The RE/MAX global sales force delivers outstanding results for consumers in any market conditions, CEO Margaret Kelly said during the Opening General Session of the 2012 RE/MAX R4 Convention Monday in Las Vegas.
R4 GETS STARTED: CEO Margaret Kelly at OGS
GRACE: Gail Liniger updated the crowd.
"RE/MAX truly is THE global brand in real estate. Nobody comes close," Kelly told more than 4,000 Affiliates, including attendees from over 50 countries. "No one is better positioned to take advantage of the growing global marketplace."
In the absence of RE/MAX Chairman and Co-Founder Dave Liniger, who is recovering from recent back surgery in Denver, Kelly shared her perspectives on the real estate industry, the economy and the network. She also made major announcements about the RE/MAX Mobile App and an innovative new program withGoogle Apps for Business.
Following Kelly's address, RE/MAX Vice Chairman and Co-Founder Gail Liniger updated the R4 audience – as well as others watching the event live via RE/MAX University – on the condition of their leader.
"He's frustrated that he can't be here. But he's on the mend and recovering," said Gail, adding that she and Dave were touched by the tremendous outpouring of support posted on a virtual get-well card on Facebook.
Anywhere and everywhere
In her address, Kelly thanked Associates around the world for helping RE/MAX become the No. 1 brand in real estate. She noted that RE/MAX Associates, always able to adapt, have thrived in strong markets as well as more challenging ones. In many cases, that translates into growth and high production.
In Canada, for instance, where RE/MAX has been No. 1 since 1987, the network increased in every key metric last year – agent count, office count, transactions and sales volume. The Canadian force now tops 18,500 Sales Associates and has a widespread reputation as the country's premier real estate brand.
Similar achievement is happening all around the world. Associates in RE/MAX Europe, where conditions vary greatly from country to country, reached an all-time high in transactions last year. More than 11,700 Sales Associates now work across the continent, with market share and/or agent count growing significantly in nations such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey.
RE/MAX operations in other places, such as South Africa, India, Brazil and elsewhere, are also experiencing incredible success, Kelly said. The primary reason: the quality of RE/MAX agents.
That quality was evident at R4. Christopher Smith, a first-time convention attendee and 100 Percent Club member with RE/MAX iRealty Innovations in Calgary, Alberta, was floored by all of the helpful, friendly agents he met on day one.
"There's this contagious, upbeat energy all around me, and I'm so glad I came," says Smith, who joined RE/MAX in 2009. "This is going to be a great year for real estate."
Linking it all
One competitive resource connecting the network of nearly 90,000 agents is the global.remax.com website, which debuted in late 2011. The site, which features 32 languages, has already generated more than 1 million listing views originating from over 150 countries.
"Can you guess what the top source of searches is?" Kelly asked the crowd. "China."
Bill Facker, a Sales Associate with RE/MAX Kauai in Kalaheo, Hawaii, loved the international feel of the opening session and the celebration of global.remax.com.
"When I get back to Kauai, you can bet I'll be on it."
International real estate investment has increased significantly in recent years, and Kelly said the investor segment in the U.S. – made up of domestic as well as global buyers – is something every Associate should understand. Investor purchases, often in cash, account for about 24 percent of the U.S. market, Kelly said.
"A lot of these investors are normal people who might be buying one or two properties," she said. "These aren't flippers; about 60 percent of the homes are being turned into rentals."
Kelly cited several encouraging indicators in the U.S., including rising GDP, decreasing unemployment, historical post-recession trends, a potential shift in consumer confidence and, most importantly, a coming influx of new household formation tied to immigrants and 74 million millennials aged 17-32.
"The fact is, we have a lot of buyers coming into the market," she said. "We’re seeing many positive signs of a recovering marketplace. The spring buying season has started early this year and is setting the stage for a great story in 2012."
No. 1 in energy
In his portion of the opening session, RE/MAX President Vinnie Tracey retraced many of the network's highlights of the past year and also congratulated Affiliates for making RE/MAX No. 1 in "virtually everything."
"We're No. 1 in experience, No. 1 in agent productivity, No. 1 in brand name awareness, No. 1 in advertising, No. 1 in professional designations and education, No. 1 in global presence and No. 1 in sales," Tracey said. "That's the sort of brand power that brings business to RE/MAX Sales Associates. And when they add their talents and service, they create customers for life."
Of special note were the two awards earned from J.D. Power and Associates for "Highest Overall Satisfaction for Home Sellers and Home Buyers." That recognition adds greatly to the "800 pound gorilla" of brand power that backs every RE/MAX Affiliate, he said.
"Put it to work for you," he urged.
At the end of his presentation, Tracey was joined on stage by Marie Osmond of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. The famed singer was on hand to present the Linigers with a Founders Award for 20 years of devoted leadership on behalf of children. Osmond, a CMNH co-founder 30 years ago, thanked the audience for its efforts in contributing more than $115 million to the cause – especially in light of the downturn in housing.
"I love RE/MAX. You didn't give up. You're good people," she said emotionally. "Really good people."
The moving presentation struck a personal chord for Robb Johnson. The Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Realty 1 in Fargo, N.D., is a tireless supporter of CMN Hospitals for good reason: His daughter, who was born with Turner syndrome, has spent considerable amounts of time in the local children's hospital.
"It was emotional to see how much RE/MAX has evolved with CMN Hospitals over the years," Johnson says. " That was a personal highlight for me, but there were a lot of great things about the session. RE/MAX never disappoints. The Opening General Session is always one of the best parts of the convention."
The R4 Convention continues through Thursday.To follow all of the action, as reported by attendees, watch the Twitter feed at #remaxR4.