BY CHRIS HILL Maryland REALTORS®’ 2024 President There’s no doubt that we all feel headwinds upon us as we enter 2024. With the Burnett verdict, high interest rates, and an ongoing inventory crisis that makes homeownership a challenge for many Marylanders, it may lead some to feel a bit of trepidation coming into the New Year. If knowledge is power, then knowledge based on known facts is a supreme level of power, and that’s where this issue of Maryland REALTOR® comes in handy. First, let’s bring up the Burnett verdict. Speculation does not help and only prevents one from moving forward. So, my humble advice: don’t speculate; it’s a waste of time. This verdict is not close to being final, which could be 18–24 months or away, at a minimum. In the meantime, buyers will still look to buy houses, and they’re going to need experts to help with these transactions. Who’s best prepared to help these people? It will be the REALTORS® who can best communicate their value to the consumer, that their expertise is worth every penny that goes toward their commission. Know your value. Communicate it proudly and remember that we’re one of 17 states with a strong buyer agreement in place. Our CEO Chuck Kasky writes extensively about this, and I encourage you to read this thoroughly, starting on page 26. As for high interest rates: no one knows what the Federal Reserve will do, but we do know that NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, Freddie Mac, and guest author and economist Anirban Basu see the new year bringing with it a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate that will be in the range of 6, not 7%. Already we’re witnessing interest rates leveling off and Yun believes that as the softening of inflation catches up with the Federal Reserve, they will do what’s right and lower the rate. No promises, of course, but hope based on expert analysis of known fact. Turn to page 14 to read Basu’s take on the 2024 economy. The lack of available housing isn’t new, of course; as REALTORS® we’ve been living with this reality for some time. The good news is that others are beginning to recognize this, as well, including the Moore Administration, key General Assembly members, and even some local governments. Welcome to the party, folks. Our Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, Lisa May, has written a Session Preview, starting on page 10, which provides details on what to expect next legislative session. We could see a package of housing legislation introduced, and we should all be prepared to do what’s necessary to get our state and local representatives on board for legislation that provides more housing opportunities for Marylanders. Save the Date: your voice will be needed this next Lobby Day, February 14 (yes, Valentine’s Day), to engage your representatives on the importance of housing affordability and availability. There’s a lot of chatter out there, these days. Social media has the tendency to fan flames of speculation into wildfires. It can stress anybody out trying to keep up with all the opinions—the wild and the mild—out there. Here’s my promise to you, as President: Maryland REALTORS® will not speculate. Look to us for facts. Look to your state association to deliver actionable, grounded advice that can help to place your business on a firm footing. It’s part of our Value Proposition to you and the work you do. I wish you all a wonderful New Year.