Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series in which real estate industry leaders share their insights, hopes and predictions for the year ahead. Part 1 focused on issues affecting multiple listing services, Realtor associations and real estate brokerages. Part 2, below, provides insights about the outlook for real estate in 2014 from economists and consultants, and executives with top franchisors and listing portals.
Gregg Larson, president and CEO, Clareity Consulting
What are your top New Year’s resolutions for real estate in 2014?
My New Year’s resolution for the industry is to stop the spending of “Realtor dollars fighting Realtor dollars.” This perennial waste happens on many levels and nobody wins except outsiders that capitalize on this “Realtor family” dysfunction.
Here are three examples:
1. Two neighboring Realtor associations battle for members by trying to outmarket each other and/or offering services for less than their neighbor to woo new members. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of competition, but in many cases, the two associations should just merge instead of compete. The associations can then cut redundant expenses and offer superior member services from the resulting scale of the larger organizations and their ability to hire more professional staff. How many members want their dues and fees going towards this kind of battle? Less than 5 percent. The other 95 percent would be appalled if they understood the money being wasted on association “fighting.” Association consolidation is happening at a glacial pace and needs to accelerate — no more excuses, egos and petty “rival” politics. And the “but we’ll lose our identity” argument? OMG! Do what’s right for the members! Consolidate in 2014 and become smarter, more efficient organizations.
2. Repeat example No. 1 but replace the word “Association” with “MLS.” Consolidate MLSs in 2014 and become smarter, more efficient organizations, too.
3. It became evident in 2013 that many large brokerage firms are fed up with their local associations and MLSs and are ready to secede from the union. The Realty Alliance has contemplated a future that would result in millions of dollars of member money being spent on duplicative MLS systems or “pre-MLS” systems and add another layer of complexity and expense without tangible benefits for the agent/member. The civil war resulting from something like this would be bloodier and more expensive than people can imagine and will further weaken “organized” real estate. Only outsiders will benefit from this type of civil war.
The industry needs to resolve to work together in 2014 to consolidate and stop spending Realtor dollars to fight Realtor dollars.