Candace Adams, CEO and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England, Westchester & New York Properties, oversees the brand’s operations and 1,800 agents across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.
Here, Adams offers insight into what it means to be an RISMedia Real Estate Newsmaker—individuals who are recognized for their positive contributions to the real estate industry—and how adapting in 2020 has helped her lead her company into the red hot market of 2021 and beyond.
You were named in the Luminaries category for our 2021 Newsmakers for your iconic leadership. What does that mean to you?
Candace Adams: I was absolutely humbled and honored to be among those who were named as Luminaries because they are iconic. I felt very special, and I’m thrilled.
They have the ability to influence their team, and I feel being in this industry for as long as I’ve been in it has allowed me, by virtue of my team support, to become iconic; they are so phenomenal and have inspired me to be that inspirational leader.
How did you prepare your agents to thrive during the pandemic and in this buzzing market, with high demand but facing its share of challenges with supply?
CA: We are very big on training, education and support, and we’ve brought experts into the field to help agents understand how to position their buyers better than the competition, so that they put their buyers in a strong light as a competitive offer.
We have trained our agents and brought on people who specialize in negotiation. We’ve encouraged them and provided a lot of backend support for them to go out and prospect for new inventory and listings. We want to make sure that we show our sellers that we can provide them with all the service they need for what has become a very complicated process.
Education and training provide agents with support, make them the best at what they do in the industry, and differentiate them.
Now that we are in 2021 and have our eyes set on the horizon, what do you think will be some lasting changes at your company/firm?
CA: I think we found that we can reach more people through Zoom meetings. We will continue with the hybrid environment in our organizations so that we will have in-person and Zoom capability. We have a very large geographic footprint, and we find that that will be a huge advantage for bringing people together and networking.
We will also continue to innovate digitally for both our agents and consumers. We realize that is not going away, and it will become more a part of how we do business. Our office spaces will be set up differently to accommodate a more mobile environment.
With these changes you are implementing at your offices, what are your thoughts on office space and the shift we may see regarding broker/owners managing their expenses?
CA: Ironically, our top agents continue to work in the office, and they like their space. We learned that we were using our space to its capacity, which was 50% recently due to COVID.
Moving forward, we think that we will have more market centers. We’ll consolidate offices, and we’ll have large market centers and maybe outposts in certain towns with kiosks that will drive most of the services from a central office, which might not be in that town.
Your firms serve a mix of areas in the Northeast; what do you see occurring during this booming housing market in places like New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut?
CA: The New York City market is coming back quite nicely. Agents are starting to see multiple offers on a value-priced property, and it’s all price-driven in New York because there is certainly a wonderful selection of products. The New York City market is different. It will take longer for it to become as robust as the suburbs, but it’s positive, and we feel really good about that.
The rest of our markets are suburban markets, and they are as high as they’ve ever been. There is robust buyer demand and it continues. We do see more listings coming to market, which is phenomenal. They’re going off the market as quickly as they are coming on, but it’s at least satiating the buyers’ demand out there. I think that we will still see a very active market continue through the end of this year.
What are market predictions for the remainder of 2021?
CA: I think it’s going to become a nicely balanced market. We aren’t going to see buyers disappear, and I don’t think interest rates will go up too much.
I think we will see more property come onto the market as people, particularly empty nesters or those who want to downsize or move out of the northeast states, will put their properties on the market.
There has been this migration out of the city, and that will continue for the second home market. In the first quarter of 2021, 74% of mortgages in Connecticut were second homes. We are going to continue to see a robust second-home market, and Connecticut is one of the highest second home markets in the country because of people coming out of Manhattan.
Is there a call to action that you want to offer to real estate agents and brokers as we continue working in the 2021 housing boom?
CA: Our sales associates can no longer accept being anything other than absolute experts, and they must have the highest level of knowledge about their communities and the transaction process. They are consultants and advisors. They are not information gatherers necessarily, and I think everyone in this industry needs to put that best foot forward and make sure that they understand what their role is in the real estate transaction.
Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.