Agents attend the Triple Play REALTOR Convention & Trade Expo, Tuesday Dec. 4, 2012, at the Atlantic City Convention Center. (The Press of Atlantic City/Staff Photo by Michael Ein)

Michael Ein

The annual tristate Realtors convention in Atlantic City will start a day early this year with a special presentation by FEMA about the effects of Hurricane Sandy and flood zone mapping on shore properties and their owners.

Maureen Murphy, convention director for the hosting New Jersey Association of Realtors, said representatives from the National Flood Insurance Program and a flood plain manager will participate in the symposium from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday.

“Everyone needs to know what the changes are, and now with so many changes, Realtors want up-to-date information to give their clients,” Murphy said.

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The Triple Play Realtor Convention & Trade Expo is typically held Tuesday through Thursday at the Atlantic City Convention Center, but Murphy said for the past several years many attendees have come down on Monday.

That suggested the day might be perfect for a special symposium with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA representatives will include Art Goetz, Mark Rollins, Jack Jennings and Ken Spedding, said Allison Rosen, communications director for NJAR. Also participating will be Russell Riggs, from the National Association of Realtors.

NJAR President Tina Banasiak said the National Association of Realtors is working with legislators in pursuit of modification and possible delay in some of the new flood insurance requirements.

Banasiak, of Jackson Township, Ocean County, and the Weichert Realtors office in Marlboro, Monmouth County, said the new flood insurance rates are causing serious hardship for some property owners. “If they could delay them until they complete the affordability study mandated by law, that would be great.”

She said the shore area continues to recover from Sandy, and some property owners are finding that knocking down their house is the least costly alternative.

Another change at this year’s convention will be a shortening of the Trade Expo by a day. Murphy said it will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, skipping the half day it was open on the final day of the convention.

She said exit surveys of vendors at past expos found they didn’t want to do a half day on Thursday, adding another day of expenses with less time and fewer attendees.

The two-day plan seems popular. The 300 booths at this year’s Trade Expo have sold out.

Vendors typically offer the latest in technology to help Realtors work in the mobile digital world, mortgage services, home inspections, insurance, environmental services and various kinds of marketing.

Starting a couple of years ago, however, the irresistible draw of the annual convention for Realtors in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania has been the large offering of continuing education courses. New Jersey joined its fellow states in making continuing education a requirement of maintaining a real estate license in 2011.

“Realtors like it because for the same price as the convention, they can pick up the 12 hours of continuing education required at Triple Play, no additional charge,” said Murphy, of East Amwell Township in Hunterdon County, who is also NJAR’s director of professional development.

She said that of the 75 professional improvement sessions at this year’s event, 30 are approved for continuing education credits in the three states.

The courses and credits are such a factor for the convention now that the association expects them to result in a 20 percent drop in attendance this year, down to about 7,500.

That’s because last year’s convention came as the deadline neared for agents and brokers to take the courses, “so we had a big surge in attendance just for continuing education,” she said.

The keynote address will be given at noon Wednesday by Jim Carroll, an author and consultant who focuses on how innovation and creativity improve businesses.

The convention also offers courses working toward realtor professional designations, such as Certified Commercial Investment Member, Certified Residential Specialist and Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager.

Banasiak said the convention is also a great opportunity for agents in the three states to network and refer clients on the move to each other.

The mood of the gathering should be upbeat, in line with improvements this year in the market.

“I’m happy to say New Jersey has had a pretty good real estate year,” Banasiak said. “In October, closed sales were up 32 percent over last year, and the median price was up 5.7 percent from a year ago.”

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