Surviving the Shakeout

Edina Realty held its annual meeting for its 2,500-plus local Realtors today at St. Paul’s Xcel Center.

I couldn’t catch all of it — clients come first — but what I saw was a combination pep talk, unusually frank discussion of today’s brutal market, and an emotional presentation by Bob Peltier, Edina’s President and CEO.

Peltier, who along with his brother, Ron, effectively runs the company, suffered a serious stroke last May. He compared his recovery to the challenges facing Realtors today: everything comes harder, takes more effort and persistence, and above all, requires a positive attitude.

The sombre mood was a reflection of today’s market. While “Pending” sales are up for the first time since 2004, the increase is largely due to foreclosures: now about 40% of all transactions locally.

As Realtors know only too well, such deals are a tough way to pay the rent: imagine spending several months on an especially thorny deal and walking away with a commission check for, say, $1,500 (before taxes!). You can make that kind of money at McDonald’s — and not have to work nights and weekends for it. You wouldn’t even be sacrificing your health insurance. (Realtors pay for their own.)

Clearly, such challenges have taken their toll on Edina’s head count, not to mention morale: the company shed 700 realtors, dozens of support staff, and four Twin Cities offices in just the last year.

Notwithstanding these travails, Edina Realty’s Minnesota operations still managed to report a profit in 2008. Oh, and no one in management is begging the government for a bailout.

If only the country’s banks could say the same . . .

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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