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What are consumers most concerned with today? “There is still a lot of fear and uncertainty in the marketplace. That’s why it’s crucial that every consumer has the best information on which to base a buy or sell decision,” says David Romero President & CEO of CENTURY 21 Award. Read on as RISMedia Columnist Barbara Pronin talks to the CENTURY 21 Award team about adapting and positioning in a diverse marketplace.

Martha Karelius
David Romero
President & CEO
Sara Jackson
SVP/General Manager
Layne Rackley
Linda Wise
VP of Operations
CENTURY 21 Award

Barbara Pronin: David, how did you get started in real estate?
David Romero: I was a real estate kid. I grew up in Anaheim, where my mom was a CENTURY 21 agent. When I graduated from Sacramento State College with a degree in political science, I interviewed with then-U.S. Senator John Seymour—and I ended up in campaign mode in Sacramento. Eventually, I got a little tired of the bureaucracy and moved back home to Anaheim. I started working for my mom—delivering flyers and sending faxes at first, but somehow learning the business and making a go of it. Eventually, I was recruited to manage a CENTURY 21 Superstars office in Placentia. Meanwhile, my brother had opened a mortgage company, and in 1998, we pooled our resources to open a CENTURY 21 company with offices in Placentia, Anaheim Hills and Yorba Linda. In 2004, we acquired CENTURY 21 Award in San Diego, which helped us double our size, and here we are today with 17 offices and 1,100 agents in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

BP: How would you characterize your positioning in this diverse marketplace?
DR: We were No. 1 in sales last year out of all CENTURY 21 franchises worldwide. That’s an honor we value and appreciate. But what we are most proud of is our reputation as the go-to company in Southern California for buyers and sellers who want the best possible real estate experience.

BP: How has the company adapted to changes in the marketplace?
DR: Swings in the marketplace happen all the time, especially here in California. Our mergers and acquisitions have helped us grow in size, but I think it’s our forward-looking attitude and our deep understanding of the markets we serve that have made us a powerhouse company. We grow because customers come back time and again and recommend us to their families and friends.

BP: What are today’s consumers most concerned with?
DR: There is still a lot of fear and uncertainty in the marketplace. That’s why it’s crucial that every consumer has the best information on which to base a buy or sell decision. Despite a varying economy, real estate remains a good investment over the long haul, and it’s gratifying to know that a recent Wells Fargo survey showed 80 percent of the new generation believes that homeownership is a worthwhile goal.

BP: How do you keep your sales force equipped to succeed?
DR: Between franchise resources and our own efforts, any technology we could possibly want or need is there for us. We have a great training department keeping us ahead of the curve on new products, new applications, and the best way to incorporate them into our business. That includes traditional and online training for newer agents as well as best use of the newer methods and social media.

BP: How are you retaining your top producing agents?
DR: That’s generally not an issue for us because great people are attracted to great companies, and they stay because they’re happy here. We have a wonderful company culture. We work hard, but we have a good time. We challenge ourselves and we challenge our people to grow and get better every day. Top producers respond to that kind of challenge, and we continue to grow because they grow.

BP: How has your technology evolved to meet the demands of agents and consumers?
DR: We’ve totally revamped our website and upgraded all of our systems, and we hired a tech consultant to help us keep our pledge to stay ahead of the curve. We are as technologically adept as anyone, because the new generation is our biggest customer, and we certainly want to communicate with them as they wish in terms of mobile applications and social media. Quick Response (QR) codes put property information right on our customers’ cellphones, and even contracts can be signed on-the-go.

BP: What do today’s agents need to focus on most to succeed?
DR: As the market languished, a lot of agents left the business, so the agents working today are, by and large, among the most professional and knowledgeable in the field. They are committed to rebuilding the dream of homeownership for a new generation because they understand and believe in the long-term benefits, both financially and sociologically. Their core values are integrity, great service, and innovation, so that every one of their customers enjoys the best possible real estate experience. They are well-schooled and experienced in the basics, and equipped in every way to help people make the best buying and selling decisions.

BP: What are your plans for continuing to grow the company?
DR: We are always open to good acquisition prospects that can help us solidify and expand our base of operations. We focus on attracting new and experienced people who are committed to our high ideals and values. We believe that our company’s success, like the success of the best agents, is based on knowing the facts, telling the truth, and working hard to make every real estate transaction a positive and satisfying experience. We take it as a personal and professional obligation to make the dream of responsible homeownership a reality.

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