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RISMedia, June 14, 2011—Real estate professionals are playing a critical role in moving the housing market forward through these tough times. Consumers, investors, builders and lenders have turned to highly trained and skilled agents to represent their interests in transactions that are very important to them. They are looking for leadership. By developing your local market skills and global market awareness, you position yourself to assist each of these groups and ultimately benefit the industry and the economy.

Here are five ways to emerge as a market leader:

1. Understand the new market – You can’t control it, but you can respond appropriately to current economic and industry trends. Pay close attention to information that is critical to your business, such as existing- and new-home sales, unemployment and foreclosure statistics, and government-backed and private programs that benefit the industry.

2. Think strategically – Constantly plan how to grow your business based on shifting needs. Embrace new forces in the market, such as distressed properties, investor sales and rentals. Modify your services to accommodate people in these realms.

3. Prioritize – You’re better off focusing on your top goals and strategies rather than dabbling in everything. Take on new projects that expand your services rather than those that divert your attention from the most vital tasks.

4. Be assertive – True leaders don’t wait to see what happens with the market. Take steps that can help you and your clients today, and reach out in new ways to potential customers and strategic business partners. If you can fill an emerging need in your local real estate market, you’ll stand out.

5. Get training – A mentor or coach can help you exceed what you can do on your own. And designation courses are a great resource for the latest tools in various specialty areas. Consider earning a new certification or taking a refresher course related to one you already hold.

You can’t use yesterday’s methods and expect to be in business tomorrow. If you’re thinking ahead and making decisions now to reach your goals, you’ll flourish along with the people you’re in business to serve.

Margaret Kelly, CRB, is chief executive officer of RE/MAX LLC.