Gary Haynes, a Realtor based in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County for seven years, became involved in the West County Chamber early on, eventually serving on its board of directors. “I just thought it was a great chamber for businesses, and it did a lot of things to help its members instead of just sitting there and hoping things went well,” he said.

Now he is equally enthusiastic about the new Central Maryland Chamber, believing it combines the positive attributes of the merged West County and Baltimore-Washington Corridor chambers into a strong combination. “It’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s a sweet spot for what’s going on in the region, in my opinion.”

He has been involved with the Central Maryland Chamber’s Ambassador Committee for 10 months. The committee serves as a liaison to new members, orienting them to chamber activities, events and committees, and develops outreach programs to recognize existing members. The Ambassador Committee also develops and implements a strategic membership development plan, including sector analysis, benefits match and prospect identification, and supports the Ambassador Club’s retention efforts.

Simply put, “it’s a great way to get people to go meet other people,” said Haynes, who was in financial services executive management before becoming a Realtor. “In other words,” he joked, “it’s the care and feeding of new members.”

Fueling Chamber Membership

On the Ambassador Committee, Haynes has a chance to observe new members and offer them recommendations on how to get the most out of their chamber membership.

“A lot of people join the chamber and then sit back and wait for the business to roll in, and it just doesn’t work that way,” said Haynes. “That’s why we try to stay in touch with members and make sure they are participating.”

Becoming a chamber member can help people learn how to network, he added. “I do a lot of networking through the chamber and through other sources. At these events, you just watch people. If they don’t try to nurture relationships, not much business comes in, and there’s a reason for it.”

Haynes is a Realtor with the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate part of the J. Melvin Group. In addition to providing personal and professional assistance, he also offers online real estate tools enabling prospective buyers and sellers to find, buy and sell homes in the Annapolis metro area, including Annapolis, Edgewater, Crofton, Arnold, Davidsonville, Severna Park, Crownsville, Bowie, Odenton and the rest of Anne Arundel County.

A Flood of Possibilities

With regard to the severe flooding that struck Ellicott City in the summer of 2016, Haynes said the offices of the J. Melvin Premier Properties “had really bad luck and really good luck.” After staffing a new office in Ellicott City in May 2016, and opening the storefront on July 1, the office was left in ruins by the flood on July 30.

When nearby Main Street businesses — including A Journey from Junk and Salon Marielle — were inundated by floodwater that took out the front sidewalk and exposed their underlying structures, the water and debris washed into the realty offices. The structural integrity of the building was completely compromised. That was the bad news.

But two pieces of good news soon followed. The first was that real estate agents who worked out of J. Melvin Premier Properties donated 10% of their commissions from selling homes to fund relief efforts in Ellicott City.

The second good news, said Haynes, “is that we moved down the street to an old bank building built in 1905. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and that’s where we are now. It’s got three stories, and the top story is available for the community to use. We just had an art exhibit up there last week.”

Haynes and his colleagues enjoy being part of the once-again-thriving Ellicott City, and regularly participate in community events there.

A Thriving Market

For Haynes, 2017 has been, overall, “a good year,” he said, though he quickly added: “but all Realtors have different opinions.”

“The spring was the best spring I’ve ever seen,” he said. “We would have multiple offers coming in at higher prices than asked, and that continued over the summer.”

“I had a house in southern Bowie on the market for nine days, and I got $10,000 more than the asking price. I just closed last Friday,” he added, saying he sees robust markets in both Anne Arundel and Howard counties. Haynes credited the connection to major cities and major places of employment with keeping the local housing market strong.

As fall winds on, the market is still “really robust,” Haynes said, “and if you have a house that’s reasonably priced and well-cared-for, and it shows really well, it will sell quickly.”