2020 was a year unlike any other, and there has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding the new year. Through these recent experiences, thousands of real estate professionals have come to understand the need to prepare for any new challenges that may arise. They committed to self-improvement through continuing education by attending RISMedia’s “Real Estate’s Rocking in the New Year,” co-presented by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).
The virtual event, the largest ever within the real estate industry, was held on Jan. 7 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET and attracted over 16,000 attendees who tuned in to learn from 30 of the industry’s leading brokerage firms, along with 10 of the most dynamic coaches and trainers.
The event kicked off with a riveting opening session, “A Road Map for the Year Ahead,” moderated by RISMedia’s Founder, CEO and Publisher, John Featherston. He was joined by NAR leadership members, CEO Bob Goldberg and 2021 President Charlie Oppler.
“Welcome to RISMedia’s ‘Real Estate’s Rocking in the New Year.’ Start 2021 better equipped to tackle today’s issues and improve your value proposition,” said Featherston in his introductory speech. “Today, we hope to provide you with the techniques and strategies to help you improve your skills.”
Featherston asked Oppler and Goldberg what they’ve learned over the last year and how they’re approaching the new year, especially within NAR.
“I start each day very simply by trying to win the day,” said Oppler. “Be prepared and know what you need to do, as well as move forward to continue operating and growing.”
“One of the things we have learned with this pandemic is that we’ve engaged more with members than ever before,” said Goldberg. “We are going to listen to what our members have to say and engage with them because that makes us a better organization so we can better serve them.”
“Real Estate’s Rocking in the New Year” was split into several broker- and agent-focused tracks, along with one-on-ones with some of the industry’s most successful experts. One session—New Year, New Game Plan: Broker Strategies for 2021—featured some of real estate’s top leaders: Helen Hanna Casey, CEO of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services; Adam Contos, CEO of RE/MAX; Chris Stuart, CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC and CEO and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices; and Sue Yannaccone, president and CEO of Realogy Franchise Group.
For all of these brokers, optimism was key to kicking off this new year on a strong note.
“This year, there’s no question in my mind that we are better prepared to meet whatever challenges that face us,” said Casey, adding that the value a brokerage provides has to come from leadership first to then provide it to associates and then to clients.
And it’s this value that then forms strong relationships—a theme many are zoning in on for 2021.
“If there wasn’t a collective trust among consumers, we wouldn’t have seen the transactions that we did in 2020,” said Stuart. “Trust between consumers and agents is what we really need to focus on because that’s the value driver. Act with deliberate intentionality to strengthen the relationships you already have.”
Contos agreed, stating that this trust is essential and that it’s built through communication.
“Presence creates trust. We need to be out there with a message of kindness and not sales,” said Contos, emphasizing the old adage of, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
“During the pandemic, communication rose to a level of criticality that perhaps we haven’t seen before,” said Yannacconne, who agreed that doubling down on communication will lead to a successful new year. “We are very much a relationship business and so it required us to pivot, but also allowed us to learn.”
While no one can say with absolute certainty what will happen to the markets in 2021, real estate professionals can certainly rely on data of past trends and future predictions in order to best prepare. NAR’s Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research, Dr. Lawrence Yun, provided attendees with this vital information during the “Economic Update: Predicting the Unpredictable” session.
“2020 was quite remarkable,” said Yun. “We have to remember, 2019, before the pandemic, it was a great economy. Strong job creation, low unemployment rate, stock market rising. And yet, the second half of 2020, home sales were surging—20 percent or so above a year ago and still surging to record-high levels. This is simply due to the supply and demand dynamics. People are seeking a larger home due to the pandemic and low rates are bringing buyers to the market.”
“In 2021, it looks like the momentum will carry on strongly,” added Yun. His predictions for the new year? Interest rates at historic low levels, increased job creation due to the stimulus package recently passing and vaccines being distributed, an improved unemployment rate, and more inventory.
“By year-end, we may reach something like a 6 percent unemployment rate—certainly an improvement over what happened during the pandemic,” said Yun. “Homebuilders are recognizing there is a massive inventory shortage and doing everything possible to get more homes built. Housing permits are really rising—a good indicator of increased supply in 2021.”
Additionally, Yun expects the following:
– Strong home sales momentum, with sales up roughly 8 to 12 percent in 2021 vs. 2020
– Home prices rising more moderately, about 4 percent nationwide
Market data and a resilient attitude aside, a big focus in 2021 should be on marketing in the digital space. During a “One-on-One With Morgan Carey: New ideas for a New Year” session, attendees learned how, with the help of a strong online presence, they can elevate their value proposition to stand apart from the competition.
According to Carey, CEO of Real Estate Webmasters, there are several things industry practitioners should be focusing on in 2021:
– Accessibility, Speed, Search Engine Optimization
– Brand and Content
– Lead Generation, CRM, Strong Website
“If you are really focused on lead generation at the top of the funnel, getting them into a CRM and having a really great website, I think you’ll be at the top of 2021,” said Carey.
Following a full day filled with best practices and tips that span several segments of the real estate world, “Real Estate’s Rocking in the New Year” wrapped things up with a session summarizing the event’s best tidbits and emphasizing how agents and brokers can find success even amid uncertainty and challenging times. The session was led by RISMedia’s Featherston, and included panelists Marc Gould of NAR, JP Piccinini of JP & Associates REALTORS®, Diane M. Ramirez of Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales, LLC and Verl Workman of Workman Success Systems.
All registered attendees will have access to replays of all sessions. Stay tuned to rismedia.com for more coverage of Real Estate’s Rocking in the New Year. And make a note in your calendars now so you don’t miss out on our next virtual event, ‘RISMedia’s Spring Into Action,” co-presented by NAR and being held on April 8—more details to come.
RISMedia’s ‘Real Estate Rocking in the New Year’ was sponsored by: