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As the market continues to show slow but steady signs of stabilization and recovery, discerning brokers are ramping up business development efforts in order to take full advantage of the present and imminent market opportunities. Here, RREIN members Gary Rabon and Steve Summers share their outlook on forging ahead in 2012.

Gary Rabon, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Raleigh, N.C.
Steve Summers, Broker/Owner, Realty Executives of Kansas City; Regional Developer, Realty Executives Mid-America Region (Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska)

With the new year now well under way, what key areas is your firm focusing on to drive new business?

Gary Rabon: We continue to look to the Internet for lead generation, and we will look to contract with third-party developers of tools to arm our sales associates with the latest technology. We will also continue to develop relationships for future merger/acquisition possibilities in both existing markets and new markets.

Steve Summers: Realty Executives is introducing some dramatic changes this year. We understand that to excel with the recent changes in the real estate industry, we must also be able to modify our business model and franchise concept. We have identified key areas within our company to drive new business. They include: a strong Web presence; lead generation; client relationship management and marketing; transaction management systems; and our unique set of useful tools.

In addition, Realty Executives International has introduced a new, revolutionary franchise concept to potential franchise owners and agents. The concept is especially exciting to markets looking for new ways to grow their business. This innovative concept provides companies a pay-as-you-go opportunity and a comprehensive system.

In your opinion, what niche markets (i.e., investors, first-time homebuyers, second-home buyers, etc.) stand to become significant sources of revenue this year?

SS: The housing market is by no means back to “normal,” but falling inventory is a good indication that we’re moving in the right direction. So who will stand to become the significant source of revenue? I think it will be a combination of first-time homebuyers and investors. Lending standards have become tougher, but when you consider low mortgage rates, lower-than-normal home prices, and no home to sell, there’s no better time for investors and first-timers.

GR: Because we are located in two second-home markets (a lake and the coast), I feel that there is a fairly significant amount of pent-up demand that will surface. I think move-up buyers have been postponing their decisions and, after four years of waiting, we will see them back in the market in a big way. It will remain a good market for investors because of the price adjustments of non-distressed properties, and there is still a substantial amount of foreclosures yet to hit the market.

What investments will you be making (i.e., technology, training, new hires, etc.) in order to capture new business?

GR: Our primary focus is to hire additional staff for training and coaching for both our experienced associates and new hires. As long as you are in this business, you cannot ever stop learning. To me, that defines professionalism.

SS: Our investments will be focused in technology, lead generation, training and offering our agents a comprehensive package. With technology, we want our agents and our clients to be able to access critical data about the sale of their home or the purchase of a new one while on-the-go. Online collaborative platforms and smartphone apps make it easier than ever for everyone to get reliable and innovative hosted applications. In addition to the cloud platform, we are considering upgrading our website with the very latest in search capabilities for ease of use for our consumers.