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This week, Denver-based franchisor RE/MAX took over Las Vegas to celebrate its 50th year in the industry at its R4 conference.
While RE/MAX founder Dave Liniger used his time to reflect on his company’s past, president and CEO Nick Bailey used his time to broadcast the blueprint for the franchisor’s future, which hinges on making its 144,000 agents the Jedis of the real estate industry — ready to protect and serve consumers wading through a volatile market.
“I am very clear on two things,” Bailey said during his Tuesday keynote. “One, guess what’s going to happen in 2023? People are going to buy and sell houses. It’s going to happen. And number two, that the most experienced agents have the upper hand.”
“Consumers really want three things,” he added. “They want trust, they want knowledge and they want experience.”
Here are the five tips RE/MAX leaders shared for making yourself “unstoppable” this year:
Structure, nurture and scale: Nick Bailey’s tips for stoking growth
As the real estate market continues to correct, many broker-owners are bearing down the hatches and turning their attention to culture, recruitment and retention to navigate slowing homebuying and homeselling activity.
With a goal of reaching 200,000 agents worldwide in his view, Bailey encouraged RE/MAX broker-owners and managers to focus on creating the structure and systems needed to successfully recruit new and experienced agents, who will need varying levels of support, training and career planning.
“Brokers have to create structure that supports newer agents and gets them the training they need — while also building accountability that pushes them to do the hardest parts of the job, like prospecting,” he said. “It’s not enough for a broker to just hope an agent succeeds; they’ve got to work with them to create a plan for success.”
“When it comes to recruiting experienced agents, don’t forget to have the interview and ask them whether there is someone in their life they are making this decision with,” he added. “Don’t underestimate the power of a significant other, mentor, friend or colleague who may have seen this person work in different environments and may hold weight in this decision.”
On the retention side, Bailey said broker-owners must create a collaborative culture that enables them to leverage existing agents as recruiters, without the fear that the addition of new agents means they’ll be pushed to the background.
“Make sure your agents understand the advantages of adding scale to the brokerage. A larger office doesn’t mean more competition, it means more resources,” he said. “Then, have them help you identify good candidates they find on the other side of their transactions.”
“Your agents should be thinking about what they liked about the person or what resources RE/MAX may provide that could make them more efficient at what they do,” he added.
The CEO also suggested broker-owners create opportunities for top-producing agents to create teams — another powerful tool to stoke growth. “A team-friendly environment motivates your team leaders to recruit, which ultimately grows the office,” he said. “Support your team leaders and provide resources that help them scale up too.”
Revive a slowing sales funnel through referrals
Ebbing mortgage rates, inflation and other economic concerns have slowed homebuyers’ and homesellers’ interest in the market, thereby making the work of attracting new clients more difficult for even the most experienced agents.
Although some market metrics — like a small bump in mortgage applications and a rise in pending sales — signal a coming recovery, RE/MAX Technology Program Training Manager Tavia Ritter said today’s agents must shift their energy toward building a robust referral business.
“As Nick Bailey often tells the RE/MAX network, people will continue to buy and sell homes this year,” she said while noting some markets have actually experienced a lift in activity this year. “We’ve seen several referrals already take place at R4, so it’s important to learn what’s happening in your local market and educate your sphere to position yourself as the real estate expert.”
“Go back to basics,” she added. “Lean on your past clients for referrals while actively working on new lead generation sources.”
Ritter said agents, broker-owners, and managers must leverage technology to streamline the referral process and begin nurturing referral leads immediately since consumers are likely to choose the first agent they speak to.
“Agents can supercharge their communication funnel so their leads are contacted more quickly and from there, they can easily follow up through automated steps,” Ritter said. “This helps ensure agents know how to best spend their time each day when closing a deal might mean more back and forth than it did a year ago under different conditions.”
Ritter noted the sales funnel for new agents and experienced agents will be different, with experienced agents having the benefit of a strong database of past clients to glean referrals from. Meanwhile, new agents must place most of their attention on lead generation.
“Experienced agents tend to have a deeper and broader sphere of past clients to lean into for referrals,” she said. “They may be focused on implementing consistent communication plans that include add-ons like market reports. For them, transaction-ready consumers are more important than leads.”
“Meanwhile, new agents need to generate more leads and become more comfortable asking for referrals to gain experience across all areas,” she added.
Ego, not the competition, is hindering your recruiting efforts
RE/MAX VP of Regional Development Ben Fairfield thinks of agent recruitment like flyfishing — instead of being a hobby fisherman haphazardly throwing your hook and bait into the water hoping to catch a fish or two, he said agents must be like flyfishers — watchful, purposeful and strategic.
“Fly fishing is incredibly technical and as a result, it’s one of the most difficult types of fishing that exists,” he said. “As opposed to bait fishing where you simply throw a baited hook into the water and wait, fly fishing involves a number of steps that must be followed in order to achieve success. Recruiting is the exact same way.”
“Most broker-owners or recruiters don’t follow the basic steps and because of that, their results are inconsistent or fall short of expectation,” he added. “A recruiting presentation requires a refined approach and directly impacts how successful one is going to be at catching fish.”
Fairfield said broker-owners must approach recruiting as a full-time job with the purpose of “throwing the right fly” at the right person, meaning that you must listen to what a recruit is missing at their current brokerage and learn to fill in the gaps in culture, support, training or education they’re missing.
“If you throw the wrong fly at the right person, it’s still not going to get the desired outcome. Mindset is everything,” he said. “If recruiters don’t have a genuine interest in helping the agents they are in discussions with, the process won’t produce positive results. It’s that simple.”
The training dynamo suggested broker-owners keep a running list of agents they’d like to recruit and begin building a recruitment strategy that would attract those agents. This process, he said, will require leaders to carefully and honestly evaluate their brokerage and get it up to snuff.
“You’ve got to realize your competition isn’t other companies,” he said. “Your competition is your procrastination, your ego, your lack of discipline, and your lack of consistency. Your biggest enemy is the story you are telling yourself about what’s possible.”
“Real estate professionals are entrepreneurs, so agents won’t care about your brand until they believe you can actually help them,” he added.
Stay sensitive to homebuyers’ changing needs
While most of the conversation about market shifts surrounds the everyday buyer and seller, RE/MAX Collection Executive Director of Luxury Initiatives Amber Bonasoro said there’s plenty of pivoting that also must be done in the luxury sector — especially when it comes to understanding buyer needs.
“With price points stabilizing a bit, one obstacle that exists within the luxury market that doesn’t happen as much elsewhere is that people start to define what luxury is on their own terms,” she said. “Agents have to sometimes navigate sellers who think the listing is luxury but it’s not, or the other way around.”
On the base level, Bonasoro said luxury listings are aesthetically pleasing and offer desirable amenities that place them in the upper tier of the market. After that, she said the definition of luxury ebbs and flows based on the market.
For example, luxury buyers in Miami may require a pool and ample outdoor space, while luxury buyers in New York may focus on other amenities like access to concierge services for their skyrise mansions. “With real estate being such a hyper-local industry, that gets redefined over and over again,” she said.
Bonasoro said the luxury market will remain strong in 2023, with better balance than the previous two years. That balance, she said, will push buyers and sellers to be more “discretionary about their decisions.”
“At R4, Jared James gave a presentation citing a survey that showed 80 percent of homebuyers compromised when buying a house the past few years, she said. “If that’s behind us, that’s good news for everyone.”
In the meantime, Bonasoro encouraged luxury agents to invest in furthering their education and gaining important certifications, such as the Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS) designation.
“The more you learn, the more you earn,” she said. “Getting the CLHMS designation is beneficial so you can more tactfully showcase the value you can provide in establishing what is luxury, showcasing you have the skills to better position the property on the market and that you also understand negotiation tactics to serve in the best interest of your client.”
Don’t stop the clock on TikTok
The top social media platforms have been under heavy scrutiny lately for seemingly haphazard algorithmic and feature updates that make it tempting to give up on digital marketing altogether.
If that sounds like you, RE/MAX Real Estate Center agent Elli Jennings, RE/MAX Fine Properties agent Nimesh Patel, RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Group Josh Reyes said its important to stop fixating on algorithmic changes and focus on being adaptable to current trends.
“I don’t think most users need to try and keep up with algorithmic changes,” Patel said. “Ultimately, agents should keep up with trends more than anything and that will help their content’s performance. Adaptation is key and critical to agents as we continue to consume social media rapidly.”
Although agents should be adaptable about the methods they use to deliver information (e.g. YouTube shorts, IG reels, TikTok videos with trending sounds), Jennings said the content that converts doesn’t really change.
“When it comes time to create content that is versatile on both TikTok and Instagram Reels, I encourage sticking to the three styles of content: Educational (value), Entertaining (storytelling), and Inspiring (motivating your client to do something),” she said.
If the idea of recording a video gives you hives, no worries — Reyes said it’s more important to start with short and simple videos you can create and post consistently.
“Agents who are apprehensive about putting themselves out there should start small,” he said. “It’s all about building habits, confidence and momentum.”
“I suggest they start with a slideshow video of either stock images or images that they have taken of homes, their market, or infographics,” he added. “Once they get comfortable with that, they can start by doing a video slideshow of photos of themselves, maybe with their sold sign or them in a listing that shows their face and personality.”
“Once they get comfortable and consistent doing that, they can start doing quick speaking videos and from there, they can continue to work on their video skills and start to get more creative.”