Each year, the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) Conference and Expo provides agents and brokers with the opportunity to network and share their best practices for business, past, present and future. Among the numerous educational sessions scheduled for this year’s Orlando event, one panel set its aim directly on brokers, sharing ideas and challenges affecting their business in a think-tank style forum. Titled “Idea Exchange Council for Brokers,” a range of topics were brought to the table, including an update on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Facebook and social media tips, and exit/succession planning, among others.
Joe Ventrone, vice president of Regulatory and Industry Relationships for NAR, spoke first with comments about CFPB. Created as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, the industry’s response to the financial crisis, Ventrone noted that Dodd-Frank may have been “a little too much, too fast.” However, he also made mention that in its five years, CFPB has done some good, in particular with the Qualified Mortgage rule and its recent proposed rule amending Know Before You Owe (KBYO). In turn, NAR has emphasized that lenders and title agents should share the Closing Disclosure (CD) with real estate agents, in accordance with existing law and regulation.
“My advice to you: make sure marketing service agreements are in writing, disclose the relationship to the consumer up front, obtain independent valuations for the services you provide, and document all fees and evaluations,” said Ventrone. “We at NAR will continue to deal with CFPB to make sure they follow the law and don’t get any of our members on an enforcement action if they are following what I just mentioned.”
Conversation turned to lighter, but equally-as-important fare as Nobu Hata, director of Member Engagement for NAR and former REALTOR®, grabbed the mic to speak truth about a topic all brokers are still abuzz about: Facebook and social media. “Seriously, we’re going to keep talking about this?” Hata joked.
As an industry, we are and we did.
Hata told the crowd that agents are quickly realizing that because they “sell, sell, sell” on social media, consumers are checking out.
“I’m shocked about the amount of questions being asked in Facebook REALTOR® groups. Agents are asking other agents about what they should be doing about a current deal. Ninety-nine percent of the answers I put on social media when I’m engaging with agents is this: Talk to your broker!” said Hata, to a round of applause and laughs. “Be more than a Facebook group. Some of these questions are public, and clients can see what agents are asking each other.”
Right now, Hata remarked, there is a “saturation of sameness” in real estate marketing, with all brokers and agents talking about the exact same things. Hence, consumers can—and do—stop listening.
“Break out of the sameness when advertising to buyers and sellers online. Your competition is Google and not each other. Be way more useful to a buyer and seller than a Google search,” said Hata. “Talk about how awesome your communities are. Stop with the ‘How much is your home worth?’ ads.
“Good experiences in real estate are forgettable. We need to start making good experiences memorable,” he said.
To add on to the already informative 90-minute session, Danielle Riley spoke about her experience coming up in the real estate game, standing in—and breaking out of—her father’s shadow.
Riley, owner of Better Homes and Gardens Prosperity in Rochester, N.Y., gave her ultimate tip on succession planning: “Start immediately. We’re in year 10 and we’re still not 100 percent there.”
Riley, 29, took over her father’s business, who initially brought her on as a partner. “We made it very clear in all our marketing and advertising to consumers. We made it public to clients and our sphere, and we kept pushing it. Every time we brought in a listing, it was ‘Sam and Danielle.’ Three or four years ago, we switched it: ‘Danielle and Sam.’ This simple switch of names has brought me more into the limelight not just with consumers, but also within the real estate community.”
Though she’s only been at the helm of her company for three months now, Riley stays observant, looking for strengths in her people and scouting out which ones get the big picture.
“It’s not about commissions or how much money you’re making, it’s about people. Find those people in your office that get that.”
You never know—finding strength from within could also mean pinpointing possible successors for the future. But it’s never too early to keep your head up and begin thinking about a succession plan.
“[After 10 years,] people are just now starting to say, ‘That’s Danielle’s dad’ and not ‘That’s Sam’s daughter.’”
Stay tuned to RISMedia.com for more from this year’s REALTORS® Conference & Expo.