The past, present and future of RE/MAX were the main focus of the firm’s opening general session Tuesday morning at the R4 conference, as RE/MAX founder Dave Liniger, Gail Liniger and current RE/MAX president Nick Bailey took the stage in Las Vegas.
This year’s R4 conference was especially poignant, as RE/MAX is celebrating its 50th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Dave Liniger took the 9,000-plus attendees from over 74 countries and territories on a bit of a walk down memory lane.
“Nearly 50 years ago, RE/MAX did our first Las Vegas convention. It was a dump called the Thunderbird Inn,” Liniger said. “They had 50 rooms, one meeting room and we have 26 people there. I think the Thunderbird Inn was built on this land and then they tore it down and put this gigantic place up. In 50 years, we have come a long, long way.”
Liniger continued to discuss the history of his firm and how his time in the U.S. Air Force helped him develop the leadership skills he has relied upon to become successful in the real estate industry.
He also discussed his first hire, Gail Main, who help Liniger turn the young company around after nearly being crushed by mounting debt. In addition to helping Dave Liniger turn his firm around, Gail Main would also eventually become Gail Liniger after marrying Dave Liniger nearly 10 years later.
“She was the real deal,” Liniger said of his wife. “Charismatic, hard-working, stubborn, if you will, confident, optimistic and a perfect partner.”
In addition to discussing the history of RE/MAX, Liniger also addressed the current housing market conditions his firm and agents are facing. He compared the current uncertainty the industry is facing to the market volatility he and RE/MAX experienced in the 1970s during the early days in the firm.
“They often quoted Darwin, that it’s the strongest that survives. That is not true and that isn’t what he said,” Dave Liniger said. “It is not the strongest that survive. After all, the dinosaurs were the strongest, and they’re gone. But mosquitoes are still here, hundreds of years later. It seems to me that we’ve always talked about the quality of our agents, but in reality, it’s the adaptability of the best brokers and the best agents that makes this system work.”
Dave Liniger concluded his remarks by reminding attendees that “cycles will come, and cycles will go,” and that they “are unstoppable.” That segued into Bailey ziplining his way to the stage from the back of the venue while wearing a skydiving suit adorned with RE/MAX’s branding and signature colors.
While Dave Liniger discussed the past and present of RE/MAX, Bailey focused his remarks on the future of the firm and the housing market.
“People have a lot of questions [about this market]. But we have to focus on what we can control and not what we cannot control. With the market, can we control the interest rates, inflation, the [Federal Reserve] or the economy? But isn’t that the stuff we all worry about?” Bailey asked the crowd. “We have to focus on what we can control in our businesses and not worry about what we can’t control.”
Despite the headwinds currently facing the market, including a volatile mortgage rate environment, continued levels of low inventory and rising housing affordability issues, Bailey said he is confident that generational trends — and life circumstances and events — will continue to keep the housing market going.
“I’m very clear on two things,” Bailey said. “People are going to buy and sell houses in 2023, and experienced agents will have the upper hand. I get asked when the market is going to rebound, but you can’t rebound if you don’t have a crash. And we haven’t had a crash; we’ve just begun to rebalance, putting buyers and sellers on more equal footing – and that’s good news for all of us. The question isn’t whether (people will) buy and sell houses in 2023, the question is which agents are going to be the ones to help them do it.”
According to Bailey, consumers want three things from their real estate agents: trust, knowledge and experience. In order to cultivate these things, Bailey told agents to focus on building and driving connections.
“There was the frenzy of the market. My forecast last year in January was that I thought a lot of agents are going to go from burnout to broke.” Bailey. “Our spheres have been ignored. Top producers, the vast majority of their business, over 90 percent, generally comes from repeats and referrals. Pour into your sphere the business is there.”
As they work toward this, Bailey told agents to better leverage technology to aid them in better serving their clients.
“We’re going to look at tech and fill in the gaps of what makes you more efficient as an agent — and what helps drive the buyer and seller experience,” Bailey said. “Get your smart tech humming. Get it humming for you, because it will deliver business to you.”
In his concluding remarks, Bailey echoed Dave Liniger’s sentiments.
“I want you to leave R4 with confidence in the housing market, confidence knowing that you are the most trusted, knowledgeable and productive agents in the history of this business, and that you are without question in the right place at the right time. You’re unstoppable,” Bailey concluded.