A local Realtor will be stepping into a new role in January with the country’s largest real estate trade association.

Randy Scheidt, who serves as president of Don R. Scheidt & Co. Real Estate Services, will serve as chairman of the National Association of Realtors’ Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee.

The committee identifies different real estate industry trends. He has served on the committee since 2013 and is currently vice-chairman. The national association represents 1 million members across the country.

Scheidt, 66, started his real estate career with his father in the fall of 1972. He is a long-time member of the Columbus Rotary Club and supports organizations including Love Chapel, Turning Point Domestic Violence Services and the United Way of Bartholomew County.

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He also has been involved with the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County for six years including one year as treasurer.

Scheidt said one common trend the association has followed over the past several years is looking at how technology is helping prospective real estate buyers. Many buyers search the internet for their homes and narrow it to the top two or three.

By doing that, buyers have more information before they contact a real estate agent, Scheidt said.

When Scheidt started his real estate career in the 1970s, prospective clients would often meet agents at their offices before looking at eight or nine different homes.

With technology that allows buyers to research properties in advance, the buyer and the seller can benefit, he said.

The association is also researching how public transportation plays a role in larger metropolitan areas, noting it is an important asset to millennials. Transportation will also continue to shape the real estate industry during the next five to 15 years, he said.

Scheidt, who focuses on commercial real estate appraising, said many people are thinking about buying because of low interest rates, although home supply is not keeping up with demand. However, lower supply causes prices to increase, he said.

“Whether it’s residential or commercial, it makes it challenging,” he said. “Those prices do sometimes force people out of the market or applying a down payment.”

Scheidt said one of the biggest challenges in the Columbus real estate market is housing affordability — whether buying or renting.

“We don’t have a lot of affordability for people looking for homes under the $200,000 price range,” Scheidt said.

A 2016 association report that profiled home buyers and sellers noted that first-time home buyers made up 35 percent of all home buyers, which reflects an increase of last year’s near all-time low of 32 percent. The report also said buyers of new homes made up 14 percent of that total, while 86 percent were buying previously-owned homes.

Existing home sales jumped in October for the second straight month nationwide, with all regions seeing monthly and annual sales increases during the month.

“October’s strong sales gain was widespread throughout the country and can be attributed to the release of the unrealized pent-up demand that held back many would-be buyers over the summer because of tight supply,” said Lawrence Yun, the association’s chief economist. “Buyers are having more success lately despite low inventory and prices that continue to swiftly rise above incomes.”

Scheidt said he expects millennials will continue to purchase homes and invest in a pace that they’re comfortable with, although many single or married couples will do so later in life. Larger communities with a more diverse economy will have more opportunities for home buyers, Scheidt said.

As far as what the future holds, Scheidt said he expects to see increases in mortgage rates next year, describing them as “moderate, not aggressive” hikes. He also predicted that home construction will be strong, while the commercial sector will also perform well.

Randy Scheidt

Name: Randy Scheidt

Age: 66

Occupation: President of Don R. Scheidt & Co. Real Estate Services, which has offices in Indianapolis, Columbus and Lafayette.

Real estate honors: Scheidt also served as president of the Indiana Commercial Board of Realtors in 2003, receiving the Realtor of the Year award in 1997. He also has represented the state board as regional vice president to the Indiana Association of Realtors from 2003 to 2009.

Source: Don R. Scheidt & Co. Real Estate Services website