Brokers adapt to an ever-changing market

WASHINGTON — While the pandemic has had an effect on the real estate world, it has made real estate professionals more aware than ever of how quickly business can change. “Adaptability” isn’t just a buzzword for the past two years of doing business; it is a necessity to move forward too.

The RISMedia Power Broker forum, “Embracing Change for the Win,” looked at how brokers can use the past two years and beyond to define how they are progressing in a market that continues to rapidly evolve.

Brokers and their businesses are facing a new world both in the marketplace and in their offices in ways that have never been seen. Many brokerages posted record numbers in 2021 but, as Todd Hetherington, CEO and founder of Century 21 New Millennium, which operates in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, said, 2022 has already taken a whole different turn. departure.

“I’m hearing from my colleagues that for many, the start of 2022 was the worst first quarter in 10 years,” Hetherington said at the realtors’ legislative meetings in Washington, DC.

Amid rising interest rates, war in Ukraine, inflation, an inventory crisis, and the new hybrid world of work, it’s more important than ever for brokers to hone and articulate a value proposition in their offices and in the field. This includes going down to the granular level when evaluating finances and processes, and maximizing the use of their affiliate services.

Adapting to a hybrid world

A hybrid work culture is here to stay. The pandemic has highlighted the many tools that make working from home successful, and a return to the office isn’t necessarily good for all workers. This includes real estate agents.

Kymber Menkiti, president of Keller Williams Capital Properties in Washington, DC, said that instead of requiring everyone to return to work in the office, her brokerage is working diligently to equip its offices for this new hybrid world. It’s about adding technology and resources so that whether agents are in person or online, they have a great experience interacting and connecting for educational sessions, check-ins, and meetings.

The transition to a hybrid world, however, is not always so easy for older brokers and managers, some of whom have struggled to adapt, said Christina Pappas, Vice President of The Keyes Company in South Florida and President of Florida Realtors®.

“The skill set needed for the hybrid world is very different,” Pappas said. “Now we have to teach brokers and managers how to rehire agents who aren’t there.”

It’s time to develop the skills brokers need to ensure agents are engaged because, in many cases, getting them into the office is harder than ever, Pappas said. Securing the tools needed to make the hybrid office more accessible and providing training is necessary.

Offices cool off after the pandemic

Both Heatherington and Bulman have made extensive renovations to their physical offices, and now they are both seeing an increase in office traffic. More officers and staff are coming to the workplace than before the pandemic, the two say.

Bulman said the process took a while, but the process has accelerated in recent months. After the brokerage’s original building caught fire and was a total loss during the pandemic, Bulman said the company decided to rebuild strategically, bringing all affiliate services under one roof, ensuring the building was state of the art and structuring the reconstruction in a way that included open space, green space and a café.

“We built a building that people would want to be in,” she said. “Over the past five weeks since the building opened, there’s a vibrancy and a feeling that we just didn’t have when we weren’t seeing each other in person.”

Heatherington noted that at her office in Alexandria, where attendance was low long before the pandemic, 150 people showed up for the grand reopening.

Articulate the value proposition

In a market where agents can write five or more unsuccessful offers for their clients, a new layer of difficulty is added to agent retention. As a broker who runs a small, independent business in a market where big companies are only getting bigger, Bulman said his brokerage has used the pandemic as a time to redefine its value proposition.

“It was time to dust off and reinvigorate the brand,” she said. “We had to clarify our image and our message to the world.”

Getting the message across is just as important as defining it, she said. Brokers need to stand in front of their agents and make sure the agents understand the value of being under their name.

The value proposition is different for each brokerage, Pappas said. Many variables, including the brokerage’s size, name, location, and service offerings, make a difference.

“The goal is not to follow what someone else says,” she said. “You have to know what makes sense to you.”

Once a brokerage has defined its value proposition, it should be clear how to use this information to retain. Brokers should bring agents into the fold and reiterate these benefits over and over again over time.

Maximize numbers

Now is the time to dig into the numbers, Menkiti said. Agents will not have the same understanding of numbers as brokers, and they will mostly focus on their own numbers. Putting this into context can help agents plan accordingly and adapt where needed.

Because the industry is changing so rapidly, Menkiti continued, it’s not enough to only report quarterly numbers or just share annual numbers.

“Follow the numbers and report them to the agents. Follow the main indicators each month so you know when and where to double.

Processes need to be meaningful and easily accessible, she said. Agents need to understand what is available to them in the office and how to use those items. When it comes to affiliate services, she said, it’s important to put the agent at the center of the transaction and let them know that everything they need to complete the transaction is there. .

“We invest our agents in our [affiliate] services so that they have a stake in that side of the business. This, she says, gives them a sense of belonging and encourages them to make full use of the services available.

Bulman said if a brokerage isn’t investing in affiliate services, now is the time.

“They’re not ‘nice to have’ at this point. They’re necessary,” she said. .”

At Heatherington Brokerage, it’s important to invest in its “tech stack” and explain to agents the time and money the tech stack saves.

“The tech stack wasn’t in our P&L before, but it’s there now. It’s been well adopted,” he said, adding that around 25% of his agents use it.

All brokers agreed that adoption is another stumbling block that should be addressed at this time.

Panelists suggested that a 20% to 25% adoption rate for affiliate services, technology, education, and events was a typical figure. Now, said Pappas, the focus should be on how to encourage the remaining 75% of brokerage agents to use them.

All agents and brokers are busy, Heatherington said, but in a market where change is happening at record speed, finding the time to plan for the future and invest in continuing education is paramount to success at the agent level. brokerage and agent.

Source: The National Association of Realtors® (NAR)

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