A chat with Greg Mason, new chief of Edina Realty

Earlier this week, almost a year to the day after he was named CEO of Edina Realty Home Services, I sat down with Greg Mason to talk about the business and his to-do list.

The market: After quizzing several sales managers on the day of our meeting, Mason is even more optimistic than one might expect. With mortgages rates unexpectedly low, and favorable weather for house shopping, Web traffic and open house visits have been unseasonably strong. And he doesn't expect anything to change. He predicts home sales to increase at least 2 to 3 percent over last year. "There really aren't any storm clouds out there," he said.

Acquisitions: The company didn't make acquisitions in 2014. But on Jan. 6, it acquired the leading brokerage in Marshall, Minn. Prudential Elite Realty of Marshall will become an Edina Realty office – the first in Marshall. That office has 11 agents, and is the leading player in that market. Other deals in Minnesota or western Wisconsin are very likely, but Mason wouldn't say specifically where and how many.

Priorities: Improving technology for agents, and convincing renters, especially millennials, that it can be less expensive to buy than to rent. Last year the company hired Jeff Loeb as its senior vice president of information technology, and he'll lead the company's efforts to bolster the technology used internally and externally. Loeb held the same position at Famous Dave's, and also worked for Best Buy.

Agents: The company will be in a major recruiting mode, especially agents who can sell to millennials — young adults in their 20s. Mason wouldn't say how many agents the company would hire, but said the company could grow more this year than since before the 2008 housing crash.

New offices: The company is building several new offices outfitted with the latest technology, including Apple TVs, in work spaces that encourage more interaction among agents. A new, 10,000 square-foot Plymouth office on Schmidt Lake Road with room for about 100 agents and other staff, for example, will open at the end of next week. That building will be the first new office for Edina Realty since 2007. New offices in Apple Valley and Roseville are already under construction.

Jim Buchta