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.