RISMedia Founder and CEO John Featherston addresses the opening session at the CEO & Leadership Exchange.
More than 400 real estate professionals gathered Tuesday to hear over 100 brokerage executives and industry experts discuss the most pressing issues in our industry at RISMedia’s 35th Annual CEO & Leadership Exchange, “Defining Your Destiny: Strategies for Success in a Volatile Market,” which kicked off yesterday at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The event, which began at noon with a networking lunch and a series of VIP pre-event meetings, continues through Thursday, Sept. 7, and features more than 25 presentations and panel discussions with industry leaders sharing their perspectives and insights on how to stay competitive and profitable in uncertain times, and map out a game plan for success in 2024.
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The General Session began with RISMedia Founder & CEO John Featherston’s opening remarks, followed by a keynote address from Anywhere Brands and Anywhere Advisors President and CEO Sue Yannaccone. Before taking a deep dive into the opportunities to seize amid market volatility, Yannaccone addressed the recent bombshell reports of sexual harassment in the real estate industry head on.
“I encourage all of you to just be an ally. Just be an ally,” Yannaccone said. “Your voice matters. You don’t have to be a woman to support women and diverse perspectives in a way that makes us better and will give us the respect and the dignity and the honor that this industry should be carrying forward.”
Also addressing the issue in his opening remarks, RISMedia Founder and CEO John Featherston said, “It’s up to us in this industry to root out the bad apples. We’re facing a crossroads in this industry and need our leaders to step up and make sure our integrity is never in question. Sexual harassment has no place in our business.”
The State of the Economy
Next, transitioning into a “The State of the Economy,” presentation, Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist and senior vice president of research for the National Association of REALTORS®, pointed to a plethora of challenges facing the industry, while also predicting an influx of new sellers in the near future.
“Over a two-year time span, seven million new babies (we born in) the country. Where are they sleeping—in the kitchen?” he quipped. “There are seven million Americans who turned 65, the traditional age of retirement. Why are they not listing their home?”
During his opening remarks, Featherston also thanked industry luminaries for their continued spirit of collaboration, and reiterated his own long-standing commitment to the values—and people—that make up the real estate industry.
“I love this industry. I love the people that are in it. I love what we do,” he said. “I love the fact that we help our neighbors, our friends and friends of friends find their pathway to homeownership, and also their own real estate objectives and goals.”
Featherston then revealed the highly anticipated five regional winners of RISMedia’s Second Annual Real Estate Rookie of the Year award. The award, designed to honor real estate agents who are new to the business yet achieving extraordinary results, is sponsored by industry education leader Colibri Real Estate.
Selected from the top 25 regional finalists and chosen from hundreds of nominations, the Top 5 Regional Rookie of the Year winners, representing five major regions of the U.S., are:
Portside Real Estate Group
Realty Executives Bay Group Inc.
Hudson ‘Mitch’ Willis
John L. Scott Real Estate
The Top 5 regional winners are now in the running to become the national 2023 Real Estate Rookie of the Year, to be revealed and awarded during RISMedia’s Power Broker Reception & Dinner on November 14 in Anaheim, California.
A Preview of the VIP Sessions
Earlier today in a special two-part VIP private session, M&A expert and author George Slusser provided an overview of the current M&A landscape, and moderated a discussion among brokers who have excelled at expanding their firms through mergers and acquisitions.
While panelists all agreed that opportunities abound when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, fold-ins and roll-ins, according to Christina Pappas—president of The Keyes Company—motivation is going to be key in this market.
“As the market continues to remain sluggish, the fourth quarter of 2023 and the first quarter of 2024 are going to be extremely tough for small brokers. But there will be more opportunities in the near future for looking at brokers who are looking to roll-in. To that end, it’s about being in front of that person when they are ready.”
Drilling down further, setting the stage for a successful M&A is all about what happens following the announcement.
“You can’t lead by saying ‘nothing is going to change,’” says Hoby Hanna, president and CEO of Hanna Holdings, Inc.
“A lot is going to change,” adds Bess Freedman, CEO of Brown Harris Stevens. “One constant is change, so be able to explain that, but let them know that it will be good change—and that there can be a lot of positives in it.”
The State of MLS
And in two dynamic sessions, also part of the VIP private events, many of the nation’s top MLS leaders offered valuable insights on how multiple listing services are adapting to serve members in a shifting market.
From “The State of the MLS with Brian Donnellan,” the CEO of Bright MLS, commented, “NAR has been on the sidelines, in my opinion, over the past couple of years, and I don’t expect them to come forward much with what it is we’re doing right now.”
And Dan Forsman, chairman emeritus, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties and treasurer of FMLS and Remine, led a discussion,”The Evolving Role of the MLS: From Local to National Resource,” with several top MLS execs including Merri Jo Cowen, CEO, Stellar MLS; Anne Marie DeCatsye, CEO, Canopy REALTORS® Association/Canopy MLS; Denee Evans, CEO, Council of MLS; Richard Haggerty, CEO, OneKey® MLS; and Dionna Hall, CEO, Broward, Palm Beaches and St. Lucie REALTORS® and BeachesMLS.
Richard Haggerty, CEO of OneKey MLS, commented, “We’re in a super litigious environment. That’s not going to go away. So everything that you do, every product you look at, you’ve got to thoroughly vet from a legal perspective.”
Rounding out day one
Following the opening General Session, attendees will took in another four power-packed sessions led by top industry experts:
‘The State of Real Estate: The Broker Perspective’
Featherston led a discussion with a panel of leading brokers representing key regions of the country who broke down how national market and economic trends are affecting their markets, and how they’re handling challenges and opportunities.
These panelists included Vanessa Bergmark, owner/CEO, Red Oak Realty; Jim Fite, CEO & president, CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company; J. Lennox Scott, Chairman & CEO, John L. Scott Real Estate; and Chris Trapani, CEO & founder, Christie’s International Real Estate Sereno.
‘Affiliated-Business Strategies: Understanding and Overcoming Regulatory Hurdles’
In this special presentation, RESPRO Executive Director Ken Trepeta broke down the current regulatory environment surrounding affiliated businesses, offering critical steps for setting up and safeguarding these important brokerage revenue streams.
Rounding out the day was, “Power Pivots: Lessons in Change Management” and “Getting to Profitability: Smart Measures for Tough Times” before attendees headed into the Welcome Reception, sponsored by RE/MAX, for an extraordinary networking opportunity to end the day’s events.
Stay tuned to RISMedia for more reporting from our event each day, including more in-depth coverage of Yannaccone’s keynote address and Wednesday’s panel, “Under Siege: Is Real Estate as We Know It at Risk?” as well as coverage of the 2023 Real Estate Newsmakers Reception & Dinner where we will induct this year’s honorees including the Hall of Fame recipients, on Wednesday evening, Sept. 6.
Don’t miss out on any coverage of RISMedia’s CEO & Leadership Exchange! Follow us on social media @rismediaupdates to keep up with our action-packed agenda, real-time updates and exclusive content!
For the complete agenda and speaker lineup, please visit our event page.
2023 RISMedia CEO & Leadership Exchange sponsors include:
Real Estate Webmasters
Realty ONE Group
Colibri Real Estate
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Buffini & Company
Inside Real Estate
Lone Wolf Technologies
National Association of REALTORS®
AJ Canaria Creative Services
Cinch Home Services
Forbes Global Properties
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®
New American Funding
Pillar To Post Home Inspectors
Realtors Property Resource®
Sherri Johnson Consulting