In-person Installation Awards slated for October in Minneapolis
Like most of this year’s live, in-person events, Minnesota Realtors® (MNR) annual convention, UNITE!, migrated to an online format. The abbreviated sessions for the annual three-day gathering kicked off on Tuesday, September 15 with MNR on the Hour, an overview from association leadership that looked at a tumultuous, yet ultimately robust year for the real estate industry. Subsequent sessions on Wednesday and Thursday covered a mix of credited and uncredited courses on a range of topics, including: Realtor® safety; doing business during a pandemic; racism in the real estate industry; and marketing.
MNR’s annual Installation Awards Event, which normally takes place during UNITE!, will be held in person on October 7 at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest. Event organizers are also exploring a possible virtual attendance option. In addition to celebrating the new leadership team, the recipients of the Realtor® of the Year, the Ed Anderson Political Achievement Award, and the inaugural recipient of the Good Neighbor Award will be announced. All CDC and state guidelines will be followed during the event. In October 2021, UNITE! will return to its originally scheduled venue at the River’s Edge Conference Convention Center in St. Cloud.
2020, a year of turmoil, innovation and opportunity
During the wide-ranging MNR on the Hour presentation, a leadership panel reviewed one of the most unusual years in history. Participants included MNR President Bob Clark, Past President Matt Loskota, President Elect President T.J. Simon, Dominic DesMarais of Fairway Independent Mortgage, Emily Green, MNR Board of Directors, and Jason Miller, MNR Treasurer.
In his analysis of the state of the Minnesota real estate industry, Clark noted that even though the COVID-19 pandemic depressed activity in the early spring, the market roared back after the more restrictive measures of Governor Walz’s Stay at Home order expired on May 18. Pent up demand, low interest rates, and short housing supply—only 15,000 homes available—led to bidding wars that pushed many transactions over the listing price.
“It’s become somewhat of the norm for some price ranges,” Clark said. “Unless interest rates increase, this trend is likely to continue.”
And that’s just what’s on tap for later this year, according to Dominic DesMarais, Edina branch manager of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, the nation’s fifth largest mortgage lender. He said that a tax increase from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) that goes into effect on December 1 may impact purchases as well as refinancing.
“Rates are going to increase. We estimate that they will go up a quarter point,” DesMarais said. In fact, he noted, some mortgage lenders have already increased their rates.
MNR gets a fresh new look and revitalized communications
Summarizing other 2020 developments, Clark highlighted numerous initiatives completed by the MNR Communications team. Led by Vice President of Communications Heather Boschke, who joined MNR late last year, the group produced an ambitious rebrand, including a new logo, completely redesigned website, expanded social media engagement, a revamped newsletter, a new publication—The Legal Download, more frequent, higher quality videos, and public-outreach campaigns like We Are Minnesota, and Sold—My Realtor® Story.
“Heather and her team hit the ground running,” Clark said. “The changes they made are making members more aware of the good work and solid backing they receive from Minnesota Realtors® staff.”
Rallying to support seniors in need
Spotlighting MNR’s commitment to give back to the state’s communities, Emily Green, of Sandy Green Realty in Minneapolis, educated the online audience about Letters Against Isolation, an initiative to support seniors who have been cut off from social contact during the pandemic. She urged members to get involved in the nationwide campaign to write cheerful, positive letters to senior citizens who are isolated in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and other settings. Learn more about MNR’s participation by reading the full story here.
Upholding professional standards
Despite pandemic-related disruptions, the Professional Standards Committee made a smooth transition to virtual operations, noted Jason Miller, MNR treasurer and broker at Premier Real Estate Services in St. Cloud.
“The pandemic has not slowed them down and they continue to provide outstanding service to members,” Miller said. “The team has fielded 70 ethics complaints, and nine arbitration requests this year.” He added that the association’s Risk Management team has managed these issues in addition to answering questions on the Legal Hotline, providing in-depth legal analysis in The Legal Download, and providing numerous updates and resources for helping members deal with legal and ethical issues related to COVID-19.
Delivering education and professional development for all members
Although MNR’s schedule of in-person classes was sidelined by pandemic-related restrictions, MNR’s Professional Development team rallied to make online education resources available to all members, observed T.J. Simon, incoming MNR president and partner at Wolf & Simon Real Estate in Park Rapids.
“As the June 30th deadline for license renewal approached, MNR offered GRI classes at no charge,” Simon explained. “In all, we were able to offer 1,350 hours of free CE to our members. Plus, we hosted six webinars on a variety of topics with some amazing national speakers.”
Additionally, Simon announced the twelve recipients of the 2020 GRI Scholarships. Each of the selected applicants will be able to complete their training for the prestigious designation at no cost. He also revealed the winners of RPAC’s 2019 Triple Crown Award. Seven area associations qualified for the distinction by meeting their goals for fundraising, member participation, and contributions from major investors.