Realtors' new president savors seeing satisfied homeowners

Greta Rice, broker and vice president of Tioga Realty, is the new president of the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors.

Brad McClenny/Staff
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 4:58 p.m.

As a mortgage lender in the early 1980s, Greta Rice thought Realtors were not very nice and swore she would never become one.


Greta S. Rice

Age: 53
Occupation: Broker and vice president, Tioga Realty LLC
Personal: Married to Sam Rice, one daughter, Melissa, a sophomore at University of Florida
Pets: Four cats — Miss Kitty, Gizmo, Gus and Ziva
Dreams partners for lunch: "Jesus, because I certainly have a lot of questions to ask, and my father, Pete Smith, who is deceased."
Last book read: "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren
Favorite TV shows: "NCIS" and SEC sports
Playing in her car: "KTK as I have an allegiance to Storm Roberts, or XM SEC Sports."
Hobbies: "Relaxing at our Hampton Lake home, gardening, mosaic and stained glass art."
Education: Jacksonville Stenotype Institute, GRI-Graduate Institute of Realtors, SFR-Short Sales and Foreclosures Resource

She became one in 2000, joining Tioga Realty, where she is now broker and vice president.

Rice said she realizes it wasn't the Realtors, it was the circumstances of trying to sell homes at a time when mortgage interest rates were 18 percent. By comparison, the average interest rate is now less than 4 percent.

As the 2013 president of the 750-member Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors, she finds herself concerned about mortgage qualifications.

The jury is still out on new federal guidelines, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Realtors realize that standards need to toughen up, but not so much that it hurts economic growth, Rice said.

"I'm hearing more and more people say ‘I tried to go get a loan, unfortunately I didn't qualify,' and that's hard to choke when three or four years ago, if you had a breath, you got a mortgage," Rice said.

Another concern is talk of Congress eliminating the deductible on mortgage interest as part of budget negotiations.

"I think if that passes we're going to see, maybe not a stall, but more of a hiccup in the economy," she said.

Otherwise, Rice said she sees a continuation of current trends — slow and steady growth in the local real estate market overall along with a big pickup in new home construction.

For people in the market to buy, Rice said that as GACAR president she wants to continue the work started by her predecessor, Craig Wilburn, to raise the profile of Realtors and their professional qualifications.

"When a consumer tries to do a ‘fisbo' (for sale by owner) and it backfires in their face, you come to realize there is a need for Realtors, the education and knowledge and opportunity it presents a person who wants to sell their home."

As a member of the Builders Association of North Central Florida, she also wants builders and Realtors to work more closely together, with Realtors learning about new home qualities and locations and builders learning about market forces and buyer wants and needs.

Before going into real estate, Rice had a career with Barnett Bank as a mortgage and consumer lender and branch manager. She stayed home for six years to raise her child before going back to work — "when my daughter came in and said, ‘Daddy plays Barbies better than you."

She got her certificate in appraising and went to work for Owens-Willis Appraisals. Rice said she was always the last on the team to leave the houses they were appraising because she would spend time talking to homeowners about the homes while others were doing the calculations.

One time she said Carl Owens told her, "Greta, you do not need to be an appraiser, you need to be Realtor.' He said, ‘You talk too damn much.' My husband had been telling me that for years."

"The part of real estate that I like is seeing the new homeowner or the existing homeowner pleased with their castle, their kingdom," Rice said. "That's intriguing to me."

Rice leads a team of five at Tioga Realty. While the brokerage was founded to sell homes in Town of Tioga, about half of their work is outside the development, she said.

Rice also lives in the Town of Tioga, as do the brokerage's other Realtors. Developer Luis Diaz's vision of new urbanism and a walkable community sells itself, she said.

"It's that neighborhood feel. It's the mother that seems to have six sets of eyes for all the kids on the block."

As the number of currently available lots dwindles, the next phase will include Brownstones, which Rice said they hope to market to the many baby boomers interested in moving to university towns for the culture, sports and educational opportunities.

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