Dave Liniger, the co-founder and chairman of RE/MAX, urged the more than 7,000 agents attending the company’s annual R4 conference in Las Vegas to embrace the changes that come to the industry, whether it be disruptive technology or other adjustments.
“Don’t be fearful of change,” Liniger said. “Change is occurring all the time.”
“In the 47-year career of RE/MAX it is a constant that everything is changing,” Liniger added. “Some people ignore the change, but if you’re curious about the industry, you will adopt the changes.”
RE/MAX has been an industry standard for more than four decades, with more than 130,000 agents today more than 1.6 million transactions in 2019. But there was a time, according to Liniger, that RE/MAX was the agent of change for the industry. It’s a perspective that has also helped him see that not every anticipated change comes to fruition.
Liniger believes that nine out of 10 times, the change will never occur and its the job of the agents to decipher which change will actually happen. One of those changes, that he believes will never occur, is the disintermediation of real estate agents.
“The main way to think about it, we’re not being replaced,” Liniger said. “All of this nonsense 10 years ago, all of the tech companies said, ‘we’re going to drive all of the agents out of the business, we’re going to disintermediate everybody, we can do this cheaper.’”
“I looked at them, I was very controversial at the time, I was very aggressive at the time and my statement was, you can’t replace the relationship of the agent and the customer,” Liniger added. “We don’t sell books, or DVDs or airplane tickets or rental cars, this is a long-term relationship.”
Liniger also spoke briefly to the changes happening at RE/MAX and specifically the companies focus on developing proprietary technology, anchored by the acquisition of booj two years ago. In the wake of that acquisition, the company has developed and released a customer relationship management platform, as well as a revamped consumer experience including a new website and app.
“Technolgy is going to increase your productivity and put more money in the bottom line for you and the owner of the office,” Liniger said. “That’s what this company is all about. We’re in the business of helping you build your business.”
In speaking to RE/MAX’s competitors, as well as the new models popping up in the industry, Liniger said he learned to like the competitors and the companies going to market with a different approach, which is a big-time change from when he was first in the industry.
“When I was young, I hated my competitors, I wanted more market share,” Liniger said. “People would say, ‘how much do you want?’ and I would say, ‘well, I want our fair share.’
“And they said, ‘well how much is that,’ and I’d say, ‘all of it.’”
“But as I matured a little bit and we became industry leaders, I started liking our competitors,” Liniger said. “There are different ways of doing this business there and there are places for all types of concepts.”
Liniger, who co-founded RE/MAX with his wife Gail Liniger, formally stepped down from the CEO role in 2018 to pave the way for current CEO Adam Contos to take the reins of the company after an internal investigation found that Liniger failed to disclose a loan he provided Contos to purchase a home.
In conversation with Contos, Liniger admitted he’s semi-retired, but Contos was quick to note that he’ll never fully retire because, “he has so much knowledge.”
“[Liniger] has been an amazing mentor to me,” Contos said.