TAMPA, FL-With two major referendum items on next year’s election ballot affecting Florida real estate, agents from the commercial and residential sides need to work together more closely to ensure the right measures pass, the president of the Florida Association of Realtors told a local audience Thursday.

Cynthia Shelton, who also serves as director of investment sales with Colliers Arnold in Orlando, said even though Realtors’ numbers have shrunk statewide over the past three years, from 172,000 to 120,000, the group remains a force when it comes to dealing with government issues. She noted that her position as FAR president has given her greater access to elected leaders, including Gov. Charlie Crist, than she would have as a lone commercial broker.

Amendment 4 will be the biggest obstacle real estate will face next year, Shelton told members of the Florida Gulfcoast Commercial Association of Realtors during its annual meeting in Tampa. The measure, formerly known as Florida Hometown Democracy, is “bad for homes and worse for democracy,” she said.

While the FAR and several other groups oppose Amendment 4, Shelton said Realtors need to make a concerted effort to explain the proposal to voters who are not involved in real estate. “When people don’t understand what they’re voting for, they usually vote no,” she said.

Also on the November 2010 ballot will be Amendment 3, which effectively seeks to lower the cap on property tax increases from 10% to 5%. Shelton said she expects opponents of that measure to go after owners of large office buildings and make them appear greedy.

Shelton, who also serves on the editorial advisory board of Real Estate Florida magazine, said transactions are starting to turn around on the residential side while commercial lags at least a year behind. “There are still deals being done,” she said. “It’s a matter of how you do them.”

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