Outgoing state Association of Realtors president warns of challenging upcoming …

The past 12 months have been relatively quiet for the real estate industry, legislatively speaking, said the outgoing president of the Maryland Association of Realtors.

The coming year will be challenging for real estate agents, said Carlton Boujai, a former president of the Frederick County Association of Realtors, during an interview at his office at Exit Realty, Prosperity Group.

“It was mostly septic related,” Boujai said of the past legislative session on its relation to the real estate industry. “But the state and federal governments are looking for money.”

Boujai expects to see lawmakers hit the mortgage industry deduction, a key factor agents say in home sales.

“And if the federal government replaces FHA and Freddie Mac, the real-estate industry as we know it will go away,” Boujai said.

Boujai said agents must get involved in what’s going on in Annapolis and Washington, in part by donating to the Realtors Political Action Committee.

Good, challenging career

Those who think they can get a license and make a lot of money might find there is a lot of work involved.

“Like anything, you have good and bad Realtors. The part-time real-estate agents, who sell a house every six months, are killing the industry,” Boujai said.

It is a viable industry, Boujai said, but you have to work at it.

“The market is coming back, but we are short on inventory. We have about 900 homes (on the Frederick market), there should be 2,400 listings. … We lost a lot of value from 2005 through 2011, but it is coming back. I think a lot of the homeowners who are underwater (owe more on their homes than the market value) could be solvent in two years,” Boujai said.

There are many first-time buyers, and the market for homes priced at about $200,000 booming. Homes are on the market an average of 55 days, down from 120 days during the tough 2005-2011 period.

Boujai said the government shutdown caused a ripple in the housing industry’s comeback and he is hopeful, but cautious, that no other economic setback will occur.

“With people worrying about another problem in January, that could hurt,” Boujai said.

From helicopters to home sales

Boujai spent the first 10 years of his life in Washington, then his family moved to New Jersey. He graduated from AT University in North Carolina, completing its Reserve Officers Training Corps, and entered the U.S. Army as an officer.

For the next 20 years, Boujai flew medical evacuation helicopters and was also a patient administrator.

“I had a neighbor, a retired lieutenant colonel who was in real estate and decided to take the course. It was fascinating. I started in real estate two years before I left the military,” Boujai said. “I thought I could fly in real estate, too, but I found myself crawling. It is not something you just go into and make a lot of money. It takes three to five years to get known and gain expertise.”

Bob Golden, president of the Frederick County Association of Realtors, called Boujai a strong advocate for the county’s real estate industry.

“Carlton’s role of president of the state association is complete, but he will continue to volunteer his time, experience, knowledge and efforts to better the real estate profession,” Golden said.