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The New Normal: Where Do We Go From Here?

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RISMEDIA, February 22, 2011—In the aftermath of the new normal that we are experiencing in today’s real estate market, it is crucial that real estate professionals take the time to make the most of today’s reality. Now is the time to let the market take care of itself and instead focus your energy on opportunities for growth. In this month’s Power Broker Roundtable, real estate professionals J. Lennox Scott, Rei Mesa and Steve Rodgers discuss what real estate agents should do today in order to find success as we continue through 2011.

Moderator:
Charlie Oppler,
Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations, NAR

Participants:
J. Lennox Scott,
Chairman, CEO, John L. Scott Realty, Seattle, Washington
Rei Mesa, President, CEO, Prudential Florida Realty, Miami, Florida
Steve Rodgers, President/Owner, Windermere Real Estate, San Diego, California

Charlie Oppler: The new normal…it’s a phrase we’re hearing so much these days that it’s getting a little frayed around the edges. The fact is, “normal” as we remember it a few years ago was not normal at all. It was an overheated market that has given way to a more sustainable reality. That’s okay, but for the fly in the ointment: a stubbornly high unemployment rate. Throw jobs and confidence into the mix of low prices and interest rates and the future looks a lot brighter. Yet even now, home sales are trending at about 4.5 million a year. That’s a whole lot of real estate for industry professionals with a grip on the current environment—and the need for homes will continue to grow as the population ages and grows. So the question in my mind is what do those with a grip on the situation know that the rest of us don’t? What are we—can we, should we—be doing to make the most of today’s reality? Joining us today are three individuals whose business acumen and personal philosophies make them formidable contenders in any market. Lennox, what’s your take on what brokers and agents need to be doing now?

Lennox Scott: At the risk of sounding simplistic, Charlie, I think the key to success in any market is a focus on core values, trusted relationships, and a positive state of mind. Every sales associate in every one of our offices is responsible for four things every day: doing what it takes to fulfill the desired outcome of every single client; enhancing their competency in every phase of buyer and seller consultation; preparing a written, daily activity plan including geographic farming, open houses, calendaring and working their sphere of influence; and most of all, approaching each day with confidence and affirmation. We’ve had agents double their production by focusing on those four items, and I can’t tell you how proud I am of our entire core team for doing so.

Steve Rodgers: Interesting that you mention affirmation, Lennox, because that’s driving our success as well. In the aftermath of the new normal, knowledge is ever more important. But knowledge is everywhere, and a personal mindset focused on achievement is often what makes the difference. I know that from experience, having started this company from scratch after unexpectedly cutting ties with another organization, and I use my experience as a challenge and a goal for every person on our team. We have agents who are making half as much as they were a few years ago. They’ve had spouses laid off and debtors calling just like some of their clients. But they get up and put on their suits and their smiles and they reinvent themselves every day. Life is a journey and attitude is key to turning lemons into lemonade.

Rei Mesa: I see what you’re saying, and I agree that it’s time to get over “being under water.” We need to let the market take care of itself and focus our energies on the opportunities for growth. This is the time for planning, hard work and realistic optimism.

Charlie Oppler: Let’s talk for a minute about today’s reality. Rei, how have priorities changed?

Rei Mesa: For one thing, the public’s priorities have changed, and NAR’s focus on “homeownership matters” hits the reality nail on the head. Investment aside, we need to sell homes for what they are: a means to stable families, better schools and communities, and a more productive society.

Lennox Scott: Also, of course, priorities should include reining in expenses. We’ve pared off 40% of our square footage and we have a greater number of mobile agents today as technology changes service delivery.

Rei Mesa: Agreed. We had 62 offices and 2,100 agents in 2005. Today we have 40 offices and 1,800 agents, but they are all fully operative and productive. As a result, through the paradigm shift, we’ve experienced no revenue loss.

Steve Rodgers: I think we’re all working smarter and doing a better job of allocating resources. We’ve seen a 77% increase in sales volume in the last 12 months over the previous 12. And real estate is still local. We need to focus on opportunities.

Charlie Oppler: And on every transaction. Every positive experience we can create for our clients is a step in the right direction.

Steve Rodgers: Exactly. I’m encouraged every time I see sparkling eyes in a buyer who closes on a great home they thought they could never afford—or a seller we helped through a short sale who has new confidence in the future.

Rei Mesa: Jobs are the glue that will hold it all together…but I think we can agree the American dream is still alive.

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