Don't expect local real estate business owner Vicki Cox Golder to be intimidated by a roomful of U.S. senators.
The occasion: a meeting of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, assembled to ask questions and seek recommendations concerning President Obama's economic stimulus package.
Vicki Cox Golder, the president -elect of the National Association of Realtors for 2009 (to be president in 2010) is sitting in the middle of a long table, along with 20 nationally prominent leaders in business, manufacturing and technology. They are in a large, cavernous room in the domed Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. In front of them, on a raised platform, are 21 senators. Everyone has their own microphone.
Probably for most people. Not to Vicki Cox Golder.
"I just jumped in and talked for 5 minutes," she said. "I didn't want anyone to steal my thunder."
She "explained to the senators how the downturn in the housing market has affected Realtors — locally and nationally. Although the NAR has not seen a significant drop in membership, more Realtors are working part-time. Builders and developers have suffered, but so have vendors and sub-contractors. Locally, it's not as bad, but in some parts of Arizona, we are seeing a 45 percent decline in housing values."
Cox Golder then offered four suggestions for a housing stimulus plan: Make a $7,500 first-time home buyer tax credit permanent and extend it to all buyers; make FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limits permanent; permanently bar banks from engaging in real estate brokerage and management; have the government spend $50 billion of the bailout package to buy down the interest rate to 4.5 percent.
In front of the senior legislative body, nationally prominent CEOs and the assembled print and television media, Cox Golder, who started Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Catalina more than 25 years ago, made sure her voice and ideas were heard. In the stimulus package, some of those ideas were adopted with slight modifications, and others are being seriously considered.
She took little time to bask in the glow of a job well done. She was off to Brazil.
"The National Association of Realtors represents all 50 states and United States territories," said Cox Golder. "We also promote private property rights internationally. In Brazil, they are starting to form a national real estate department. I am going there to advise them about how to set up rules and regulations. Real estate practices like title, escrow, insurance and appraisals -rules and regulations that in this country, we take for granted."
Traveling nationally and internationally is just part of Cox Golder's job. Trim and athletic, she stays fit by walking two miles every day and lifting weights.
"When I'm on the road, I practice yoga in my hotel room," she said.
Raised in Sierra Vista, tragedy struck her family when she was off to college at the University of Arizona. Her father died at a young age from a heart attack. During pharmacy school, her mother was killed in an automobile accident. Vicki was the oldest of five girls, and she came back home and took legal guardianship of her entire family. With no government assistance, the family moved to Tucson.
"We sold our parents' home to move to Tucson," she said." I observed and learned from that experience and thought I could do it. I needed a job where I could make money to support our family."
She has been in the real estate business since 1973.
"When I started, the real estate market was in a depression," she said. "Interest rates were 14 to 15 percent, points were 9 percent and it was a buyer's market."
Asked about today's real estate market, she replied: "It's going to turn around, it always does."