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“Consumer confidence in residential real estate is back,” says RISMedia President and CEO John Featherston. “Consumer confidence, which has become almost a nightly affair on mainstream media, coupled with the fact that interest rates remain historically low, is helping bring buyers and gradually sellers back into the market. Along with this new wave of confidence, we are witnessing several sectors of the national marketplace experiencing encouraging upswings. New-home construction, the investor marketplace and international buyers are three segments many Power Brokers are reporting dramatic improvements in. While today’s consumers are more sophisticated and tech-savvy than ever before, Power Brokers believe, as I do, that there is no substitute for the value an expert agent brings to the complex real estate transaction.”

One key area of focus for brokers is reinventing the use of office space. According to Wendy Forsythe, EVP and head of Global Operations for the newly rebranded Carrington Real Estate (formerly Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate), becoming an optimal brokerage for today’s market means being in sync with today’s sales associates.

“Today’s agents are mobile and they want to work with an organization that can support their model,” says Forsythe. “A lot of traditional firms are built on bricks and mortar—agents aren’t looking for that from us.”

Scott MacDonald, president of Virginia-based RE/MAX Gateway, has continued to expand but has also gotten smart about space. He has systematically worked on reducing square footage to maximize productivity and thereby profitability. “We are currently at 95 square feet per agent and we want to bring that down. We downsized from a 6,200 square-foot building to 3,800 square feet. We have opened up three new offices but have gone for a smaller footprint. Our goal is to get close to the 2,000-square-foot range.”

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