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RISMedia Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange General Sessions Featured Industry Powerhouses Like NAR’s Charlie Oppler, LeadingRE’s Paul Boomsma, C.A.R’s Leslie Appleton-Young and More

Yesterday, Sept. 14, RISMedia held its annual Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange, this year co-presented by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The exclusive, full-day, virtual event attracted thousands of industry professionals, featuring sessions with real estate’s most powerful and profitable executives, brokers, agents, coaches and more.

“Business coaches and experts join today to share their experiences and insights with you and your company so that you can confront the many challenges we face,” said RISMedia President, Founder and CEO John Featherston, kicking off the event. “Let’s get this action-packed day of education and powerful insights going.”

The event began by peeling back the onion of real estate.

The Ebbs and Flows of Housing

“Our world has changed quite a bit in the last year and half, Charlie,” said Featherston during the “Welcome and Introduction” session with 2021 NAR President Charlie Oppler, posing the question: “What do you think are the top three things that have affected our industry?”

Oppler shed light on the industry’s leading challenges and opportunities, addressing the impact of COVID, the ongoing inventory shortage and the slew of acquisitions happening across the globe.

With COVID-19, priority has been in getting people back to work safely. Oppler said the organization has received a lot of positive feedback for trying to protect their 1.5 million members.

“We have asked agents to consider wearing masks as we try to flatten the curve, and also practice good safety precautions as we go forward,” said Oppler, who initiated the following protocols for their recent Dallas in-person meetings: uploaded vaccination cards, and for those who weren’t vaccinated, there was testing and a compliance officer onsite.

In terms of inventory and the general pace of the market, Oppler said nobody saw the fire-hot activity coming.

“Brokers had to work at a pace they did not expect,” he said. “Inventory has been a historic challenge and people are staying in their homes in excess of 10 years now. Interest rates are low, and while new construction has started to increase, we had a 50-year lull and that’s certainly been a pretty big issue in the last two to three years especially.”

While Oppler expects the markets to normalize, there’s another aspect of shifting real estate trends that brokers will need to keep an eye out for: consolidation as more competing business models enter the playing field.

“Change is always healthy for our industry even as the playing field evolves. Relationships are still the most important part of this industry,” said Oppler. We are going to continue seeing new models.”

Focusing on What Matters

Paul Boomsma, CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, and Gino Blefari, CEO of HomeServices of America, also addressed fluctuations in the housing market. In “The State of Real Estate,” moderated by Featherston, Blefari said that the market outlook looks really strong, witnessing a transfer of wealth from the baby boomers and older generations.

“Millennials represent a big portion of the buyers,” said Blefari. “They are buying and not just buying their own home; some of them are trying to figure out how to buy an investment property with more cash flow.”

While concerns over a bubble burst have been top of mind for many, Boomsma said that prices have had some adjustment, and bedroom communities have made a comeback.

“Overall, there have not been too many losers in the residential market,” said Boomsma. “Our agents stepped up amid the pandemic and have done extremely well. We’re seeing the pace slow down in some markets due to availability of inventory—it’s been a little less frenetic than a few months ago.”

The keys to surviving in any type of market environment? According to Boomsma and Blefari, practitioners should spend their time and energy on the things that help their organization grow, embracing the tried-and-true even as the “shiny objects” of new competitors look to make distracting waves.

Intimate Accounts of Success

Among the myriad broker- and agent-track sessions, this year’s event also featured one-on-one discussions with some of the industry’s most insightful professionals, providing the audience with an intimate view of success and the inner-workings of real estate organizations.

In “Ready for the Next Market,” with Real Estate Webmasters Owner and Founder Morgan Carey, Featherston inquired about the role of technology amid a resurgence of broker mergers and acquisitions (M&As).

“How can technology be an asset as opposed to a stumbling block?” asked Featherston.

“We have a tendency to hurry and then go all-in in real estate. Technology can help you prepare for changes because you can pre-set it up,” said Carey, who recommends that firms interested in M&As find a technology vendor who will be really good at supporting the transition.

“The easier you can handle the change management, the more likely the acquisition is going to be successful,” said Carey. “When it comes to the technology front, you want to be with a firm that allows you to lift and shift. Make sure you are with a vendor that gives you full access to your data records and is really supportive in your transition.”

During “The Battle of Tomorrow,” with Joe Skousen, CEO of Inside Real Estate, Featherston asked about how technology comes into play when competitors are involved.

“Businesses think they have to build their own tech stack, and we’ve seen that fail in a bunch of places,” said Skousen, adding that brands must align themselves with a tech partner they can lean on, with the scale and capabilities to help meet the level of digital engagement that consumers now demand.

“You can’t stand to be handcuffed to these players anymore,” said Skousen, referencing real estate’s longstanding reliance on “disruptors” like Zillow.

RISMedia is providing free access to select sessions from the event. Hear from Skousen in this insightful one-on-one with Featherston:

Miss the event? Click here to purchase access to all the sessions at a special discount.

Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange 2021 Sponsors

Diamond Sponsors
Buffini & Company

Center for REALTOR® Development
Inside Real Estate
Real Estate Webmasters
Realty ONE Group

Platinum Sponsors
Elm Street Technology


Master Sponsors
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

LoneWolf Technologies

Host Sponsors
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®

Rocket Mortgage

Event Sponsors
Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®)

David Knox Real Estate Training
Pillar To Post Home Inspectors
Sherri Johnson Coaching & Consulting

Stay tuned for additional coverage from RISMedia’s Real Estate CEO & Agent Exchange. Next up, hear from women shattering glass ceilings in real estate, featuring a recap of our Women in Real Estate session and housing market insights from C.A.R.’s Leslie Appleton-Young.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to lizd@rismedia.com.