At Real Estate Connect New York City, I had the opportunity to interview Keller Williams Realty CEO Mark Willis onstage about partnerships, and backstage I met with Realogy Franchise Group CEO Alex Perriello. Each of these leaders shared some very valuable insights that can help you grow your business now and throughout 2014.

Where’s the market heading?

I caught Perriello for a few moments in the green room before he went on the main stage at Real Estate Connect. Perriello believes that the market will continue to be strong throughout 2014. Part of his confidence is based upon demographics. Specifically, Gen Y has become the largest generation ever. Moreover, the building industry has failed to build enough new housing to keep pace with the population increase.

Shadow buyers

Perriello shared a second factor that he believes will continue to drive strong housing demand: shadow buyers. “Shadow buyers” are people who have owned their home in the past and had to sell it in a short sale. After three years, the short sale will be removed from the owner’s credit report, making them eligible again to purchase a property.

To take advantage of this tip in your business, go back through your files from 2008-2011 and identify which clients had to sell using a short sale. You may also be able to obtain this information from your local title company.

The next step is to personally contact these past clients to see if they are interested in becoming a homeowner again. If so, have them preapproved with a lender before taking them out. While not all past owners will feel this way, chances are that most are tired of renting and will welcome the opportunity to own their own home again.

How to build great partnerships in your business

Keller Williams’ Willis had some sage advice about partnerships that can apply to any real estate professional, whether you are an agent, broker/owner, franchisee, franchisor, or part of leadership.

“Partnerships are like a marriage. The greatest partnerships are like a long-term marriage where everyone is happy,” Willis said. “In the business context, everyone gets a financial reward, but both require compatibility.

“I have been in many partnerships with mortgage companies. We have had multiple mortgage partnerships and have found that the best ones may not necessarily be the ones that provided the most income, but compatibility with what mattered in the business relationship.”

If you are an agent, you may view yourself as a solo business owner. When you look at your business, however, you will soon realize that there are numerous people with whom you partner. This can include the professionals you use for mortgage, title, escrow and inspections, or just about any other service that you use or provide throughout the real estate transaction.

This is especially true if you are building a team or a brokerage. The people you hire can make or break you. Willis shared the following advice from Keller Williams founder Gary Keller in terms of how to go about your hiring/recruiting process:

“Gary said that you will always be able to see the upside of a situation with ease, but you may not always see the downside. You must ask yourself, ‘Where is this partnership’s downside?’ ”

One of the common traps Willis faced is being optimistic and seeing the good in every person. Instead of being drawn in by friendship or liking the person, Willis recommends that you seek alignment:

“The main thing is alignment. Alignment must be present in terms of our goals, values, outcomes and business standards. How does the person do business? Are they going to represent your company as well as you represent it? Do they actually share your standards or is it something they just talk about but don’t live? What are their values? Do their values match yours? Finally, are they right for this opportunity?”

The next step is to set mutual expectations:

“Look for the person’s big picture and what they want as well. You must be clear on mutual expectations and what happens if things go astray. Most people neglect this process because they are focused on the short-term fix rather than the long-term solution. The late author Stephen Covey says that you must start with the end in mind. Slow down. Avoid being attached to the outcome and stay neutral in the process.”

Keller Williams also uses a three-interview process called “Recruit and Select.” Depending upon the position, they may also use the DiSC behavioral profile and the AVA (Activity Vector Analysis.)

Is this process effective? Willis has found that it works in all levels of the Keller Williams organization and internationally, too. To sum up, “The greatest gift is in staying neutral. David Hawkins in ‘Power vs. Force’ says don’t work from fear or lower-level emotions. Work from neutrality and stay unattached to the outcome.”

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at

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