GSN news staff

In 2017, Heidi Zebro, director of sales acquisitions for On Q Financial Inc., had an idea.

She wanted to acknowledge some of the top Realtors in Ahwatukee and the East Valley, but reduce the element of subjectivity as much as possible by looking strictly at the most productive agents, based on the number of closed units and sales volume according to data pulled from the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service.

Zebro came up with the idea of the BREA Awards – an acronym for Best Real Estate Agent – and wound up attracting about 150 Realtors and public officials to her first gala in 2017.

Last year, the number of attendees doubled.

And this year, she’s banking on an even bigger audience with a bigger venue, a new award and a nonprofit recipient for the proceeds raised by the awards gala April 18 at the Scottsdale Center of Performing Arts.

“The real estate industry is one of the most intriguing and followed segments of any thriving metropolitan area,” Zebro said, adding the “BREA Awards specifically recognizes the performances of the top producing real estate licensees on a local level.”

The BREA awards also have expanded in scope, with honors now going to individuals, groups of three to eight, teams of 9 or more Realtors and a brokerage in each of the four quadrants of Maricopa County.

Zebro has designed an “Academy Award” feel for the event by adding an element of surprise: Unlike the last two years, winners won’t know who they are until the big night.

The emcee will be Holly Mabery, managing broker for eXp Realty of Arizona, a past director of National Association of Realtors, and a past president of both the Arizona Association of Realtors and the Sedona Verde Valley Association of Realtors.

In addition, a new award will be added in honor of a West Valley Realtor, Mark Parris, who died in his sleep at age 44 last fall. He had suffered from sleep apnea.

The Mark Parris Award will be presented “to an outstanding individual in the real estate community who represents the gift of promoting others, making others know their value, professionalism and integrity,” Zebro said.

All proceeds from the event will go to The Foundation of Blind Children whose mission is to “provide education, tools and services that enable all persons with vision loss to achieve greater independence.”

Zebro, with the support of On Q Financial Inc., is chairing the event with the help of a team of organizers that include: Ben Andrus, Justin Baker, Steve Chader, Randy Cooney, John Creighton, Jennice Doty, John Foltz, Pam Frestedt, Cari Gilliland, Rebecca Grossman, Joan Krueger, Breanna Kruger, Kenny Klaus, Kathryn Lansden, Matt Long, Debbie Marquez, Roger Nelson, Michelle Regier and Jim Sexton.

Foundation info: seeitourway.org.; tickets/information: BREAEvent.com