Message From President Mike Theo: Anticipation for the Year Ahead


 Mike Theo  |    January 13, 2020
President Message

Happy New Year, everyone! The holidays are always a great time to reflect on the year past and ruminate on the year ahead. Parenthetically, the season is also a bunch more fun when spent with a precocious six-year-old and an inquisitive six-month-old granddaughter!

During this season of transition, however, it’s become all too common to refer to a dawning new year as momentous, or critical, or even historic. But you know what? It’s kind of true for 2020.

2020 feels like it will indeed be a pivotal year. A year that will be much different 12 months from now than it is today ‚ÄĒ as a nation, a state and an industry.

Sure, you’re thinking this is certainly true when it comes to our politics, particularly the presidential election. We are at a point in history, according to numerous pundits, where the country is as politically divided as any time since the Civil War. Let that sink in for a minute. It certainly feels that way. If that’s true, we can assume the elections in November, regardless of the outcome, won’t bring an end to our extremely polarized political atmosphere and all the resulting ripple effects.

The electoral spectacle of 2020 will be even more intense here in the Badger State. When you look up ‚Äúpurple state‚ÄĚ in the political dictionary, you‚Äôll find a picture of Wisconsin. We‚Äôre so evenly split politically that the national networks and pundit class are already camping out here! I‚Äôm guessing any Wisconsinite who wants to voice his or her opinion on camera or into a microphone will get multiple chances to do so in the next 11 months. Like it or not, we are the epicenter of this contentious national political reality, and as many have said, ‚Äúas goes Wisconsin, so goes the nation.

That feeling of uncertainty likely extends to your thoughts about the real estate market in the upcoming year. It‚Äôs also become commonplace to hear how ‚Äúdisrupters‚ÄĚ are permanently changing the real estate industry, be that through technological innovation, application of big data and advanced analytics, or novel transactional inventions like iBuyers or the use of cryptocurrency. The anxiety here of course is any combination of these trends could potentially disintermediate real estate professionals from the transaction.

There‚Äôs a host of other economic issues causing much angst ‚ÄĒ from macro issues like interest rates and Fannie and Freddie reforms, to demographic issues like Wisconsin‚Äôs worker shortages, to market issues such as extraordinarily tight inventory levels. The list of potential things that can keep you up at night is endless.

But stop. ‚ÄėTis the season to renew our hope and restore our optimism. These challenges can and should be filtered through the lens of an industry that is unique and can control large segments of our business. We are an industry predicated on competitors that cooperate. That provides a service to customers and clients that transcends everyday business transactions by delivering a service and product that deeply impacts their lives and their livelihoods. We are an industry comprised of individuals who deeply care about their communities and demonstrate that care each and every day through unmatched commitment to civic and philanthropic engagement. We invest substantial human and financial capital into making sure governments, at all levels and in every branch, protect the constitutional rights of property owners, while protecting public rights such as a clean environment and a good education system. And we are an industry that benefits our members and those we serve, through an unqualified fidelity to a REALTOR¬ģ Code of Ethics and standards of professionalism that are second to none and getting better.

Facing the political, economic and professional challenges of 2020 from the perspective of our unique profession, let’s resolve to be as respectful in our discourse as we are in our passion, treat each other as we’d like to be treated, and raise the bar on our professional service and our community involvement. If we do, we can indeed make this year momentous, distinctive or even historic.

Michael Theo

WRA President & CEO

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