Minnesota CRS

Stephen Stewart

The Minnesota CRS or as you probably know it, Minnesota Council of Residential Specialists Chapter, is undergoing a lot of changes. Joining us to share his vision of the future and some insider information is Stephen Stewart. In addition to his role as the ambassador of the council, Stewart is chairing the transition committee in Minnesota and will serve as the head of the Minnesota CRS leadership team in 2016.

REAM: What is the main focus for Minnesota CRS in the coming year?
Stewart: Wow, what a timely question. The Council of Residential Specialists had developed a new membership model and we are currently in the process of transitioning into the new format. The Minnesota CRS Chapter as we know it will go away and will be replaced by Minnesota CRS. This means the board of directors will be replaced by a state leadership team, and we will be more mobile and responsive to the needs of our members. We have formed our leadership team for next year and are working on learning our new roles. We are also working on the formation of local networking groups. These groups will allow us to better serve our out state members and improve our networking and referral systems. So in answer to your question, our focus is to implement the new membership model and enhance and customize programs so that our membership can maximize their benefits and expand our referral network.

REAM: How would you encourage a young real estate agent to become involved in their community?
Stewart: Community involvement is so important both personally and professionally. As members of our community we have an obligation to participate and to give back. Professionally, community involvement gives us better recognition, a better understanding of the personality or workings of the community, and information to help us be more productive in our work as REALTORS. In my dealings with fellow CRS members in leadership positions both locally and nationally, I have found that their main motivation for community involvement is to give back for all the benefits they and their families have enjoyed.

REAM: How frequently does Minnesota CRS offer CE events?
Stewart: The foundation of CRS is high quality education. Minnesota CRS generally offers two to three CRS courses each year. In the past we only offered classes in the Twin Cities area, but recently have held classes in Rochester and Brainerd as well. We also sponsor educational or networking sessions (non CE). The council also offers many cutting edge webinars with many of them available for CRS credit.

When I earned my CRS designation in the late 1990s, I took CRS classes in Minneapolis, Omaha and Chicago. Shortly after earning my designation, I received a referral from a classmate in Omaha. Last year while attending a CRS class in St. Paul, a classmate asked if anyone had contacts in Southern California because she had a client relocating there. I put her in touch with a Southern California agent who then took care of the referral. Attending classes for the quality education and the referral opportunities is another benefit. You never know where the referral will come from.

REAM: What are some exciting events coming up?
Stewart: CRS Awareness week will be held Aug. 24-28. The council will offer daily free webinars (available for CRS credit), access to archived webinars from 2014, and information on how to build a better referral system. The goal is to provide free webinars, and to promote the designation to both REALTORS and the public.

REAM: What kind of changes are in store for Minnesota CRS over the next few years?
Stewart: The new membership model will call for unified dues (state and national combined). The administrative operations of the chapter will be passed on to the council. This allows the CRS state leadership team to spend more time and energy on networking and education events. The formation of local networking groups throughout the state will benefit outstate members tremendously and will enhance our referral network. The new model will also encourage short term volunteering for CRS. In the past, if you volunteered for a committee or the board of directors it was usually a three (or more) year commitment. Now we ask LNG leaders and state leadership team members for a one year commitment and volunteer committee members to participate at a level comfortable to them whether it be one event or an entire year.

Our focus is still on education and with that in mind our goal is to offer more classes and more networking events both locally and outstate. It will be an exciting time for Minnesota CRS.

REAM: If someone wanted to move into a leadership role, what is your first word of advice?
Stewart: We are always looking for good leaders and those who are interested in getting involved with our CRS family. I would recommend getting involved in an event or committee in order to better understand the organization and to let your intentions be known that you desire a leadership role. Chairing or co-chairing a local networking group or serving on one of our committees (finance, membership, education, charity/special events) would also be a great way to get your feet wet. I started on the board of directors several years ago and have now had the opportunity to serve as Minnesota CRS president, as well as on national committees and as a regional vice president for the council. Try volunteering for one event or one committee, if you like it, continue with it. You never know where you will end it, but it will be rewarding and gratifying as you serve your fellow members, meet and work with incredibly talented individuals, learn a great deal, and have some fun along the way.

REAM: What is the main mission of Certified Residential Specialists?
Stewart: The council provides high quality and timely education, networking and referral opportunities as well as tools and resources to help us better serve our clients. The council’s mission is to attract those REALTORS and international real estate professionals seeking the knowledge, tools and relationship building opportunities they need to maximize their income and professionalism in residential real estate.

REAM: As a member of Minnesota CRS Leadership what changes are you trying to put into effect?
Stewart: We have had great success as a CRS chapter and in fact, won CRS Chapter of the Year award in 2013. With our new membership model, we have an opportunity to redefine ourselves and get even better. I would like to see more consistency and frequency in CRS events and would like to spend more time reaching out to our outstate members. I would like to see a monthly event (educational or networking) alternating between the Twin Cities area and outstate Minnesota. We want to see more CRS designees and candidates get involved in CRS volunteer activities and committees (even if it’s only short term). Too many of our members have worked so hard to earn the prestigious CRS designation. I want to make sure they have the opportunity to maximize the benefits that CRS membership brings.