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In this month’s National Association of REALTORS® Power Broker Roundtable, we welcome John P. Horning, NAR’s 2020 liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations.


Jim Imhoff, Chairman, First Weber, Madison, Wis.; 2019 Liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations, NAR

John P. Horning, Executive Vice President, Shorewest, REALTORS®, Milwaukee, Wis.; Incoming Liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations, NAR

Jim Imhoff: John, welcome! It’s a pleasure to bring you to the liaison’s seat, although I’m really of two minds about handing over the gavel. On the one hand, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the chance to steer the direction of this forum, but on the other, I’m excited to see where you’ll take it in the year ahead.

John Horning: Thanks, Jim. Big shoes to fill, but I’m happy to have the opportunity. It’s an exciting time in real estate, a balanced market with a lot of opportunity, and yet, enough new ideas emerging all the time to keep us all thinking ahead.

JI: An exciting time, yes—new business models popping up, the digital landscape changing almost daily, and, at the same time, a real need, in my estimation, to quit worrying about what the other guy is up to and focus on your own value proposition—on what you need to do to ensure your agents are the sharpest, the best prepared and most competitive on the block.

JH: And that’s the purpose of these roundtables, isn’t it, to assess what’s going on in the market and share the resources and best practices we can all use to take our company to the next level?

JI: Absolutely. Some of our best talks have zeroed in on adapting to all this change and challenge, tapping into millennial talent, the entry-level housing dilemma—and all the everyday issues we need to stay ahead of—disaster protocols, new technologies, business in the age of wire fraud—everything it takes to meet or exceed our goals while keeping an eye on what’s coming down the pike.

JH: It is a balancing act, and we want to keep the conversation going about how brokers can adapt to changes in the market, because competitors surely will keep emerging and mutating—new business models, iBuyer alternatives. We need to keep talking about how to embrace and leverage these challenges and be the stronger for it.

JI: And it’s not all fraught with challenge or uncertainty. We are, as you said, seeing a balanced market in most areas of the country, and we’re looking, I think, at good availability in the new year, along with low rates, affordable prices and low interest rates—even new opportunity zones for the development of affordable housing.

JH: I think it’s important to talk, too, about what NAR’s been bringing to the table, how they’re taking the lead and affecting important change on issues that impact us all—the new tax changes, for example, that specifically benefit agents and brokers.

JI: I’ll second that. Their advocacy team successfully led the charge for the reconditioning of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac…and the favorable ruling by FHA on condo sales. These are concrete, bottom-line boosters that favor both brokers and consumers, and there’s a lot of value in discussing the pros and cons of issues that are still on the NAR drawing board.

JH: Then there are issues that are more individualized, that impact the future of the companies we work so hard to build—ongoing consolidation, for example, and the role of venture capital as brokers begin to look at retirement. There are a lot of ways to approach the prospect of leaving the business, a lot of shiny new pennies to weigh against traditional solutions.

JI: We began that discussion in a roundtable this year, but with brokers aging at the same rate as the general population, it needs continuing attention.

JH: Also, on my moderator’s agenda is continuing your focus on value proposition—the unique combination of standards, ethics, culture and services—especially in this digital age—that makes a brokerage stand out against competitors. Every region, every city, every town, is different, so I hope to attract panelists from every demographic to share what’s working for them.

JI: There are issues, too, that are evergreen in nature, the things brokers grapple with every day—budgets, technology and the tools and resources that our agents want most and that bring the best return on investment.

JH: That’s a good place to begin, I think—new ideas for the new year. Thanks so much, Jim, for your good ideas and for the quality you’ve brought to these roundtables.

JI: It’s been my pleasure. Thanks for stepping in. I look forward to your panels.

JH: Happy holidays, meanwhile, to you and the entire real estate community. As I once heard Oprah Winfrey say, “Here’s cheers to a New Year—and another chance to get it right!”

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