By Robert Freedman, senior editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Last year was a tough year for real estate brokerages but when my magazine colleague Wendy Cole interviewed three top brokers last month to learn how they managed to keep growing despite the rough terrain, their answers were illuminating.
Helen Hanna Casey, CRB, GRI, of regional giant Howard Hanna Real Estate, based in Pittsburgh, talked about two inititaives of her company to help boost market confidence among buyers and her sales associates. The first was a job-loss protection guarantee in which her company offered to buy back the property for up to a year after sale if the buyer suffered a job loss, and the second was an ad campaign to get the word out that, despite the challenging financial environment, their mortgage company had $125 million to lend. You can see how the initiatives taken together paint a picture of a company that’s bullish on real estate, despite the tough times, and that was a message that resonated with their sales associates as much as with consumers, Hanna said.
ZipRealty, based in the San Francisco area, focused on behind-the-scenes resources for their sales associates. The company chief Pat Lashinsky said new tools for CMAs and prospecting, among others, were intended to free up as much of their sales associates’ time as possible so they could focus their energies on business-building, something that was particularly important last year since every sale had to count.
Trudy Moore, CRB, CRS, of HomeSmart Real Estate in Phoenix, bucking any temptation to hunker down, opened a new office. But the company also took steps to rein in costs by going paperless. All forms and documents are now filled out electronically or filled out with pen and paper and scanned for electronic processing. The aim is to increase efficiency in her company’s offices and among her sales associates.
You would expect companies as different from one another as Howard Hanna, ZipRealty, and HomeSmart to follow different strategies for growing during the downturn. Maybe there are some ideas to take away for you or your brokerage. Take a few minutes to watch the interviews in the video above or read the Top 100 Companies feature in the July/August issue of REALTOR® Magazine, page 28.