First published in the Nov. 27 print issue of the Glendale News Press.
By Ani Duzdabanyan / Glendale News-Press
This year, the Glendale Association of Realtors is celebrating its centennial anniversary in the Jewel City, kicking off the 100-year milestone with a gala at the Chevy Chase Country Club.
The association was founded in 1920 as Glendale Realty Board, Ltd., with a president, secretary, treasurer, six directors and 86 members. Now, more than 100 years later (the celebration was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic), the association has 1,740 members, who are benefiting from modern technology, leaving behind the fat volumes of printed multiple listings agents used to rely on as a source of houses on the market.
“Before, if you listed a house, it would come up in two weeks. Now it’s every 15 minutes within the associations and every couple of seconds for our clients,” said Rick Bonyadi, the president of the association.
Bonyadi’s first term as a president was in 2007. Since then, the demand for the houses in the city has remained high. In fact, the convenient location, the weather and opportunities make Glendale a desirable housing market.
“What I have seen for the last 14 years that has changed in this city is different ethnicities that are attracted to our city. People are coming in and calling Glendale their home,” Bonyadi said.
David Kissinger said, “We really appreciate the diversity. There are so many ways to talk about the diversity of the people who live here, the diversity of the different kinds of housing. The schools, the parks, the things to do. There are so many opportunities: it’s close to everything. You can be skiing in two hours, you can be to the beach in an hour.”
The advantages of living in Glendale come at a high price. Recent growth in real estate prices forced many residents to leave Glendale for neighboring cities or even farther away.
Bonyadi thinks the increase in housing prices is not over yet.
“If you look at the price per square foot compared to other cities, I think the city of Glendale still has room to grow.”
The change affects the demographics as well. David Kissinger, the association’s chief executive officer, said that recent sales have been by 40- to 55-year-olds.
Glendale is a city with more renters than homeowners. Carmen Arom, the chair of the PR Committee, said prices are more reasonable from the renters’ perspectives.
“There is only so much land. We can’t build anymore,” Arom said.
She is convinced that homeowners realize that this is the perfect time to sell their property and move to the retirement communities and elsewhere.
Despite fears of a downturn, the housing market has remained robust during the pandemic. The California Association of Realtors projected there will be more than 400,000 properties sold in 2021.
In step with the city’s plans for building affordable housing projects, GAOR takes an extra step by being involved in Habitat for Humanity and helping to build affordable homes for first-time homeowners as well.
GAOR is also actively engaged in different humanitarian programs such as its S.T.A.R. Youth Program (which benefits at-risk children living in Glendale), Glendale Educational Foundation, Glendale Healthy Kids, Habitat for Humanity, Glendale Beautiful, Veterans Village of Glendale and many others.
“Community matters. We are selling our community. I might be prejudiced, but I love Glendale. When I sell a home, I am not just selling four walls, I am also selling everything that our community has,” Bonyadi said.
GAOR is a volunteer-run organization.
“We give our time, our money, advice and counsel-whatever that may be. We are effecting change in Glendale,” said Arom.
By that change, she means, for example, serving the weekly dinner at the Pacific Community Center to the children of the S.T.A.R. program. During the 2020 COVID lockdown, the association donated 50 iPads to patients at an acute care center.
Having many Armenian members, GAOR couldn’t ignore the crises in Artsakh Republic in 2020, where many ethnic Armenians lost their homes and family members after being driven out by Azerbaijani forces. The Association donated $120,000 to the Armenia Fund.
The next project has deep roots in the association’s history. In the 1980s, the association began a tradition of putting up a Christmas tree made of cans on the corner of Glendale and Wilson during the holidays and raised funds to assist its humanitarian programs. In recent years, the fundraising format had been changed to galas and auctions. However, this year the association will bring back the tradition and set up the tree on Dec. 7, at the Alex theater on Brand Boulevard.
The association celebrates and promotes diversity, equity and inclusion with a programming and special budget dedicated to training, webinars and seminars.