Our Most Important Clients: Helping Our Agents Grow Their Business

Feb 10, 2019 by

This month’s National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Power Broker Roundtable discusses the agent experience. 


Jim Imhoff, Chairman, First Weber, Madison, Wis., Liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations, National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)


Chris Kelly, CEO, Ebby Halliday REALTORS®, Dallas, Texas


Christy Budnick, President/CEO, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty, Jacksonville, Fla.


Kim Bakey, CEO, Iowa Realty, HomeServices of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa


Jim Imhoff: In a discussion with brokers last month, we zeroed in on the need to define our value proposition, and what doing so means to the success of our companies, our brands, and our most important clients: our agents.

This month, we thought we’d take that a step further. What, in this age of keen competition and shiny new business models, can we do—as part of our evolving value proposition—to ensure that we have the best educated, most technically prepared, most professional agents on the block?

Our panelists are innovative and experienced leaders with their fingers on the pulse of the industry. What’s changing, Chris, and how can we respond?

Chris Kelly: What’s changed for me is that I once saw the brokerage—and the brand—as an umbrella under which the agent works. Today, I see them as a foundation for the agent—a base upon which every agent can grow in his or her own unique way, whether as an individual or as part of a team. Our job as brokers is to provide the tools and support every agent needs to build their own successful brand, because if we do it right—and this is something that has never changed—their success is also ours.

Christy Budnick: I hear you, Chris. There are a lot of different business models out there, some of them high-split, but little or no support. We take pride in the support we provide, and in defining ourselves as a Ninja company. We are focused on building relationships, listening to the customer, and helping both our agents and their clients achieve their goals.

Kim Bakey: As an agent-centric company, we have to know—even anticipate—what our agents need, whether it’s more education, one-on-one coaching, specialized technology, or maybe just getting them out from under all the paperwork so they can be out there doing what they do best.

JI: For busy agents, getting away from the paperwork can increase production dramatically.

CK: It’s one of the reasons agents develop teams, with admin to do the paperwork for them.

CB: It’s very helpful to relieve agents of paperwork, but it’s just as important, as the support team behind them, to help them excel at building relationships. That’s a chore we take off their shoulders with an automated program called AutoFlow that literally does their marketing for them. Once the agent signs up for it, we reach out to everyone in their database three times a month with e-cards, newsletters, even coupons to the local venues we partner with, all branded to the agent. These pieces go out automatically, keeping the agent top of mind with their clients.  

JI: Do agents actually see tangible results from it?

CB: We’re finding that the agents who use it are as much as 50 percent more productive than those who don’t—and it’s a way to be sure we’ll never hear people say, “I would have used my agent again if I could only have remembered her name.” 

KB: Another advantage: the one-stop shopping model. Having brokerage, mortgage, insurance, title and settlement services integrated throughout our operation provides an efficient, streamlined experience for consumers and agents. It’s a key value proposition that’s been a part of our culture since our earliest days of operation in the 1950s. It is so much a part of our fiber now that we sometimes take its value for granted.

JI: Like technical and social media proficiency, and the ability to work remotely, that may indeed be a solid underpinning of our value proposition as brokers—and of the value we bring to helping our agents distinguish themselves from the competition.

CK: Also, in this digital world, we see enormous value in maintaining a dynamic office environment. We encourage our agents to be part of this—to surround themselves with top producers, who are their best, most supportive role models. The best producers know the pie is not finite. They are generous in sharing their time and knowledge.

JI: Often, too, sharing, mentoring and a spirit of camaraderie go hand in hand with giving back, as a unified team, to the communities where we do business. People like to do business with people who give back, and it’s one more way we can perpetuate success and ensure that our brand remains viable well into the next generation.

KB: I think the question for all of us, brokers and agents both, is, ‘How can I be better?’ It’s a question we must always be asking—and that means taking a deeper look into every aspect of our business.

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Commercial Earnings Grow With Healthy Market: NAR

Nov 18, 2018 by

In a sign of the times, commercial market prices are rising, but units are not.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2018 Commercial Member Profile, on commercial REALTORS®, income and sales volume have tracked up, but deals have been on a downtrend. The annual average number of transactions tumbled to seven in 2017, from eight in 2016; earnings, however, reached a record $ 150,700. Meanwhile, the median sales volume was $ 3.87 million—a jump from $ 3.5 million.

The commercial market outlook is stable through 2019, thanks to an economy on a robust run, according to a forecast at NAR’s REALTORS® Conference & Expo, held this month. In the last eight years, prices ran up 93 percent—growth that, in all likelihood, will moderate over the next two or three years, the forecast showed.

“The commercial real estate industry is strong and is on pace with the growing economy,” explains NAR President John Smaby. “Although there is a slight decrease in transactions, commercial professionals have reported improvements in their markets and business activity for consecutive years. REALTORS® reported that sales volume and costs of sales increased this year, as well as median gross annual income.”

“Commercial real estate professionals are reporting great growth in the past year, which has convinced more and more members to enter the commercial industry,” notes Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “The economy expanding, along with [the] tight labor market, have boosted income for REALTORS® in the commercial space.”

Commercial is paralleling the residential side, albeit with higher stakes. RISMedia’s 2018 Power Broker Report, which is based on residential sales volume and transactions, found that while both sales volume and transactions trended up in 2017, deals lagged sales significantly.

The imbalance is indicative of the inventory shortage, which is only now slightly unwinding, as well as the fact that more are entering the profession.

Experience Matters
According to the Commercial Member Profile, brokers and broker associates had the highest incomes, at $ 186,900 and $ 139,700, respectively. Agent incomes trailed, at $ 104,600, but increased, still, from 2016. Those with less than two years of experience earned $ 44,000—a leap from $ 31,500 in 2016—and those with more than 26 years in the industry made $ 192,600, up from $ 162,200.

For more information, please visit  

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Grow Houses No Problem for REALTORS® to Sell

Nov 7, 2018 by

There are burgeoning housing implications of the legalization of marijuana, from demand for dispensaries to an influence on property values, according to a new report.

According to approximately 10 percent of REALTORS®, in areas where there’s a dispensary, homes have increased in value, a National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) survey uncovered. More than 75 percent of REALTORS®, however, have not seen any shift in values, and 12-14 percent have seen a decline.

On the commercial side, the impact of the legalization of marijuana seems to be significant. According to the survey, close to 25 percent of commercial REALTORS® have seen a boost near growing land, and 20 percent have seen an increase on properties in proximity to a dispensary.

“Members in states where marijuana has been legalized to some extent have been asking us to conduct this kind of research because it is directly affecting their business,” said Jessica Lautz, director of Behavioral and Demographic Trends at NAR, during the 2018 REALTORS® Conference & Expo, where the findings were shared.

“Whether it is influencing property values, the number of all-cash purchases or demand for various types of commercial properties, it is clear that this billion-dollar industry is making an impact,” Lautz said.

Importantly, agents with grow house listings have had no problem selling them, according to the survey—both where marijuana has been legalized for medical purposes, and where it has been legalized for medical and recreational use. Of those REALTORS®, 90 percent had no issues with the title.

Still, there’s stigma.

“While less than 10 percent of members indicated there is an increase in actual crime around dispensaries, 16-18 percent indicated that there is an increase in the perception of crime,” said Lautz.

Continuing coverage of the REALTORS® Conference & Expo to come.

For more information, please visit

DeVita_Suzanne_60x60Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Housing in 2020: Construction Costs Grow, Mortgage Rates Slow

Aug 26, 2018 by

Where will housing be in 2020? According to the latest Metrostudy predictions, if all continues on its current track, construction costs could continue to increase, and mortgage rates could reel in.

While rates have increased in the last six months, impacting affordability, the rise is not significant according to historical trends, says Mark Bound, chief economist and senior vice president at Metrostudy, a provider of primary and secondary market information to the housing and residential construction industries. In the long term, Boud predicts mortgage interest rates will top out at 5.8 percent in 2020 and 2021, eventually being pulled down by slower economic growth—and because of tighter lending practices, the market environment will not become as dire as the last housing bubble.

As for inventory, it is significantly under-supplied, while homes are increasingly overvalued; however, the risk of a price collapse is small due to the tight market, and Boud expects the cycle of under-supply to plateau in 2020. The lack of new inventory is, in part, in response to trade increases, as many of the imposed tariffs—specifically the 20-plus percent tariff on lumber imports, and 10 and 25 percent tariffs on aluminum and steel imports, respectively—directly impact construction efforts.

These factors could lead to an increase in overall construction timelines, as well as an increase in construction costs by at least $ 2,000 per house, according to Boud. More homes in the upper price ranges are being built, while inventory under $ 400,000 is lower, in some cases. Overall, the national market is becoming top-heavy, which typically only occurs where land is more expensive, such as in California, Boud says.

Remodeling activity continues to rise in response to homeowners staying in their homes for longer, as well as the continuing trend toward purchasing existing homes, which triggers renovations. According to Boud, this is most common in coastal markets, or markets that have high appreciation rates, such as Texas.

Something to watch? Inflation. Boud says inflationary pressures are slowly building—inflation rose from 2.4 percent in March to 2.9 percent in August—but in a few years, the national debt could slow economic growth, which, in turn, could slow down rising interest rates.

Another concern? The current downward trend of the 2-10 Treasury yield spread, which could see negative figures in about a year, may be a sign that a recession is in the cards.

However, the current economy is healthy, Boud says. In the past 12 months, 2.4 million jobs have been generated, increasing demand for housing and pushing the unemployment rate down. Additionally, housing starts are fairly stable, forecasted to be 1.28 million in 2018, and increasing to 1.33 million in 2019 and 1.345 million in 2020, before plateauing.

Dominguez_Liz_60x60_4cLiz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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