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An exacting economy and challenging real estate market didn’t prevent top brokers and industry leaders from turning out in full force to take part in RISMedia’s 2011 Power Broker Weekend—in fact, the current business landscape made it more critical than ever for industry leaders to come together for this strategic exchange of information and celebration of success in taxing times.

November’s Power Broker Weekend—which took place in Anaheim, Calif., in conjunction with the annual REALTORS® Conference & Expo—was marked by three elite events: RISMedia’s 16th Annual Power Broker Forum; RISMedia’s 16th Annual Power Broker Reception & Dinner; and the by-invitation-only Power Broker Economic Summit.

“Our annual Power Broker events have become time-honored traditions that we are committed to presenting, no matter what market conditions happen to be,” says RISMedia President & CEO John Featherston. “Year after year, these events present the invaluable opportunity to come together, share ideas, learn from each other and honor each other’s accomplishments. For industry leaders to come together on common ground with the common goal of benefitting the real estate industry as a whole is not a responsibility we take lightly. This year, thanks to our many participants and sponsors, we met this goal with huge success.”

Brokers Share Success Secrets at Power Broker Forum

RISMedia’s 16th Annual Power Broker Forum, held on Friday, November 11, at the Anaheim Convention Center, brought together leading brokers and industry visionaries to discuss “The One Thing Power Brokers Can’t Live Without.” Nearly 600 attendees turned out to the standing-room-only event (with 200 turned away due to room-capacity codes), which provided an environment for top brokers to share their most important tools for staying ahead of the curve and finding success as we continue to struggle through today’s fragile housing market and economy.

Ed Krafchow, chairman of the board, Better Homes and Gardens Mason-McDuffie Real Estate, who co-moderated the event, set the stage for a lively discussion by reminding the audience that maintaining integrity is just as important as having the right tools and systems in place. “Every part of this business is being challenged at the moment, and we have to be willing to remain committed as we work through these difficult circumstances.”

“Not only are you out there every day listing, selling and communicating with the American public, you’ve figured out how to be leaders in today’s market and continue to help consumers with all their housing needs,” said John Featherston, president & CEO of RISMedia, who co-moderated the event.

Connecting Through Technology

“The world has changed,” said Sherry Chris, president & CEO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC, “to one in which we communicate by way of technology.” Not only are successful real estate professionals sharing ideas and best practices and collaborating with others via technology, they are also utilizing technology to connect with today’s buyers. “The new demographic made up of echo boomers—those aged 18-32—are very collaborative, and the explosion of social media was caused in part by this group who wants to talk to each other and real estate professionals in a different way.” While the technology is easily accessible, Chris noted that real estate professionals have to start thinking like this group if they want to continue to prosper.

John Melo, co-founder & CEO, Century 21 M&M and Associates, is also a firm believer when it comes to the use of technology in order to remain successful in today’s market. “When the market began to slow down, we had to find alternate ways to keep up with the level of success we were used to and reinvent ourselves at the same time,” said Melo. Adjusting to the economy and the world we live in today—one defined by technology—enabled Melo to reposition his company and continue to grow. “The economy shouldn’t dictate whether you are successful or not. Instead, you have to keep moving toward where the opportunities are, and technology has enabled us to do just that.”

A Well-Rounded Communication Strategy

While having the right tools in place is one piece of the puzzle, having an effective communication strategy that utilizes the tools and technology you have access to is equally important. “When it comes to communicating with clients, technology is a wonderful tool,” said Rei Mesa, president & CEO, Prudential Florida Realty, “however, there is no substitute for face-to-face, personal contact.” Mesa noted that technology has helped his company become more successful when it comes to communicating on a regular basis. “We would rather err on the side of over-communicating than not communicating enough,” he added. “When there’s no news, there’s a void that needs to be filled, and that’s when people begin to fill it with uncertainty.”

Mesa also points to his responsibility as president & CEO to be disciplined about everything they do as a company. “You can’t live without a healthy, substantial return on investment, so we take the time to measure everything we do against its return on revenue,” he added. “The market doesn’t dictate the success you are going to have. If you want to increase your sales, revenue and income, you have to take it away from others. When the pie gets smaller, people’s manners have to change.”

Agents and Customers Key to Success

The benefits that come with successfully implementing and utilizing technology can’t be overlooked, however, finding success in today’s challenging market has a lot to do with the people you surround yourself with. “You can’t run a successful real estate business without agents,” said Bill Plattos, EVP & general manager, First Team Real Estate. And that doesn’t mean just any kind of agent. “You need to fill your company with people who want to succeed and who are willing to work hard to get there,” he added. “Always ask yourself what you can be doing to help your agents become successful since we owe it to them to do the best we can to help them succeed in today’s market.”

Just as important as the agents who make up your business are the customers you work with. “Power Brokers can’t live without customers,” said Margaret Kelly, CEO, RE/MAX, LLC. At a time when there’s low consumer confidence and a decrease in sales, Kelly sees a lot of opportunity in today’s market when it comes to working with Gen X, Gen Y and foreign buyers. While we normally have 1.2 million household formations a year, that number was down to 500,000 in 2009 and 310,000 in 2010. “As housing formations continue to change, we need to figure out where our customers are coming from,” said Kelly. “Then you have to change your philosophy on how you get these clients as well as how you communicate with them.”

Instilling Faith and Confidence

As we continue to work through the challenging market we are faced with today, it’s crucial that real estate professionals have all the tools they need to help restore consumer confidence and get the market moving again. “REALTORS® are in a unique position, as they can help make the distinct dream of American homeownership come true again,” said T.J. Agresti, CEO, EquityLock Solutions. With the introduction of the company’s Home Price Protection™ product, real estate professionals have an additional resource at their disposal to help instill faith and confidence in the market.

“We are in an epic battle to overcome fear right now, which was caused by a loss of faith in the value of homes,” added Agresti. The Home Price Protection product preserves the equity or value of one’s home, providing homeowners with peace of mind that their home equity will be protected when in a declining real estate market. “Real estate professionals are the story tellers. If we can push demand by instilling faith and confidence in the home, we can write the story with a happy ending and bring hope back to buyers and make this story a reality.”

Power Broker Dinner Honors Top Brokers, Industry Leaders

Longtime industry leaders and forward-thinking visionaries were honored during RISMedia’s 16th Annual Power Broker Reception & Dinner. This by-invitation-only networking event, sponsored by Bank of America, was held at the Anaheim Marriott on Friday, November 11.

RISMedia’s Power Broker Dinner recognizes the industry’s leading brokers, as determined by the results of RISMedia’s annual “Power Broker Report & Survey.” Each year, the Power Broker event brings together real estate’s leading decision makers—from top brokers and executives to industry visionaries and icons. This year’s dinner was attended by more than 600 such guests.

The 2011 Dinner, themed, “Honoring Leadership in Demanding Times,” not only honored key industry players, but the industry’s and nation’s veterans as well. To kick off the event, RISMedia Executive Vice President Darryl MacPherson, introduced a children’s chorus from Orange County Song & Dance, who sang “America the Beautiful,” followed by a presentation of the colors from the Katella High School Army Junior ROTC Color Guard, sponsored by the Marriott’s Ellen Berger.

Honoring Individual Achievement

The Power Broker Dinner also honored key industry players for their individual contributions to the real estate industry.

Industry veteran Sandra Sanders, broker/owner of RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty & Execs, was honored with RISMedia’s 2011 National Homeownership Award. Sponsored by Bank of America, the National Homeownership Award honors a member of the real estate industry for his or her extraordinary contributions toward increasing homeownership and building better communities. Bank of America’s Consumer Sales Executive Matt Vernon presented Sanders with the award during the Dinner.

RE/MAX, LLC and RISMedia honored long-time industry coach and educator, David Knox, with the fifth annual “On the Shoulders of Giants” award during the Power Broker Dinner. The award was created to recognize those individuals whose efforts, works, deeds and character exemplify superior achievements in and for the real estate industry. Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX, LLC, presented Knox with the award.

The final award of the evening was presented to Ron Croushore, owner of Pittsburgh-based Prudential Preferred Realty. Croushore was named the first-ever recipient of RISMedia’s Real Estate Leadership Award, sponsored by Citi. Croushore was presented with the award by Blair Allan, senior vice president for Retail Partnership Sales for Citi.

The RISMedia Real Estate Leadership Award is a newly created honor designed to recognize a member of the real estate community who embraces innovation and exercises resilience to blaze new paths to success for real estate professionals and consumers alike.

NBA Legend Motivates and Inspires

The Power Broker Dinner was capped off with a rousing and inspiring presentation from the evening’s keynote speaker, NBA and college basketball star, Bill Walton.

After achieving superstardom playing for John Wooden’s powerhouse UCLA Bruins in the early ’70s and winning three, straight College Player of the Year Awards, Bill Walton was destined to become an NBA legend. Known as “The Big Red-Head,” Walton won the NBA Most Valuable Player award while playing for the defending NBA champion Trail Blazers in 1977-78. At the top of his form, Walton scored, passed, intimidated, hustled and played the role of leader with the best centers of his day.

Walton brought this same high energy and motivating words to the Power Broker Dinner, sharing with the audience the struggles he faced to overcome disabilities and injuries to become an NBA Hall of Famer and ESPN commentator.

While Walton’s career was hampered by multiple foot injuries and his personal life spiced by controversy, Walton won high praise from players and coaches alike and drew comparisons to such players as Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell. He was a perfectionist whose range of skills and dedication never ceased to impress those who saw him play. Since retiring from the NBA, Walton has had a successful and controversial career as a television sportscaster. Overcoming a speech impediment, Walton went on to become one of the best color commentators in the industry for NBC, the Los Angeles Clippers, ABC/ESPN, the Sacramento Kings and the Boston Celtics.

Former Fed Economist Reveals State of Real Estate Economy

RISMedia’s Power Broker Weekend continued with a by-invitation-only event sponsored by Citi: The Power Broker Economic Summit.

The summit, which took place on Saturday, November 12, featured in-depth analysis from prominent economist, David Stockton. This private event was held exclusively for members of RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN), key Power Brokers and their respective management teams.

After three decades at the U.S. Central Bank, Stockton stepped down this past fall as the Federal Reserve’s top economist. Referred to by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke as “one of the finest economists I have known,” Stockton is the former director of the Division of Research and Statistics at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The 325 members of the Division of Research and Statistics carry out a wide range of economic analysis, forecasting and research activities related to the domestic economy and financial markets.

During the Economic Summit, Stockton offered attendees realistic insights into the current state of the economy and the factors that could potentially accelerate or impede future recovery, which he believes will be steady but extremely gradual over the next few years. He also shared the positive and negative impact of past and current policy-making in Washington. However, at the root of the recovery, Stockton stressed, is a return of consumer confidence.

A detailed White Paper of the Economic Summit and Stockton’s presentation is being made available to all RREIN members and Summit attendees.

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