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2011 Predictions From Industry Experts – Cliff Perotti

by Chicago Agent

Cliff Perotti: CEO, Sudler Sotheby’s International Realty

Name three people/businesses that you are watching in 2011.

Lanny Baker, CEO, ZipRealty
Lanny just took over this post as CEO (he was the former CFO). He is faced with an organization that, while it has one of the most advanced website technologies in the industry, is also having to reinvent itself as it struggles for profitability, consolidates marketplaces and restructures its value proposition for its agents. Zip has been the leader in the Internet-based model for our industry and it is going to be interesting see how they adapt to their new structure.

Sherry Chris, President, Better Homes and Gardens
This is the newest of the Realogy franchise brands in the U.S. and it is growing like gangbusters. They are in a strongly capitalized position, which is giving them some real opportunities to recruit some large independent companies throughout the country. Sherry is a thoughtful, intelligent, tough and passionate person, and she brings that to her firm.

President Obama
This man is an interesting study in overcoming unbelievable challenges while maintaining one’s cool.

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What plans do you have for your own business in 2011? An organization is either in a state of expansion or contraction; there is no standing still. When a company is standing still, they are actually contracting because their competition is growing. We had been standing somewhat still, while our competitor was growing. This shift in the mindset of our leadership team underpins my belief that 2011 will offer some exceptional opportunities to improve our firm’s market share, agent productivity and overall profitability. Like most companies in the marketplace, 2010 has been a challenge and yet, we are coming out of this year as a leaner, more efficient organization.

This is the time for us to focus on growth opportunities through acquisition of smaller brokerages that could benefit from the stronger brand presence, and we are actively seeking such opportunities. However, growth without helping our own current agent base is irresponsible. That’s why we’ve already begun working on agent productivity through some new and innovative personal development programs, training webinars and introduction of a new website and lead generation system.

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Where will the real estate opportunities be in 2011? This is a great time to buy real estate, pure and simple. And cash is king. Even if a buyer is having to finance their purchase, rates are ridiculously low. As far as investment real estate, opportunities exist throughout the world right now, as well as within the U.S. and even our local market. For homebuyers, there are some great opportunities to find in neighborhoods that had previously been too expensive.

Yet, we hear a lot of concern that the market may continue to drop for a few more months. That may, or may not, be true. But this much I know: if a buyer waits until they hear that the market has turned, they will miss their opportunity to get the best values. We are already seeing signs on the West Coast that homes are selling and prices are stabilizing. Consumer confidence is up. It won’t be long before we start to see a positive shift here in Chicago.

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How many people, if any, do you plan to hire in 2011? Overall, we expect a 100 percent growth in our agent base, with most of that growth being achieved through acquisition of smaller firms. As far as “one-on-one” individual hires, we are planning on adding 10-15 agents per month.

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Is there anything going on in the industry right now that you’d like to change? Joy, I’d like to see the joy back in our industry. We’ve all spent so much time on simply surviving and overcoming the market challenges, that we have lost some of our individual spark of joy in what we do. We need to smile more, laugh more and walk in the light of who we really are, not the temporary market conditions.

Cliff Perotti, a 26-year veteran of the real estate industry, is the CEO of Sudler Sotheby’s International Realty, a position he assumed in October 2010. Prior to joining Sotheby’s, he was the CEO of Network Real Estate-Norcal, a San Francisco-based startup company. He can be reached at 773.672.8066, or by e-mail at CPerotti@SothebysRealty.com.

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