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North County real estate united by Realtor association

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"Different" is one word that can describe the relationship between the various incorporated cities in North County San Diego.

They have different people: CEOs to field workers call North County home.

They have different economics: The median household income in one Vista ZIP code during the 2000 census was $43,700 while one of Carlsbad's had a median income of more than $76,000.

They have different housing: some areas have houses worth more than $1 million while others have some of the lowest median home prices in the county.

One thing the cities have in common is the North San Diego County Association of Realtors (NSDCAR).

NSDCAR formed in the mid-1990s when seven cities in North County decided to merge their separate associations into one.

Since then, the association has had eight districts serving the needs of each area.

The system works, said NSDCAR CEO Dianne McMillan, because each region has its own distinct feeling to it.

For different clients, different real estate practices are needed.

For example, selling a $750,000 home in Carlsbad with a buyer who can put 50 percent down is much different than selling a $150,000 home in Vista using an FHA loan.

"We wanted to provide the opportunity to maintain the flavor of each community and not have them get lost in the shuffle," said McMillan, who helped with the merge.

An elected board member as well as a board-appointed district chair represents each area.

The structure of the association allows each district to remain somewhat independent while receiving support from the larger organization.

Additionally, each district holds marketing sessions and open-house caravans weekly in which members can get a better feel for the inventory in their area of expertise.

"Transactions run more smoothly when people know each other," McMillan said. "We have all kinds of things that bring people together."

Aside from the marketing sessions and caravans, each district has community service groups that participate in activities like canned food drives and Habitat for Community.

"We like to let communities know that Realtors are not just buyers and sellers," McMillan said.

However, though districts provide their own services, NSDCAR serves a bigger purpose of educating its members, as well as lobbying on their behalf.

On March 6, NSDCAR is holding its third-annual "Conversations" forum at California State University-San Marcos, where it brings those who are involved with the world of real estate from around the country to speak to and with members.

McMillan said the association tries to get people with a wide variety of backgrounds that are outside of the active Realtor circle.

This year the panel includes Robert Brown, professor of economics at CSUSM; Carlsbad City Council Member Matt Hall, Barratt-American CEO and Principal Mick Pattinson, and former National Association of Realtors Chief Economist John Tuccillo.

McMillan said it is an excellent opportunity for members of the association to learn about different perspectives on real estate in their corner of the county.

The event is already sold out this year, as it has been in years past. Though it will be moving to a bigger space next year, McMillan said the goal is to keep it relatively small.

"What we want to do is keep it conversational," she said. "We wanted it to have a more intimate feeling ... Panelists have a couple of minutes to share their perspectives, converse with one another and then the audience can ask questions."

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