2007-2008 FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® SCHOLARSHIP/ESSAY CONTEST FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS TOPIC: “How Does a Realtor® Professional Benefit the Community?” Scholarship materials also can be found at http://media.floridarealtors.org –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– CONTEST RULES AND DEADLINES • This essay contest is open only to high school seniors who reside in the state of Florida and plan on continuing their education at a college, university, technical school or other institution of higher learning; however, children of licensed real estate practitioners are not eligible for contest entry, nor are children whose parents or guardians are employed by any local Realtor board/associations or by the Florida Association of Realtors®. • All essays must be 500 words or less. • All essays must be typed and double-spaced. • If other books, research materials or sources are used or quoted in an essay, that essay must follow the Modern Language Association (MLA) format for cross-referencing the source material, including parenthetical references and a works cited page. • All essays, accompanied by the Essay Cover Form, must be postmarked on or before March 7, 2008, and mailed to the Florida Association of Realtors, 7025 Augusta National Drive, P.O. Box 725025, Orlando, FL 32872-5025. • In April, a panel of district judges will choose the top essay from each of the Florida Association of Realtors’ (FAR) 13 regional Districts. Each of these 13 winning essays will receive a district-level scholarship award of $5,000; second-place winners will receive a $1,500 scholarship award; third-place winners each will receive $500. • The 13 district-level winning essays will go on to compete for three top state FAR scholarship awards of $5,000 each. A panel of experts will judge the district winning essays to determine the three state winners. Students who win the three state-level scholarship awards will receive individual notification either prior to or during FAR’s annual Convention & Trade Expo in September 2008. ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– JUDGING PROCESS FAR will use a double-blind scoring system for its 2007-2008 Scholarship/Essay Contest for High School Seniors. This system is designed to make the process of judging as easy and impartial as possible. • Each judge will receive copies of the essays from which the names and schools of the students have been removed. • The panel of experts selecting the three state-level winners will read and score each essay individually. • The total points for each of the essays will be added together, and the essay with the highest cumulative points wins. This judging system is used for both the district and state level competitions. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– POINT SYSTEM The following system will be used through all levels of the competition to judge the essays: • Understanding of the topic = 0 - 30 points • Clarity and effectiveness of style and organization of essay = 0 - 20 points • Originality in approach and treatment of the topic = 0 - 30 points • Ability to establish a coherent, convincing response to the essay topic = 0 - 10 points • Adherence to format and length rules = 0 - 10 points • TOTAL POINTS = 100 points ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– GUIDELINES FOR THE COUNSELOR OR TEACHER There are no photocopying restrictions on this material, which also can be found at http://media.living.net. It can be reproduced as many times as necessary. However, the applicant is required to have a completed Essay Cover Form attached to his or her essay. The rest of this FAR Scholarship/Essay Application Kit, including the rules, judging point system and other information can be placed in a prominent place in the counseling office or classroom. Students likely will find it useful to have individual copies of the application kit materials and the District Vice Presidents’ list on hand as they work on their entries, however. It may be useful to contact local Realtor organizations or groups that could offer information on the essay topic. Remember, students must cite any books, research materials or other sources of information. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– THE ROLE OF YOUR DISTRICT VICE PRESIDENT AND FAR Students’ essays on the local/district level will be judged by a panel of experts selected by the current District Vice President serving the district in which the participating student’s school is located. That information is included on the District Vice Presidents’ list. If you have problems locating your district, contact the Florida Association of Realtors® at (407) 438-1400, ext. 2326 for local contact information and assistance. District Vice Presidents, with the help of FAR, are responsible for receiving students’ essays and forming a panel of experts to judge the local/district level competition. The panel should consist of no less than three individuals from the district area community and may include a Realtor member, business or community leader and/or representative of the local media. Once each district’s judges have selected the first-, second- and third- place winning essays from the 13 FAR districts -- sometime after the March 7, 2008, deadline for entry and before the end of April -- each top district-winning essay will be sent on to the Florida Association of Realtors at 7025 Augusta National Drive, P.O. Box 725025, Orlando, FL 32872-5025. Envelopes containing essays and the Essay Cover Form should be labeled with 2007-2008 Florida Association of Realtors Scholarship/Essay Contest and addressed to the attention of FAR Communications. After FAR has received the 13 district-winning essays, a two-tier panel of community leaders will be formed to judge the essays and select the top three essays that will each win one of the $5,000 state-level scholarship awards. The state panel of experts will consist of three or more judges and may include a Realtor member, business or community leader and/or representative of the media. Students who win the three state- level scholarship awards will receive individual notification either prior to or during FAR’s annual Convention & Trade Expo in September 2008. State winners also are required to make plans to attend FAR's annual convention to read their winning essays and receive their scholarship award checks in person. FAR reserves the right to publicize information about the student winners and also their winning essays from the district-level and state-level competitions. By entering the contest, students agree to abide by the judges’ decision and allow FAR to disseminate their essays to the media for promotional and publication purposes. ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– OVERVIEW OF THE 2007-2008 Essay Topic: “How Does a Realtor® Professional Benefit the Community?” What is a Realtor®? The buying of real estate is often the largest financial investment many people make. Whether a client is buying for the first time or selling a family estate, Realtors® take a complicated maze of requirements and, with their knowledge of the local real estate market, simplify the process. If you’re looking for the perfect location to start that small business you’ve always dreamed of building, a Realtor can help you find the site that’s right for you and your commercial needs. Looking for a property management company to handle part-time rentals for that vacation residence you’ve just purchased? A Realtor can help. Or maybe you’re thinking of investing in real estate -- there’s a Realtor who can advise you on the market and the options available to you. Realtors put their knowledge, experience and expertise to work for you. All individuals licensed to sell real estate are not Realtors -- only those practitioners who have made the decision to abide by the Realtor's Code of Ethics and to belong to professional Realtor associations on the local, state and national levels earn the right to call themselves Realtors. As professionals, Realtors take pride in their work and the expertise and experience they offer to clients. Realtors uniquely understand legal issues that affect real estate transactions, and they’re trained to negotiate the price, terms and conditions in a contract that are mutually acceptable to both buyer and seller. Perhaps more importantly, they offer professional advice and objective insight into a process that, for many, is very emotional. On the nuts-and-bolts level, Realtors have access to complete and thorough lists of properties available, as well as all the data buyers and sellers need to know; they stay abreast of changing market conditions that can affect local real estate prices. Realtors can also recommend reliable local lenders, real estate evaluators and insurers to help the transaction process proceed smoothly. Why use a Realtor? Realtors adhere to a strict code of ethics approved by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). The code assumes that people conducting a real estate transaction who earn the right to be known as Realtors must adhere to a higher set of standards in terms of their business dealings. Realtors are, according to the Realtor Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, “zealous to maintain and improve the standards of their calling.” • In addressing the essay topic, “How Does a Realtor® Professional Benefit the Community?” students have the freedom to write about the full range of Realtor professionals who work in a variety of fields, including residential brokerage; commercial brokerage; industrial and office brokerage; farm and land brokerage; real estate appraising; property management; land development; and real estate counseling, to name some of the general specialties. And essays may also address such points as the benefits of homeownership on an individual basis and/or societal level, or how the selling of commercial real estate encourages economic growth. Or, a student may choose to tell how a Realtor benefits the community through a personal story or anecdote. More information about the real estate industry and Realtors may be found in materials at your local library or through the Internet. One possible resource could be the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Web site at http://realtor.org; the Florida Association of Realtors® Web site at http://floridarealtors.org; or check with your local Realtor Board/Association.