Introducing Bill Brown, 2016 President-Elect of the National Association of REALTORS®, in this month’s Power Broker Roundtable
Nicholas (Nick) D’Ambrosia, Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR; Broker of Record, The Long & Foster Companies, Chantilly, Va.
Bill Brown, 2016 National Association of Realtors® President-Elect; Founder, Investment Properties, Oakland, Calif.
Nick D’Ambrosia: As we wind down another notable year in real estate, it’s important to take stock of what we’ve accomplished. But it’s equally important to start planning for the year ahead. Bill Brown will help us usher in 2017 as he steps up to the role of NAR President. Bill, in your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges facing brokers?
Bill Brown: Profitability and liability continue to challenge brokers in today’s market.
ND’A: How is NAR helping brokers address these challenges?
BB: Perhaps the most important way NAR helps brokers remain profitable centers on the work we do to protect and promote homeownership and property investment. NAR advocates policy initiatives that support a fundamentally sound and dynamic U.S. real estate market, thus creating opportunity for brokers and agents to prosper. The Realtor® Party’s Broker Involvement Program provides broker/owners with tools to rally their agents on critical legislative issues affecting our industry.
Regarding liability, NAR’s legal department works vigilantly to protect brokers’ and agents’ businesses. A recent example is our victory against patent abuse in a settlement with Data Distribution Technologies, a subsidiary of the patent enforcement firm General Patent Corporation.
ND’A: Where do the greatest growth opportunities lie for brokers?
BB: New and innovative technology centered on big data, predictive analytics, and cognitive computing present tremendous opportunities for brokers. However, the most successful brokers will not only embrace new technologies, but also maintain the human connection.
ND’A: How can brokers best adapt their firms to serve today’s consumers, particularly millennials?
BB: Today’s hyper-connected consumers, and millennials in particular, have a tremendous amount of information at their fingertips. Brokers must adjust their communication styles and deploy innovative technologies to meet the needs and style preferences of today’s consumer. Recruiting younger agents should be a priority for brokers. Young agents often provide innovative ideas and new perspectives.
It’s important to note that understanding what is important to the buyer still applies to millennials. Knowing which technologies are best for each situation is important to demonstrating knowledge. These new technologies are not for everyone, but for millennials, they contribute to the livability they look for in homes.
ND’A: What are some of the most important market trends brokers need to be aware of?
BB: National median existing-home prices continue to rise at a robust rate of roughly 5 percent per year. This increase rests on the fact that inventory levels are very low, so even though the economy continues to move forward, many would-be buyers have been hampered by an inability to find a home in their price range. Home builders have been trying to fill the gap, but inventory pressures and diminishing affordability will likely remain a concern.
For prospective homebuyers, the combination of rising home prices and escalating rents has put a squeeze on affordability. Many renters are under the mistaken belief that they need a down payment of at least 20 percent. In combination with high levels of student debt, younger households have been less active in the market, resulting in a sizable decline in the homeownership rate. The share of first-time buyers, currently about 30 percent of home sales, is well below the long-term level of about 40 percent.
ND’A: How can brokers make a difference in the success of their salespeople?
BB: First and foremost, you have to love this business. Without enthusiasm and commitment, you cannot create a winning team or provide strong mentorship to your agents. Additionally, to keep up with the changes occurring within our industry, you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. Encourage your agents to do the same. Realtor® associations and Realtors® need to be the force leading the revolution.
Finally, our brokers and agents have to realize how important it is for us to have every member participate in RPAC and respond to Realtor® Calls for Action. NAR needs to ensure that our voice is heard.
For more information, please visit www.realtor.org.