By Lynn Sanborn, 2021 president, Seattle King County REALTORS® and managing broker, Windermere Real Estate, Yarrow Bay (Kirkland)
Seattle King County REALTORS® (SKCR) will join counterparts from eight other regions around the United States in launching a mentorship program to help boost homeownership in diverse areas and to promote inclusivity in the industry.
The National Association of REALTORS® created the program, NAR Spire, to help aspiring, multi-cultural professionals from marginalized communities learn the fundamentals of the industry from experienced brokers who have volunteered to serve as mentors.
Seattle-King County is the only region in the western United States to be selected for the pilot phase of the initiative. The new program pairs an experienced real estate professional (mentor) with an individual (mentee) from diverse populations to promote awareness of career options within the real estate profession. Mentees gain access to exclusive networking events, job shadowing opportunities and help in learning the fundamentals of the real estate industry.
Yusef Nadir, a broker with RE/MAX Northwest who has earned two professional designations from NAR, is chairing the King County association’s work group to develop a local mentor/mentee recruiting program.
As one of the first Realtors® to volunteer as a mentor, Nadir believes his background will be especially helpful to those who are transitioning from other careers and want to develop the necessary skills for success. He has relied on various forms of mentoring since college and credits those experiences to being beneficial to his career. Before becoming a broker, he worked as a property/portfolio manager.
Initial interest from accomplished Realtors® has been very positive, according to Nadir, a member of SKCR’s board of directors. He said SKCR members are eager to share their knowledge and help individuals who are recently licensed or just interested in exploring careers in the real estate industry, especially those who want to focus on multi-cultural, minority communities.
Local brokerages, such as Windermere Seattle/Mount Baker, are stepping in with their own outreach efforts in local neighborhoods. When he assists his mentee, broker Steve Sterling expects to draw on his background working with homeless adults and youth, along with 15 years of experience in design and construction.
Realtor® Eddie Chang, a senior global real estate advisor with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, sees the mentorship initiative as an opportunity to give back, recalling the guidance he received. “Having a mentor was a driver when I was a young agent,” he stated.
Like other volunteers, Chang thinks participants in the program will gain a wider view of the world by interacting with people from different backgrounds. He was raised in Taiwan and the U.S. and speaks Mandarin Chinese. A top producer who holds multiple professional designations, Chang is active in Realtor® associations at the local, state and national levels, along with some local nonprofit organizations. This passionate volunteer believes giving back is one way to help make the world a better place.
“So many Realtors® have at some point had a mentor step into our lives, invest in our careers and shape our success as professionals,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler, a Realtor® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and the CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International. “Now, we want experienced NAR members to pay those advantages forward to the individuals who will shape U.S. real estate in the decades ahead.”
“I’m excited NAR is rolling out this program and specifically targeting minority communities,” stated Samantha Enos, a broker with Windermere Real Estate Central in Kirkland. “We have to start righting some of the wrongs that have happened, including in real estate.”
Although Enos is a relatively new broker, she is a strong believer in mentoring, saying it was a big part of her prior career as a business solutions professional. In real estate, Enos, who is Black, said, “It’s important to have mentors who look like me.” Recalling being taught to view failures as training opportunities, she believes her experiences as an investor, property manager and landlord will be beneficial to her mentee.
As facilitator of the mentor program, NAR will provide resources and tools to help participants collaborate on delineating expectations, setting objectives and an action plan, and completing a formal mentoring agreement.
The national organization also provides application forms for mentees and mentors along with two live online educational sessions each month. These sessions explore opportunities in marketing and IT, transaction coordination, inspection, property management, staging, appraisal and mortgage banking.
In a statement announcing the mentorship program, NAR said it is intended to “build bridges to the holistic real estate community” and promote the development of generational wealth through property ownership. Oppler, the NAR president, said the association strives every day “to ensure our 1.4 million members are leading this nation in the fight for fair housing. We are committed to the belief that Americans of every background have the right to live where they choose.”
Joining the Seattle King County REALTORS® in NAR’s mentor program are associations in Chicago; Memphis, Tenn., Raleigh and Durham, N.C.; Trenton, N.J.; Rochester, N.Y.; the State of Maryland; and the District of Columbia.