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willis_rustyIn the following interview, Rusty Willis, broker with Real Living Capital City in Atlanta, Ga., discusses education, marketing, technology and more.

Region Served: Atlanta
Years in Real Estate: 22
Number of Offices: 1
Number of Agents: 21
Top Tip for Thriving in Today’s Market: Stay focused on the primary drivers of business.
No. 1 Tip for Staying in Touch with Agents: Be available.

What do you like most about the region in which you work?
I love Atlanta. Not only does the city offer a level of diversity, but it’s a fun place to call home. People who come to the area are always surprised at just how much there is to do.

Please describe the current market conditions in your area.
Like the rest of the country, we have a severe shortage of inventory. Many of our in-town markets are exploding, and we’re also seeing a lot of excitement building around the Atlanta BeltLine project—a comprehensive transportation and economic development effort—which is causing prices to go through the roof. It’s also important to note that there’s not a lot of new construction coming to market. In addition, we’re seeing an explosion in the number of agents in the marketplace. With 32,000 agents in Atlanta alone, I make it a point to only bring on full-time agents who are always producing. While it’s great that we’re dealing with every business model and brand here in Atlanta, I’m always looking for those who are committed to putting the consumer first.

How does your company keep today’s buyers educated as to the realities of the current market?
I’m really big on data, so I provide my agents with various worksheets they can use to import information from the MLS to not only make it more digestible for the consumer, but also to make it easier for the consumer to understand specific neighborhoods or price points. I put in a lot of time training my agents so they understand the market, rather than just telling them what’s happening.

Can you talk a little bit about your role as chair of Real Living’s technology subcommittee, and what you’ve achieved in this position?
One thing we’re always working toward is making it easier for agents to use the technology resources we have, so we spend a lot of time finding ways to constantly simplify our offerings so agents can jump in and use them. We’re always working with the brokers in the network to find the best-in-class technology tools in each category. While there’s no shortage of gadgets out there, our end goal will always be to get the technology in place that our agents can effectively use.

How is your firm using technology today?
It’s important to understand that technology is a tool. While the right technology will help you manage the business you have by increasing your efficiency, it won’t do the work for you. Anything I would call “technology from a marketing perspective,” we handle as a brand. That being said, my staff and I make sure our agents’ online profiles are current and up-to-date so they don’t have to be involved in the day-in/day-out marketing management. We’re also starting to get into video, our next big adventure. In the end, it all goes back to not spending money on technology solutions here and there, but rather, focusing on the core technology and building use around those.

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