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This month’s National Association of REALTORS® Power Broker Roundtable discusses how brokerages can salvage their company goals for 2020.


John P. Horning, Executive Vice President, Shorewest REALTORS®, Milwaukee, Wis., Liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations, the National Association of Realtors®


Bill Soffel, Broker/Owner, ERA Team VP Real Estate, Chautauqua, N.Y.


Rosey Koberlein, CEO, Long Realty, Tucson, Ariz.


Jay Rinehart, Broker/Owner, Rinehart Realty, Rock Hill, S.C.


Christy Budnick, President/CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty, Jacksonville, Fla.


Chris Trapani, Co-Founder, CEO, Sereno Group, Los Gatos, Calif.


John Horning: Forty-four million Americans have filed for unemployment, there is fear of a second wave of coronavirus, and the economy is at the beginning of a recession. That does not bode well for a real estate industry ramping up for a delayed spring market—a market in which pent-up demand and rock-bottom rates square off against low inventory, wary sellers and a tightening mortgage environment. Bill, is it too late to salvage your 2020 goals?

Bill Soffel: I don’t think so. We had a very strong first quarter, and production in the second quarter, even with virtual showings, declined less than we thought it might—maybe 5 percent in April, as much as 15 percent in May—and there’s been a huge spike in activity since we opened up in the first week of June. So yes, I think with the right strategies, it’s still quite possible to meet our goals.

Rosey Koberlein: I agree. We’ve been fortunate in Tucson. We’re affordable and attractive, and Lending Tree puts us at the top of the list among cities where buyers are searching for homes—and our new pending sales are increasing week after week, from a low of 315 to 488 in a recent six-week period [at press time]. If we work with the data and stay on top of the marketplace, then yes, I think we can do it.

Jay Rinehart: It may be awhile before we know the full effect of the coronavirus, but we are definitely in growth mode. We saw a mass exodus from the Northeast to Charlotte as coronavirus numbers began to soar, and with the increases we’ve seen in South Carolina, we were up about 60 percent year-over-year going into June, and we’re expecting a strong second half.

Christy Budnick: April and May were rough for us, but we’ve picked up tailwinds, and we’re now on pace for a busy second half. Listings are still lagging, but even some sellers who have been sitting on the sidelines are beginning to ask for in-person showings—managed responsibly, of course. If we can generate enough inventory to meet buyer demands, we may be able to achieve our 2020 budget.

Chris Trapani: We, too, saw a slight decline in April and May, but momentum is definitely building. All that increased Zoom and other tech activity has been good for our Silicon Valley market, and a lot of people stuck at home for a few months now want more space, a home office, a pool, a nicer area…and given the stock market uncertainty, property is more than ever a great investment. Assuming no second wave of COVID, and we can bring more sellers onboard, we’re looking at a robust year.

JH: Has there been enough of a recovery to overcome second quarter losses?

CT: Yes, especially if we are good enough stewards of expenses to keep us healthy and competitive.

CB: We began expense reductions the moment we caught wind of what was happening. It gave us a moment to pause and give thought to each line item.

RK: Deferred rent payments have been a help for us as well, and some minor reduction in our workforce. You have to cut the fluff, and channel your dollars into technologies that help keep your agents competitive.

BS: We began reducing square footage a year ago, and we’re doing more of it now—and we’re making use of Payroll Protection and other emergency programs.

JH: What else must we do, going forward, to have a real chance of meeting, or even exceeding, 2020 goals?

JR: Maintain brand excellence. Some agents dropped away during the worst of this, but top producers have been working and thriving—I think we’ll be seeing a flight to quality.

BS: Agents who’ve stayed in touch with their sphere, who are still checking in to see how they’re doing, will benefit from all that new interest.

CT: REALTORS® are nothing if not resilient. We’ve proved that over time. If we get it right today, those 2020 goals should be well within our reach.

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