by G. Sax, Director of Growth Management, RESO
Welcome to “Three Questions,” an interview series that introduces you to real estate industry professionals, their businesses and how they interact with real estate standards with a goal of humanizing the tech side of the industry, fun included.
This week’s interview is with the Founder and President of TrustFunds, a company born to create a more secure and convenient way to process earnest money. In addition to being a technology company entrepreneur, Lynn has been a broker, Edina Realty’s General Counsel and the 2004 President of the Minnesota Association of REALTORS®. We talked about money, leadership and state fairs. Enjoy!
Q1: It seems so obvious now to conduct financial business online, but when you founded TrustFunds, digital money transfers were not as ubiquitous as they are today. Is there something specific about earnest money that TrustFunds does vs. other digital pay options, and does TrustFunds have eyes on other aspects of the real estate transaction or even beyond real estate?
Lynn: Yes. The key for us is that TrustFunds is integrated directly into the MLS. What I like to say is, “We are where the agents are.” In other words, we are located exactly where agents are doing their day-to-day business. There is no need to download an app, create credentials or set up a different account. This is the right way to conduct a technology business today and leads to much higher adoption.
We also have high data integrity. Most of the data comes directly from the MLS feed and eliminates the risk of human error.
Because we’re in the MLS, everyone in the transaction process automatically gets status updates and has access to a transactions table with real-time statuses.
As for having eyes on other aspects of the real estate transaction beyond earnest money, we are developing a commission-payment tool where title companies and brokers can send commissions to others after closing. It is already wireframed, and we are actively working on it. We may also have a few other “tricks” up our sleeve in the future.
Q2: You were the President of the Minnesota Association of REALTORS® for a single year, as that is the leadership structure for boards at the local, state and national level. Can anything significant be achieved in one year as an association president, or is it more of a long-term process where you get the one year to be something of a figurehead?
Lynn: I think it’s both a significant and figurehead role. Organizations need to have good continuity, but individuals can also bring their personal stamp to the position.
When I was president of the Minnesota state association, we lobbied and passed a state statute known as a Statutory Cancellation. Prior to the Statutory Cancellation, buyers in a residential transaction were required to hire lawyers and file lawsuits to cancel a contract if the seller did not agree. That was simply not cost effective or practical. The Statutory Cancellation applied to a residential real estate contract in order to make the process more efficient. That was a really good improvement.
If you’re part of an association leadership team, it is generally a four-year commitment and even longer at the national level. Consider each of the following well-known Board of Directors titles just around being the president of an association: President-Elect, President, Immediate Past-President and Past President. That doesn’t even cover the years leading up to being president.
Q3: We are both from Minnesota. What is something amazing to do in Minnesota that people who are not from Minnesota would not expect?
Lynn: We have the largest state fair in the United States by average daily attendance and the second-largest state fair by total attendance behind Texas, which runs twice as long as our fair, so go figure. We call it the Great Minnesota Get-Together. The grounds are permanent and beloved by generations of Minnesotans. The next one runs from August 25 to September 5, 2022, and it is a sight to behold. If you attend, make sure to sample the world-famous Sweet Martha’s cookies, cheese curds and Pronto Pups.
Also, in Minnesota, you can go outside without a coat for two weeks in July. I think that’s pretty amazing, especially when viewed from our January.