From One Chair to Another

 Barbara Karabas  |    December 09, 2019
From One Chair To Another

Lake & Country Magazine, published by Keefe Real Estate in Lake Geneva, recently published an article about the WRA’s recently installed 2019-20 chairman Steve Beers. The article explores Beers’ background and success in real estate and his installation as the 2019-20 WRA chairman of the board. Read on to meet Steve and learn his plans for the Wisconsin real estate industry during his tenure as your association chairman. 

Following a distinguished 40-year real estate career, Keefe’s Chairman of the Board, Steve Beers, was inducted September 10th of 2019 as the Chairman of the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA), which is one of the largest trade associations in the state.

“Steve has superb real estate experience, a clear vision and the temperament necessary to lead this organization,” states Mike Theo, CEO of the WRA. “Not only is Steve well-networked with major brokers across the state, but he is a longtime leader at Keefe, a well-respected firm with a reputation for being well-run.”

Beers, of Fontana, Wisconsin will represent the association’s 16,500-plus members statewide, advocating for real estate agents as well as other industry professionals, including brokers, appraisers, inspectors, and bankers. He will also work with more than two million property owners and homeowners.

While outsiders may believe the WRA solely benefits real estate professionals, Beers points out that the organization is also highly effective at improving private property rights for homeowners and property owners. “The WRA lobbies to champion first-time homebuyer tax credits and low property taxes while also promoting financing and banking regulations as well as [other] programs most helpful to homeowners,” he states.

Topping Beers’ WRA agenda for the coming year is the state’s housing supply shortage, which affects both REALTORS® and homeowners alike. “With a strong economy and low interest rates, we have a high demand for homes in Wisconsin. However, we have a shortage of inventory, which elevates home prices,” explains Beers. “I will be working to try to improve the state’s housing stock by expediting the approval process necessary to get homes to market and provide economic balance with regards to inventory and pricing."

Beers also will turn his immediate attention to mentoring the state’s real estate agents, specifically, helping to provide them with the training and tools they need to operate their businesses with professionalism, consistency and competence.

“As a manager, I’ve seen what a great business this can be for people personally and financially,” says Beers, who has been managing and mentoring Keefe agents for the past 20-plus years. “It is very rewarding to watch people, especially those who knew nothing about real estate, work their way up to achieve what they never thought was possible.” Beers credits such staff successes to the Keefe support model, which provides agents the means, education and coaching necessary to enhance the lives of sellers, and as a result, buyers.

Additionally, Beers will look to workforce development and educational funding as a way to attract more workers to Wisconsin. “Companies are relocating here because Wisconsin is a good climate for business,” states Beers. “This state is comprised of good hardworking people; we just need more of them.”

No doubt, Beers will lean into his vast and varied real estate experience to move such initiatives forward.

Like many of the agents he has trained over the years, Beers worked his way up rung by rung after securing his real estate license in 1971. Brimming with entrepreneurial spirit, the UW Whitewater grad believed that success would follow if he stayed focused and learned both about the industry and how to work well with people. From that point on, Beers says, “I never looked back and never thought of doing anything else."

His first career stop was Chicago, where he worked for an international marketing office. Although a fledging to the business, Beers was charged with listing and marketing unique Midwest and Canadian properties from timberland and islands to fishing lodges and military schools. “My first sale was a seminary in Warrenville, Missouri that sold for $2.2 million, which would equate to about $20 million today,” recalls Beers. “Hitting the jackpot as an unseasoned sales associate was not the norm, and my boss cautioned me to sock away my commission because it might be awhile before I earned another one. And he was right.”

After five years of traveling for work, Beers returned to his Geneva Lakes roots and signed on in 1976 with his childhood friend Mike Keefe, whose family trade was steeped in agricultural auction services. At the time, real estate brokerage was but a small portion of the Keefe business. “Despite knowing people and the area, I can remember struggling for a number of years until I figured out the game and got going,” says Beers, who worked alongside Mike as he transitioned Keefe to the real estate company it is today.

Beers then took a hiatus from Keefe Real Estate to start his own company, a 10-year venture that overlapped with the 1980s recession. “Interest rates soared to 20 percent and loans were exceedingly difficult to secure,” recalls Beers. “My partners and I were fighting and scraping to make money.” In Beers’ case, necessity certainly was the mother of invention. “We had to look at things differently and solve for the circumstances,” he says. “We learned to do leases, land contracts and exchanges, anything to make things happen."

Beers rejoined Keefe in the early 90s. “When Steve came to Keefe Real Estate, he brought with him regional experience with a large corporate firm, which was an immeasurable upgrade to our small-town approach to the business. We went from a handful of agents to a much bigger enterprise in a short period of time, thanks to him and the perspective he brought to our daily enterprise,” states Mike Keefe.

Steve’s valuable brokerage experience, which he poured into a 20-year management program for Keefe agents, will now benefit the WRA organization.

“Steve is as qualified and ready as anyone I have ever seen assume the role of chairman at the WRA,” says Theo, who has worked alongside Beers for years at the WRA. “This is an opportunity for Steve to give back, and it’s more than rhetoric for him."

Ever the public servant, Beers also sits on the board of directors for the Geneva Lake Water Safety Patrol and is a member of the Fontana Village Board of Review, Fontana Village Lakefront and Harbor Commission, and the FBI Citizens Academy, an outreach program that raises awareness about criminal activity. He looks forward to contributing his leadership to the WRA as well. “The WRA is one of the best associations in the country in terms of how well it is run, its effectiveness and what we accomplish,” says Beers. “I look forward to the ideas and thoughts our members will contribute and how we can propel them forward in the coming year.”

This article has been published with permission from Lake & Country Magazine, the official publication of Keefe Real Estate. 


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