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Cory’s Formula for Richer Realtors: Raise Wages, Lower Student Debt

While Al Novstrup cleaned his plate, I made a few remarks to the Aberdeen Area Realtors Association yesterday. I here paraphrase my opening comments on how to improve the realtors’ bottom line:

Cory Allen Heidelberger, Democrat for District 3 Senate
Cory Allen Heidelberger, Democrat for District 3 Senate

I won’t pretend to know much about the realty business. My only experience in the field is renovating a house, building a house, selling that house (sigh—it was a fine house), and buying a house. And—nothing personal, but I’m sure many of your clients will second the sentiment—the best part of dealing with realtors is being done dealing with realtors and settling into one’s beautiful new home.

I look forward to hearing from you experts about specific Legislative issues that we can work on to help your business. So I want to use my brief time to talk about general principles I would use to guide my thinking on legislation that affects your industry.

You want to sell more houses and make more money. That’s great. That capitalist desire drives a lot of good in our country. If you want to make more money, I can think of three general ways that the Legislature can help you do that: promote higher wages, reduce student debt, and welcome everybody.

The Legislature needs to promote higher wages. The more money people are making—from a higher minimum wage that helps them start saving money sooner to higher wages for high-skill jobs—the more house they can buy, and the sooner they can buy them. We thus need to invest in education so students have the skills to earn those higher wages.

The Legislature needs to lower student debt. We know students are incurring too much debt in college. Even our vo-tech students, who are supposed to be able to get marketable skills faster and earn good wages sooner, are saddled with the third-highest tuition in the country. The more debt students accumulate, the longer they’re paying off those student loans, and the longer it takes them to reduce that debt burden so a bank will give them a mortgage to buy their first house. South Dakota students incur more debt because our Legislature has failed in shoulder the same percentage of the cost of higher education, university and technical, that surrounding states do. That puts our graduates at a disadvantage, and that means you are waiting longer to sell those graduates houses.

Finally, the Legislature needs to make clear that we welcome everyone to South Dakota. If you want to sell more houses, you need more buyers. There are only two ways you’re going to get more buyers. Either we all need to start making more babies (and for many of us, that’s just not going to happen!), or we need more immigrants to come here. Our growth depends on new people moving here. No matter what state or country, no matter what race or religion, we need to welcome everybody to South Dakota to come live and work and buy houses and pay taxes. Welcoming everybody doesn’t just make sense from some airy-fairy liberal social justice line (although I will fight for that point, too!). Welcoming everybody makes sense for your bottom line.

Raise wages, lower student debt, and welcome everybody: that’s how we help you realtors richer, and that’s how we make our whole state richer.


  1. Porter Lansing 2018-10-19

    My late wife was a realtor and came from a family with many real estate brokers. Your three points are just what’s needed. One political party will tell us that business loves SD because they can move in and pay low wages. Business doesn’t think that way. Employers want to make their employees happy and rewarded.

  2. Debbo 2018-10-19

    Well done Cory, and right on the money. How did your audience seem to respond?

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-19

    South Dakota isn’t business-friendly. It’s exploiter-friendly.

    Polite applause, Debbo, as for every other candidate present. My neighbors are generally not demonstrative audience members. ;-)

  4. Debbo 2018-10-19

    “Exploiter-friendly.” Outstanding and right on the mark. Can I steal it?

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-10-20

    Certainly, Debbo. The whole point of this blog is to offer news, commentary, and analysis that anyone can apply to their own political discourse.

    That, and pithy phrases. :-D

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