Vitals: RE/MAX Premier Realty
Years in Business: 40
Size: 3 offices, 128 agents
Regions Served: Orange County, Calif., and all surrounding counties
2017 Sales Volume: $628 million
2017 Transactions: 1,418
Travis Baron has been around the real estate game his entire life.
“I earned my real estate license in 1999 and my broker’s license in 2000,” explains Baron, who began working for his dad before purchasing the business outright in 2005. Today, he serves as president and CEO of RE/MAX Premier Realty in Irvine, Calif.
How would you characterize the Orange County real estate market in 2018?
Travis Baron: We are, from a national perspective, a high-value market. While our average sales price is in the mid- to upper-$700,000s, we’re beginning to see a slowdown in buyer activity. The active inventory was increasing at a fast rate through the first two quarters of the year, but it’s begun to level off. Even though we have more inventory than last year, we still haven’t reached the levels we were experiencing the two previous years, so we’re still considered a seller’s market. The lack of buyer activity seems to be more psychological than anything else. Prospective buyers are worn out from trying to compete for limited available inventory over the last few years, and prices have gotten to a point where they’ve decided to stop competing. At this point, they’re hoping for prices to come down a bit before they act.
What is your growth strategy, and do you have any plans for new growth in the year ahead?
TB: We’re definitely in growth mode at our company. We don’t have any plans for new office locations or acquisitions, but we have room available in our current offices and markets to increase our agent count. We’re planning and positioning ourselves for 20 percent agent growth in each of the next two years.
How are you attracting new agents to your firm and retaining top producers?
TB: We’re a very hands-on and available brokerage and are constantly looking for ways to be in front of our agents as advisors, motivators, coaches, accountability partners, etc. Agents want to know that you truly have their best interests in mind, and the best way to do this is to be present and available.
What do you look for in someone new coming into the company?
TB: We’re only interested in full-time, full-service agents. We look for recruits with great people skills. We can teach someone how to structure and run a business, but if a recruit doesn’t show the propensity to be empathetic and have genuine interest in serving others, they can almost never learn these skills.
What are the biggest opportunities for increasing business right now?
TB: It always seems that when the market begins to waver, agents panic and freeze. We see a great opportunity in assisting sellers with the sale of their homes as we enter a more balanced market. We’ve been preaching to our agents the need to “double down” on their marketing efforts now in order to reap the benefits as sellers come on the market.
How are you readying your salesforce to meet the expectations of today’s consumer, especially first-time homebuyers and millennials?
TB: After a number of years hearing about how millennials were a new breed of consumer that wasn’t interested in owning property the way their parents’ generation was, we’re beginning to see that this is incorrect. We’ve been focusing on bringing on a newer, younger generation of agents that not only understand their fellow millennials, but are also interested in assisting their generation reach the dream of homeownership that all the past generations have.
How are you updating your technology and training to provide the resources agents need to succeed?
TB: This has been a real focus for us over the last three years, as we’ve seen the need for agents to conduct themselves as consultants as opposed to agents now more than ever. With the transition of the real estate market since the advent of the internet, our value proposition has been forced to change. We’re no longer looking to help people “buy and sell” homes. Today, we’re approaching buyers and sellers by saying, “Tell me about what you’re trying to achieve through the sale/purchase of this home,” and then we’re providing them with our experience and knowledge, as well as the information necessary to help them best achieve their ultimate goal in the sale of their home.
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