Florida Realtors, the state's residential real estate trade group, hired John Tuccillo, a former chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, as its chief economist and head of its new industry data and analysis department. For the past 14 years, Tuccillo’s Sarasota, Fla.-based consulting practice, John Tuccillo and Associates Inc. has provided research, analysis, strategic planning and business planning services to national real estate franchise firms, Fortune 100 companies, mortgage banking firms and others. Prior to that, Tuccillo spent 10 years as NAR’s chief economist and senior vice president. After signing on last November as a consultant to help set up the new department’s structure and find the right staff, he said he found himself wanting to stay involved. "When you move into a job, normally there's already a set establishment, a structure and a staff, as well as projects that you’ve inherited," Tuccillo said. "The opportunity to start from scratch and apply 35 years of experience was extraordinarily attractive. I like the people and I like the organization — the opportunity was compelling." The biggest challenges facing the industry data and analysis department are taking advantage of research and data available, compiling new information and prioritizing projects to benefit the state's real estate agents, Tuccillo said. "The goal is to help them find the data and tools they need, and help them to understand those tools and how to use them to enhance and increase their business," he said. Florida Realtors President Patricia Fitzgerald, manager/broker-associate with Illustrated Properties in Hobe Sound and Mariner Sands Country Club in Stuart, said the new data department "is an important step in the ongoing development of organized real estate information in Florida and the nation." The department includes economist Brad O’Connor, who specializes in urban and regional economics, and research analyst Erica Cross. Write to Kerry Curry. Follow her on Twitter @communicatorKLC.