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Those of us who make real estate our lives have seen a mountain of news and blog headlines about the current state of “chaos” in our industry.

I agree that we’re in a state of disruption, but disruption has always been part of the industry. Emerging businesses and brands have always tried to upset the norm and grab marketshare from more established players. That’s what makes them disruptive. Many of them come and go, while others push the industry forward.

Whether a brand or model has existed for four months, four years or four decades, the critical need remains the same: to meet and engage with consumers where they are today—and where they’re going to be tomorrow. Where they were yesterday isn’t important anymore. Want proof? When’s the last time you posted a classified ad?

Within the current real estate space, I’ve noticed the emergence of three basic groups. I call them the Three Faces of Real Estate.

Face 1: Disruptive Discounters

These models get a lot of media attention, but many are still finding their footing. And although some of them are advancing tech innovations that add valuable speed and convenience, others seem to be delivering less instead of more.

Potential dangers with some—not all—of these models include a slide toward a lower standard of service, a smaller role for agents, less-capable agents, insufficient broker oversight and inadequate consumer protection. Another potential concern: Some of them run counter to the goal every model should have, which revolves around delivering a consistent, memorable customer experience across the board.

Face 2: Onlookers

This group is passive and inactive. They’re watching, but not doing anything. They’re not improving, evolving or seeking out new ideas—seemingly content to stick to the script they’ve had for years. Many of them appear defensive, digging in and refusing to adapt or change. Their strategy equates to sitting on the sidelines as the action unfolds around them.

The problem is that you can’t sit on the sidelines forever. Sooner or later, you have to get in the game. And when you do, playing defense isn’t enough.

Face 3: Constant Innovators

These people and brands focus on what they do great—and embrace innovative ways to do it smarter and better. They’re always improving, learning and searching for new ideas that serve the consumer and enhance the customer experience. And they never take their foot off the gas.

What’s more, the members of Face 3 take a modern and forward-looking approach in all they do. They seize new opportunities that emerge from disruption and leverage the best new technologies and strategies to their advantage. Change? Embrace it. Evolution? Always evolving.

The members of Face 3 also understand the value a full-time, full-service professional brings to the process. They’re positioned to thrive in any market condition.

These businesses use technology to increase personal engagement, not reduce it. And for clients who’d rather get through the process without much interaction? The Face 3 models accommodate them, too, just as expertly. Because customer experience rules the day.

Yes, our industry is in a state of change and disruption, but disruption isn’t new. What’s new is the increasingly wide range of choices in the market. For brokers, agents and consumers alike, choosing wisely is more consequential than ever.

Adam Contos is CEO of RE/MAX, LLC. For more information, please visit  

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