Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing editor with REALTOR® Magazine.
CEOs Share Ways to Sustain and Grow
Understand the demographics of your market and make sure your agents can meet those clients’ needs.
November 16, 2015
Are you, as a broker, in touch with the needs of your market? Do your agents reflect the demographics of your community? If you answer “no” to either of these questions, then your real estate company may not be sustainable for the long term.
RISMedia CEO John Featherston led a panel discussion with some of the industry’s top brokers during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego Friday on smart business practices that all brokers should put to action in order to sustain and expand their market share.
Start by being relevant to growing segments of your area — groups such as international and Hispanic buyers, says Rick Davidson, president and CEO of Century 21 Real Estate LLC. That might mean recruiting agents who understand or are part of these market segments.
There are 55 million Hispanic Americans in the U.S., and by 2020, they’re expected to make up 40 percent of new household formations, according to The National Association Of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. “Know what you need to do to serve and engage with those customers,” Davidson says.
Between April 2014 and March 2015, the total existing-home sales volume from international buyers was $104 billion, approximately 8 percent of the total volume, according to NAR’s 2015 Profile of International Home Buying Activity. That’s a 38 percent increase year over year. And five countries accounted for 51 percent of purchases by foreigners: Canada, China, Mexico, India, and the United Kingdom.
Pam O’Connor, CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, with offices in Chicago, London, and Singapore, grew her domestic brand into a global brand by focusing on the specific needs of her clients around the world. “Foreign investors are drawn to the U.S. because it’s stable,” she says. “The world is shrinking, and technology is uniting us.”
But O’Connor warns against solely relying on online leads. For instance, Chinese buyers generally won’t connect with someone online, she says; instead they’ll print out listing information and come to an office directly. “Remember, it’s about the offline relationship. Consumers are overwhelmed with the noise out there and there [are] too many choices,” she says, adding that her company’s referral business has increased by 20 percent this year.
Business sustainability and growth also comes from being a market leader, says Randy Courtney, CEO of Country Valleywide Properties in Tempe, Ariz. For example, independent brokers, he says, can set themselves apart with exceptional customer service: Establish follow-up systems and improve your customer response times. He hired a sales agent whose only job is to follow up with every listing inquiry.
“My advice to anyone running a brokerage,” Davidson says, “is to be pragmatic, understand what’s going on in your marketplace, and anticipate changes that are happening in the market.”