Will @properties’ sales and listings increase, decrease or keep at the same pace next year? @properties’ sales and listings will increase for two reasons: first, we are opening two new North Shore offices in 2012, so we will be expanding our agent ranks and our geographic footprint. This will lead to increased volume; and second, our agent participation in training and education has never been higher. We have agents who are committed to growing their business every year, and they are taking advantage of the tools and programs we offer at the highest level in our history. Because of this, we anticipate our company and per-agent sales to increase significantly.
Do you think more or less brokerages will choose to expand and open new offices or acquire offices in 2012? Before I could answer this question, Brookfield announced its acquisition of Prudential’s real estate brokerage and relocation business. I anticipate more consolidation to take advantage of economies of scale among the largest companies in the market. Many of the remaining smaller brokerages will merge with the market share leaders, as well. We do not anticipate directly participating in any acquisitions.
Does @properties plan on opening new offices or acquiring any new offices next year? Opening, yes; acquiring, no. We are opening in Lake Forest in January, and we will have a Highland Park office by Q1 2012. In 11 and a half years, we have never made an acquisition. We have always grown organically, and that is our plan going forward. We have not seen the value in the acquisitions made locally to date.
Which Chicagoland areas are good business opportunities for new offices? The areas that are good opportunities for our firm are areas where the independent real estate broker has dwindled or disappeared in recent years. Our experience on the North Shore – where we have been able to claim significant market share in just two years – is a textbook example. Consolidation and franchising have created great opportunities for us. Most people, if given the choice, want to do business with a local, independent business that can quickly adapt to the changing market and give the client – and the agent – what they need, when they need it.
What should agents do to stay ahead of the curve next year? What should agents be doing right now to prepare themselves for 2012’s market? Agents should be working on their 2012 business plan. What are you going to do – month by month, week by week, day by day – to generate new business and service better than your competition? What are the specific steps that are going to get you there, and how much is it going to cost? And how are you going to hold yourself accountable? The agents who make a plan and follow a plan are the agents who grow their business in any market. The agents who don’t, don’t.
What will be the best opportunities next year where agents can increase their business?
Farming past rental clients; it’s time to buy.
What are the best things about the industry right now? I believe today’s real estate agents are more educated, sophisticated and wise than at any time since I’ve been in the business. It’s amazing to look back at the last three years and see what brokers have done to adapt – to the market, to technology and to changes in the industry. I think that is a great thing about the industry today.
What is @properties planning for 2012? In 2012, @properties is going to make a big splash in mobile technology. Our industry is literally moving into the palm of people’s hands, and we intend to lead that movement locally. As far as goals, we are going to open in Highland Park and Lake Forest and penetrate those markets; we’d like to continue our pace of growth in the New Trier market; solidify our No. 1 market share in Evanston; and continue to grow our market share in the city, putting more distance between ourselves and the No. 2 company. All of the above results from attracting top-tier agents and offering them top-tier services and support, which is our goal every year.