Students, alums receive scholarships and national awards for commitment to property management.

Students in the real estate property management program at UW-Stout are discovering ways to address the housing shortage in Wisconsin and how to provide resources to renters through their involvement in the Institute of Real Estate Management student club.

A Forward Analytics report stated that more than 225,000 housing units need to be built by 2030 to address Wisconsin’s growing housing shortage.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, 25% of renter households, or more than 195,000 households in Wisconsin, are considered extremely low income. There is a shortage of 126,726 affordable, available rental homes available for low-income renters.

Considering affordable housing in Wisconsin, REPM junior and IREM student club president Glen Jakober, of Colfax, believes that “real estate works best in a free market. Regulation should be aimed at landlords who do not obey existing state laws.”

Jakober thinks IREM is a “fantastic organization to be involved with. IREM believes that good property management matters,” he said.

REPM Program Director Fred Prassas incorporates elements relating to political advocacy into each course. “Real estate is one of the most politically sensitive industries in terms of rental housing and private property rights,” he said. “Practitioners need to be actively engaged in the political environment. 

“A famous legislator once said, ‘politics is not a spectator sport.’ We invite the students in the IREM club to participate in political advocacy days at both the national and state levels as a learning experience in issue-oriented political advocacy. These events offer an outstanding opportunity for students to meet lawmakers and foster lasting relationships as future experts in their field,” Prassas said.

A recent article by Forbes explained White House actions to protect renters and promote rental affordability, stating that the call-to-action is aimed at easing the burden of housing costs and improving renters’ quality of life, including actions to increase fairness in the rental market and further principles of fair housing.

The White House’s actions align with the Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights, which provides protection for renters, including safe, quality, accessible, and affordable housing; clear and fair leases; education, enforcement and enhancement of renter rights; the right for renters to organize; and eviction prevention, diversion and relief.

With more than a third of Americans renting their homes, state stakeholders are being rallied to drive further action to protect renters in line with the blueprint, and the Resident-Centered Housing Challenge calls for housing providers and other stakeholders to strengthen practices and make commitments that improve the quality of life for renters, the article added.

The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, which has financed more than 87,300 rental units since its founding in 1872, has made an early commitment in support of the challenge.

IREM is an affiliate of the National Association of Realtors, which has 1.5 million members. It is committed to creating resources that highlight ways property managers can incorporate resident-centered property management practices in their businesses, the article stated.

UW-Stout’s REPM program and IREM student club are working to address affordable housing locally. “We’re working with the City of Menomonie and Dunn County on housing solution forums, led by Momentum West. Wisconsin is at the forefront of affordable housing,” said Lecturer John Sobota.

A forum early this spring began with an overview of west-central Wisconsin’s housing and addressed community-based solutions to housing shortages, housing’s impact on workforce development, and the construction of both tiny homes and multifamily housing for people of varying income levels.

Program support through private gift

The REPM program is housed in Heritage Hall, which is due for renovation. Private support for the renovation continues to grow, including a gift by Dean Weidner, founder and owner of Weidner Apartment Homes based in Kirkland, Wash.

Recently, Weidner announced a $1,050,000 donation to Stout University Foundation. The donation will also provide up to 20 scholarships a year for five years. First-year and transfer REPM students are eligible for one $5,000 award. The awards are available to new students beginning this fall.

The Weidner donation raises the amount of private support UW-Stout has received for programs based in Heritage Hall to more than $13.5 million.

The Heritage Hall renovation project has received priority approval from the UW System Board of Regents and is ranked No. 1 in the Chippewa Valley and No. 3 for major academic building renovation projects across the UW System.

IREM student club supports future property managers

The IREM student club strives to connect students with real estate and property management professionals and create exposure for students to all possible career pathways within the field.

“IREM offers continuing education, and members can earn IREM credentials by meeting high levels of education, experience and ethics,” Jakober said. “The ultimate goal of the REPM program is for students to never have to look for a job – IREM helps do that based on the people you meet.”

Glen Jakober (right) and IREM students at NAA conference
IREM student club president Glen Jakober (right) and IREM students at the NAA conference / John Sobota

Jakober has always been interested in real estate and appreciates the tight-knit community. “If you want to become a Realtor, real estate appraiser or property manager, the REPM program at Stout teaches you what you need to succeed in whatever sector of real estate you choose,” he said.

Last fall, Jakober and fellow real estate property management students and faculty traveled to Dallas for the Institute of Real Estate Management’s Global Summit. They also had the opportunity to attend the National Apartment Association’s convention in San Diego last summer. This summer, they will attend the NAA convention in Atlanta, and in the fall will join IREM at the Global Summit in Toronto.

“Both conventions highlighted the importance of affordable housing across the nation,” Sobota said.

This spring, junior Katelyn Knapp, IREM treasurer, and second-year student Bailey Jacque each received $1,000 scholarships from Building Owners and Managers Association. Jacque also received a scholarship from IREM MN.

BOMA scholarship winners Bailey Jacque and Katelynn Knapp
BOMA scholarship winners Bailey Jacque and Katelynn Knapp / John Sobota

Knapp, of Goodfield, Ill., would like to be a property manager in residential or commercial real estate and plans to pursue her Realtor’s license as well. Her IREM involvement has given her networking opportunities with industry professionals and possible future employers. “The BOMA scholarship aided me in paying off a semester of school, which I am extremely grateful for,” she said.

Jacque, of Thorp, agreed. “My scholarships have been very beneficial because they allow me to worry less about how I will pay for my education expenses. It gives me peace of mind knowing that professionals in my area of work are eager to support my academic success to give me a possible advantage over others after I graduate,” she said. Jacque has a second major in hotel, restaurant and tourism management.

Two recent UW-Stout REPM graduates were also named to the IREM 30 under 30 national list: Tyhler Gallardo (2018) and Pat Lytle (2019). The award acknowledges the next generation of real estate management leaders who have made a significant impact on the industry and in their communities.

In UW-Stout’s First Destination report, recent REPM graduates reported 100% employment within six months of earning their degree.

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