Spokane Journal of Business

Meet & Greet with Cd’A Association of Realtors’ Katherine Morgan

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Katherine Morgan began her duties as CEO of the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors the first week of August, taking over for Ali Taylor, who had been with the association for 23 years. 

In her new role, Morgan, 38, will oversee a team of five people and lead a membership of 2,200 business professionals. Prior to this role, Morgan was a senior vice president for Bank of America in Spokane. Before that, she worked in several aspects of the housing industry—including positions with Stewart Title of Spokane, the Spokane Home Builders Association, and Liberty Lake-based Greenstone Corp—as well as serving as trustee for the board of the Spokane-Kootenai Housing Forum.

In 2014, at the age of 30, Morgan was named president and CEO of the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce; the following year, the Journal named Morgan a Rising Star.

Morgan is a native of the Inland Northwest, having attended St. Dominic’s Girls School in Post Falls, followed by earning a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Gonzaga University.  The Journal recently sat
down with Morgan to discuss her new role, the housing market, and her vision for the association.

How did you get into real estate? 

The first opportunity I had to break into the professional world was working for Stewart Title of Spokane. It was my first introduction into what I believe is one of the most important industries in the U.S., the real estate economy. 

The real estate economy is the American dream. The American dream of homeownership could not be more catalytic in impacting the lives of families and communities. 

There is a lot of research that speaks specifically to the outcomes for families and their children if they live in a home versus an apartment, couch surfing, or in the streets. They have a higher quality of health, a higher quality of life. They do better in school. The dream of homeownership has proven over and over again to be transformational. 

For me, everything I do needs to be directed toward a greater purpose and a greater calling to positively impact the lives of others. I believe that is what I’m supposed to do in this season of life.

You started your career in 2006, shortly before the housing market crashed. How was this area impacted? 

From 2007 through 2011, I worked for the Spokane Home Builders Association running some large home shows like the Fall Festival of Homes and promoting “buy now, buy new.” It was a truly difficult time for this industry, but I was convinced that if we could get one more family into a home, we were changing the world by changing one life here in my hometown. 

It was a difficult time. There was a lot of construction sitting out on the market a lot longer than we are seeing today. There was a lot of challenges facing the industry. The most difficult one was there was a lot of fear. And it was an understandable fear when it came to making that first home purchase or buying a home overall. It was difficult. If people were not buying homes, they were not making those early investments that would transform generational wealth. 

One thing that I learned when I was working with the home builders association and has stuck with me is this: For every $1,000 that is added to the price of a home, 488 families can no longer afford that home. And that was back then. Today, homes are not rising by $1,000 or $2,000. 

For our association, it meant an opportunity to educate, to empower, and bring the right professionals forward to help people build that bridge and access to the American dream. 

We are in a hot market now, and some people might be experiencing similar fears. What do you say to that? 

With a unique market like this one, it’s that much more important to come alongside a true professional who is a member of their local Realtor’s association to help you navigate. Every market is different. Knowing your goals and having a professional that is going to know up-to-the-minute information, resources, and tools to help you achieve success. That is what matters most in these times—and in all times. 

Every Realtor has different value that they can provide their clients. Some will specialize with first-time homebuyers; others might specialize with different goals and needs like water and land. You want to find the individual that knows first-hand what you may or may not know before you make that investment. 

There are designations and certificates. Here at the association, there are numerous designations. In the coming months, we are going to highlight those designations and why they are important for consumers to be aware of and why they may want to choose someone to specialize in it. 

What are some designations that are specific to this community? 

There are a few designations that are new and up and coming to our members. For example, becoming a Senior Real Estate Specialist. That designation program educates Realtors on how to profitably and ethically serve the real estate needs of the fastest growing market in real estate, clients aged 50 plus. Another example is the Military Relocation Professional Certification that focuses on educating real estate professionals about working with current and former military service members, to find housing solutions that best fit their needs and take full advantage of military benefits and support. 

For a while, this was an incredibly affordable market for our community. We have seen a great shift in affordability in the Pacific Northwest. So, whatever we can do to have more professionals that can work with our community and make sure they have access to homeownership, I have great passion for that. 

What are some of your goals and visions for the association? 

We’ll be going through strategic planning soon and building on the history and success of the evolving staff. My duties are focused on delivering upon the mission every day and driving toward our vision. Number one is focusing on professional development. We want to ensure that our customers who are coming alongside our Realtors are getting the very best professionals. 

As well, I’ll be focused on expanding our community involvement by investing in placemaking projects like the Coeur d’Alene beautification and work on improving walking trails. 

We have a newly remodeled building and updated brand. We have a commitment to the region and our members current and future, in ensuring that if you want to achieve the American dream in North Idaho, then you have the opportunity to do it with one of our members. 

What advice would you give to someone that wants to follow in your footsteps?

If I’m working in an organization, I have to have it tied to a greater purpose of positively impacting the lives of those around me and those we serve. I am honored and proud to live, work, play, and pray in the region that has been home for many years. After all these years, here I am today realizing that I have not given up on that. If I were to give advice to others, it’s to be true to our purpose, especially in the areas where we are irreplaceable, like being a parent or sibling. Don’t go after jobs. Go after calling. Go after purpose. 

Do you see yourself making a home with the association long-term? 

I feel like I’ve come home. What does the future hold? As long as I can continue to add value to this membership and really deliver on our mission and our vision, I see a bright future here. Even if there are challenges ahead, the best people are in this membership and community. I trust that they will be here and be able to navigate whatever comes along, together. I see a bright future here and I feel honored and grateful to be asked to serve and be a part of it. 

Karina Elias
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Reporter Karina Elias covers the banking and finance industry. A California native, she attended the University of California at Santa Barbara. Karina loves salsa dancing, traveling, baking, cuddling with her dog, and writing creative fiction and non-fiction.  

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