MAR will be closed on Wednesday, 6/19 in honor of Juneteenth. Regular hours and service will resume Thursday, 6/20.

Words from our Members


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.


The Art of Networking


Have you ever questioned the value of networking? Unless you’re tracking personal connections, it can be difficult to gauge the level of impact it has on your business. I recently sat down with Amber Rose Bjerke, CEO of 3BOSSES and REALTOR® at Bayshore Realty. She’s a local business woman who has built an impressive network of business partners and clients. She credits her success to crafting her listening skills, finding common interest or shared experience and connecting individuals to resources that help them meeting their goals.

“If you want to be successful in business, networking is important. Some key elements to remember is commit to excellence, be authentic, and continue to learn and grow. If you are genuinely curious and interested in other people, they will share what you need to know about them. Too often people have a transactional mindset when we need to be more relationship based,” says Amber Rose Bjerke.

For those of you who haven’t mastered the art of networking like Amber, this article by Devora Zack of Careerealism, offers some great tips on how to brush up on your skills:

1. Be True To You
You are better qualified to be you than anyone else. Stamp out networking advice that demands you behave in ways that drain you. Harness natural abilities as networking strengths rather than liabilities. Like to listen, not talk? Do it. Energize alone? Go for it. Prefer one-on-one conversation? Arrange it.

2. Realize Less Is More
Be selective. Go to fewer events and be more focused when attending rather than dragging your weary self to every business opportunity and showing up like a networking prisoner.

3. Plan Your First Impression
Cognitive scientists say it can take up to 200 times the amount of information to undo a first impression as it takes to make one. Who has that kind of spare time? Not you! Show up with the best version of you, every time. You never know who you are meeting.

4. Volunteer
Many of us dislike networking events because we don’t know what to say to a group of strangers. Free floating through a room is a fast track to free floating anxiety. What to do? Simple. Volunteer to help out. Voila! You have a purpose and something to talk about. Even better, you position yourself as someone helpful proving how indispensable you are rather than telling everyone about it.

5. Get In Line
This strategy is brilliant. You walk into a networking event with nowhere to go and no one to glom onto. What’s a desperate networker to do? Get in a queue. Any queue. The longer the better!

Now, it’s up to you to try out some of these techniques covered at your next event. As long as you stay true to your personal brand and focus on how to help others, you will be successful.


Words from Our Members



Words from our Members – 2016 Jean Leake Emerging Markets Service Scholarship Recipient

By Rebecca Simonton

As the recipient of the 2016 Jean Leake Emerging Markets Service Scholarship, I have become aware of the influence of the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® and the collective voice of REALTORS® regarding housing policies that impact our industry.  MAAR scholarship provided me the opportunity to attend the National Association of REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Show held in Washington DC.

While in D.C., we heard from keynote speaker, Bob Woodward who shared his experience working at the White House. Senator Elizabeth Warren reported that the $2.3 trillion owed in student loan debt is threatening the United States economy. I agree that potential millennial buyers are delaying buying a home because of their student loan debt. Elizabeth also emphasized the importance of supporting “The Student Loan Refinance Act” and called for the Department of Education to overhaul its student loan program. If consumers are struggling to keep up with student loan debt, they are unable to progress and achieve the American dream of homeownership.

Throughout my career as a REALTOR®, I’ve strived for a work-life balance. Reflecting on the past 16 years, I see how I became caught up in my day-to-day business needs. Attending the Legislative sessions opened my eyes to the broader picture of what the real estate industry faces. These sessions were held in a surprisingly informal and welcoming setting. Senator Amy Klobuchar was warm and friendly as she discussed “Increasing Access to Flood Insurance Market Modernization Act, H.R. 2901” which will help enable consumers to obtain quality flood insurance coverage on the private market.

Senator Al Franken discussed “Improving and Modernizing the FHA Condominium Loan Program – HR 3700”, which would reduce the owner-occupancy requirement for lending in condominiums from 50 percent to 35 percent. I also observed industry leaders Nene Matey-Keke and Fran Davis present on national political issues that affect our business. It was exciting to see John Smaby, MAAR Member, nominated as Vice President of the National Association of REALTORS®! It showed us the level of impact you can make by getting involved with your local board. I met Judy Shields, MAAR President. It was encouraging to see how a past scholarship recipient could become the MAAR President through hard work and dedication. There were several other MAAR members volunteering and uniting together to ensure Minnesota’s voice is heard at the national level.

I am grateful for the opportunity that the scholarship has given me to get more involved on the local and national level. Hopefully, our efforts are making an impact on the future of the housing market. In addition, I am thankful for the many wonderful people I met on my trip, especially Donnie Brown, Erica Blanchard and Thang Holt. I look forward to volunteering at MAAR and the possibilities this may bring.

Sellers Uninspired by Record May Sales Activity

Pending home purchase activity exceeded year-ago levels for the 18th consecutive month. Buyers signed 6,809 new purchase agreements, a 9.9 percent gain compared to May 2015. Closed sales, however, rose 5.3 percent to 6,167—the highest May closed sales figure on record. In large part due to low inventory, would-be sellers are concerned about their ability to secure their next property in the current competitive environment. Inventory levels fell 20.6 percent to 13,372 active properties. Because of record demand, weak supply and a more expensive mix of homes selling, the May median sales price rose 5.7 percent to $236,826—second only to June 2006 for the highest monthly median sales price on record.


Since the median percent of current list price received at sale was 100.0 percent, sellers effectively had the same chance of getting offers above their current list price as they did below. Those odds were exactly fifty-fifty—as they were in May 2005. That’s not the case for original list price, however. Cumulative days on market fell 21.1 percent to 60 days. That’s the fastest market time for any month since the beginning of 2007. Months supply of inventory fell 28.9 percent to 2.7 months—the lowest May figure on record going back to the beginning of 2003. Generally, five to six months of supply is considered a balanced market. While the metro as a whole is favoring sellers, not all areas, segments or price points necessarily reflect that. Market conditions are encouraging some sellers but not enough to fuel the demand seen in recent months.

“By a margin of just 26 units, last month’s closed sales reached a new record for May,” said Judy Shields, Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® (MAAR) President. “Despite record demand, not every home sells the day it hits the market in multiple offers. Some areas are more susceptible than others.  Sellers hoping for short market times should know price strategy is still one of the most important factors in marketing your home.”

Smarter lending practices, job and wage increases, population growth, the ongoing threat of higher interest rates and relentlessly rising rents have all contributed to strong sales activity. A competitive Twin Cities labor market has also contributed to our housing recovery. Traditional (non-lender-mediated) listings made up 93.3 percent of all closed sales—the highest level in almost 10 years.

The most recent national unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, though it’s 3.4 percent locally. The Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan area has the fourth lowest unemployment rate of any major metro area. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate continued to hover around 3.6 percent compared to a long-term average of approximately 8.0 percent. Rates took a surprising dive after the Federal Reserve announced the first hike last year. Marginally higher interest rates were widely expected in 2016, though futures contracts currently peg the odds of a June rate hike at 4.0 percent and a July rate hike at 36.0 percent.

“Interest rates and job growth are fueling the demand in our market,” said Cotty Lowry, MAAR President-Elect. “But we have a serious inventory shortage that we know is holding back buyers, meaning there is still pent-up demand that may not have existed in a more balanced market.”

POTW | Wayzata









The name “Wayzata” is from a Lakota Sioux phrase meaning “North Shore”—a rather fitting name for the city that occupies a hearty share of Lake Minnetonka’s northeasternly shore. Wayzata is a water-oriented community with a 2010 population of 3,688. Newsweek included Wayzata High School on its list of the top 1,000 public high schools in America.

The Wayzata housing market has always trended above that of the metro area as a whole. The city has a median sales price of $415,000 for single family, previously owned, traditional properties. That compares to a figure of $245,000 for the Twin Cities metro as a whole, meaning the city has a 70.0 percent premium in median sales price versus the metro area.

Thanks to its orientation around water, there are notable differences in the various waterfront types for different market segments. Based on the data, it seems like a phenomenal time to purchase private waterfront property in Wayzata! That segment is having a 50.0 percent off sale (that is, of course, if you can successfully acquire one of the five active listings).

After creating some custom price ranges by clicking on the “custom” button next to the price range variables, we can quickly ascertain that roughly 25.0 percent of the single family pending sales in Wayzata are above $1,000,000.

Absorption rates vary notably by price segment. There are 4.9 months supply of inventory of homes under $1,000,000 which is more or less considered balanced. But there are 8.9 months supply of inventory of listings over $1,000,000—which indicates a slight oversupply. However, 8.9 months is far more balanced than the nearly 20.0 months supply in this segment back in 2009.

Words from our Members



By Thang M.C. Holt

It was an honor to be awarded the Ann Brockhouse Leader Scholarship out of a pool of inspiring professionals who work diligently to raise the real estate industry standard. MAAR provides three scholarship recipients the opportunity to attend the National Association of REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo where members take an active role to advance the industry, public policy and the association.

 While in Washington DC, I heard from several national leaders about market trends and forecasts. I met with Minnesota legislators and senators to discuss issues related to personal property rights and advocate for legislation that will protect and support the future of homeownership in the Twin Cities. My personal takeaways from this experience boiled down to two words: Get Involved.

Young Professionals Network
During a meeting with young REALTORS®, day to day business topics were discussed, i.e., student loan debt affecting the buyers’ ability to get pre-qualified, existing trends of Millennials and our motivation for homeownership, and technology to aid in the real estate transaction. It is apparent that we need more dedicated members to carry on the work and progress that our existing leaders have made over the years. Some members describe young REALTORS® as “new blood” and think of us as a replacement of older generations. Rather, the shift in the age of membership is more of an opportunity for young REALTORS® to step into the association arena, engage in advocacy, and dedicate their practice to leadership within their communities.

Emerging Markets
My parents escaped from Vietnam when I was three-years old with hopes to raise their children in the land of opportunity. I have watched them overcome an incredible set of barriers to find success in the United States. Part of their dream was to purchase a home and provide a safe place to raise their children. Their story isn’t too far off from many others. Across the US, we have a number of underrepresented communities who need our help to achieve  their own “American Dream”.

While listening to the NAR Diversity Committee discuss issues of discrimination occurring all over the country, it dawned on me the responsibility we have as REALTORS® to be a stronger voice and advocate for emerging communities. So I encourage my colleagues to volunteer, listen to the many stories of emerging communities, and serve as leaders in your community.

Local Government
Elected officials dedicate their time to represent you. In order for them to be effective, they need your support to help them solve real problems that affect your business. Even if you don’t agree with their politics, it’s important for you to get involved and become part of the solution.

After four days, fifteen plus sessions/meetings and over 75,000 steps in Washington DC, I can’t tell you how rewarding, eye-opening and inspiring it has been for the opportunity to represent our amazing real estate community. It goes without saying, but at the risk of sounding cheesy, my passion for and love of what I do each day continues to grow. I can assure you that this will not be my last legislative conference. I embrace the opportunity to advocate for our industry. I will continue to dedicate my career to raising our industry to a higher standard.
My sincere hope is that you will join me in this journey. #GetInvolved