The real estate industry has changed in innumerable ways over the past decade, and in even more unfathomable ways over the past century. Which is why on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Minnesota Realtors, a statewide trade group for residential Realtors, is rolling out a major rebranding effort that’s being led by Heather Boschke, the organization’s new vice president of marketing and communications.

We asked Boschke about the organization and these changes (the conversation has been edited).

Q: Seems like there are a lot of Realtors associations in the state.

A: The Realtor membership is a three-tier system. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) serves the 1.4 million Realtors across the country and every state has an association and every state is comprised of local associations. Each tier in that system plays a different role dedicated to helping Realtors build their careers and grow their businesses. Minnesota Realtors serves the entire state by partnering nationally with NAR and locally with 16 regional associations. These include Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Q: So what’s the primary role for the state association?

A: Minnesota Realtors safeguards the reputation and effectiveness of our profession through a variety of services to our 21,000 members, including continuing education, a consistent code of ethics, industry standard real estate transaction forms, access to the Multiple Listing Service, legislative advocacy, as well as legal services and dispute resolution.

Q: What’s the goal of the rebrand and new logo?

A: It’s twofold. First, to tie the visual brand to our purpose, which is to unite, empower and inspire Realtors throughout the state of Minnesota. Our brand principles include the words “collaborative and optimistic, proactive and professional,” these principles are reflected in our members.

Second, to set the organization up for success and resonance going forward. Beyond tying the brand back to our purpose, the rebranding reinforces that we are here to serve the state of Minnesota and better reflects the spirit of the members we serve. The average Realtor in Minnesota is 52 years old and 60% are female. We see hundreds of new Realtors joining the association each month. Through the more modern icon coupled with some retro design elements, we are appealing to multiple demographics that reflect our membership.

Q: The association represents the interest of Realtors, does it have a role for consumers?

A: The legislative advocacy work we do includes protecting homeownership, limiting transaction-based fees and regulations, defending private property rights and increasing housing affordability.

Q: What’s one of the most relevant issues for homeowners right now?

A: Mortgage debt cancellation tax relief. Each year, the Minnesota Legislature reviews tax legislation enacted at the federal level and determines which of those provisions should be passed along to Minnesota taxpayers for state tax purposes. Minnesota Realtors is always an advocate at the State Capitol for extending the mortgage debt cancellation tax relief provision.

Q: Why is mortgage debt cancellation tax relief so important?

A: It provides homeowners, who have had some portion of their mortgage debt forgiven by a lender through a short-sale, foreclosure, or a principal reduction, relief from having that forgiven debt treated as “income” and taxed. This provision provides relief to homeowners who have experienced a serious economic loss. This item is particularly important during tough and uncertain economic times.

Q: At 100, are you also trying to expand the role of the association?

A: The role of the association continues to evolve with the ever-changing needs of Realtors. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minnesota Realtors team quickly went into action by creating an addendum to the state home purchase agreement forms with a provision to extend deadlines in the event of a pandemic related obstacle.