The Manitoba Real Estate Association has appointed a new president for the 2022-2023 term: Steinbach-area realtor Julie Friesen.
Friesen, the manager broker at Delta Real Estate Steinbach, takes the reins from outgoing president Stewart Elston, and said her primary goals are the same as his were, namely to continue pushing the organization toward accomplishing its long-term goals.
Those include expanding education about real estate tailored to industry professionals and members of the public considering work in the field; to evolve digital communications and social-media engagement; and to work with the government to advocate for greater housing affordability and supply.
For Friesen, the appointment is a chance to build on the work she’d done during previous stints on the MREA board as a treasurer and a director-at-large, volunteer roles which she said opened the door to the association’s presidency.
"I think if you would’ve asked me to take this on four years ago, I would have said no," said Friesen. "But now I feel comfortable. The biggest thing for me is that this will be a bit of a change, and I welcome change."
Change is why she works in real estate in the first place. Before becoming a realtor, she took accounting courses and slipped right into a role in the accounting department at a boat company. Within a few months, she moved into sales. For a few years, that was all right. But in 2005, she got an itch to make a career change, and looked no further than her father for inspiration.
Not long before, he had joined the real estate profession, and raved about it to his daughter. "I was looking to be in somewhat of a managerial role where I was," she said. "But I realized the business opportunity for real estate was a great one. I could be independent. I could be my own boss. That’s what got me excited, and I figured at that point in my life, it made sense."
She decided to jump ship and start swimming solo. "To be quite frank with you, at first I was so nervous that I don’t remember relaxing and taking a breath until a few months in," Friesen said. "I was so eager to make a sale and get started in the industry."
At first, she focused on rural residential real estate in areas such as New Bothwell, Kleefelt, St. Anne, and Landmark. It was hard work, but it resonated with Friesen, who saw that there was a direct correlation between how hard she worked and what she reaped, not just financially, but in terms of job satisfaction. At her previous job, she said, that was not necessarily true.
As her career advanced, she said she continued looking for a chance to expand her knowledge and reach new professional goals. In 2016, she completed her broker licensing education and obtained her broker’s licence from the Manitoba Securities Commission. For five years, she worked as an alternate broker before becoming managing broker for Delta Real Estate Steinbach.
With that experience in her pocket, Friesen said she feels confident and excited for the new role as president, which will give her a chance to work with a knowledgeable executive and group of directors.
On the executive are Friesen, president-elect Chris Dudeck of Coldwell Banker Preferred Real Estate, treasurer Sandy Donald Jr., of Royal LePage Martin-Liberty Realty, and past president Elston, of Powell Property Group.
The directors include Jennifer Berthelette (Ethos Realty Inc.), Adrian Schulz (Imperial Properties), Trevor Clay (Capital Commercial Real Estate Services), and Enid Westwood (Re/Max Performance Realty) as directors-at-large. Other members are education chair Roberta Weiss (Century 21 Bachman & Assoc.); political action committee chair Lorne Weiss (Century 21 Bachman & Assoc.); Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board president Akash Bedi (Re/Max Executives Realty); WRREB president-elect Rena Prefontaine (eXp Realty); and Warren Neufeld of Royal LePage Portage Realty, the president of the Brandon Area Realtors.
Friesen said in addition to the five-year goals of the organization, she hopes to oversee the growth of the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa program, which provides affordable home ownership options for First Nation families in Manitoba, as well as the growth of RealTalk MB, the MREA’s industry podcast.
The board has yet to meet, but Friesen said it will soon, either virtually or in person.
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.