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Anthony Hitt thinks real estate pros need to get back to basics, and the 2023 theme for his company is “refinement.”
“They don’t have a written plan,” Hitt said of leaders’ most common error.
He went on during the session to argue that creating a specific written plan doesn’t have to be a huge task, nor is it impossible. But it is necessary — particularly doing these more uncertain times — because “you do need to know what the goals are that you need to accomplish in the near year.”
And he added that it’s also useful to have contingency plans for different types of market situations. At Engel & Völkers, Hitt noted, the plans are color-coded green, yellow and red.
“You need to know how to shift down into that yellow plan,” Hitt told the packed ballroom at the New York Hilton Midtown. “Or, depending on how the market gets, that red plan.”
Amory Wooden, chief marketing officer for Anywhere, joined Hitt on stage and agreed that real estate leaders do sometimes get tripped up by mistakes. Among other things, she said some fail to set goals. She also argued that some people do make plans, but then get so tied to them that they can’t adapt as the landscape shifts.
“Don’t let a plan lock you, so you lose sight of what’s going on around you,” Wooden said. “Don’t let a plan block you from listening to your customers.”
Immediately before the session featuring Hitt and Wooden, Leonard Steinberg — chief evangelist for Compass — also spent time on stage talking about errors. And in his view, one common mistake brokers make is to become “transaction obsessed.”
“I think one of the worst behaviors of brokerages is when they’re obsessed with transactions,” he added.
Steinberg instead urged company leaders to focus on relationships, including those that evolve well before any actual transactions.
Aside from common mistakes, the panelists also offered advice to help real estate leaders. Hitt, for example, talked about a branding “refinement” his company is doing — its first in 45 years. The goal, he explained, is not to “run away from our past” but to bring the company’s identity up to date and in line with the digital world.
Wooden discussed a similar experience at her company, saying that in the past Century 21 leaders came to parent company Anywhere with concerns about their ability to recruit agents. Century 21 has a long and storied history, Wooden said, but the brand needed a refresh in order to remain relevant in the modern world.
The takeaway from both anecdotes was that brands have to pull off a delicate balancing act. They need to honor the best qualities of their companies’ pasts, though also it’s essential to competitively position themselves in the modern, digital world.
Earlier, during the session with Steinberg, Melissa Sofia — founder of the San Diego-based The Avenue Home Collective — also said that she has had success as a boutique brand that is “trying to be Louis Vuitton” to the various equivalents of Target in the real estate industry. And she added that she tries to recruit people who are fun to be around, rather than for how many deals they do.
“When I’m hiring I’m not hiring en mass, I’m not hiring for production level,” she explained. “I’m hiring for ethos.”
And Jason Allen, director of real estate operations at Redfin who appeared with Steinberg and Sofia, said this is the time to double down on beefing up agents’ abilities.
“We want to make sure we’re developing the best agents and attracting top talent,” he said. “We have a coaching team and a training team that pretty much uses Redfin like a hive mind.”
All of the panelists ultimately agreed that the market isn’t what it was a year ago, but they also said that 2023 doesn’t have to be a disaster. Hitt, for one, said that he doesn’t “believe all the doom and gloom we’ve been hearing is real,” noting that there are still going to be “5 million transactions this year. And Wooden ultimately concluded that despite a more challenging housing market right now, real estate professionals can still succeed in 2023.
“There are great opportunities for those who are hungry and those who are fearless,” she concluded. “Be patient and be ready.”
Correction: Jason Allen, Redfin’s director of real estate operations, appeared on Tuesday’s panel. This post initially misidentified him as Jason Aleem, a senior vice president at Redfin.