Detroit native Margaret M. Kelly steadily climbed the corporate ranks at RE/MAX after taking a job with the company as a financial analyst in 1987. She stepped into her current role as sole chief executive officer for the global real estate franchise giant in 2005 after serving for a year as co-CEO.
Kelly has served as member services representative for RE/MAX of Colorado, regional director for Colorado, vice president and regional director of RE/MAX Mountain States, vice president and zone director for company-operated regions, and senior vice president for external operations, among other executive posts she held along the way.
She was promoted as president of RE/MAX International in April 2002. A cancer survivor, Kelly has been active in raising awareness and funding for the fight against breast cancer.
Hear Kelly speak during the Inman News Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, which runs from Aug. 5-7, 2009.
She answered a set of questions posed by Inman News:
What do you see happening in the real estate market in 2009?
Foreclosures and distressed properties will remain at record-high levels. With the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit program we will continue to see the lower end of the market sell more quickly. In the fall, the Treasury Department will announce policies for streamlining the short-sale process, which may significantly reduce the foreclosure rate.
Transactions will be about the same as in 2008, possibly a little higher, but prices will end the year just below 2008 levels.
What advice do you have to help real estate agents and brokers get through this market?
This market requires a complete reevaluation of our business strategies. We need to get back to the basics of building strong personal relationships with our clients while making use of innovative technologies that yield the best results.
We need to operate more efficiently; reduce costs wherever possible; and most importantly, take advantage of educational opportunities that address this specific market.
What made you join your current company?
RE/MAX began as an "agent-centric" company. It was founded by agents to serve agents. The unique RE/MAX concept allowed agents to be more profitable and also be free to run their own business in their own manner. It was a very successful concept at the time and since then it has evolved to include so much more.
I joined RE/MAX because it had a reputation as an innovator, and women had been instrumental in its growth and success. There is no "glass ceiling" in real estate. Women can advance, grow and earn the same as their male peers.
What’s been your biggest challenge in running the business?
Our biggest challenge has been understanding and dealing with the most difficult real estate market most of us have ever seen. At RE/MAX, we have devoted considerable resources toward researching this market and developing specific management and training programs designed to assist our affiliates reach their personal goals. …CONTINUED
What new features are in the pipeline?
RE/MAX is dedicated to providing the most relevant training for our affiliates, and we are constantly developing new training and delivery methods. Currently, we are encouraging our agents to obtain the Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) designation, and have set the goal of reaching 7,500 certified agents by the end of the year. It looks like we may reach that goal in August or September. We are encouraged by surveys that show CDPE designees close more transactions, lessen the time of a short sale and actually help families keep their homes.
What lesson did you learn in the last year?
We have learned that innovative and resourceful professionals can find a way to be successful in any market that they may encounter. There are specific strategies and techniques that do work and when put in place will lead to success.
What would your second career choice be and why?
I think I will be staying in my first career choice for the foreseeable future. But someday I would enjoy teaching at a college level.
What is the biggest problem in the real estate market today, and how would you fix it?
I would like to mention two serious problems. The first is the short-sale process, which has frustrated many agents and homebuyers. The current process has led to long delays, which has forced more sellers into foreclosure and left serious buyers very disappointed. RE/MAX has been talking with many lenders and government policymakers to get this process streamlined and we hope to see new policies in place before the fall.
The other serious problem we face is the lack of jumbo-loan financing. It’s difficult to understand why buyers with high credit scores and down payments over 20 percent either can’t obtain a loan or must pay significantly higher interest rates. If lenders can’t resolve this issue on their own the government should step in with regulations that require a more level playing field. Only then will we see more sales activity over a broad range of prices.
What do you most enjoy about working in the real estate industry?
I enjoy the interaction with people and the impact I can have in their lives. I have the opportunity to speak to many groups throughout the year and I try to provide positive encouragement and motivation. I realize that behind each individual I meet is a family much like mine, with hopes and dreams. If I can help them reach their goals that is tremendous satisfaction for me.
Tell us something we don’t already know about you …
1. I worked in a factory making hexagon steel nuts and bolts from the ages of 12 to 22.
2. I was awarded a doctorate of law degree from my alma mater, Walsh College, in Troy, Mich. I received this honorary degree when I gave the commencement address in 2007.
Margaret Kelly, CEO for RE/MAX International, is coming to Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, which runs from Aug. 5-7, 2009 She will participate in a panel discussion, "From the Ashes: The Housing Market in a Post-Crash World," from 11:20 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6.
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