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The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Power Broker Roundtable this month discuss broker challenges and opportunities with NAR 2018 President Elizabeth Mendenhall.

Moderator: Robert Bailey, Broker/Owner, Bailey Properties, Santa Cruz, Calif.; Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR

Panelist: Elizabeth Mendenhall, 2018 NAR President; CEO, RE/MAX Boone Realty

Robert Bailey:
A 20-year, sixth-generation REALTOR® from Columbia, Mo., the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2018 President, Elizabeth Mendenhall, will be bringing a fresh perspective and important agenda to her tenure at the helm of the membership in 2018. She was kind enough to join me this month to share some thoughts on what lies ahead for the broker community next year. First off, Elizabeth, congratulations on your appointment as president! Secondly, in your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges facing brokers right now, and how do you hope to address those challenges as president?

Elizabeth Mendenhall:
Thank you, Robert! I’m very honored and excited to take on this important role. As far as broker challenges, I think market conditions top the list right now. We hope that our brokers can be more involved in taking a stake in their communities in order to be leaders in their own market issues. When they’re involved, they can help mobilize programs and development.

Brokers are also trying to tackle recruiting and profitability. While NAR doesn’t advocate one business model over another, we do advocate that REALTORS® are essential to consumers in the transaction, and we advocate for property ownership. We’re going to spend the next year advocating for our role in the profession, and why it’s critical to have a REALTOR® in the transaction.

RB: Where do the greatest growth opportunities lie for brokers?
Technology and partnering. The fastest way to profitability is to use what you already have. There can be big cost savings in scaling. If NAR can help facilitate that, or if your state or local association can help facilitate that by providing brokers with tools to help them with their business, that’s an advantage. An enthusiasm for adopting new tools is critical for long-term success.

RB: What should brokers focus on in terms of recruiting and retaining agents?
Just like with consumers, agents are exposed to a lot of information, and as a broker, you have to distinguish what makes you and your office stand out. What’s your culture? Your specific model? When agents go on listing presentations, they have to have confidence and know why they’re the best choice. The broker has to have that same confidence when it comes to recruiting agents. They have to know what makes them different. I teach a class called “Broker on a Budget,” and sometimes it’s just a really cool, inexpensive thing that can make your firm different or improve the overall office culture. You have to look at all those little ways that touch an agent and that build connections. Sometimes it’s the little things that make you stand out.

RB: How can brokers evolve their firms to best serve their agents and consumers?
Stay involved in their association. And I think they need to constantly make sure their firm reflects the market. Are we diverse enough? Do we have enough younger agents? Enough experienced agents? Do we have teams? If we want to continue to evolve, brokers also have to spend time on themselves in terms of education and training. And then they need to involve their team and their staff members. If you want to see change in your office, take your staff members to the annual REALTORS® Conference & Expo, invest in their training. It’s amazing what they’ll bring back and what ideas they’ll share.

RB: What trends should brokers pay close attention to?
For starters, the fact that we’re closer and closer to an electronic transaction—they need to start preparing themselves now. Brokers also need to be aware of security breaches and cyber attacks. You need to know how to protect your data and how data is being used. You also have to pay attention to changing consumer demographics. All of this is overwhelming, but this is where NAR plays a role as a valuable resource.

RB: How can brokers best lead in today’s challenging environment?
When we hired Bob Goldberg as CEO, we learned that people follow people—they don’t follow organizations. People are looking to their leader and wondering, what are their passions? Are they fun? Are they approachable? They also want to know their broker is available or that they’ve built a team to handle that type of connectivity with their agents. Brokers have to understand that their clients are their agents, so are they coaching and leading? Are they demonstrating how to be a good customer, a good volunteer? Are brokers mimicking the things they appreciate in their mentors? The best leaders are those who know they’re watched, but also don’t care that they’re being watched, because they’re going to do what’s right, no matter what. They’re not afraid to make changes, not afraid to let people see them fail. They’re going to own it, no matter what.

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