Words from our Members – 2016 Jean Leake Emerging Market Services Scholarship Recipient
The Jean Leake Emerging Market Services Scholarship is offered to members who are actively working to close the homeownership disparities gap that exist in Minnesota. The scholarship recipient attends the National Association of REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Show in Washington DC.
By Erica Blanchard
After receiving the Jean Leake scholarship, I was welcomed by past recipients and Midyear veterans who had a similar take on the legislative meetings. They described their experience as eye opening, career changing and exhausting. It would only be a short time before I saw first-hand why they described it this way.
While in DC, I noticed the influencers, leaders and top producers were all Jedi-level networking gurus. It’s apparent that making connections with REALTOR® colleagues is beneficial and has inspired me to brush up on my networking skills. At 29, I was usually the youngest person in the room. The median age of a REALTOR® is 54 years old. That number has gone down recently and will continue to lower in the next few years. It makes me wonder, who will step up when our current leaders retire? Also, who is reaching out to the younger REALTORS® and making sure their voice is heard?
One of the coolest thing I saw at the NAR Diversity Committee meeting was a range of important issues discussed with a frankness that I had not expected. It was amazing and refreshing to be around a group of members passionate about the issues facing REALTORS® and homeownership. Topics included racial disparities in REALTOR® income, discriminatory laws being passed in a number of states and housing discrimination that is still (unbelievably) occurring today.
In my short time in this business, I thought my role as a REALTOR® was simply to help people buy and sell homes. I didn’t realize how much work went on behind the scenes to ensure I am able to run my business. We are fortunate to have local, state and national representatives drafting policies and supporting issues that benefit the real estate industry. I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities available to serve as a leader on a local, state or national committee. If you agree that being a REALTOR® is more than selling homes, get involved and make your voice heard.