How NextHome Helps Brokers and Agents Remain Competitive
As the economy continues down an uncertain path, the ripple effect is felt throughout the real estate market as homebuyers and sellers struggle to fulfill their housing goals. For most real estate professionals, it’s a bumpy ride, filled with unpredictability and challenges. But not for ‘NextHomies’ who have a powerful engine and culture behind them to facilitate their success in any market—no matter how rocky the waters get. Here, we sit down with Vice President of Sales Charis Moreno for an inside look at how NextHome is uniquely prepared for times just like these.
What is NextHome’s take on the current state of the housing market? Charis Moreno: The market has shifted. Higher interest rates and inflation on all goods and services are pricing out buyers and impacting home sales. Changes in the market often reveal the strengths and weaknesses in your organization, your systems and your people. Overall, we expect to see a significant reduction in the agent base over the next 12 to 24 months. The players who remain will be the ones with the best answers to key questions. For agents, how are you going to maintain production while keeping costs under control? For managing brokers, how are you going to remain competitive with reduced revenue? What’s your new strategy for recruiting and retaining top talent?
I believe NextHome members are positioned better than most in this shifting market. While we’ve already seen other real estate brands lay off staff, cut down on marketing and technology or reduce training opportunities to curve their bleeding bottom line, our model is designed for success regardless of which way the market is leaning. We provide the marketing, technology, training and support our brokers and agents need as an included member benefit. They don’t carry the overhead for the products and tools they need to run their day-to-day business. Backed by a fully integrated real estate platform, our NextHomies can confidently secure the listing and capture more marketshare. All this without having to cut their commission or compromise the level of service and tools they deliver to their clients.
Can you give us some specifics? How exactly does NextHome help brokers and agents remain competitive in their market? CM: It’s simple. Our goal is to deliver an integrated marketing and technology platform that gives our members everything they need to run a successful real estate business—without paying retail prices. If it adds value for our brokers and agents—we find a way to give it to them, free of charge. This is why earlier this year, we formed a strategic partnership with Inside Real Estate to bring the powerful kvCORE platform to all NextHomies, starting with IDX Websites and Smart CRM. We’re in the process of rolling out CORE Present, CORE Listing Machine and Design Center. True to our brand promise, all of these tools are fully integrated with our single sign-on platform and connect with the rest of our products and services seamlessly.
Launching kvCORE is just one of many recent updates to our offering. To help our brokers and agents increase production and marketshare, we launched The Academy by NextHome—an in-house coaching and accountability program that currently includes six separate courses with more to come in 2023. Led by Jim Fischetti, our vice president of Learning and Development, The Academy incorporates live group coaching sessions over the span of 90 days, where members make their way through a proven curriculum for excelling in specific areas of their business. We cover working with sellers, recruiting and retention, and everything in between. The programs are heavily rooted in the NextHome ecosystem and further drive the adoption of our products and services through exercises, group activities, goal setting and homework assignments.
Caption: Each year, NextHome’s corporate team volunteers on Luke Day, their mascot’s birthday and franchise-wide day of community outreach.
In fact, NextHome boasts an adoption rate of 72% of our marketing and technology tools. Much of this higher-than-industry-average adoption rate can be credited to our in-house Member Services team. They are the first line of support for everything in our platform—and I really mean everything. These are real human beings who answer the phone and promptly reply to our brokers and agents via email, and they know our tech stack inside and out. Our NextHomies don’t call Inside Real Estate or DocuSign when they need assistance with a Smart Campaign in kvCORE or a task list template in DocuSign Rooms—they call our NextHome Member Services team. They only have to remember one password to access our entire platform and only one phone number should they need any help using it.
So, how do we help members stay competitive? It’s more than giving them the tools they need to streamline their day-to-day activities so they have more time to build relationships with their clients and their communities. We also put in the time and effort to train and support our brokers and agents on how to implement these tools into their business. I believe this mindset is why NextHome was named the No. 1 franchise in owner satisfaction in the country by Franchise Business Review for the second year in a row.
NextHome seems hyper focused on the people. How does that tie into your culture? CM: Our industry is easily distracted and somewhat obsessed with the word “leads.” Operating from that viewpoint can make it easy to forget the single most important factor of buying and selling real estate—the humans. Our entire organization is focused on putting HumansOverHouses®, which is more than a phrase for us. It’s a way of life.
It started back in 2014 when we partnered with the world’s leading design firm, Pentagram, to create the NextHome brand. We selected them specifically for their expertise in creating consumer-focused brands that stand out above the rest. Like us, they recognized the value of raising the bar—making the journey to homeownership a smooth experience, one delivered with the utmost professionalism but also a little bit of fun. We changed the way clients engage with real estate brands by creating a uniquely shaped listing sign, adding a bed/bath/parking rider that communicates the features of the home at a glance, and introducing them to Luke, our orange French bulldog mascot. Every aspect of the brand identity is designed to create a lasting impression that helps us connect with the humans in each market.
As we continue to add new team members here at the corporate office, enter new markets and add more brokerages and members to our network, HumansOverHouses® keeps us grounded and focused on those we serve in buying and selling real estate. We celebrate their stories on HumansOverHouses.com—a constant reminder of why we entered this profession. However, it goes even deeper than that. Our commitment to putting people first is what started the NextHome Disaster Relief Foundation, a nonprofit organization designed to help NextHomies who have been affected by natural disasters. Led by NextHome owners and brokers, The Foundation distributes funds to those who need it most, when they need it most. We also partnered with the National Association of REALTORS® to bring the At Home With Diversity® certification course to all NextHome members as an included member benefit. Learning diversity sensitivity and ways to work in multicultural markets is just a natural step in the process when a mindset like HumansOverHouses® is driving your decisions.
Do you have any final advice for brokers and agents looking to adapt to the shifting market? CM: Change gives us an opportunity to grow, learn and expand. My advice would be to take a hard look in the mirror and analyze which areas of your business will need to change in order to remain competitive. If everything stays the same, will you still be in the business in the next six, 12 or 18 months?
It’s a harsh but true statement that independent brokerages often miss out on. They get priced out of the very products and tools that could give them an edge in their market. Franchising might not have been on your radar in the past, but there is no harm in exploring your options today as a way to prepare for the future. There is strength in numbers, in having access to greater buying power, and in a growing referral network—especially in a shifting market.
I might be biased, but I strongly believe that our model was specially built for such a scenario—one where flexibility can truly move the needle for a broker’s bottom line. With one-year and five-year franchise agreements, we make it easy for owners to give us a try. We have no growth or structure requirements. Brick-and-mortar, shared space and virtual brokerages can all thrive under the NextHome umbrella. It’s this flexibility that has allowed us to grow to over 600 locations and nearly 6,000 members across the country in eight short years.