaged in mass transit initiatives and are working with local and state officials regarding those efforts. At the national level, we supported legislation that will enable more consumers to purchase condos using FHA financing. That legislation was just signed into law by President Obama and is a victory for the housing industry and potential homeowners alike.

REAM: What changes is association leadership hope to promote within the local real estate community? How is the association promoting those changes?

Creswell: As an association, we work hard to provide the general public with accurate information regarding our local real estate market. There’s far too much inaccurate information out there now, and it’s very confusing to the consumer. As REALTORS®, we have access to current market data and trends that can help our customers and clients make informed decisions before buying or selling. This is a challenging market, and now more than ever, the consumer needs to have someone knowledgeable representing their best interests.

REAM: How would you describe the main goal of the association in your own words? Do you believe the association meets its mission? How can it continue to improve its reach?

Creswell: Our primary goal is to provide our membership with the tools they need to be successful in their businesses. We do this by offering superb professional development opportunities that are relevant with instructors who are some of the best in the country. Giving back to our community is important as well. We recently completed our 20th Habitat for Humanity build, and we’re a Pencil Partner for H.G. Hill Middle School. Our members contribute their time and resources to support both of these initiatives. We love giving back and will continue to do so.

REAM: As you look back on your association’s history what role do you believe it has played in the community? How do you hope to see that role develop in the future?

Creswell: Our board was established in 1891 so we have a very rich history that’s actually chronicled at the Nashville Public Library. The four fundamental services provided by the association at its beginning remain the fundamental services provided today and will continue into the future. They include: professional development opportunities for our members, legislative involvement at the local, state and national levels, dispute resolution for our members and those they serve, and keeping lines of communication open to our members and the public, stressing the value of using a REALTOR® and the importance of property ownership.