REALTOR® Profiles: Matt Side & Jasmyn Jefferson
The 2023 Legislative Rollercoaster: A Year in Review
Two Washington REALTORS reflect on the 2023 legislative session, how it impacted the industry and the role they’re playing in helping advance homeownership in their communities.
It’s no surprise that the 2023 legislative session was labeled “The Year of Housing” by those who participated in it. Between the escalating mortgage rates, lack of inventory and increasingly tight mortgage lending standards, getting people into homes—and, existing homeowners’ properties sold—consumed a lot of resources and attention this year.
A recent Washington REALTORS® podcast painted a “year in review” type picture of what took place in 2023 and included some insights into what members and their clients can expect as we move into 2024. The association successfully introduced bills to increase housing density and housing supply and also expedite homebuilding, for example.
Washington REALTORS is also currently engaged in bills that commit the largest investment in low income housing, homelessness and market rate housing in the state's history, among others. Two volunteer REALTOR® members played roles in these legislative wins and participated in the “year in review” podcast.
Jasmyn Jefferson is designated broker-owner at Windermere Abode in Lakewood and Matt Side is owner and director of broker development at Realty One Group Eclipse in Spokane. In these Q&As, both REALTORS discuss their careers, their feedback on the 2023 legislative session, how they’re helping advance homeownership in Washington and their future outlooks for the industry.
JASMYN JEFFERSONQ: How did you get started in real estate?
A: It was kind of a fluke. I was feeling disgruntled with retail management so I quit and used that savings to start a business that turned out to be pretty boring. One day I saw a real estate billboard and I decided to go back to college and also get my real estate license. I read a lot of the mission statements for various real estate companies and I landed on one that seemed to support people who were just getting started in their business. I went with that company and it turned out tobe a good fit. That was 20 years ago.
Q: Did you join WAR on day one or did that happen later?
Q: Why did you decide to serve as an advocate for real estate policies in your community and in the industry as a whole?
A: I was raised by a single father who volunteered a lot. He took me to the Goodwill Games. We worked at the Russian Welcome Center. We did the first AIDS walk in Seattle. So, being a service-minded individual wasn’t new for me. In fact, prior to getting heavily involved in my local association, my experience with youth sports, metro parks and Junior Achievement made me think, “Why am I not putting this same level of effort forward in my industry?”
Q: As you sought out answers to that question, what were some of the first steps that you took?
A: I saw inequities in homeownership, so I started paying more attention to housing-related news and information. I got involved with the Tacoma Urban League (young professionals), and I got that up and going with a group of friends. My first REALTOR committee was the diversity committee, followed by the Women's Council of Realtors. The latter was a good safe space for me to get my feet wet and grow because I'm an introvert. I'd rather sit in the back of a room and not be seen and then just submit a survey or, you know, give my input some other way. But I feel like WCR helped me find my voice. My first WAR conference was pretty overwhelming and it probably took seven years for me to start feeling like I could assert myself.
Q: You also served as a director on the Western Washington Realtors Board of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB). Can you tell us about that organization and your role with it?
A: Sure. I’m currently a director at large for Western Washington Realists. Here locally, people have been trying to get a chapter going for quite some time. It was chartered about seven years ago and over the last three years, under the guidance of Nicole Bascom Green, the association has really taken off both at a local and national level. The origins of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) are important. In 1947,a group of young real estate brokers weren’t permitted to join the REALTOR organization as Black men. Women weren't allowed to at that time either. They came up with their own group to advocate policies and put the organization together at the height of the Jim Crow laws. We also have a political action committee (1947 PAC). These are the five main pillars within NAREB—which publishes an annual report on the state of Black housing—to promote democracy, housing and Black wealth: Faith-Based & Civic Engagement, Women Initiatives–Women Investing in Real Estate (W.I.R.E.)Diversity & Inclusion / Small Business/Multi-Generational Wealth Building, Government Relations / Advocacy NAREB is a small but mighty trade organization and the oldest black trade organization in the country.
Q: Can you tell us about the work you do with the Black Home Initiative and how that informs your advocacy strategy?
A: In South King County and North Pierce County, the group started out as an initiative to assist 1,500 new first-time black homebuyers. Since then, a tremendous amount of energy has gone into growing this organization and its initiatives. The Black Home Initiative works like super-PAC in that everyone is on the same page with helping to increase homeownership for Black buyers. We recently launched a web portal for the group where buyers can go to get information about homeownership in different programs. Everybody who’s involved with this initiative is a cheerleader; everybody's excited and wants to see this movement being successful, including US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, who has talked to the Western Washington Realtists and the Black Home Initiative about what's going on with black homeownership.
Q: We know that the 2023 legislative session was a real whirlwind and that you served on the Governor's Homeowners Disparities Work group. Can you tell us what that group was tasked with and the outcome of that workgroup?
A: Working in tandem with the Department of Commerce, the group is focused on improving homeownership rates for BIPOC communities in Washington. I worked on behalf of WAR, communicating back and forth with WAR’s government affairs director and providing reports to the legislative steering committee and the Western Washington Realists Board. We came up with 27 recommendations focused on increasing supply and identifying direct assistance programs. And, we talked to the governor's office and the Department of Commerce about the barriers to homeownership for BIPOC communities. Through this experience I learned that it’s really good to be reminded that we still need to have these important conversations and that the barriers are different for the various different groups of buyers.
Q: What would you share with a new broker who wants to get more involved in their REALTOR organization and its legislative activities?
A: Stay curious, always be in a position of learning and speak up for yourself and other people who don't have a voice. Our clients need us to be advocates for them and we need the associations to help us be advocates because as a singular person, there's only so much we can do.
MATT SIDEQ: How did you kick off your career in real estate?
A: I developed an interest in real estate at a young age. My dad worked the graveyard shift and one day he came home with Carlton Sheets’ “No Money Down” real estate investing course. I was 18 at the time and I picked it up and devoured it; I went through the entire course. Before I even started college I had a house under contract, but had to cancel it because I wasn’t going to be able to manage it while attending school. Fast-forward to my mid-twenties and I bought my first property. The real estate license would come later, when the market shifted and short sales really became a big part of the real estate market. My background was in banking, so I started assisting brokers around the state, which would later require a real estate license to do that work. So I kind of fell into getting my real estate license and then it grew from there.
Q: Did you join the REALTOR association as soon as you got licensed?
A: Yes. In Spokane the MLS is part of the REALTOR association so that was kind of a non-negotiable. It took some time for me to understand the value that the organization brought to us as licensees, and it probably coincided with my wife and I starting our own real estate brokerage and the higher level of support that we needed to be able to support our own licensees. The longer I was in the business, the more I gained an understanding of the value of the association.
Q: You've served on a couple of nonprofit boards. Can you talk about some of those boards and groups that you've been involved in?
A: Looking back on the different organizations that I've been a part of, whether it's been in aboard role or just involved in the organization, I think it comes back to community. A lot of my earlier board roles were youth-related and we also volunteered with the food bank. Franchise-wide, every year we take a whole day and volunteer in ways that support our communities, be it planting trees in underprivileged parts of Spokane or participating in the Equitable Homeownership Campaign. The latter is a group of individuals tapped by city officials to have conversations about creating equitable homeownership programs.
Q: What happened during the 2023 legislative session and how have these activities impacted buyers, sellers and investors?
A: On the rental side, we used to be able to give 30-day’s notice about a property sale and have the tenants move out of their month-to-month rental. Now we have to give 90 days. This is challenging for the buyer who doesn’t want to use the property as an investment. Their options are a really long close or manage a tenant who hasn't moved out yet. It just makes it challenging for this buyer to buy this house. During the legislative session, that simple “extending out” of what used to be a relatively reasonable amount of time has really complicated an otherwise simple transaction. That's been a challenge. On the other hand, some of our wins in 2023 included no longer having rent caps. If there are limitations on rental increases, this highly impacts landlords too, from those who are just holding the property to those who want to buy an investment property.
Q: What role did WAR and volunteers like yourself play in the busy 2023 legislative session?
A: That comes back to speaking to the value of the REALTOR® association. There's all of the advocacy work in the legislature, which is incredible and amazing and impacts us and our clients. Then, there's also the legal side of things, or making sure that we understand how to protect our clients and how what we do on every little form is so important. I've been doing this in some capacity for over 20 years now and I love helping people and assisting them in accomplishing their goals, even though sometimes we have to figure out how to get there.
Q: Your firm also focuses on mentoring and developing new brokers. How does the program work and how do you prioritize it?
A: I really believe that training, mentoring and coaching are critical to the broker's success in their career in the industry. One of the things that drew us to Realty One Group to begin with was the fact that they're big on training. Our brokers go through a 12-week course and we match new brokers with experienced brokers who serve as their mentors. This is important because a lot of people come into this industry out of a much more structured work environment. They go through the pre-licensing education, get their license, hang their license with a new firm and even though they have 90 hours of pre-licensing education, there's a lot more they don't know than what they do know. Even the simplicity of filling out a contract—they don't really learn how to do that during pre-licensing. When you get into real estate, it's your business. Go for it. You get to make out of it whatever you want, but without some sort of structure, a lot of people wind up failing in this industry. Mentoring is important to us because we want to see the brokers in our firm and in our association succeed.
This article originally appeared in the Special Winter 2024 issue of RE Magazine.