Sixteen real estate CEOs, back to back to back. No panels. No vendors. No fluff.
Two white leather chairs set the stage at the ultra-exclusive T3 Summit for in-depth conversations with some of the most powerful people in residential real estate.
After two years off due to the global health crisis, Stefan Swanepoel, T3 Sixty founder and chairman, and Jack Miller, CEO, guided most of the conversations at this year’s anticipated T3 Summit. The theme was ‘Leading in Disruptive Times,’ and the event took place over the course of two days in San Antonio, Texas.
Notoriously private, T3 Sixty limits what participants can share. What I can give you are my biggest takeaways and a common theme that showed up in every conversation on stage.
The sixteen CEOs who took the stage at the 2022 T3 Sixty Summit were:
Co-Founder and CEO, Zillow Group
President and CEO, Realogy Franchise Group
CEO, kwx of Keller Williams
Chairman and CEO, HomeServices of America
President and CEO, Realogy Expansion Brands
Founder and CEO, eXp World Holdings
President and CEO, Sotheby’s International Realty
CEO, EXIT Realty Corp. International (US)
CEO, Engel & Völkers Americas
CEO, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World
Helen Hanna Casey
CEO, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services
Co-Founder and Co-CEO, @Properties
CEO, The Real Brokerage Inc
CEO, Peerage Realty Partners
(bonus video conversation)
I’m sure you recognize many of these names and the weight which they hold in the industry. Leaders from a healthy mix of traditional brokerages like Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Realogy brands, and Howard Hanna, along with some of the well-documented disruptor companies including Zillow, Knock, and The Real Brokerage, made for a true pulse of the residential space as we sit here in early May 2022.
While I can’t share everything that happened over the course of two days, be on the lookout for exclusive podcasts on BAM YouTube channel with RE/MAX CEO Nick Bailey, Knock CEO Sean Black, and others from the event.
The same five questions were asked to each CEO. In doing so, the audience of industry executives could compare answers from giant minds in real estate about the future of the industry.
In no particular order, the five questions:
- Tell the audience something personal about yourself.
- Where is the industry post-Covid?
- Where should executives in the audience shift to next in their business?
- Where are they themselves going next with their business?
- Where is the industry going in the next five or so years?
Since each speaker has obvious different strengths and business models, this was a very effective format for an audience member. We were able to get an understanding of the beliefs of each CEO regarding the future of the agent, brokerage, and industry.
The three takeaways I can share which stood out the most to me are:
1. Zillow’s attitude shifts toward agents.
Zillow CEO Rich Barton was very conscious about including ‘Zillow partners’ alongside the consumer. Every time he mentioned how Zillow will focus their attention and resources while building the Zillow Super App, he included agents in his conversation.
This was the first time I ever heard him speak about agents as a valued partner in public. The Super App, which was vaguely defined by Zillow recently, will be a roadmap; a point of integration for all the consumers’ real estate services. Barton also placed great emphasis on making 3D home touring a standard on Zillow listings, and that booking home tours will be as easy as reserving a table at a local restaurant.
2. Agents are busier than ever but have empty pipelines.
“Agents are borrowing their business and have become order takers. The agents who don’t shift out of this quickly will go broke as the market shifts.”
Bailey is referring to the last two years, as agents have become increasingly conditioned by low inventory in an incredibly competitive market. Agents carry the burden of writing multiple offers per buyer just to finally get one accepted. Buyers are as frustrated as agents and are in a hurry to be the winner in multiple offer situations. In turn, agents have become order takers. Many have forgotten how to generate other pillars of business.
With empty pipelines for the next market condition, many agents won’t survive the coming market shift unless they get back to the basics and start generating business in multiple ways.
3. Efficiency is crucial for agents and teams.
Gary Keller, while he was only there via video and was the seventeenth bonus speaker, is always fascinating to listen to. I would be remiss if I did not include my big takeaway from his pre-recorded talk with Swanepoel.
Keller did not spend any time talking about AI taking over the industry, which is what he spent all his time talking about the last time I saw him speak before Covid. Instead, he focused his conversation on agents and efficiency. Keller went into detail about how agents and teams will work with brokerages in the future. With teams gaining more control than ever before, brokerages will need to make a shift to be successful.
Keller believes the brokerages and teams that start a media company to generate leads in their market will be the ones that win (or start a separate company similar to “72Sold.com”). In addition, the companies that figure out back-office efficiency will have higher margins going forward, which is where many brokers have failed over the last couple of decades.
One Common Theme
There wasn’t one CEO who got up on stage and said the agent is dead.
I get it: most of these CEOs are highly biased toward the agent model, but not all of them. From disruptors, like Knock CEO Sean Black, to seasoned and traditional experts, like HomeServices of America CEO Gino Blefari, the message was crystal clear:
The agent is a critical part of the residential real estate transaction and is not going anywhere.
Much like people need a doctor or a financial advisor, they need a real estate professional to consult with through the process. There wasn’t a CEO in the room who is building a company or model to replace the agent. The models being built will only make the transaction more efficient and transparent. Nothing is coming that will change the industry so much that you won’t recognize it in five years.
Your job is safe, so get back to the basics. As Nick Bailey said, stop renting your business. Go back to the basics of building a pipeline and so you can own your business.