Message from the Chair

 November 01, 2023

As the year and my tenure as your 2023 chairman of the WRA board draw to a close, I want to reflect briefly on the year and some of the accomplishments we’ve seen within the WRA and throughout the industry.

This past summer, Gov. Evers signed the 2023-25 state budget, which included a set of groundbreaking loan programs aimed at tackling Wisconsin’s workforce and senior housing shortage. This $525 million was the largest investment in housing in Wisconsin history — a major advocacy win! The loan programs included $275 million for residential infrastructure, $100 million for rehabilitation of units above main street commercial spaces, $100 million for the conversion of vacant commercial buildings for housing, and $50 million for the rehabilitation of older residential properties. In addition, the WRA passed legislation creating certainty and predictability in the development process.

What was truly remarkable was the bipartisan support the workforce and senior housing package received! Housing affordability and the lack of housing inventory impacts every community. Your commitment to the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC), combined with the hardworking members of the WRA’s advocacy team, helped to pave the way for this monumental achievement.

Also this year, we rolled out the WRA’s professional standards enforcement of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. The WRA now provides dispute resolution services and professional standards enforcement services including but not limited to mediation services, ethics hearings and arbitration hearings for all but two of the 17 local associations. This new offering continues the WRA’s professionalism goal by creating a consistent and uniform enforcement process throughout the state.  

New curriculum for the 2023-24 CE biennium launched with a new twist on earning credits: we said goodbye to the former three-hour course format and said hello to a new single-hour course format. The new curriculum offers more flexibility so you can meet your 18-hour credit requirement to maintain your license with greater ease.

Another exciting venture this year was the preparation of a leadership transition at the WRA due to the retirement of Mike Theo, aka “Laki.” We worked out the details of this transition, passing the baton from Laki, who has dedicated 38 years of service to the WRA, to the capable hands of Tom Larson. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Laki for his commitment to the WRA and his visionary leadership. While he leaves big shoes to fill, I have complete confidence that Tom will chart a course to propel the WRA to unprecedented heights of professionalism and excellence. 

These are just a few of the major accomplishments in 2023, none of which would have happened without the amazing team at the WRA. The WRA team always puts members first and is even seen as the envy of the industry around the country.

In my experience as the WRA chairman, I have made so many new lifelong real estate friends around the state during this past year. Thank you for supporting me this past year. There is no “I” in “team,” and I would like to thank my leadership team on the 2023 executive committee: Amy Curler, Max Rea, Brad Lois, Chris DeVincentis and Mary Jo Bowe.

As we roll into 2024, you are going to be in great hands, and I cannot tell you how much I respect Mary Jo, the new 2024 chair of the WRA. Mary Jo is a rockstar, cares immensely for her fellow REALTORS® and will be taking the WRA to the next level. 

In addition, to my Shorewest family: your support has been amazing. Thank you for allowing me to spend time on the industry we all know and love. And to my boys and sons: thanks for celebrating my successes — no one has cheered me on more in life. I love you guys. 

Thank you!
Joe Horning, 2023 WRA Chairman of the Board

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