New Realtor Association CEO looks to work collaboratively to maximize housing options




For the Gazette

Published: 04-24-2024 1:52 PM

SPRINGFIELD — As the Realtor Association of Pioneer Valley’s new CEO arrives to a Massachusetts housing market plagued by high prices and a lack of stock, he aims to work alongside elected officials to maximize the availability of different kinds of housing.

Armed with years of experience, most recently in Indiana, David Belew plans to help real estate agents across the Pioneer Valley find homes for their clients. But limited housing stock is a problem faced across the country, making it tough for those looking to be future homeowners.

“In February of 2020 there were almost 1,400 homes for sale in our three-county area,” Belew said when speaking about the unavailability of homes on the market. “Today there are 600.”

In addition, home prices continue to rise year after year, making owning a home all that more difficult.

“You look at the price rise between February of 2019 and February 2020, the median price rose about $4,000,” he said. “Then you look at the difference between February 2023 and February 2024, the median price rose $29,000.”

He believes the drastic reduction in available inventory is due to the market recovering from the pandemic and high interest rates, which have increased from 3% to 9%, prompting more people to stay put. Instead of buying a new home as their family grows or if they’re thinking about downsizing, Belew said homeowners settle for where they are now as it’s not financially feasible to buy a new home in the wake of stiff interest and mortgage rates.

“Right now, people are looking around at the interest rates and the inventory and thinking, ‘You know what? I’m just going to stay around for a while longer,’” Belew said. “And that just exacerbates the inventory problem.”

To get prices and limited stock back under control, Belew aims to work alongside elected officials to maximize the availability of different kinds of housing.

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“We need to work with our elected officials in all of our cities and counties here in our area making sure that we have proper zoning,” Belew explained. “Are we allowing tiny homes to be built? Are we looking at multi-purpose facilities where you have a storefront on the ground floor and housing, apartments or condos above? Just really making sure that we are exploring all of the housing options.”

Belew comes to the Pioneer Valley after four years in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he held the position of executive officer of Upstate Alliance of Realtors. Before that he was the association executive at Realtor Association of Maui for two and a half years. His career began at the American Bar Association in Chicago, where he worked for 16 years.

“I think David has the right experience and personality to help drive RAPV’s efforts to deliver exceptional member benefits and to be both a partner and resource for improving the quality of life in the cities and towns our members work and live in,” said Peter Ruffini, president of the Realtor Association of Pioneer Valley’s board of directors.

Belew’s years of experience come with another advantage in the form of his relationship with the National Association of Realtors. He said he’ll use his knowledge of the resources the national association offers such as grant programs and certifications to help Pioneer Valley real estate agents exceed at finding home for their clients.

“I serve on a couple of committees at the national level. I’ve been very involved,” Belew said. “I think I can bring all of those resources from the national association here to our three-county local area to help grow the counties and help the folks who live here.”

While Belew has only just settled into the Pioneer Valley, having taken over as CEO from Brendan Bailey on March 25 following Bailey’s four and a half years in the position, he’s doing his best to get involved with the community and improve the quality of life for residents in his role with the association.

“We want to continue to make the places we live in even better for our residents,” Belew said. “Know that your local real estate association here is out to improve our areas, and we want to be great neighbors to everyone here in western Massachusetts.”