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Brimming with technology, Bay East serves region's real estate professionals

70-year-old association moves into corporate park headquarters

Bay East Association of Realtors, a professional trade association serving over 5,000 real estate professionals throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, has just moved into a 17,000-square-foot office complex that it purchased in Bernal Corporate Park in Pleasanton.

The 70-year-old organization offers a variety of services and resources to help its members succeed locally, regionally and globally.

"We provide robust Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and technology support, professional standards, mediation, education and professional development programs," said Kim Ott, 2016 president of the association's board of directors. "We're also a strong advocate for home ownership and property owners along with being engaged in community service projects."

Bay East received its charter from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in October 1947. Incorporated as the Southern Alameda County Real Estate Board, the 22 original members pledged to "protect and improve the real estate profession by educating members, exchanging knowledge and maintaining harmonious relationships and high standards of ethics."

The pledge also includes "developing social activity programs, safeguarding and promoting the rights and welfare of real estate ownership and promoting the development and prosperity of community, state and nation."

In 1995, Bay East moved its offices from Hayward to Pleasanton, and, late last year, purchased its new site. The new complex features a conference center, computer training lab, meeting rooms equipped with focus group technology and a video production studio.

The new headquarters combined with a large membership base "allows Bay East to provide cutting-edge technologies and programs and enables us to continually improve our 'Members First' philosophy," association CEO Tricia Thomas said.

According to Thomas, Bay East builds its services around a specific mission statement.

"Our mission is to help our members succeed as real estate professionals," she said. "Our vision is to set the standard in leadership, innovation, professionalism and service. Our values are collaboration, innovation, vision, integrity and leadership."

She explained that all Bay East services and facilities are member-focused and utilize state-of-the-art technologies to help brokers and agents prosper in all aspects of their business.

"The Bay East staff is trained to understand members' business needs and to provide prompt, courteous and professional assistance to everyone," she added.

Constant communication with the membership keeps the association on track. Each year, Bay East checks in with its members through focus groups and surveys to make sure it's offering timely, relevant and valuable services.

"This information is analyzed and used in our comprehensive strategic planning process to improve existing programs and services and to offer new resources and technologies," Ott said.

The majority of Bay East members and MLS subscribers are located in southern and eastern Alameda County and represent home buyers and sellers in the Tri-Valley cities of Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore, the Tri-Cities of Fremont, Union City and Newark, and the central county cities of Hayward, Castro Valley, San Leandro and San Lorenzo.

However, almost 30% of its members are located in offices outside of southern Alameda County.

"We have seen this group increase every year because we are able to deliver the same high-quality services to them as we do for members located within our jurisdiction," Thomas said.

Helping members with their day-to-day business isn't the only service Bay East provides. The association also actively cultivates and develops leaders.

"Bay East members have served and currently serve in a variety of leadership positions within the profession and in local communities," Ott said.

Five California Association of Realtors presidents have been Bay East members. They were Barney Adams, 1971; Richard Farrer, 1975; Bill Brown, 2008; Don Faught, 2013 and Kevin Brown, 2014. Bay East Realtor Bill Brown is set to be the NAR president in 2017.

Several Bay East members have participated in the countrywide NAR Leadership Academy. Bay East has also helped its members win election to City Council and state Senate and Assembly seats, as well as appointments to city commissions throughout Alameda County.

Bay East staff are active leaders in their own right. Thomas, who is a recognized leader and innovator in association management, serves on a number of state and national committees within the Realtor community, including the NAR's Strategic Thinking Committee and the CAR's Strategic Planning and Finance Committee.

Glenn Christoph, the association's MLS Systems director, is the 2016 secretary/treasurer for the Council of Multiple Listing Services and has served in leadership positions with other national MLS groups.

David Stark, public affairs director, has held leadership positions within the state and national Realtor communities and locally with the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and the city of Pleasanton.

"Residential real estate is a people business, and this is reflected in the personal touch provided by our Bay East team of professionals," Thomas said.

Bay East has a staff of 29 employees who include MLS and technical support staff, traditional and online communication experts and member support and government affairs professionals. Thomas, who has worked for Bay East for more than 27 years, credits the association's large and loyal membership with outstanding customer service and what she calls "the member experience."

"We have always emphasized the experience our members have when they call, visit our website, stop by our offices or attend a class or event," Thomas said. "Our entire staff embraces this philosophy, and it resonates throughout the office. Our members can see, hear and feel that positive energy that starts with our staff."

Ott summed up the Bay East experience.

"I'm a full-time Realtor, which means I'm on call 24 hours a day and seven days a week," she said. "The Bay East community and the opportunities it has provided helps me manage my business and grow professionally and personally."

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