The 2022 NAR Broker Summit took place in Phoenix in early-April, and we connected with three MAR Brokers who attended to learn about some of their key takeaways. This two-day event was full of in-person networking, as well as learnings around seizing opportunity, marketing, the future of cities, market updates, and much more to take home to clients and agents. Here’s what we learned:
Lee Ann Lehto
The first topic area that was especially interesting to me was around DEI initiatives and how creating an inclusive environment—a sense of belonging—must be intentional. Natalie Davis’s presentation talked us through making a plan across your recruiting, ongoing training, collaboration, and business model in order to take meaningful steps.
I also really enjoyed the presentations around sustainability. I’m personally interested in it, but it was especially interesting to hear because I think MAR and the state of Minnesota are already doing great work in this area. We just underwent a significant project on the grounds of the MAR property all focused on sustainability and water conservation, so it was great to hear them focusing on it at a national level with the lens and knowledge I already have from our association.
Another presentation that really caught my attention was around reaching toward opportunities and goals. There was one speaker, Ben Nemtin, who spoke about how he and some of his friends created the “worlds best bucket list,” and set out on an RV quest to achieve the things on their list and help strangers do the same—playing basketball with President Obama, for example. He spoke about realizing that it’s all about looking for the right path and opportunities to take in order to reach what can feel like impossible goals. From my perspective as a broker, and for agents and independent contractors, this felt especially relevant and inspiring as it’s up to each person to keep pushing and moving toward their goals. Honestly in this market and the way things have been going for people looking for homes, you’re working with clients who might face a bunch of obstacles like low inventory, prices, interest, and things like that. So thinking about it in the frame of helping them set a goal and get to that next step without becoming discouraged was really interesting.
Like Lee Ann, I also really enjoyed Natalie Davis’s presentation on infusing DEI into our work as Realtors® and brokers. She’s a Realtor® out of Fort Collins and a leadership coach. She talked about inclusion versus belonging and how company culture is no longer a “nice to have.” Without fostering a sense of belonging, your brokerage is actually at risk of not being able to attract and retain agents, and also missed opportunities with clients—which both lead to lost referrals. We have to work to create a feeling of belonging and make sure that it’s infused across our brokerages, which is an active process.
Another key takeaway for me was around marketing. It really struck me that it’s becoming more and more important to put not just your business but yourself out there so people can see the person behind the website. Ivan Estrada’s presentation made me really think about how video is becoming a huge component of that. Buyers want to know that the people they’re trusting with such a huge transaction are real, genuine people, and using video in our marketing gives us a way to become more accessible. One of the biggest things that Ivan said we could all lean into more that’s easy and free is Instagram Reels—small day-in-the life kind of videos that give folks a glimpse into our personalities and our work. But I also know that this is new technology for some of us! It will take some work to lean into it, and that’s okay. But we need to be open to these new ways of marketing ourselves.
Lastly, I’d just emphasize how important and unique it is that we have our own research and data expertise at MAR. Dr. Lawrence Yun’s presentations always offer a great in-depth perspective for nationwide trends, and it always makes me really appreciate having access to that kind of expertise in-house through David Arbit (MAR’s Director of Research & Economics). It struck me that it’s extremely uncommon—the vast majority of other associations don’t have staff focused specifically on research and data. It’s very valuable.
This is more of an observation than a presentation takeaway, but I just wanted to share one thing that made me feel really excited about the future of our industry: seeing so much expertise at this conference coming from people earlier in their careers. Also, seeing so many really strong, very powerful women up there sharing their knowledge with all of us was something I really loved to see. Our future is bright.
Topic-wise, I really interested in how generally speaking, different legal changes and cases happening in the real estate world are being communicated, and also how Realtors® are choosing to receive them. Lesley Muchow’s presentation was all around legal updates and what we can expect. Anti-trust, compliance, and so much more, are all topics in real estate that are going to impact how we do business tomorrow. It’s important to be knowledgeable and keep up with these things rather than waiting to react. The outcomes impact each and every one of us as Realtors® in some way.
Another thing that I found interesting was this broader theme of authenticity that both Denise and Lee Ann touched on. I learned that 91% of people out there will use a Realtor®, and 43% of buyers in the marketplace are millennials. We have to remember that there’s somebody for everybody out there, and that your messaging and marketing are so important. Buyers value authenticity, but how we present that is shifting into some new technologies and ways of marketing. And this carries over into recruiting as well in the DEI space—it’s not just our clients who are looking for authenticity and a sense of us as individuals, but it’s also potential agents coming into our brokerages! The messaging and values we put out there really are a huge part of creating that sense of trust and authenticity across the board.