RE/MAX CEO Nick Bailey: Agents who ignore tech will be replaced


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Unprecedented has been the word of the 2020s, with a global pandemic, political strife, cultural upheaval, economic volatility, and a once-in-a-lifetime run in housing activity — and a historic downturn — making it more difficult than ever accurately read the tea leaves.

Nick Bailey

Luckily, Nick Bailey isn’t exactly interested in predicting the future. Instead, the RE/MAX president and CEO is focusing on a constant and universal truth: people will always want and need a place to call home.

“Guess what’s going to happen in 2023? People are going to buy and sell houses,” he said during his R4 keynote speech on Tuesday. “What drives our business, not all the headlines on the news that you see, is marriage, it’s having children, moving to care for a loved one, a job, divorce, all of those life events that drive our business.”

He added, “Those life events aren’t gonna stop just because of [Federal Reserve] and the economy. None of that stops.”

With that in mind, Bailey has a bold vision for RE/MAX’s short and long-term prospects, which include reaching 200,000 agents worldwide by 2028 — a goal that would catapult the Denver-based franchisor beyond Keller Williams, its nearest competitor, which boasted a global agent count of more than 194,000 agents during its last earnings report.

With the R4 conference in the rearview mirror, Bailey sat down with Inman to reflect on RE/MAX’s first 50 years in the industry, examine its tech strides over the past year, and share the strategy behind his 200,00o-agent goal.

Inman: In your keynote speech, you said you believe RE/MAX could reach 200,000 agents worldwide in the next three to five years.

However, there seem to be two major challenges. One is a direct result of a volatile market and interest from would-be agents sliding because of that. The second challenge comes from there already being more agents than inventory to sell.

With that said, what’s the recruitment and retention strategy for being able to grow the global agent count by 38 percent over the next three to five years? How does that strategy differ between the new-agent base and the existing-agent base?

Bailey: The steep change we saw in the housing market at the tail end of 2022 was highly unusual and I’m already optimistic about the rebalance the U.S. housing market is experiencing. The past three years have been very atypical, so the rebalancing market is going to be different – and many agents will be wondering whether they have the tools and support services they need.

Do they have a local broker who’s invested in their success? Do they have a full suite of technology that isn’t costing them thousands of dollars a year? Do they have marketing tools that are helping them connect to prospective clients? We’re very confident that RE/MAX offers all of this and more, so our value proposition is going to be even more attractive in the next few years.

Keep in mind we are in the early stages of our MAX/Tech powered by kvCORE rollout. We are ADDING no-cost services while competitors are cutting back or nickel and diming their agents. When this tech is fully rolled out – which will happen very shortly – our brokers will have a whole new level in their recruiting and retention.

Another reason: last July we launched two major growth initiatives – one for teams and one for mergers, conversions and acquisitions. These aren’t overnight propositions. In time, we believe they’ll both significantly add to our network agent count.

Yet another: We’re a worldwide brand, and our global regions have continued to grow throughout the past few years. Sure, we’ve been a leader in the U.S. and Canada for decades, but our global growth story is still relatively new. Our global regions and brokerages are positioned for even more explosive growth in the years ahead.

I truly think the very best days of RE/MAX are still to come.

It seems RE/MAX has really hit a stride in its tech after struggles with booj. What has RE/MAX leadership learned about tech and driving adoption over the past few years? How does technology play into your short-term and long-term strategy?

The evolution of RE/MAX technology is all about helping RE/MAX agents and teams stay ahead. The best way we can do that is to partner with a proven industry leader in the space and when we can, integrate the tech suite with the best of existing RE/MAX technologies. Our goal is to create an unbeatable combination of providing the most productive global network with a premier technology solution to help them do their jobs better and more efficiently.

In the increasingly competitive industry, agents who are connected with constantly updated tools, cultivated leads and transaction-ready buyers and sellers will have a clear edge. Rollout for RE/MAX affiliates began at the end of 2022 in Canada and has been accelerated to regions in the U.S. in 2023 – all at no additional cost to brokerages and agents and it’s a crucial element to our short and long-term strategy.

We’re providing tools brokers need now and we believe it will propel them forward as they look to leverage this offering to grow their offices.

Both you and RE/MAX founder Dave Liniger focused on adaptability in your general session keynotes. Where has RE/MAX excelled in adaptability? Where is there room for improvement?

Just the fact that we celebrated our first 50 years a few short months ago is a testament to our unwavering adaptability. Our model has proven to be successful in virtually any market regardless of the economic environment – because people buy and sell houses every year and RE/MAX is the best choice for consumers who want to buy or sell a home. It’s that simple.

We’re built on more than our economic model. We also provide the tools, education, resources and marketing to our network which is a true advantage in any economic environment. RE/MAX doesn’t want just anyone, we want to onboard the right agent. Productive, driven agents (or those aspiring to be one) who are here for the right reason, to sell homes, not to recruit.

What are you most excited about in 2023? Where do you hope RE/MAX will be at the end of the year, regardless of how the real estate market develops?

Both at RE/MAX and in the industry as a whole, I’m really excited about where technology is taking us. I’m not concerned tech will replace the agent, I only caution agents who don’t embrace technology that they will be replaced. MAX/TechSM powered by kvCORE is a really pivotal milestone for us and outside of RE/MAX alone, the advancements in [artificial intelligence] and tools like ChatGPT are fascinating. It’s fun to see the world evolve and I look forward to us continuing to adapt to it.

As for RE/MAX, I’ve learned that RE/MAX outperforms the competition in good times and bad so no matter how this year ends up, I can’t help but say I am looking forward to that.

What’s the final message you have for RE/MAX agents as the franchise goes through its 50th year? What’s the No. 1 thing they can do to advance their personal and professional lives?

Remember how you got here and the hard work you do for yourself and on behalf of others every day.

There’s not enough downline, profit share, split or whatever to enable unproductive agents to stay in our industry long-term when markets are changing as they are today. This is yours for the taking. Thank you for bringing us along for the ride.

Email Marian McPherson


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