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RISMEDIA, November 29, 2010—Now that the holiday season is well under way and 2010 draws closer to an end, real estate professionals are putting a lot of thought into what 2011 has in store for the industry. In this month’s Power Broker Roundtable, meet Ron Phipps, NAR President, 2011 and hear how he views the current real estate market as well as his ideas to generate and sustain business in these difficult times.

Steve Brown –
Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR)
Ron Phipps – 2010 President-elect, NAR; Principal Broker, Phipps Realty

Steve Brown: American patriot Thomas Paine called it right centuries ago, “these are the times that try men’s souls.” And indeed, as we roll toward the end of another lean year in our industry, we need to consider what we can expect from the year ahead.

So it is with great anticipation that we welcome our new NAR President, Ron Phipps. I can tell you from my personal dealings with Ron that he’s a dynamic, well-qualified, no-nonsense guy who understands the realities and challenges, and the need for the kind of hard-hitting solutions that will keep us afloat as the industry moves to right itself. Because while these are tough times, it is also the right time to scrutinize and re-invent the basics as we reach out to the changing mindset of a whole, new generation. I think Ron Phipps is in the right place at the right time to help us do just that, and I hope these excerpts from our recent conversations will leave you thinking the same way. Ron, what’s your take on the current state of the market?

Ron Phipps: We perceive the market as stabilizing but the truth is, unemployment is the single biggest variable to the market’s recovery. In fact, we need employment to come back for the sake of our country as a whole—it’s beyond housing. I am cautiously optimistic that we will see gradual improvements, but they’re going to be hard-fought improvements with a propensity to be arduous at points.

SB: How can real estate firms generate and sustain business in these times?
I look at a company like Apple. Apple is brilliant at creating an appetite for something you don’t know you want. They have the ability to say, “try it; you’ll like it” and create a market. Brokers and agents have to look at the market and learn how to become a mover and shaker and create value in the market. They need to create long-term relationships by being able to provide information to consumers over the long-haul. Should I put a pool in? Should I make these improvements to my home? There is huge value in being an information source to consumers throughout the relationship…and it’s being rewarded. With NAR’s Realtors Property Resource™ (RPR) tool, REALTORS® are able to provide information in a timely fashion, which will make us of more value to our clients.

SB: How should brokers lead their companies in these challenging times?
I think brokers need to go back to fundamentals and use common sense. In some ways, they need to exercise triage to get through these times. There will be an opportunity for us to recover what we put back into our businesses as we move forward. Also, brokers need to make sure that the businesses they agree to engage in generate flow. There was a time when, for marketshare reasons, brokers would take on listings they couldn’t sell—that’s not good for business now. Brokers need to analyze overhead and figure out what they need to do to make their business sustainable. Some of the changes in the marketplace, particularly social media, are not as expensive as traditional marketing tools. You really have to try these new tools. Finally, I encourage brokers to share with leadership the government policies they believe would help the industry thrive. One of the lessons of the last five years is that we’re all in the same ocean—the tide’s ebb and flow affects us all. Some of us might have a smaller boat than another company, but we’re all on the same water. It’s important to be creative in our suggestions for the future of real estate and still celebrate the pro-consumer dynamic. At the end of the day, it’s still a fiercely competitive industry, and when REALTORS® compete, the consumer wins.

SB: How is NAR evolving to meet the changing demands of brokers and REALTORS®?
What’s really cool about our industry is that while we are creatures of habit, we are also artists of change. We have such direct contact with the consumer that their expectations drive us to change; what we’ve done as an industry is consistently answer their changed agenda. Our organization and our members have become more nimble than they’ve ever been—everything from House Logic to RPR to meeting with the banks to becoming more aggressive on the regulatory side. When you’re in a leadership position, you get to see what NAR is doing in terms of public awareness and advocacy, what we’re doing in education and with the code of ethics…you cannot help but be wowed. We are firing on eight cylinders and we don’t spend a lot of time patting ourselves on the back because we don’t have time to. These times require that we respond, and respond now.