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RISMedia’s Newsmakers: Celebrating the Industry’s Futurists and Influencers

Sun, 02/14/2021 - 11:09

In 2020, the real estate professionals that influenced change were those who took action and introduced innovative ideas amid a year of uncertainty. We recently announced the RISMedia 2021 Real Estate Newsmakers, individuals who thrived despite the new challenges brought on in the past year, especially by the coronavirus pandemic.

With our Futurists category, we honor the “forward-thinkers”—those real estate professionals changing the conversation. Celebrating those who are focused on growth and adaptability to survive in a changing real estate world, our Futurists represent those driving the conversation forward to achieve new successes, profits and support.

Our Influencers include some of the brightest thought leaders in the real estate industry. They are those who inspire leadership, innovation, creativity and successes in our business.

Read about their accomplishments on their Newsmaker profile pages and, below, hear what they have to say about their recognition and their thoughts on the future of real estate.

Tommy Choi – Influencer
Weinberg Choi Residential

“Being named a RISMedia Newsmaker means a lot to me…one of the biggest reasons is for the chance to inspire other Korean and Asian REALTORS® in our industry. When I was a kid, I obsessively collected baseball cards. I basically lived at our local card shop. I remember one day, I came across a hockey card that caught my attention. It was a card of a Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman named Jim Paek. What drew my eyes to this card was that Jim Paek looked like me. He was the first Korean NHL hockey player. I bought the card, put it in a protective plastic sleeve and stared at it in my room. I drew inspiration from it. It didn’t inspire me to become an NHL player. It inspired me to think bigger on my possibilities and gave me the confidence that I could be and do anything I wanted in life—even be an NHL player. This is why being a Newsmaker is important. Maybe I can give the confidence to someone else in our industry that looks like me.”

Stephanie Streeter – Futurist
Digital Strategist
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Properties Group

“Being named a RISMedia Newsmaker is such an honor. I’ve been in the real estate industry for 13 years and being included among such an impressive group of individuals is wonderful. I’m proud to be listed among so many inspiring people.

“I think 2021 will be another strong sales year. We continue to see a dominant seller’s market as inventory is not meeting buyer demands. Luckily, builders have increased land positions and we are seeing trades increase their staffing to meet the voids seen in late 2020. The biggest concern we have is how quickly prices are inflating and the lack of affordable housing both in the rental and resale markets. It is our prediction that 2021 will be a strong year for residential real estate but we will have to slow down appreciation values if we want to have the same success in subsequent years.

“While I have quite a few goals for 2021, the project I’m most excited about completing is our new recruiting platform which will have a direct tie to the onboarding system completed in 2020. It’s something that will truly make a huge impact in our day-to-day business and assist us in achieving our hiring goals. The system will include CRM functions for hiring managers, automated marketing which adjusts messaging based on candidate type and status, and on-demand reporting which will help us crush our goals in the market for years to come.”

Jay Farner – Influencer
Chief Executive Officer
Rocket Companies

“It is an honor to see Rocket Companies recognized for our important work during what has been an incredibly challenging year for so many. Our goal has always been to use technology to help simplify the most challenging financial transactions our clients will ever face. This has never been truer than in the midst of a pandemic and at a time when the country is now realizing the true value of their home—a place where we have been working, educating our kids and spending the majority of our lives.”

Marc Gould – Futurist
SVP, Member Development
National Association of REALTORS®

“I am so honored to be recognized by RISMedia and to share the stage with so many distinguished professionals. It truly takes a village; I am fortunate to work with a great team of professional staff and volunteers at the National Association of REALTORS®. [in 2021] I see a continued effort by associations, franchises and brokers to emphasize diversity, inclusion and fair housing practices as much as adopting new technologies. In 2021 I want to motivate real estate professionals to invest in themselves and advance property ownership for all.”

Myron Lo – Futurist
Chief Strategy Officer
ReferralExchange, Inc.

“I’ve been attending RISMedia events for many years and have witnessed firsthand the positive impact that the organization has had on the real estate industry. From bringing fresh ideas to the forefront to championing the role of the REALTOR®, RISMedia has been one of the strongest advocates for the industry. It’s an honor to be named a RISMedia Newsmaker and to be associated with this group of industry leaders.

“The outlook for 2021 continues to send mixed signals. While the economy and country continue to face unprecedented challenges, the real estate industry looks poised to have another record year. A combination of rapid remote work adoption, a renewed focus on home and historically low interest rates look to push more buyers and sellers into the market. At ReferralExchange, our goal is to provide our REALTOR® network with as many high-quality referrals as possible and the 2021 real estate environment seems poised to deliver. Equally important, ReferralExchange is committed to maintaining a safe working environment for our team and to do our part in promoting housing equality and social equality in the real estate ecosystem.”

Deidre Woollard – Influencer

“I’m so honored to be an RISMedia Newsmaker. In my past career in real estate public relations, I submitted many people for the program, and I know how many great leaders in real estate have been featured. RISMedia occupies a unique place in the real estate world and is a go-to source for understanding what is happening in this always changing field.

“It’s going to be a very active year in real estate; already we’ve seen a few key acquisitions and initial public offerings of real estate technology companies. I’m really looking forward to meeting more CEOs and business leaders and telling their stories to help the next generation of leaders in real estate learn from the best. I’m hoping I’ll get to do that in person once it’s safe to do so!”

For consideration for the 2022 Real Estate Newsmakers, please email nominations to Official online nominations will open this spring.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to

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Playing by the Rules: Maintaining Prominence as New Players Enter the Field

Sun, 02/14/2021 - 11:08

In this month’s National Association of REALTORS® Power Broker Roundtable, industry leaders discuss how new business models are shifting the real estate landscape.

Cindy Ariosa, Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Long & Foster Real Estate, Chantilly, Virginia; Liaison for Large Firms and Industry Relations, National Association of REALTORS®

J. Lennox Scott, Chairman and CEO, John L. Scott Real Estate, Seattle, Washington
Rei Mesa, President/CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, Sunrise, Florida
Shad Bogany, Broker, Better Homes and Garden Real Estate Gary Greene, Houston, Texas
Greg Zadel, Founder/Managing Broker, Zadel Realty, Firestone, Colorado

Cindy Ariosa: Real estate is an industry that lends itself to change. We have only to look at the year just past, and the adjustments we’ve made to safely manage business in the midst of a global pandemic, to see the truth of that. At the same time, we have a long history of orderly, ethical behavior—a Code of Ethics set down by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) more than 100 years ago and emulated by Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) nationwide, that sets the standards of conduct and rules of cooperation by which REALTORS® everywhere must operate. But the past decade has ushered a wave of new entries into the field—discount agencies, third-party portals, new business models using artificial intelligence to shortcut traditional home-buying. How closely will these new players adhere to these ethical standards—and how do we maintain our prominence in competition with those who may or may not?

J. Lennox Scott: We all have the same tools available to us—the same technologies, the same database management tools, the same approaches to business. The difference is that traditional real estate is focused on relationships. While new players have flipped the 80/20 rule on its head, spending most of their time on implementing new technologies, we stay engaged with our customers—and in this business, in my experience, relationship trumps all.

Rei Mesa: In Florida, we’ve seen every new business model there is, but however you feel about these new players, it’s important to know your competitors—to understand their culture, the way they operate, and then just do it better. You can’t be everything to everyone, but our Code of Ethics has tremendous value. It’s what protects our customers and leveraging that—adhering to and consistently promoting our value to consumers—is the reason they trust us and will continue to trust us while lesser service models fizzle.

Shad Bogany: Some of these new models can actually make us better because we can embrace new technologies and the ingenuity of new players to raise our own game. I was using videos and VHS tapes back in the ’80s to sell properties to customers out of state. We’ve always used technology as part of our business plan, and we have no fear of learning new methods. But I agree that real estate will always be a personal business and, taking care of our customers—being advocates for consumers—is, and always will be, No.1.

Greg Zadel: The truth is, there have been new players for decades—and there is always a segment of buyers and sellers looking to do business based on price alone. The job of a full-service real estate agent—a dedicated and experienced professional—is to help customers find out what they don’t know…and typically, there is a lot they don’t know, and that technology will never give them. That’s why educating the public is vital: Is your agent a REALTOR®?

CA: Yes, what you’re asking there is, “Is your agent playing by the rules—behaving fairly, ethically and on your behalf? Especially when it comes to fairness, including MLS rules, and licensing rules and fair housing practices.”

SB: That’s right. We don’t need new rules when it comes to fairness. They are written into the framework of our Code of Ethics. We need enforcement to be sure that consumers stay protected—and continuing marketing and education so that they understand the value we bring to every transaction.

LS: That, plus our focus on building relationships. That’s how you compete, how you retain prominence—with the day in, day out customer service, the clear advantage of staying engaged, the advantage of our relationship database.

RM: Everything about real estate is cyclical. Right now, it’s a good time to sell. When that turns around, as it inevitably will, the advantage of promotion, of effective marketing, will once again become crucial. As traditional real estate agent, we will be around, and prominent, long after some of the iBuyer and other business models are scrambling to retain their relevance.

GZ: Traditional agents will do the right thing in any case, advocating on behalf of the consumer, building and nurturing relationships. In the long run, tradition wins out, first because of our commitment to ethical behavior, and second, because no computer can ever compete when it comes to customer hand-holding.

CA: Good points, and there’s nothing onerous about a little friendly competition. Will these cool new kids on the block be good soldiers? Will they play by the rules we know and love? We hope so, because we see the value of an orderly, ethical marketplace, and NAR will continue the campaign to remind consumers of that value. We are resilient, respectful and, most important, we will do the right thing. We are well up to the challenge of maintaining the trust we have earned over the decades.

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