In this month’s National Association of REALTORSÂ® Power Broker Roundtable, meet Vince Malta, 2019 NAR president-elect. On Monday, Nov. 11, Malta will be installed as 2020 president.
Jim Imhoff, Chairman, First Weber, Madison, Wis.; Liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations, National Association of REALTORSÂ® (NAR)
Jim Imhoff: Back when Vince Malta was growing up in his family’s real estate businessâ€”cleaning properties, collecting rent and the likeâ€”he realized that it was a tough business and that it took hard work and long hours to succeed. So, he got a law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law instead! But, like so many of us, real estate was in his blood…his first love…and back to real estate he came, not only to run his own brokerage, but to embark on a long career of association involvement, including stints testifying before Congress on behalf of NAR, serving as the vice president of Government Affairs, as well as president of the California Association of REALTORSÂ® (C.A.R.). As I sit with Vince today, he prepares to step into the role of 2020 president of NAR, a challenge he’s greeting with his trademark enthusiasm and dedication. Vince, what do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing brokers right now, and how do you hope to address those challenges as president?
Vince Malta: Well, as a broker myself, the biggest challenge is definitely profitability. Decreasing profit margins are an ongoing issue as are venture-capital backed firms going after top-producing agents, and companies coming in with iBuying programs. But I’ve been in the business for 42 years and we’ve always had iBuyer programs, going back to those signs on the telephone polls that said, “We buy ugly houses.” These are the challenges and concerns brokers have in terms of their profitability.
JI: What’s the best way for brokers to confront these issues?
VM: We have to adjust accordingly and compete by providing value to the consumer. There’s always going to be a cheaper, faster way that always seems more attractive to the consumer. We have to explain why what we provide is more attractive than that. At the association level, we need to help brokers and agents break that down and help them communicate that better to the consumer.
JI: You mentioned top producers being lured away by big money. What should brokers focus on in terms of recruiting and retaining agents?
VM: We need to take stock in what we’re providing to our agents and we need to continue communicating with agents. We need to embrace different models out there that agents want, like the team model. We need to see how we can work better with agents in terms of branding. We need to be better partners with them and nurture our relationships with agents just as we do with consumers and emphasize all the valuable services we provide. Because we have our agents until we lose them…and by that time it’s too late. So, we have to provide more resources to make sure agents are utilizing the services we provide so that it’s a win-win for both.
JI: What are some of the biggest opportunities for both brokers and agents to get involved in the year ahead?
VM: One of the biggest opportunities involves technology and its ability to enhance the level of service we provide for clients. We also have an election year in 2020, which is a great opportunity to express what’s important to our industry. Look at the importance of tax reform and what it did and did not do. It took away a lot of incentives for homeowners, so we’re going to get creative and provide constructive alternatives. We have an opportunity to work with the Democratic and Republican parties and hopefully participate in the process of creating these platforms.
The challenge of reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is another issue we’ll be confronting. The administration is coming up with a proposal to reduce the footprint of those agencies, and we need to make sure the access to capital is there to replace it. We need to ensure a smooth transition is in place so that we don’t have a shock to the system.
Flood insurance is another opportunity for brokers to step up and get involved next year. We have to work toward a long-term flood bill to create more certainty in the market.
JI: Those are all big issues. How can brokers take on a leadership role in such a challenging environment?
VM: Brokers need to be involved not only in their day-to-day business, but also with their industry. They need to help us shape their future. They need to be involved in their association like never before. They need to be involved in advocacy efforts and make sure their agents are involved and participating in Calls for Action. I’m from San Francisco, and here, if we don’t get together as a cohesive group to advocate before ordinances are passed, the cost is significant. Brokers everywhere need to be engaged with the industry and make sure their agents are engaged. This is a time like no other where we need to help shape our industry. If we don’t, others will shape it for us.
For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.