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Although the trials of 2020 are now in the rearview mirror, the real estate industry—and the world at large—is staring down new and ongoing challenges in 2021.
From diversity to professionalism to maintaining relevance in a virtual environment, a panel of top female real estate leaders recently shared their priorities for the year ahead and the steps they’re taking to elevate the industry moving forward.
During RISMedia’s “Real Estate’s Rocking in the New Year,” an all-day virtual event held on Jan. 7th and co-presented by the National Association of REALTORSⓇ, Teresa Palacios Smith, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for HomeServices of America and HSF Affiliates, led a panel of three dynamic brokerage executives during the session, “Women in Real Estate: Addressing Leadership and Diversity in 2021.”
Missed the event? Click here to purchase a ticket to view the session replays.
After overcoming the difficulties of 2020, Palacios Smith asked the panel what they saw as the biggest challenge for the real estate industry in 2021.
For Sherry Chris, president and CEO of the Realogy Expansion Brands Portfolio, one of the greatest challenges ahead is maintaining the relevancy of real estate professionals as consumers migrate further online to transact business. “We need to work very, very hard to remain relevant,” said Chris. “Look at 2020…many people weren’t using their agent—because they couldn’t use their agent— to the fullest potential. So how can we shift our focus and make sure we’re providing exceptional customer service for what I believe is going to be a very busy real estate market in 2021?”
Cindy Ariosa, senior vice president and regional manager of Long & Foster Real Estate agreed with Chris— the consumer mindset has changed in the wake of 2020. And as more people flock to real estate as a career, professionalism comes under siege. “The consumer lumps us all into one big package, but not all of us take the time to be the best that we can be,” she says. “Eighty percent (of agents) are new in the workforce and only sell four or five houses. The consumer isn’t getting the experience they deserve. We need to concentrate on training and education.”
Kendall Bonner, broker/owner of RE/MAX Capital Realty pointed to the ongoing need to address diversity issues in 2021. “One of the challenges I see as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion is going to be having those tough conversations with ourselves and others regarding unconscious biases and implicit biases,” she said. “I want us to be unashamed and more comfortable in having these types of conversations. The solutions live in healing, healthy conversations.”
RISMedia is making a limited number of “Real Estate’s Rocking in the New Year” sessions accessible to the public. Readers may view this dynamic session in the video below.
Both Chris and Ariosa agreed, pointing to the programs their respective firms have put in place to embrace diversity and overcome racial bias. Realogy, for example, has created monthly employee resource groups for LGBTQ, Hispanic, Asian, and African American and Black communities within the company. The firm is also launching initiatives to incentivize more diverse franchisees to join the global network. Long & Foster, Ariosa explained, has tapped into its mortgage division to create Project Uplift, a program to help first-time homebuyers in diverse communities access the financial path to homeownership.
All panelists agreed that education lies at the core of enhancing diversity and overcoming bias in the real estate industry. “As Sheryl Sandberg said,” quoted Palacios Smith, “‘Once we are aware, we cannot help but change.’ Education is key.”
The Women in Real Estate panel also took a candid look at the challenges, and opportunities, they faced as females while on their career paths, offering salient advice for all women striving to succeed.
Entering the ranks of leadership at a young age, often the only woman in a room full of men, Chris adopted a strategy that has served her well ever since. “I decided to look at myself and others just as people—as human beings—and not look at my colleagues as men,” she explained. “If you walk into a room thinking that you’re all human beings, those mental barriers come down.”
Ariosa shared the need to be very intentional about your success. “If I wanted something, I worked very hard to get it,” she said. “When you have a seat at the table, you need to contribute.”
Bonner emphasized the need for mentorship among women. “Too many times women see each other as competition as opposed to colleagues,” she explained. “Take that extra step toward mentorship…each one, reach one.”
The panel agreed that the challenges that lie ahead for women, and the industry at large, this year, present exciting opportunities to evolve and improve. “Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity,” said Palacios Smith. “Don’t fight them—just find a new way to stand.”
To purchase a ticket to view all the event replays, click here.
For more Women In Real Estate coverage, don’t miss this month’s edition of Real Estate magazine’s special-edition Women in Real Estate issue. View the entire issue here.
Be sure to mark your calendars for April 8, 2021, when RISMedia and the National Association of REALTORS® present ‘Spring Into Action,’ a full-day virtual event packed with strategies to help you maximize the spring and summer markets.
Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to email@example.com.
The post Women in Real Estate: Advancing Leadership and Diversity in 2021 appeared first on RISMedia.
This month’s National of Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Power Broker Roundtable discusses how brokerages are preserving their company’s culture amid a changed landscape.
This article first appeared in Real Estate magazine’s special-edition Women in Real Estate issue. View the entire issue here.
Cindy Ariosa: As we begin the year with renewed hope for a healthy, stable world, we realize that if there’s a silver lining to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s how much we have learned; that a focus on culture is even more critical in a period of social distancing, and remembering the human element in our use of technology is key to preserving a meaningful environment. As leaders, we have been working hard to develop practical strategies, and we’re taking this time to share ideas. Joan, what’s your team doing to keep everyone pulling together?
Joan Docktor: Agents are social people by nature, and so the challenge has been to keep them engaged. When COVID hit, technology offered a lifeline, and we quickly learned that the better we became at virtual engagement—the more helpful, meaningful content we provided—the more our agents responded. In fact, in spite of how busy our people are in today’s market—or maybe because of it—our virtual sales meetings and training sessions are so well-attended that they will likely be with us forever. Our Friday Forums, for example, which typically drew 300 in-person attendees each month, are attracting a thousand or more online.
Michael Saunders: I can echo that. We’ve always been a collaborative company, very much into togetherness, whether it’s mentoring, celebrating or working together to support and give back to the community—and we knew we needed to pivot overnight to translate that to an online platform. We began reaching out to every agent and encouraging them to reach out to their clients. The goal was to inform, to guide, to reassure, and to offer help where needed. The message was—and remains—be safe, be calm, be kind. It’s a message that resonates, that reinforces the trust our clients place in us, and that I think inspires the loyalty and respect of our agents as we move through this together.
Tracy Kasper: Yes, the key from the outset has been good communication—great content across many platforms. I know my agents look to me for guidance, so what I share with them must be timely and varied and worthy of sharing—current events, safety protocols, insightful speakers, even friendly competition. We are in this together, and whether it’s training or mentoring or virtual cocktail parties, it’s all about relationships—mine with my agents and theirs with their clients. That’s what keeps culture intact.
CA: For me, that means reaching out to three people a day, and keeping everyone accountable for staying connected. It means in-depth virtual workrooms, a place to share stories, to maintain a sense of family in a time when in-person get-togethers—even holiday parties—had to be canceled or moved online. Now we face the prospect of more months without in-person festivities. What about awards—a vital part of every company’s culture? How do we make them meaningful?
JD: Each of our offices does its own awards recognition, often with a virtual happy hour, and we host our monthly Breakfast of Champions virtually for our 40 top achievers. That’s working, but now, with our major awards event scheduled in March, we are investigating various scenarios—hopefully something we can do safely outdoors, where we can actually be together.
TK: For the holidays, I personally dropped off a gift at the front door of every agent. You can do that when you have a manageable number. We had a virtual hot cocoa party—or whatever anyone wanted to drink—and we opened presents and just had fun, much as you would at any party. If we can’t be face-to-face, we try to duplicate that atmosphere to recognize our top achievers.
MS: I’m on board with that, even with 700 agents in 23 far-flung offices. At the holidays, we gave each office funds to plan virtual holiday parties in whatever way they chose, and we celebrated our top 100 performers with elegant baskets of champagne, chocolates and cheeses delivered to their door. During the worst of the shutdown, our agents delivered groceries to the elderly and raised funds to provide and deliver restaurant meals. That personal touch is what we want to honor in every company event, virtual or not.
CA: I think what we’re saying is that in a relationship business, our role as leaders is to relate—to be as creative and inclusive in the virtual world as in any other environment.
JD: And that character counts. It’s character, really, that defines company culture.
MS: The challenge of 2020 underscored that. Kindness and respect are as important to culture as professionalism and a drive to be the best—and in some ways, the effort we’ve made to stay connected through all this has brought us closer together.
TK: That’s the thing that’s worth taking with us into a post-COVID world.
For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.
What: Join Brian Buffini, host of “The Brian Buffini Show,” as he interviews Matthew McConaughey, Academy Award®-winning actor and author of the New York Times No. 1 Best Seller, “Greenlights” on “The Brian Buffini Show.”
When: Tuesday, Jan. 19, available starting 12:01 a.m. PST
For more information, please visit www.thebrianbuffinishow.com.
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(TNS)—Dear Mayo Clinic: I am a runner who has previously participated in 5K and 10K races, as well as half-marathons and full marathons. I would rely on water and nutrition stations at the events to help fuel my performance. Now due to COVID-19, these events are going virtual. I signed up for my first virtual run. What are some tips so I can best hydrate and fuel during my race?
Answer: No matter what distance you run or walk, it is important to keep your body hydrated and ensure you have energy to complete your activities. Although COVID-19 has resulted in many athletic events being canceled, more events are being offered virtually. While virtual races provide an opportunity to stay motivated with training, they require different planning and preparation, and you must consider your nutrition and hydration.
Nutrition and hydration aid stations are carefully situated at regular intervals around the course at physical races. With COVID-19 making these races virtual, it is now up to you to set this up, and it’s a step that should not be missed.
Whether a virtual race or in person, it’s critical not to skip fueling while racing.
Oftentimes, I have novice athletes say, “I am not a professional or elite runner, so I do not need nutrition during my race.” This is the exact reason you need nutrition.
Compared to the professionals, you will run longer and use much more fuel. You want to make sure your body has enough energy to get you to the finish line.
The recommendation is to take in 30-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour if you run for longer than one hour. You should begin carbohydrate intake shortly after the start of your race and continue to consume at 15- to 20-minute intervals for the remainder of your run.
Hydration is also an important component. Losing just 2 percent of your body weight through dehydration can severely impair performance and easily add unwanted time to your race. While you may not have been accustomed to bringing drinks with you, your virtual run will require it.
You should plan to consume 1 cup of fluid every 10-20 minutes during your race. If running for longer than one hour, incorporate an electrolyte drink. You can choose which brand and flavor, but you should make a choice that provides a balance of carbohydrates, sodium and potassium to replace losses.
Practice your race fueling plan in advance. Race day is not a good day to try new things. Take time to practice your nutrition and hydration plan during training. Experiment with different gels, bars and other food, water, sports drinks and electrolyte beverages to see what your body tolerates best. Practice your nutrition during a training run that is similar to your race intensity effort.
Your body will digest nutrition differently on an easy run versus a harder effort. Simulate your race in terms of exertion and distance as close as possible to leave nothing to chance on race day. Also, practice the simple things, such as opening your gels while running. As a runner, consider pre-ripping your gels or food items so you can easily open them while running.
As you go through your training for a virtual race, consider how your route, and your hydration and fuel, factor in. With a virtual race, you will need to carry your own supplies. This can be achieved several ways. You may consider using a running vest or belt to carry drinks and gels. Another popular strategy is to coordinate your race route to pass by your house. A looped course starting at your house allows for multiple passes for a nutrition and hydration station set up in the driveway or front yard. Finally, consider getting friends and family involved. They could join you on the course in predetermined locations along the route to hand off nutrition and hydration to you.
Running is a great cardiovascular activity and one that has definite health advantages. Although COVID-19 has changed the look of running races, you can still aim for your personal best during a virtual event with a little planning and preparation.
— Allison Gregg, R.D.N., Clinical Nutrition, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida
2021© Mayo Clinic News Network
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
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What: Brokerages have been betting big on online lead gen to boost agent recruiting and retention. But with fewer than 1 percent of leads actually closing, is this really the best approach? Tune in to this RISMedia webinar, sponsored by IXACT Contact, to learn about a better way to ensure agent success—one that can work for every agent and not just a select few!
When: Wed., Jan. 20, 2021 3 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. CT / 1 p.m. MT / 12 p.m. PT
Cleve Gaddis, leader of one of Georgia’s top 10 real estate teams and coach with Workman Success Systems, has over 25 years of experience in sales. Gaddis is also host of the “Call Cleve Atlanta Real Estate Show” on Talk Radio 640 WGST and Newstalk 1160.
Shannon McGee is the sales director for IXACT Contact Solutions Inc., a leading real estate CRM and marketing automation solution. McGee is responsible for customer onboarding, retention and support. She possesses years of experience and knowledge of CRM systems and holds a lot of enthusiasm for business automation.
Cristina Silva, principal broker of Real Estate by Referral, has worked in real estate for nearly two decades, starting out as a part-time agent. In that time, she’s started her own training program and has created a business she’s always envisioned. Silva created her company with the experiences, trainings, personal and business development, coaching and mentorship she received.
Don Zimmerman, branch broker at iPro Realty Network, has worked in the real estate industry for over 30 years. His real estate experience has included sales, marketing, broker/owner, principal broker and currently branch broker with iPro Realty Network. Zimmerman works with over 400 agents within iPro Realty Network training on technologies, real estate forms and teaching the fundamentals of real estate.
Each month, RISMedia’s webinars draw more than 1,000 agents and brokers from across the country, eager for exclusive insight from the industry’s most profitable professionals. For a recap of our recent webinar, “Winning the Listing Without Discounting Your Fee” please visit RISMedia’s Housecall. To access all RISMedia webinars, please subscribe on YouTube.
The post Brokers: Fewer Than 1 Percent of All Online Leads Closed in 2020 – There Is a Better Way! appeared first on RISMedia.
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) hosted some of the brightest minds in the housing finance world on Jan. 14 for a virtual event focused on fine-tuning the trade association’s ongoing proposal to transform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into mortgage market utilities.
“As market utilities, Fannie and Freddie would strike a balance between utilizing private capital to protect taxpayers, incorporating market incentives and innovation, and fulfilling their charter mission to American consumers,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler, a REALTOR® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and the CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. “While the enterprises have operated safely, effectively and efficiently since the Great Recession, NAR’s plan locks down this structure for the future in a way that improves access to mortgage while maintaining market stability.”
NAR welcomed guests including former Freddie Mac CEO Don Layton, Dr. Susan Wachter and Richard Cooperstein on Thursday as it showcased new research—GSEs: Their Viability as Public Utilities—offering specific guidance on how Fannie and Freddie can attract investors, minimize taxpayer risk and keep costs down as they make the transition into a mortgage market utility.
In the spring of 2019, NAR joined financial market experts Wachter and Cooperstein to propose transitioning the Government Sponsored Enterprises into market utilities. In the months since, NAR has worked to promote and refine its utility proposal as the future of the GSEs remains at the forefront of industry discussions. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the GSEs now support nearly 80 percent of the U.S. residential market.
NAR and others argue that the GSEs’ somewhat conflicting roles as both shareholder-held and congressionally-chartered entities make them perfectly suited for the utility designation. The GSEs continue to receive special treatment from the federal government in order to comply with their mandate to support underserved markets and maintain liquidity at all times, but they also must defend profits while answering to taxpayers and to shareholders who take losses before taxpayers.
“Fannie and Freddie are central to the industry as they provide the infrastructure, maintain critical functions for the market to survive and carry out a public service,” Oppler continued. “But the market in which they operate is not naturally competitive and could lead to negative outcomes like overpricing, restricted access and low-quality products for investors.”
Since the Great Recession, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been reformed to be safer and operate more like utilities. NAR contends the GSEs would not have been as effective in protecting the nation’s real estate market and the broader economy during the worst of the pandemic’s fallout if they were not structured this way. Without the GSEs, rates would be higher in normal times, access would decline and the 30-year fixed rate mortgage would not be widely available.
For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.
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It’s a false choice to say consumers want either technology or a good agent. They want the newest solutions. They want the latest innovations. Consumers appreciate cool technology, but they also want a great agent.
Today, we are seeing the emergence of the modern agent. The modern agent knows how to bring all of the latest innovations and newest solutions to the table for clients because this agent understands what the consumer wants. The modern agent does not fear what disruptors are doing. They co-op it.
What Does It Mean to Be a Modern Agent?
The role of an agent has historically been transaction-oriented. But the modern agent is relationship-oriented. And to truly be relationship-oriented, you have to be able to bring value at all times, not just at the point of transaction.
The modern agent shifts from the transactional role—called upon only when needed, once every decade—into a relationship role, where they are consistently advising clients about new options and opportunities…different ways, for instance, to sell a home.
The Role of zavvie Pro
In the past, homeowners thinking about selling had only a couple of options. Today, consumers have more choices to sell than ever before, from iBuyer to buy-before-you-sell bridge solutions. But homeowners often lack the information needed to determine what option will be the best one for them right now.
zavvie Pro enables the modern agent to explain all the options available to sell a home and help clients choose their best option. No matter what path the consumer decides, zavvie Pro keeps the agent at the center of every sale, and the agent still gets paid for every deal that closes.
Available coast to coast, zavvie Pro agents and teams working for participating brokerages gain access to enhanced seller lead generation tools, personalized branding and a groundbreaking new service called OfferFax. OfferFax provides agents with objective, apples-to-apples comparisons of all available selling options, guiding clients using data-packed graphics that rate each offer based on current, relevant criteria.
The Modern Agent Is a Trusted Advisor
Advising clients on the advantages and disadvantages of each selling option requires some serious expertise. The average consumer is not going to know how to navigate their choices. They will need the advice of an agent to make the best decision.
That agent is a modern agent, and that advice is the insight that zavvie Pro provides. Agents who choose not to understand all of the new options, or to fight them, will be left behind. The whole lifecycle of homeownership—and the real estate transaction itself—is becoming more complicated.
And as we enter a new era of innovation over the next five to 10 years, selling a home will never be like ordering an Uber. It’s not going to be an app on your phone. Homes are our highest-valued assets that are unique and complicated. The one thing that is not going to change is consumers’ need to have that trusted advisor, a modern agent.
Lane Hornung is CEO and co-founder of zavvie, a complete platform offering all selling options for real estate brokerages, and is CEO/founder of Colorado-based 8z Real Estate, one of the nation’s most successful brokerages.
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Last year turned out to be one of the most challenging times our industry has seen in over a decade, yet we were able to adapt to our clients’ needs in a relatively short timeframe and keep business operations moving forward. Real estate proved to be one of the verticals that not only stayed afloat, but saw impressive gains in terms of buyer demand and rising sales prices.
This all happened with the help of multiple technological solutions, from video tours to remote document management tools—and the good news is that real estate is going to emerge stronger as a result. While many of these platforms had already been around, they were slow to become integrated into an agent’s standard toolbox. One of the biggest obstacles was the fact that agents were concerned that interacting with clients in a completely digital format would be misconstrued as the agent not giving them the attention they needed or deserved. But the moment it became a necessary way of doing business, it suddenly became much less fraught with the possibility of turning away clients. Thankfully, it became the norm without us having to overcome too much skepticism and mistrust.
The better news is that we now have the opportunity to integrate these tools in a more forward-thinking manner. All the previous technological revolutions that have taken place within real estate grew in a responsive fashion rather than a proactive one. Online search sites, for example, were very rudimentary at the beginning—and only added features as they got to know user needs. But we know our clients better than anyone. We can take the existing tools and bring them together in a way that makes the most sense for our needs and those of our clients, whether that means customizing a digital package so it is branded to a specific team or rolling out brokerage-wide initiatives so clients know that when they work with a specific brokerage they are getting a full suite of digital services from their agent. We can demonstrate our value to buyers and sellers in ways that are tailored to their expectations even if we don’t meet them in person.
Disruption has often been what leads to new beginnings, and this year will be no different. As we all gear up for the spring selling season, we have the time to take a step back and look at ways to get the most out of all the software platforms we had to bring on board so quickly last spring. Now that we have more options at our fingertips, we can bring an even greater level of value to the clients we serve, and our industry will be even better than before.
Chao Cheng-Shorland is co-founder and CEO of ShelterZoom, the technology company behind DocuWalk. For more information, please visit www.docuwalk.com.
In the name of continuous improvement, I’ve been listening to one of my all-time favorite mentors, Jim Rohn. On Audible, I can conveniently access “The Ultimate Jim Rohn Library,” which is 11 hours and 23 minutes of pure leadership wisdom. Here are a few gems I picked up this week that I hope will inspire you:
Personal philosophy is a major factor in how your life works out. You are 100 percent responsible for the results of your life and it all goes back to your personal philosophy. Rohn describes this as the way we process ideas and use our mind to interpret the action we’ll take, which determines the direction we will travel like the set of the sail. The wind blows the same for us all but it’s the set of the sail that determines where we’ll go.
Throw away the excuses. Why aren’t you as successful as you want to be? When he was 25 years old, Rohn was penniless with creditors calling and when he thought about his current situation, he’d constantly blame his circumstances. Taxes were too high. The economy was bad. Things cost too much. This is “all the stuff” as Rohn calls it that got in the way of success (or so he believed).
The problem—and the solution—is our own personal philosophy. Our personal philosophy is what separates us from other lifeforms. As Rohn explains, we are the only lifeforms on the planet that don’t just operate by instinct and it’s a benefit and a crutch. It’s a benefit because we have the ability to alter our philosophy and our actions but it’s a crutch because we also have the choice to not fulfill our complete potential. Do trees decide they’ll only grow half as tall? He asks. No, of course not. But for humans, we can decide doing half of our best is good enough. That’s the bad part about not operating on instinct. The good part? Choice. Geese may not be able to fly anywhere but south in the winter. We can fly wherever we want. “You can turn around, go north, go east, go west. You can order the entire process of your own life,” Rohn explains. We can think critically about our personal philosophy and come up with a better strategy for our goals. As Rohn says: “Philosophy helps us process what’s available.”
To change your future, change your mind. In his speech, Rohn uses the analogy of farming. You have certain variables to work with—the seeds, soil, rain, sunshine, seasons—and you can’t change that. You can only take those variables as they come and deal with them. What you can change is your approach to the constants and the circumstances around you. You can transform them into equity and promise. From whatever soil you’re given, you can grow the stuff of your wildest and most important dreams. Rohn says, “To change your future, change your mind.” The problem isn’t what’s around you, the problem is how you’re dealing with what’s around you as filtered through your personal philosophy. For his own life as a struggling 25-year-old, Rohn was determined to change his personal philosophy. “The early results of those philosophical changes tasted so good, I’ve never stopped the process of refining,” he says, and it was true. By age 31, he had become a millionaire.
Failure is defined as a few errors in judgment repeated every day. But judgments don’t have to be grand-scale decisions; they can be the slightest things you do that when compounded over time, make a huge impact. Imagine every night before bed you eat a chocolate bar and then one day, you decide that night to eat an apple instead. Over time, if you continue eating the apple, you’ll have more energy and you’ll be healthier, and it all started with that one, tiny decision to replace chocolate with apples. “My own errors in judgment brought me in six years to pennies in my pocket, nothing in the bank,” Rohn says. Failures are simply being lax in judgment, deciding not to develop your personal philosophy to better your life. Failure, as Rohn defines it, is accumulated disaster.
The formula for success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day. If you decide to switch the chocolate for the apple today, you’ve started the process of changing your personal philosophy, Rohn says. You don’t have to change anything staggering; the first step can be as simple as waking up a few minutes earlier or listening to 15 minutes of a book every day this week. “After today you don’t ever have to be the same again, only by choice,” Rohn says.
Success is a reinforcement. When you’re in bed in the morning, you can hit the snooze button and think to yourself: “What’s a few more minutes of sleep going to do?” The truth is, those few minutes can be the difference between changing your personal philosophy for the better or remaining stagnant. Rohn says: “It does matter. It will matter. How easy is it to get up in the morning when you’re anxious to make progress toward your dream? It’s a whole different story.” In other words, with the right motivation, you’ll be excited to start your day. You might even wake up before your alarm clock goes off because you’re just that eager to begin building your dream life.
Which leads us to the idea that…
Success fuels ambition. The feeling of success will inspire you to want to feel that way again. Once you experience success, momentum takes over; it’s a snowball effect and you’ll find success faster and with more efficiency than ever before. Rohn says, “Pretty soon the disciplines that were so difficult in the beginning are now part of your philosophy.” This kind of positive reinforcement builds better habits and creates the energy we need to fuel our dreams, desires and goals.
Success is not a number but a potential. How do you know when you’re successful? The answer is different for everyone because it depends on what you can do when you’re playing full out and taking all the necessary action possible to succeed.
(Remember, as Rohn pointed out, human beings are the only living creatures that have the choice to live up to their full potential or not. The apple tree cannot decide if it wants to grow all the apples it can, it simply does.) Rohn says, “The key is to do the best you can.” If earning $50,000 a year is the best you can then wonderful, he explains. If it’s $500,000—then fantastic. If it’s $5 million—great. Success isn’t a number, it’s the fulfillment of your personal philosophy to achieve everything you’re capable of accomplishing.
So, what’s the message? To be human, to be a leader is a gift and a decision. We’ve been given the “dignity of choice” as Rohn calls it, and it’s up to us to become part of what we can be or all of what we can be.
This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.
The post Thoughts on Leadership: Success and Your Personal Philosophy appeared first on RISMedia.
Above: West + Main Founder & Owner Stacie Staub (standing) and Partner & CMO Madeline Linder
Real Estate Webmasters Provides Colorado Firm a Proven Product and Incomparable Support
Stacie Staub started out in proptech way back when it was referred to as “real estate software,” so she has a lot of experience in the segment.
“Working as a marketing director for a dev company that specialized in full-service solutions for large independent brokerages across North America, I learned the industry from the backend,” she says. “When that company’s clients started requesting that they have a REALTOR® on staff to bridge the gap between how agents actually use tools and how programmers create them, I volunteered to get my license.”
Today, the Colorado real estate expert serves as founder and owner of West + Main Homes. Along with business partner and West + Main Homes’ CMO, Madeline Linder, the duo started out working in ad agencies.
“We honestly love almost every part of the business, from problem-solving and negotiating for clients and their contracts to marketing and branding and even dealing with compliance and regulatory issues,” Staub says.
One thing that sets West + Main Homes apart is its branding, with Staub recognizing from day one that there was a hole in the marketplace.
“Where was the beautiful, impactful, informed, design-minded real estate company that would attract other REALTORS® like ourselves? When we couldn’t find it, we decided to create it,” she says.
Staub is proud to say that West + Main Homes has thrived through the COVID-19 crisis, thanks to the thoughtful guidance of its executive team, the patience and understanding of its agents, and the loyalty of its clients.
“From the top down, every member of our team exceeds our expectations, and having a no-door, no-desk environment where everyone from our CTO Greg Fischer to our COO Ashley Terwilliger and all of the members of our staff are approachable and accessible is completely different from most brokerages,” she says.
Both Linder and Staub have been fans and clients of Real Estate Webmasters (REW) for more than a decade, both at their last brokerage and from the very beginning at West + Main Homes.
“When we went out on our own and started W+M, we looked for more affordable options, as REW is top-tier, and we were starting up on a shoestring,” Staub says. “Morgan Carey, REW’s CEO, actually reached out and asked us how his company could help us get up and running and gave us the beautiful, efficient and amazing home on the internet that we continue to be proud of today. We have a new site and CRM upgrade in dev with REW, and we couldn’t be more excited to get it launched.”
REW is not a company that ever “finishes” something and then sits back and lets it become a broken dinosaur.
“It used to be that a website cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build, and would last more than a dozen years,” says Staub. “Those days are gone, and it’s important to partner with a tech firm that is transparent about this reality, and nimble enough to pivot along with the marketplace. That’s exactly where REW thrives.”
Today, when Staub shows potential West + Main agents the REW dashboard and CRM, there’s an immediate interest.
“From a consumer conversion point of view, we often say that ours is higher than the industry average because by the time people register on the West + Main Homes website, they are already familiar with the brand, have appreciated the experience enough to put their contact information into a form, and are ready and waiting to be contacted.”
Staub also appreciates the company’s never-ending willingness to continue learning and innovating while having an open mind and taking care of people.
“The support is incomparable, the cost is competitive, and the product is proven,” she says.
For more information, please visit www.rew.com.
Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.
The post Standing Out From the Competition in a Crowded Online Space appeared first on RISMedia.
Working as a real estate professional for two decades, I’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to be successful in this industry. It’s about what drives a real estate agent forward and motivates them to go out into the field and get deals done. Agents put in all this work to get their license and start a business, and the ultimate intent is to sell homes. Transactions are a primary measure of their success.
Encouraging our agents to be more transaction-focused leads to an increase in productivity, which is beneficial for all parties involved—especially the agent. We make sure our agents focus on the customer experience, motivating them to get their clients’ homes sold. When agents can complete paperwork in a timely and efficient manner on top of delivering an excellent, positive experience that satisfies the client, not only do they complete transactions faster, but it ultimately leads to referrals and repeat customers. With the HomeSmart 100-percent commission model, they also get to take home more funds to invest back into their business.
Being transaction-focused also drives brokerage success and profitability. When we recruit new licensees, the first thing I have them do is focus on the basics. I make sure they are familiar with HomeSmart’s RealSmart Agent software because that’s where they’ll be managing their transactions, learning how the paperwork processes work, customizing their agent website and completing their training courses.
We then encourage them to enroll in our HomeSmart Mentorship Program. We pair them with an experienced top producer who is familiar with a transaction-focused environment. Our agents get one-on-one training centered around how to successfully engage with clients, conduct negotiations, complete contract writing and win referrals.
It’s not just our new licensees who benefit from this process and our emphasis on transactions. Our top producers build their businesses off of transactions and client referrals. That is how they continue to grow. The more transactions they complete, the more satisfied clients they have…and the more opportunity they have for referrals. As they continue to scale, they also have help with business development and planning. This means they get to sit down with me or the broker in their area and lay out what they hope to achieve and how they’re going to get there.
At HomeSmart, we focus on providing our agents with exemplary services. When they feel supported, they want to offer that same experience to their clients, and that not only benefits them, but also the brokerage. I want our agents to feel fully supported and proud to be associated with the HomeSmart brand. This way, they feel like they always have the people and resources they need to be successful, offer clients an excellent experience and, to put it simply, sell more.
Nishika Green is the broker for the HomeSmart brokerage headquartered in the DMV (Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia) region. She was named to the National Association of REALTORS® 30 Under 30 list in 2002, and in the years to follow, has gained hands-on experience in the industry doing everything from training agents to supporting top producers to being a broker/owner of her own business.
The post Fully Focused: Running a Client-Centered and Transaction-Based Business appeared first on RISMedia.
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Above: Malinda Howell and Carolyn Rosson, vice presidents of Brokerage for the Ebby Halliday Companies
This article first appeared in Real Estate magazine’s special-edition Women in Real Estate issue. View the entire issue here.
With 20 years of experience in real estate, Sherri Johnson—CEO and founder of Sherri Johnson Coaching & Consulting—knows a rockstar leader when she sees one.
“They’re the ones out front,” says Johnson, “helping those around them change their lives for the better.”
They’re top female executives like Carolyn Rosson—vice president of brokerage for the Ebby Halliday Companies—and Meighan Wise—team leader of the Wise Real Estate Group (#WiseMoves) with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Realty.
Having built careers that are nothing short of unbelievable, Rosson and Wise continue to raise the bar, helping other women realize their true potential.
“I have achieved nothing on my own, but only through others who have lifted me up to be the person I am,” says Rosson, who is committed to making a difference in someone’s life each and every day.
Having recently celebrated her 40th year with Ebby Halliday Companies, Rosson can’t imagine being anywhere else.
After deciding that she needed to branch out and find a new path at the tender age of 21, Rosson walked into the Ebby Halliday office that was located right across the street from the apartment she was renting at the time and asked to meet with the manager.
And she hasn’t looked back since.
“It’s the type of career that takes you over. It got my heart and my soul, and I immediately knew that I was in the right place,” says Rosson, who quickly realized that one of her passions was helping agents feel both confident and assured in their role.
Raised by parents who instilled in her the belief that she could do anything she set her sights to, Rosson points to voicing her desire to take the helm at an office whose potential wasn’t being realized as a pivotal moment in her career as a leader.
“Anytime someone who is driven and passionate about what they are doing realizes the impact they are having on the people, the community and the industry, it fuels them to do more,” says Rosson.
While it took her two years to completely turn the office around, the community began to notice.
“Top-producing agents from other offices were calling my agents to ask what was going on and inquire about the woman leading the office,” says Rosson. “This gave me the fuel and energy to do more.”
Still one of her greatest joys, Rosson goes on to explain that, at the end of the day, it all boils down to her family. Her “why.”
“A lot of women believe that if they have kids, they can’t follow their heart and do what they want to do,” explains Wise—who also points to her family, specifically her children, as the motivation behind every decision she makes.
With a passion for helping others, Wise—mother to 10-, seven- and four-year-olds—has perfected the elusive work-life balance we’re all striving for.
Striking out on her own to create Wise Real Estate Group a few short years ago in order to balance out the demands of both her life and career, Wise orchestrated the entire process so that everything went down the way she wanted it to.
Determined to overcome roadblocks and challenges, Wise’s experience in the industry played a large part in her team’s development and her approach to ensuring that everything is crystal clear and transparent.
“I want to always feel like I’m doing a great job at what I’m doing, and I never want to be stretched too thin,” explains Wise, who credits the principal at the school where she was working as a guidance counselor for pushing her to get her real estate license.
A true leader in every sense of the word, Wise points to her determination as a key factor in her success.
“It’s been a crazy year, but it’s worked out 10 times better than I ever thought possible,” says Wise, whose team closed 200-plus units in 2020 (at press time). Prior to COVID, their soft goal was to close $73M, but they ended this past year closer to $80M.
“I didn’t realize going into real estate that we could have as much of an impact in so many ways on clients, teammates and others that we can inspire,” says Wise, who points to her greatest accomplishment as pulling the trigger and launching her team.
“Even if you don’t have a perfect plan, and you don’t have everything figured out, it’s best to just do it,” says Wise, who encourages real estate professionals across the board to jump in the deep end and stop holding themselves back.
“I’m proud of my team and the fact that we’ve been able to grow so successfully in such a short period of time,” she says.
While the future is looking brighter than ever for the Wise Real Estate Group, not only does Wise have her eye on continued growth, she is also pulling out all the stops by empowering women to achieve more than they ever thought possible in both their personal and professional lives.
“I don’t know exactly what the future looks like,” says Wise, “but one thing I know for sure is that I’m going to enjoy the ride.”
Enjoying the ride is the name of the game for Rosson as well.
“I’m still here, and I still love what I do,” says Rosson, who made a promise to herself when she first got started that she would leave the company the day she was no longer having fun.
A key player at one of the largest real estate companies in the country, Rosson envisions a future where she continues to play a role in mentoring women.
“More often than not, women have to work harder, especially in leadership roles, so I’d love to be more involved in a mentoring capacity,” she says.
Changing lives one day at a time, Rosson and Wise are paving the way for future generations of women to step up to the leadership plate and have a prominent seat at the table.
For more information, please visit www.sherrijohnson.com.
The post Real Estate Rockstars: Empowering Women to Claim Their Seat at the Table appeared first on RISMedia.
This article first appeared in Real Estate magazine’s special-edition Women in Real Estate issue. View the entire issue here.
Leveraging the gifts we are given as women is something we need to celebrate.
We are nurturing. We are natural dealmakers. Picture talking that five-year-old out of taking the last cookie and avoiding a fight with his sister all while cooking dinner, folding laundry, organizing the PTA meeting and cleaning the house. We are empathetic, we are homemakers by nature and we get things done. We know what women want—and, let’s face it, the woman is most times the one signing off on what house works for her family.
Using and celebrating these unique gifts has made every piece of difference for me.
Starting off was a leap of faith. I found myself in a position with a four-year-old, a two-year-old and a baby. My oldest had an autoimmune illness, and the medical bills piled sky-high. My husband was on a fixed income, so there were only so many options. We had no choice but to sell our house and move to a rental in order to pay the bills. If I ever wanted to own a house again, this was up to me.
I did what women do: I got things done.
I jumped back in with both feet. Having had my license for a few years, I had not been active during the time my kids were born. This time around, I was the woman who needed to do this. Failure was not an option.
I knew I needed a brokerage that would not only support me, but one where I was surrounded by people who pushed me every day to be successful. An office that had structure, systems and support. A place that if I wanted to put in the work, I would thrive.
I found that home in Lamacchia Realty. At the time, the office was comprised almost entirely of women. We all knocked it out of the park and hustled every day. That was the norm. Women working their butts off for their families. Women accomplishing their goals.
Within six months of joining Lamacchia Realty, I was closing on my own home. It needed some love, but it was an opportunity to sink our energy into a house that we could make a profit on. We were in. We turned the corner. I willed it to happen, and it was the best feeling. We were finally home.
Since that moment, I’ve used every piece of me to build a thriving business. Fast forward seven years, and Lamacchia Realty has grown to more than 300 agents, and I’m almost always in the Top 3. I have completed hundreds of successful transactions. My clients put their trust in me, and I use all of my God-given strengths to get it done for them, too.
Darlene Umina (Darlene & Co.) specializes in the sell/buy transaction in Boston, Mass., and MetroWest. Leveraging all of her skills from past experience, she makes the process seamless and lucrative for her clients. Four-time Lamacchia Realty President’s Club Member, and ranked in the Top 1.5 percent of the country in national reports, Umina will surpass $28 million in sales volume for 2020.
(TNS)—With the start of a new year, many people have set resolutions they hope to accomplish by 2021’s end. Many might find it difficult to incorporate changes into their lifestyles, but these shows, channels and series can provide the perfect motivation to stick to a few common New Year’s resolutions.
Whether you’re looking to tone up, drop a few pounds or maintain your weight, these shows are sure to provide the inspiration you need.
“The Biggest Loser”
In this reality competition, contestants struggling with their weight work with fitness experts to help shed the pounds and pursue a healthier lifestyle. Along the way, they face physical, mental and emotional challenges with the ultimate goal of winning $100,000. It lasted for 17 seasons on NBC before moving to USA Network for the 18th season. Purchase previous seasons on Amazon Prime Video or YouTube, or watch the latest season at usanetwork.com/the-biggest-loser.
“From Fit to Fat to Fit”
Personal trainers team up with overweight clients, but before the weight loss begins, these fitness experts pack on the pounds so they can lose weight with their clients. Watch season one at aetv.com or purchase two seasons on Amazon Prime Video or YouTube.
This resolution goes hand in hand with the previous one. Here are a few things to watch to assist in keeping your eating habits healthy.
“Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger”
Nutritionist and author Ellie Krieger shares fast, simple and healthy recipes in addition to advice for dealing with life’s temptations in the office, at restaurants and during vacation. Watch five seasons at foodnetwork.com.
“Clean & Delicious”
Holistic health, wellness and weight-loss coach Dani Spies posts new videos every Friday to her YouTube channel that offer nutritious recipes, weight loss advice and more. Watch her videos at youtube.com/c/danispies.
“Mind Over Munch”
Alyssia Sheikh teaches viewers how to make informed decisions about what “diet” is best for their lifestyles with recipes, tips, tutorials and more. Watch her videos at youtube.com/c/MindOverMunch.
Tackle Home Projects
Home projects and organization on your list? Look no further than these shows.
“Get Organized With The Home Edit”
Professional organizers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, who founded organizing company The Home Edit, tame messes across the U.S. in this Netflix series. Each episode features an organization project with an everyday individual or family as well as a celebrity, including Reese Witherspoon, Khloe Kardashian, Retta and Neil Patrick Harris. Warning: This show may start a Container Store obsession. Watch it on Netflix.
Jonathan and Drew Scott transform fixer-upper houses into dream homes tailored for each client. Watch episodes at watch.hgtv.com/tv-shows/property-brothers or catch seasons 8-13 on Hulu.
For simple, clean, farmhouse-style design inspiration, turn to Chip and Joanna Gaines for advice. Watch five seasons of “Fixer Upper” on Hulu or stay tuned for new episodes coming soon to Magnolia Network.
Help the Environment
Netflix has two shows that can help those with the selfless goal of nurturing Mother Earth.
“Down to Earth With Zac Efron”
Actor Zac Efron embarks on worldwide travels with wellness expert Darin Olien as they seek healthy, sustainable ways of living. Some highlights: The pair visits an eco-village with a small environmental footprint in Costa Rica, explores renewable energy efforts in Iceland and learns more about potato cryopreservation in Peru. Watch it on Netflix.
“Bill Nye Saves the World”
Everyone’s favorite Science Guy is back, this time bringing experts and famous guests to his lab to explore scientific issues that impact us, including climate change, overpopulation and water scarcity. Watch three seasons on Netflix.
The coronavirus pandemic has altered many travel plans, but it’s still possible to explore the world from the comfort of home. Whether you’re dreaming of your next trip or ready to get up and go now, check out these shows for inspiration.
“Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted”
Chef Gordon Ramsay travels the globe (including Peru, Hawaii and New Zealand) in search of culinary inspiration. Watch two seasons on Disney+.
“The Amazing Race”
Teams in pairs race around the world in hopes of winning the grand prize. Find 29 seasons of “The Amazing Race” on Hulu.
“Samantha Brown’s Places to Love”
TV host Samantha Brown seeks little-known spots and the innovators creating new travel experiences. Watch three seasons at pbs.org/show/samantha-browns-places-love.
Make Money Moves
Since you probably are not traveling as much, this one goal might be easier to accomplish. If you are looking to make money moves in 2021, these shows can offer key insight.
“The Financial Diet”
This YouTube channel discusses personal finance and living better with easy tips. Watch it at youtube.com/c/thefinancialdiet.
Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis offers struggling businesses cash and advice in exchange for a percentage of the profits in this reality series. Watch it on Peacock and Hulu Live TV.
2021© The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
The post Need Help Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions? These Shows Can Help appeared first on RISMedia.
Through an entertaining mix of humor and insight, Buffini & Company Founder and Chairman Brian Buffini offered viewers a detailed roadmap to success this year during his session, “Don’t Drop the Ball in 2021,” broadcast at RISMedia’s inaugural new year kickoff event held virtually this past Thursday, Jan. 7.
The event, “Real Estate’s Rocking in the New Year,” co-presented by RISMedia and the National Association of REALTORS®, was attended by more than 16,000 real estate professionals and offered more than 20 educational sessions delivered by more than 80 speakers participating in a general session and two separate breakout tracks for brokers and agents, during the day-long event.
Missed the event? Click here to purchase a ticket to view the session replays.
To prepare for the year ahead, Buffini said agents should focus on three areas: reviewing the past year, understanding the changing market and continuing their personal and professional development.
“It’s very important that every year, we analyze the year, journal what we’ve learned from the year and use it as a stepping stone to go forward,” Buffini said. “Make sure you take a day, a couple of hours, over the course of a week, to review 2020. Go through your calendar; go through the highs, go through some of the lows, and take what you’ve learned and bring it forward. That’s critical.”
Buffini also advised agents to build networks, from the local level to regional to national, in order to win business in the current state of the market, where specific skills are needed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The market has changed. It’s not just changing—it’s changed, ” he said. “The first thing we see here is decentralization. We see people leaving the big cities and moving to the suburbs, moving out of state. One of the early indicators of where we can see where change is coming is in renters, because renters only have to give a 30-day notice. You can see in some of the big cities there was some decentralization going on, and that trend is going to continue.”
Buffini predicts that for top-producing agents, business through these networks will comprise up to 25 percent of their total income this year.
“There’s huge pent-up demand to put properties on the market, and once we reach some form of herd immunity when we get the vaccines in to a high percentage of people, there’s a whole bunch of people who are looking to move,” he said. “So you are going to have an opportunity to create some inventory, but you’ve got to have data, training and tools to get the job done.”
Additional topics Buffini discussed included the coming housing demand from Millennials, a breakdown of the current state of relocation and how agents can take advantage of related trends in the in-office/work-from-home combo taking place right now, and the importance of maintaining skillsets, training and personal and professional development. He also shared details about his just-announced new training program, delivered in partnership with the National Association of REALTORSⓇ, “100 Days to Greatness,” designed to help increase business for everyone, from agents just starting out to long-time and luxury agents at the highest levels of income.
If you missed this informative session, you can visit https://rerny21.rismedia.com/tickets/?coupon=ucucJUgs to purchase a replays ticket. In his session, Buffini also provides viewers with “Brian Buffini’s Real Estate Report,” a 7-page, detailed profile of buyers and sellers and market dynamics for agents to give to their clients, as a thank-you gift to viewers.
Be sure to mark your calendars for April 8, 2021, when RISMedia and the National Association of REALTORS® present ‘Spring Into Action,’ a full-day virtual event packed with strategies to help you maximize the spring and summer markets.
RISMedia’s ‘Real Estate Rocking in the New Year’ was sponsored by:
Beth McGuire is RISMedia’s online managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The post Buffini’s ‘Don’t Drop the Ball’ Session Offers Roadmap to 2021 Success to Agents at All Levels appeared first on RISMedia.
Each year, when the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) research team releases its annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report, brokers have an exceptional opportunity to gain valuable market insights. What stories can the data tell us, and how can the research help agents be more effective in serving homebuyers?
Single female homebuyers have represented the second-largest group of buyers by adult household composition since this report was first released in 1981. In 2020, single females were 18 percent of all buyers, compared to married couples (62 percent), single males (9 percent), unmarried couples (9 percent) and “other” (2 percent).
How do single females’ experiences differ from other types of homebuyers? There are at least seven areas worth noting:
1. Type of home purchased. Like all buyers, single females were most likely to purchase a detached, single-family property. However, single females were twice as likely to buy a townhouse or row house (14 percent versus 7 percent) compared to all buyers.
2. Size and cost of the home. Among all buyer categories, single females purchased the least expensive homes ($210,000) and the smallest homes (median of 1,590 square feet), likely reflecting the income and affordability challenges that single females face compared to other types of homebuyers.
3. What prompted their move? Significant life changes are the top driver of all recent homebuyers’ purchases, cited by 27 percent of buyers. This factor was substantially more pronounced for single females; 37 percent of respondents said it was their No. 1 reason for moving.
4. How they found their agent. Referrals were the most common way all buyers found their agent (40 percent), but it played a larger role for female buyers. Forty-five percent of single females relied on referrals from friends, neighbors or relatives.
5. Factors influencing the choice of neighborhood. Convenience to friends and family was more important to single females than to any other household group.
6. The importance of technology. Slightly more than any other group, single females placed a high priority on their agent’s technology skills; 48 percent rated this very important versus 45 percent for all buyers.
7. The impact of COVID-19. More than any other group, the pandemic’s onset put a dent in home-buying activity among single females. Single females represented 18 percent of all buyers before March 2020, but only 14 percent after April 2020.
Data plays a valuable role in understanding buyers and elevating agents’ buyer representation skills. Help your agents go a step further in serving all types of buyers with NAR’s Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation. Learn more at REBAC.net.
Jennifer Rzeszewski is vice president and executive director for the Center for Specialized REALTOR® Education (CSRE), a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Rzeszewski has 20-plus years of expertise in education, project and team management, and relationship building. Prior to joining NAR, she was a REALTOR® helping clients realize the dream of homeownership. She also spent many years leading education, operations and business development teams in the call center industry.
The post How Do Single Female Buyers Differ From Other Homebuyers? appeared first on RISMedia.
(TNS)—Brunch. The dine-in restaurant occasion I miss most during this pandemic.
I’m not really thinking of those all-you-can-eat grand buffets (although that sounds decadently delightful). Rather, those leisurely outings with good friends that involve waitstaff, luxurious food and a way-early-for-me cocktail or two. A stroll might follow to aid digestion and keep the conversation flowing, before the need to nap pulls me to the couch.
These days, working at home means the couch often doubles as desk. The cocktail hour creeps into consciousness at dusk. The snack drawer beckons all day.
This January, I declare time to cook our own restaurant-worthy brunch dishes. Eggs covered in a creamy sauce, bacon-y potatoes, seed and nut pancakes sweetened with jam. It makes no matter to the cook when you enjoy them—Sunday morning, Tuesday evening or Friday lunch.
I never have enough pancake recipes. Whole grain, buttermilk, potato, lemon ricotta—we love them all in our family. My pet peeve is the metallic taste of excess leavening found in boxed mixes and some recipes, so I nearly always make my own dry mix. Ingredients on hand inspire the use of various flours, seeds, nut and fruit additions. A love of muesli cereal translated into the version below, chock-full of oats, almonds and dried currants.
I stock bags of frozen cranberries for this speedy cranberry, fig and ginger jam. Make a double batch and package in small refrigerator containers to gift to your former brunch buddies with the dry pancake mix and instructions for cooking.
Bacon and potatoes are a match made in heaven—especially when indulging in breakfast-for-dinner. The hash that follows can be served in individual skillets topped with an egg—reminiscent of pancake house skillet meals.
Like many, I struggle to poach eggs so they look beautiful and stay soft-set. The best technique I’ve found is simply to keep the barely simmering pan of water swirling when you add the egg. The movement of the water helps coat the yolk with the white. Once done, after about 3 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer the egg to a bowl of lukewarm water. The eggs hold in this manner nicely while you reheat the potato mixture to piping hot. Top everything with a lemony, mayonnaise-based sauce—easier than making hollandaise.
I always enlist help while cooking brunch—someone to act as the barista and bartender while I concentrate on the stove. Serve mimosas with the pancakes and bloody marys with the bacon potato skillet.
Fortified, we reminisce and marvel at the skills of the staff at our favorite brunch spots. Let’s support them in these difficult times by ordering takeout meals, tipping generously and sending donations. New memories are on the horizon.
Cinnamon Muesli Pancakes With Cranberry, Fig and Ginger Jam
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Makes: 16 four-inch pancakes
Any good-quality thick, not-too-sweet jam can stand in for the homemade version. I like lingonberry when it’s available. Gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill) can be substituted for the flours. Use more oats if you wish to replace the nuts.
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup quinoa flakes or bran flakes (or crushed bran flake cereal)
1/4 cup sliced almonds or pecan pieces, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons roasted or raw sunflower seeds
3 or 4 tablespoons dried currants or chopped golden raisins or dried cranberries
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon each: baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (whole, low-fat or skim all are fine here)
3 tablespoons each: vegetable oil, melted butter
Vegetable oil for high heat cooking, such as sunflower, safflower or expeller-pressed canola oil
Plain or vanilla yogurt
Cranberry, fig and ginger jam, see recipe, warmed
Cranberry or maple syrup
1. Mix flours, oats, quinoa flakes, almonds, brown sugar, sunflower seeds, currants, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. (Or store in a covered container up to several weeks.)
2. To make pancake batter, whisk eggs together in a large bowl. Whisk in milk, 3 tablespoons oil and melted butter. Whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until everything is moistened. Do not overmix. Let stand about 5 minutes.
3. To cook pancakes, heat 1 or 2 large nonstick skillets or a griddle over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Lightly brush the surface with a little oil. Use a 1/4 cup measure or ladle to dollop batter in several places over hot surface, allowing 2 or 3 inches between pancakes for spread. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until bubbles form on the surface and the bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, about 1 minute more.
4. Serve pancakes hot off the griddle topped with yogurt, warm cranberry jam and a drizzle of syrup.
Note: Pancakes can be transferred to a wire rack set over a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven to stay warm while you cook all the batter.
Nutrition information per serving: 164.4 calories, 7.9 g fat, 2.4 g saturated fat, 41.8 mg cholesterol, 19.6 g carbohydrates, 6 g sugar, 4.7 g protein, 206.3 mg sodium, 1.7 g fiber
Cranberry, Fig and Ginger Jam
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Makes: about 2 1/2 cups
1 bag (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 small tart apple or Bartlett pear, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
7 or 8 dried Turkish figs, chopped, about 3/4 cup (4 ounces)
1/2 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of half orange
1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
1. Put cranberries, apple, figs, sugar, and orange zest and juice into a medium saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water. Heat to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, covered, to completely dissolve the sugar, 3 minutes. Uncover and simmer on low, stirring often, until most of the cranberries pop, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in ginger. Cool. Refrigerate covered up to 4 days. Serve warm.
Nutrition information per serving: 24.2 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6.3 g carbohydrates, 5 g sugar, 0.2 g protein, 0.5 mg sodium, 0.7 g fiber
Bacon and Potato Skillet With Poached Eggs and Lemon Thyme Mayonnaise
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
To save time, skip Step 1 and substitute 4 or 5 cups thawed, shredded frozen potatoes or hash browns. You can opt to pan fry the eggs if poached eggs are not your thing.
4 to 5 medium yellow potatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds, scrubbed
1 tablespoon butter
2 or 3 thick slabs bacon, finely chopped (3 ounces)
1 small onion, finely chopped (4 ounces)
1/2 Golden delicious or 1 small tart apple, peeled, cored, finely chopped
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
Lemon thyme mayonnaise:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Several dashes red pepper hot sauce, plus more for serving
Vegetable oil for high heat cooking, such as sunflower, safflower or expeller-pressed canola oil
Sliced green onions, parsley sprigs
1. Put whole potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a large saucepan. Add water to cover them by 1 inch. Heat to a boil and cook, partly covered, until potatoes are not quite fork-tender in the center, about 10 minutes. Drain. Let potatoes cool until you can handle them. Set a four-sided grater into a large bowl. Use the largest holes to shred the potatoes (including the skins) into the bowl.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bacon, onion and apple. Cook until onion is golden and tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Stir shredded potatoes, green onions, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper into the skillet containing the onion mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are beautifully bronzed, about 10 minutes. Set aside to stay warm. (Or, divide mixture among four small skillets or ovenproof bowls and pop into a 200-degree oven to stay warm.)
4. Poach eggs as follows: Fill a large saucepan half full with water. Add vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt; heat to a boil. Reduce heat so water is barely at a simmer. Crack 1 egg into a small cup. Use a spoon to swirl the water in the saucepan; slip the egg into the swirling water. Repeat to add remaining eggs to water. Let eggs simmer until whites are nearly set but yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Transfer the eggs with a slotted spoon to a bowl of warm water.
5. For sauce, mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, thyme and hot sauce to taste in a small bowl.
6. If necessary, reheat the potato hash until it’s very hot. Top with poached eggs and dollops of the sauce. Garnish with more hot sauce, green onions and parsley.
Nutrition information per serving: 563.6 calories, 36.6 g fat, 9.3 g saturated fat, 226.8 mg cholesterol, 42.1 g carbohydrates, 6.6 g sugar, 17.2 g protein, 1,010.1 mg sodium, 4.2 g fiber
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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
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Royal LePage’s Future-Focused Digital Transformation With rlpSPHERE
From its founding in 1913 to its status as its nation’s largest real estate company with more than 600 locations and 18,000 agents, Royal LePage is synonymous with real estate in the Great White North. As President & CEO Phil Soper says, “Royal LePage is Canada’s Real Estate Company; a contemporary, innovative business built on more than 100 years of industry leadership. We have no intention of slowing down.”
The catalog of Royal LePage firsts stretches back decades, from introducing For Sale lawn signs to the country early in the last century, to the launch of Canada’s first national real estate website in 1995. Royallepage.ca is Canada’s second most visited home search portal.
Today, Royal LePage is once again shaking the industry’s foundations as a technology innovator with the launch of its groundbreaking digital ecosystem, rlpSPHERE. Powered by kvCORE from Inside Real Estate, the platform features a suite of fully integrated proprietary and industry technologies. Automating the full spectrum of a real estate professional’s needs—from lead generation and CRM to marketing automation and EDM—rlpSPHERE is a solution uniquely customized for the Canadian market, and designed to empower Royal LePage’s management, teams and agents.
The timing of the platform’s launch was fortuitous.
“The rlpSPHERE concept and high-level architecture was born 18 months ago,” explains Soper. “We envisioned a cloud-based, AI-enabled operating environment where our people could access what they needed to work anywhere, anytime, on any device. Thanks to Inside Real Estate and our brilliant design team, we had created a system optimized for a pandemic well before the world had heard of COVID-19.”
Royal LePage Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Cheng describes rlpSPHERE as “a fully integrated, future-focused” solution. “It allows brokerages and agents to move away from multiple, disjointed technologies,” she explains. “Right now, especially with the pandemic, this integrated ecosystem is a huge component of a brokerage’s value proposition.”
An Idea Whose Time Had Come
According to Cheng, emerging shifts in the market made the timing right to embark on the rlpSPHERE project. Responsible for Royal LePage’s strategic vision and the delivery of its products and services, Cheng closely monitors real estate technology, and noticed the material infusion of venture capital flowing into the space, along with an increasing level of tech sophistication.
“For the first time, we felt there were companies that could effectively digitize the brokerage, agent and team processes, allowing each party to automate many of their administrative and routine tasks in order to focus more on elevating the level of service and professionalism being offered,” she explains.
Also emerging in the market, for brokerage, team and agent websites, were advanced capabilities for leveraging AI and behavioral automation, such as lead generation websites that monitor repeat visits and proactively reach out to consumers, or push out search alerts and market reports based on a consumer’s search criteria. Royal LePage wanted to tap into the positive implications this could have for lead conversion.
“There’s been a lot of progress in AI, and we’re able to do a lot of interesting things that we haven’t been able to before,” explains Cheng. “All of a sudden, agents have a new assistant that is effectively nurturing all of their leads but only surfacing the warm ones as they become ready.”
Setting Bold Goals
Royal LePage’s goals for rlpSPHERE were ambitious, but in keeping with the company’s long history of innovations and firsts.
“We wanted to make sure we were building a future-focused system that leveraged advanced sales-automation technology to give our network an advantage and to make sure everyone had the tools to be successful as transformation in the digital age progresses at an accelerated pace,” says Cheng. This included a solution that would allow a broker to generate leads, then track and service those leads throughout their entire lifecycle, from inception to close.
Differentiation was also a major goal when it came to the development of rlpSPHERE. “We wanted to create a completely Canadianized solution uniquely tailored to Royal LePage with the data, customizations and integrations needed to make it work for our users while enhancing brand value,” explains Cheng.
The company’s digital solution also needed the flexibility and depth to serve both new and experienced agents alike—one solution for all.
According to Soper, there is a broader, bolder vision for the new ecosystem that goes beyond having best-in-class features and functions. “To rapidly drive adoption across thousands of independent contractor agents, we needed the wow-factor provided by amazing new discrete functionality, like automated lead management,” he says. “Yet the true superpower to increase enterprise productivity and revenue, and to reduce cycle time and costs, comes from integration. Gone are the typical real estate company’s islands of technology that devour hours of human labor to allow them to talk to each other. rlpSPHERE represents a triumph in end-to-end design and data integration.”
The Right Partner for the Job
Always on top of technology trends and actively involved in industry conferences and mastermind groups, Royal LePage was well informed when searching for a partner to make its technology goals a reality.
“We interviewed 25 different vendors to make sure we had a common vision and that their interface was intuitive and very usable in order to get the adoption we needed,” recalls Cheng. “We also had to make sure there was a good cultural fit with their management teams.”
Eventually, Cheng issued an RFP to three finalists who were then subject to an evaluation matrix from Royal LePage’s internal project team, and a meeting with the company’s Services Advisory Council, composed of 18 brokers from across the country. This multifaceted vetting process resulted in the selection of Inside Real Estate, known for their innovative tech leadership in the industry, who Royal LePage views as an independent, well-funded, long-term partner. Inside Real Estate brought to the table:
– A proven ability to support large enterprise organizations and complex rollouts
– Modern tools (AI-driven CRM, behavioral automation, lead generation, etc.) that catered to all of Royal LePage’s key stakeholders and user personas
– A highly sought-after platform (kvCORE) that was well-established in the market, yet flexible and customizable to Royal LePage in order to create a unique ecosystem
– An open API platform, allowing for existing integrations with proprietary systems, key Royal LePage partners and other ancillary service providers
“This is a robust system, but one that was designed to be intuitive for agents,” says Cheng. “We needed a proven platform that has a track record of driving results for brokers, agents and teams, and we found that with the kvCORE Platform.”
Creating a Unique Tech Ecosystem
One of the biggest priorities for Royal LePage in developing rlpSPHERE was customizing the platform and ensuring “Canadianization.” The platform, says Cheng, needed to integrate the Royal LePage roster, Canadian listings and data feeds, and the company’s high-use service partners. Also on the must-do list: Canadian regulatory compliance, federal privacy and marketing law compliance, and provincial real estate regulatory requirements.
The rlpSPHERE platform also required complete white-labeling, including branded digital and print marketing pieces, smart drip campaigns tailored to Canadian consumers across the core platform, as well as mobile apps. Royal LePage also introduced a branded, custom Learning Portal.
“Our brand is incredibly important to us, so every single piece of collateral—print, digital and social media—had to have Royal LePage’s branding and speak to the Canadian agent and consumer,” says Cheng.
Scaling a Major Roll-Out…Despite a Pandemic
While there are inevitable bumps in the road for any tech roll-out, no one could have prepared to launch a large-scale digital platform in the midst of a pandemic.
According to Cheng, however, the challenge presented by the COVID outbreak only strengthened their resolve.
“Once the pandemic hit, all of our teams went fully virtual,” she recalls. “Because of the size, scale and importance of the project, it bonded our team with an even larger sense of purpose and helped us deliver the solution to our network during the pandemic.”
The team began creating buzz for rlpSPHERE at key national events in late 2019, and at regional broker meetings in the first quarter of 2020. Prior to launch, a four-week teaser video series was pushed out, and to help brokers prepare for the agent launch, a manual was created outlining the benefits of the system by agent persona (new agent, experienced agent, team), a comparison of the service to key players in the market, the essential phases of configuration and training, tips for initial adoption and engagement and, of course, support.
Since the launch, the influx of information continues, including best practices from other Inside Real Estate customers and more in-depth, custom webinars from Royal LePage’s Learning Services team in conjunction with Inside Real Estate’s trainers.
“The scope of this service is broader and more complex than what we’ve done before, and the training is comprehensive,” says Cheng.
Evolution to Revolution
Cheng is happy to report that the adoption plan for rlpSPHERE is ahead of schedule. “All of our brokers are really excited by the fact that this is something unique to us,” says Cheng. “During the pandemic, it’s been a strong retention tool, and they’re starting to see the early benefits when recruiting new agents. It’s important that everyone becomes a digital expert. This is a transformation for everyone in the industry and our network.”
And there couldn’t be a more critical time to embrace a fully digital future. Bullish market conditions are expected to continue through 2021, and home-buying and -selling habits continue to evolve in the wake of the pandemic. Says Soper, a well-timed business revolution.
“Never underestimate the power of luck when it comes to business success,” he smiles. “In Canada, we are commonly first-to-market with new real estate services and technologies. We expect our competitors to follow suit in a year or so. The global health crisis that has shut down air travel and sent people to work from home has made the creation of something like rlpSPHERE exponentially more difficult. We will enjoy an unusually lengthy window of digital exclusivity as a result.
“There will be no resting on our laurels,” Soper concludes. “The wizards at Inside Real Estate and Royal LePage are continually working on enhancements and will keep us on the cutting edge of innovation. With the rlpSPHERE framework in place, we’ve already been able to announce new functionality that widens the gap between us and our hungry pursuers. It is great fun!”
For more information on rlpSPHERE, please visit rlp.ca/rlpsphere-agents and rlp.ca/rlpsphere-teams.
To learn more about Inside Real Estate and their kvCORE Platform, visit www.insiderealestate.com.
In this exclusive interview, Quicken Loans® Director of Business Channel Strategy Lauren Gadoua discusses the company’s culture, leadership philosophy, goal-setting strategy, team member development and more.
Paige Tepping: Please provide a brief overview of your history in the industry and how you ended up where you are today.
Lauren Gadoua: About six years into my career, which predominantly consisted of B2B sales and marketing, I began looking for a new opportunity because I wasn’t feeling challenged enough at my current company. I started at Quicken Loans in 2013 as a marketing strategist helping to make homeowners aware that they could take advantage of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).
Soon after, I was asked to move to the Business Development team as its first dedicated marketing team member working on various B2B efforts. This is where I started working with the real estate agent community and learned about how we assist agents throughout a home purchase. The Business Development Marketing team expanded, and I began leading that team in 2017.
Last year, I moved my team back over to the Quicken Loans Marketing team where we’ve been working under our CMO, Casey Hurbis, to grow the Rocket brand with homebuyers and their agents. My team has more than doubled, and one of our main focuses is Rocket Pro℠ Insight—a tool we launched in October 2020—which gives real estate agents visibility and control in their client’s home loan process.
PT: Can you talk a little bit about the company’s culture, as well as its ISMs, and why it is so important to foster this type of culture?
LG: First and foremost, our culture is friendly, inclusive and welcoming. Another aspect of our culture that is valuable to me as a team member and a leader is the freedom. We’re encouraged to try new things and to test and measure all of our ideas—and we never see failures as definitive. We learn both from what works and what falls flat, then we go back to the drawing board to keep building better tools and experiences for our clients and real estate partners.
The ISMs, which are 20 ideals and principles Dan Gilbert (Quicken Loans founder) started writing more than 20 years ago, define this culture for us and lay out philosophies that guide our decision-making, actions and behaviors.
PT: Is there one particular ISM that stands out most in your mind?
LG: All 20 ISMs work hand in hand, but one that stands out to me is “Obsessed With Finding a Better Way.” Our never-ending mission is to find a better way for every process and everything we touch.
I’ve been in the thick of our real estate engagement strategy for more than five years. That entire time we have been focused on trying new things to give our real estate partners a world-class experience. “Obsessed” is the right word. “Good enough” is never good enough for us, the agents we work with or their clients.
PT: When it comes to the company’s leadership philosophy, what are some of the key components in this area?
LG: Some of the most important components to our culture and leadership philosophy are approachability, transparency and empowerment.
First of all, team members need to feel comfortable reaching out to leadership. As leaders, it is our duty to provide ongoing guidance to our teams, no matter how busy we are. We cannot be in an “ivory tower,” available by appointment only. In fact, Jay Farner, our CEO, has his cellphone number listed on our company intranet so anyone can get ahold of him if they need to.
It’s also vital to have transparency when communicating with your teams to build upon the trust you’ve established by being there for them. Explaining the “why” behind the task and the impact on the business, being honest about how and why decisions are made, and including team members in the goal-setting process helps the team see why their role is important in the larger picture.
Finally, empowering team members to go and do their jobs shows the team that you have trust in them. It’s our job as leaders to develop our people into superstar executors and future leaders who feel equipped to successfully carry out their projects without constant oversight. On top of that, we need to empower them to be innovative, try new ways to meet the goal and never settle for the status quo.
PT: Why do you believe this type of leadership philosophy has been so successful?
LG: All of these approaches to leadership help team members feel valued and part of the success of the organization as a whole. When a team member feels that they serve a valued purpose, they’ll feel motivated to continue doing a great job and seek out new opportunities for development. When you start multiplying that effect, and you have a majority of your people reaching higher and striving for improvement, the entire organization will level up.
PT: Setting goals—and achieving them—is critical to a company’s continued success. How does Quicken Loans approach goal setting?
LG: In 2020, we adopted the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework to set company goals.
Your team’s objective can be an ambitious goal, but your key results must be measurable and time-bound to track your progress. Drilling down, you start to see what projects/tasks/efforts are driving toward moving the needle on that key result. Then, together, those key results will help you meet your objective.
The entire leadership team across all businesses that make up Rocket Companies read “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr in late 2019, so we were all on the same page about how we wanted to set and measure goals.
It takes time, commitment and a lot of refinement to change your goal-setting structure and stick with it, but it’s worth it.
PT: Why has this approach been instrumental in the company’s success?
LG: Focus! The ideas flying around this place are never-ending, and if we tried to do everything, we’d end up accomplishing nothing. OKRs help us map out long-term vision and break out how to get there in quarterly segments.
PT: How are you continuing to develop and empower team members?
LG: Our approach to leadership development is to integrate development throughout the team member lifecycle. At every age and every stage in our team members’ careers, we have programs that guide them to the next level and continually enable them to progress in their careers—up to and including our most senior leaders.
We encourage development in all team members, whether they have a “leader” title or not. We recognize that every team member can influence those they interact with and, therefore, we view the word “leadership” more broadly than a simple reporting structure.
This is summed up in a quote from our Founder and Chairman, Dan Gilbert: “A leader’s job is not to create more followers. A leader’s job is to create more leaders.”
The above article is sponsored content. For more information, please visit RocketPro.com/RealEstate.
Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at email@example.com.