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NAR Brings Broker Event to the Big Apple

In its latest broker-targeted educational event, the National Association of REALTORS® hosted the Broker’s Edge in Midtown Manhattan last week. The one-day event on July 18 featured high-level keynote speakers covering a range of issues from cyber security to economic predictionfs, and panel discussions focused on strategies for recruiting, technology, global expansion and the future.

The event kicked off with a special presentation by the First Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and former Governor Tom Ridge. According to Ridge, while global terrorism is a permanent risk that needs to be managed, not enough attention is paid to the risk he refers to as “the digital forever.” With 80 percent of the population expected to be connected to internet devices by 2020, threats related to cyber security will only increase.

“The internet offers the potential for good, but that same access creates a perilous and uncertain future as well,” said Ridge. “The internet has no geographic or political boundaries—the same quality that makes it such a powerful tool is also the quality that makes it a means for mischief, misuse and peril.”

Whether we realize it or not, real estate is a digital industry, said Ridge, encompassing a “treasure trove” of valuable non-public, private information. “You need to think of this industry as a major financial player because you are one.”

Ridge advised brokers to put a cyber security and breach policy in place, and to teach employees and agents about “digital hygiene,” including using a secure third-party transaction network to communicate with clients, and installing an antivirus monitoring service for your software.

“It’s about people, process and technology,” said Ridge. “Manage that risk before it manages you.”

A Culture of Recruiting
Ridge’s presentation was followed by RISMedia’s Broker Roundtable, “Recruit and Retain the Best With a Winning Culture,” moderated by RISMedia EVP Darryl MacPherson and featuring brokers: Joe Rand, chief creative officer, Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty; Dottie Herman, president and CEO, Douglas Elliman; and LP Finn, operating officer and principal broker, Coach REALTORS®.

As Herman said, “Culture is one of the hardest things to define. People like to be part of something they believe in.”

“A well-defined company culture has to be a strong part of your recruiting message and you have to be able to convey it to agents,” added Finn.

According to Rand, recruiting is a lot like dating—you usually know within the first five minutes if the relationship has potential. And while recruiting to your culture should be the goal, it can’t be the final decision-maker. “It sounds good to say, ‘I’m only going to recruit people who fit perfectly into my culture,’ but in the real world, you’re going to attract GCI in a lot of different ways,” he explained. “You have to look for people you think will be a fit, then go after those people.”

Panelists agreed that the most important part of recruiting involves listening.

“Have an open dialogue,” said Herman. “Tell people what you feel whether it’s good, bad or indifferent.”

“Show a genuine interest in someone,” said Rand. “Find out what they’re about before launching into what you’re about—then you can frame what you’re going to talk about.”

“We ask people, ‘What is the biggest challenge you’re facing in the market?'” added Finn. “If I can show them how a piece of our company culture will help fix that challenge, then that furthers the conversation.”

Ready for the Future
The Broker’s Edge was capped off with a panel discussion led by NAR 2017 President-Elect Elizabeth Mendenhall, “Shaping the Future of Real Estate.” The panel included: Dan Elsea, president of Broker Services for Real Estate One and chairman of the Upstream Board of Managers; Bob Goldberg, NAR’s newly elected CEO; and Suzanne Zinn Mueller, SVP of Industry Relations for Move, Inc.

From helping to move the MLS from print to online to being one of the founding team members of® to leading the charge to create the .REALTOR top-level domain, Goldberg described himself as one of the early “disruptors.”

“My passion is not to be afraid of disruptors,” he explained. “We have to be fearless as opposed to fearful. We need to talk to (disruptors) and influence them before they enter real estate. The threat of new business models is not new in the industry. The challenge is how fast we adapt and create our own model so that we control the answers instead of them controlling us. We have to set the standards and say, ‘Here’s what the consumer expects,’ and help drive that.”

Elsea agreed. “We have to come up with a new way of marketing and showing properties and a new way of communicating with clients,” he explained, emphasizing that real estate professionals need to advance to the role of counselor.

According to Mueller, keeping up with technology will be essential. “You’re not selling homes—you’re selling your services,” she said. “That’s what makes you valuable, and staying abreast of the best tools, technology and data is going to help you be that expert and have that professional service.”

As the real estate industry progresses into the future, Goldberg emphasized the need for NAR to listen to its membership at the grassroots level. “We need to listen to what’s happening in your areas, in your particular situations,” he said, “so we can come up with a macro business strategy to help deal with disruptors and build our own model of disruption.”

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Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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