On June 1, 2022, I finished the 45th year of my career in the residential brokerage industry. What a glorious, fascinating time it’s been for all of us in this business. One that’s undergone enormous change, and yet, one where the fundamentals of delivering service to consumers through real estate agents hasn’t changed all that much.
After less than three years in the relocation management and franchise sales business, I found myself piloting one of the leading networks of large, independent brokerage firms, known then as InterCommunity Relocation (ICR). I led ICR from 1979 until departing to Co-found RealTrends in 1987.
During that time, ICR was sold by the brokers who owned it to Equitable Relocation, then it was sold to Travelers Realty, then sold to GE Capital and, lastly, back to the brokers who had originally owned it – all within eight years. The network then merged with the RELO organization to create today’s Leading Real Estate Companies of the World.
Front row seat to real estate industry
As a result of the early exposure to leaders from across the country in my position running ICR, followed by 35 years leading RealTrends, I had a front row seat to the women and men and organizations that shaped the last 45 years.
What I believe is that it has been the people who have been the most fascinating part of my journey and the progression of our business. It is the women and men who looked at our industry and forged great change within it, and found new and different ways to grow their businesses.
Paths to success meet with great resistance
In many cases, their path to success was met with fierce resistance from existing incumbent real estate organizations. I watched as the industry fought Merrill Lynch, then fought RE/MAX then switched their fight to Keller Williams. The dislike for modern-day new entrants like Zillow, eXp and Compass continues this tradition. Through it all, some of the new competitors struggled through their early years to become successful dominant firms in their own right.
Among the lessons learned along the way were that while technology and capital have had significant impact at all levels of our industry, it is the leaders who made decisions as to how to deploy those resources that have formed the industry as we know it today.
Several of these leaders built new ways of doing business, rearranged relationships between the agent and the brokerage firm, brought ways to use technology to drive business growth, used capital to accomplish growth faster than ever before, saw new and different ways of doing business and had a lasting impact on our industry over the past 45 years.
In a series of articles, called Lasting Impact, I am offering my views of those individuals who have driven lasting change in our business.
By that I mean, in my opinion, these are men and women who through their creativity, drive and passion for their ideas created an impact on the business that will survive their being present in the industry.
This list is not meant to encompass those who have influence but those who truly created something that changed the competitive field permanently in some significant way. Some are from years ago and some are more current.
Over the course of the next few weeks, RealTrends will release profiles and analysis of those leaders, in no particular order.
Steve Murray is a senior advisor for RealTrends and a partner with RTC Consulting.