Make Your Own Noise: Keeping Your Brokerage Relevant and Valuable

Nov 6, 2018 by

“Gino Blefari, CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC, co-moderates RISMedia’s 23rd Annual Power Broker Forum at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo. (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

Staying relevant—that’s the name of the game in today’s highly competitive real estate industry, and the key to not only surviving the endless barrage of new technological trends and disruptive business models, but thriving, as well. At RISMedia’s 23rd Annual Power Broker Forum, “Compete—and Win—in a Changing Real Estate World,” held at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo, industry experts weighed in on how today’s brokers can beat out the competition and adapt to the modern era of real estate.

The forum was moderated by John Featherston, founder, president and CEO of RISMedia, and Gino Blefari, CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC, which operates Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Real Living Real Estate. Lacey Conway, president and principal broker of Latter & Blum, Inc.; James D’Amico, CEO and president of CENTURY 21 North East; Whitney LaCosta, executive vice president of Coach REALTORS®; and Mike Schlott, president of Kinlin Grover, Page Taft and Randall REALTORS®, were panelists.

(L to R) John Featherston, Founder, President & CEO, RISMedia; Mike Schlott, President, Kinlin Grover, Page Taft and Randall REALTORS®; Whitney LaCosta, Executive Vice President, Coach REALTORS®; Jim D’Amico, CEO & President, CENTURY 21 North East; Lacey Conway, President & Principal Broker, Latter & Blum, Inc.; and Blefari (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

With new entrants to the real estate space commandeering attention on what seems like a daily basis, there’s a lot of noise to work through in order for
brokers to make themselves heard—and this noise can distract from recruiting strategies, retention efforts and agents’ lead-generating and client conversion strategies.

“Present-day companies are looking to appeal to agents and the consumer, but there’s a threat to conventional full-service brokerages: companies that are looking to disrupt the industry’s value chain,” Blefari kicked off the forum. “We are about to see an epic battle between discount brokerages and consumers who think they are being overcharged versus full-service brokerages who believe in their core that they deserve what they earn. You’ve got to treat these guys very seriously—you don’t attract hundreds of millions in capital without having a compelling business plan.”

“There’s a lot of noise out there, and you can lose your focus,” said LaCosta. “You have to know what your value is to agents and clients, and stick to that value. Focus on that and you’ll be successful.”

Going a step above means brokerages have to make enough of their own noise to stay relevant and draw away some of the attention that today’s disruptive business models are reaping—after all, they’re primarily catching the eye of the media because they’re new and unproven, reminded Featherston. For brokerages that have a set track record and have made a name for themselves in the industry, it’s crucial they use their value proposition to make their own commotion and let their voices be heard.

“(L to R) Schlott; LaCosta; and D’Amico (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

“We are making noise on a daily basis, so it’s hard to hear the other noise,” D’Amico shared. “Our new office, our new lead generation strategies, our new logo, our new tools—that’s the noise that will drown out the pestering emails and the weak recruiting attempts.”

The crashing sound of symbols dominating the conversation? That’s technology, which needs to be embraced to be able to perform and meet today’s “tap and get” consumer expectation. The competition is regularly introducing business models that use technology to target and alleviate the leading pain points for clients today.

“You have to look at your company’s history with the consumer and figure out the pain point. How can we take it away?” LaCosta posed. “If you can do that, you make the experience better for the consumer—and if you don’t take it away, another brokerage will do it for you.”

Culture also plays a significant role—there’s hardly anything as powerful as core values to attract attention and create a boisterous presence. Many real estate disruptors use financial incentives to lure agents; however, many who sign on with these initially-appealing brokerages find that the culture is not what they expected, nor an environment in which they can flourish.

“Featherston co-moderates RISMedia’s 23rd Annual Power Broker Forum. (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

“Recruiting isn’t about emails or postcards anymore; it’s about contact and finding the right people that fit with the culture of the organization, and going after those people,” said Schlott.

Standing above the competition doesn’t have to mean taking in any and all agents; in fact, relying primarily on agent count can backfire on brokerage productivity. Filling the agent base with quality, professional members—who will not only bring in profits, but also market the brokerage simply because they believe in the cause and have an innate loyalty to the business—will ensure the brokerage outshines the continuous influx of recruitment emails that competitors send.

“Our managers and our agents are our best advertisers,” said Conway. “If they are out doing business and doing well, we don’t have to call around—they want to be with us. We have to do a better job of telling our story, and that’s simply about the people that make up our company—they make us what we are.”

The keys to marketing through the noise and winning in a changing real estate world?

“Culture trumps strategy—tell your story better,” stated Blefari, who also summarized four tips that can lead to a higher chance of attracting and retaining agents and clients:

  • Focus on production, rather than bodies.
  • Get your people to use and adopt technology.
  • Go where the expectations are high and deliver the next big skill.
  • Become better, stronger and more unique.

“The panelists presenting at RISMedia’s 23rd Annual Power Broker Forum (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

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

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

The post Make Your Own Noise: Keeping Your Brokerage Relevant and Valuable appeared first on RISMedia.


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Keeping Up in a Gangbuster Market

Feb 17, 2018 by

Seattle broker enlists Clareity Dashboard to help agents compete

If there was ever a place where real estate agents needed to be at the top of their game, it’s the super competitive Seattle market. “Our employment growth is off the charts, which is great for the economy, but our housing construction isn’t keeping up,” says Sam DeBord, managing broker and vice president of Strategic Growth for the area’s Coldwell Banker Danforth. “We’re adding 70,000 new residents every year in King County, while only permitting 10,000 new units. So, the lack of available and affordable homes for sale will continue to climb as long as technology companies [think Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple] continue to expand their workforces here. That means higher prices, more traffic, and even more reason for real estate agents to have the tools to do business at a moment’s notice, wherever they happen to be.”

To help his agents succeed amid the frenetic market conditions, DeBord recently signed on with the Clareity® DASH!™ single sign-on dashboard solution for brokers and their agents. According to DeBord, the product is aligned with the company’s overall mission to help agents be more productive and more efficient so that they can do what they do best—work one-on-one with clients.

“Agents’ most valuable asset is time,” says DeBord. “All of our tools are designed to give them more time to focus on their clients, and/or more free time for their personal lives. The Clareity dashboard reduces friction in their daily tasks and helps increase their productivity; it keeps their most valuable tools right at their fingertips every day.”

One of the biggest efficiencies that DASH! provides is a single sign-on—no more trying to remember different usernames and passwords to access different sites. When using the dashboard, agents sign on once to access everything they need.

“As a brokerage, agent adoption of tools is always an issue,” says DeBord. “With the dashboard, all of our tools are on the same screen as our MLS tools, and that’s where agents start their day, every day.

Having an organized dashboard helps to remind agents which tools we provide as a brokerage, and they no longer have to go searching for those websites and vendors.”

In addition to the single sign-on technology, Clareity DASH! also opens up new—and more effective—communication avenues for DeBord. In the information-overload age, these features ensure the most critical messages are heard. “We can post important messages as pop-ups that every agent will see as they start their day,” says DeBord. “We can also keep our classes and events on one central calendar that we can all reference. And we can have different dashboard layouts for different groups: commercial, residential, property management, managers and staff. Each group only sees the tools they need. The customization features allow for a superior experience for everyone.”

Perhaps most importantly, Clareity DASH! helps depict what Coldwell Banker Danforth is all about as a firm. “The dashboard can act as a visual representation of our value proposition to current agents and recruits,” DeBord explains. “We describe our brokerage model as the Amazon of real estate. We supply the brand that agents and consumers trust, while focusing on digital tools for agents instead of lots of brick-and-mortar. We invest our resources in an integrated set of the best tools that are available in any location. We provide team-based management support, accessible from any office or in the field. Our agents get a seamless, modern, portable brokerage platform without the costs of the traditional brokerage’s menu of offerings. The dashboard puts all of those benefits in one location, and displays them for our agents every day.”

And having Clareity as a partner only further solidifies the value of DASH!. In fact, DeBord says he hasn’t seen anything on the market that even compares. “As a company, we needed a trusted vendor if we were going to put this much of our operation in the hands of one organization,” he explains. “With Clareity’s background as a security company, and the strength and history of its parent company, CoreLogic, we see this as a perfect fit for a long-term partner that will continue to innovate with its products.”

For more information, please visit

CORELOGIC, CLAREITY, and DASH! are trademarks of CoreLogic, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Patterson_Maria_60x60Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

The post Keeping Up in a Gangbuster Market appeared first on RISMedia.


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Fast Forward: Keeping Ahead of the Technology Curve

Dec 30, 2016 by

Technology is shaping the future of real estate, and in today’s dynamic landscape, fully leveraging technology is critical to success—for brands, brokers and agents.

Sir Arthur C. Clark, acclaimed science fiction writer and co-author of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” noted that any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic. Today, truly successful real estate professionals are leveraging technology tools to create magical experiences that amaze and delight their clients in a completely transparent way.

Zap—a network of brand, broker and agent websites with an integrated CRM being rolled out for all of Realogy’s brands—is just the starting point at ERA Real Estate. The brand, known for being the first to see the business applications of the fax machine back in the early 1970s, has continued to innovate with a forward-thinking approach. This approach is apparent in how ERA Real Estate has deployed Zap across its network.

As the first real estate brand to connect all of its affiliated brokers and agents on the same platform, we created a unique, competitive position for our brand,” says Chris Trick, chief marketing officer at ERA Real Estate.

In order to drive traffic to the new platform and maximize results for the entire ERA® system, the brand launched an aggressive digital media campaign, complemented by an innovative co-operative lead generation program called “Light It Up,” which matched broker commitments dollar for dollar.

“As a result, site traffic has increased 70 percent year-over-year, in addition to a surge of organic traffic of more than 100 percent,” notes Trick. “More importantly, we’re starting to see positive shifts in lead source as we recapture a higher share of leads coming from”

Driving traffic to the site is just part of the strategy. Getting ERA-affiliated professionals to use the site is just as important. To that end, the ERA learning team created multiple touch points for gaining mastery of the Zap CRM platform. From live, in-market instructional workshops to virtual refresher courses, ERA taps into its own corporate team, as well as Zap specialists who have gone through a “train the trainer” course to become the go-to expert for their company.

Regional learning events devoted entirely to Zap bring together upwards of hundreds of ERA brokers and agents to learn, collaborate and share best practices.

The multi-faceted approach to increasing Zap engagement has produced results: those ERA-affiliated professionals who are most engaged in Zap are seeing high average increases in productivity—demonstrating a direct correlation between engagement and productivity.

“On average, companies that implemented Zap in 2015 are seeing a greater increase in year-to-date GCI growth,” says Trick. “This underscores the importance of focusing on adoption and engagement.”

To foster usage across the network and close out 2016 in a strong position, ERA amplified the brand’s incredible momentum with an enticing incentive called “Zap to the Future.” During the month of November, ERA companies that had 50 percent of their affiliated agents log into the Zap platform were entered into a drawing for a three-month SEM campaign. Additionally, each day in November, an ERA-affiliated sales associate who logged into the platform was randomly selected to win a prize. Engagement begins by logging into the platform, because as Trick points out, “You have to be in it to win it!”

Also in November, the brand premiered Zap/TV, a live, 90-minute interactive television event providing participants the opportunity to ask questions, learn best practices and experience a day in the life of a successful real estate sales associate using Zap. The show is hosted by Wayne Weaver, a former top-producing sales associate with ERA Team VP Real Estate in Chautauqua, N.Y., who has traveled across the country in his new role as a Zap instructor, hosting live learning sessions at ERA companies.

Just as the real estate industry evolves, so does the Zap technology. In fact, there’s a saying at ERA Real Estate: Zap is not a product, it’s a process. And in keeping with the idea that Zap is a process, the ERA network is encouraged to keep up to date with the enhancements and developments that continue to provide an unparalleled competitive advantage for Zap users. In just 12 months, more than 90 new product features and enhancements have been pushed out, and many more are in the pipeline.

“Improvements happen every step of the way,” says Trick. “Over the past few months, Zap has introduced several major new features, including the Zap mobile CRM app, the new consumer app and improved property search functionality that includes neighborhood sub-divisions and school boundaries. And coming soon, we’ll introduce improvements to website configurations for affiliated sales associates to allow them to further customize their sites.”

With technology and innovation as cornerstones of the brand’s value proposition, ERA Real Estate is ready to “fast forward” to the future, providing its affiliated brokers and sales associates with a competitive advantage for years to come thanks to the brand’s out-of-the-box approach to maximizing the power of the platform.

For more information, please visit

Nick Caruso is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email him your real estate news ideas at

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

The post Fast Forward: Keeping Ahead of the Technology Curve appeared first on RISMedia.


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