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Real estate conference season is heating up, as multiple real estate brands descend on Las Vegas to rally agents and brokers for what will undoubtedly be another challenging year. Century 21 is the latest brokerage to roll the dice in Sin City, with its annual One 21 Experience taking place in the Fontainebleau Mar. 4-7.

Mike Miedler

C21 President and CEO Mike Miedler — bright-eyed and bushy-tailed despite a morning chock-full of meetings — gushed about the conference’s location, drawing connections between the multibillion-dollar resort’s history and today’s market.

“The Fontainebleau broke ground in [2007] and it changed hands four or five different times,” he said. “[Famed investor] Carl Icahn even had his hands on it for $100 million,” he added. “Finally, the Fountainbleau [brand] bought it back and after close to $4 billion bucks, they finally opened it almost 20 years after the first deal.”

“It’s a classic real estate story,” he added. “It’s an example of how being relentless works.”

Miedler said brokers and agents will have to carry that same spirit throughout 2024, as the industry wades through several macroeconomic challenges, the rise of artificial intelligence and the consequences of several buyer-broker commission lawsuits.

“[Our affiliates] don’t have to sell the C21 brand,” he said. “They don’t have to sell the trust and confidence that Century 21 brings  — they only need to sell themselves and how they are an expert in the local marketplace.”

“Your to-don’t list should be a lot longer than your to-do list,” he added. “With all the news and all the stuff that’s out there, we sometimes want to do a little bit of everything. But when you stay focused and you’re true to your game plan, that’s where you’ll find the most success.”

Inman: The One 21 Experience starts on Monday. What are you most excited about for this year’s conference?

Miedler: I’m super stoked — this is conference season and this is the big kickoff to celebrate our achievements last year and the beginning of a big spring homebuying and selling season. We made a few changes [to the conference] this year, which will be really cool.

Of course, we have our great keynote speakers like Mike Ferry, who’s the godfather of the coaching industry in real estate and has created more millionaires in this business than probably anybody out there. Then we have Jon Taffer, a well-known entrepreneurial guru from “Bar Rescue.” [Taffer] tells you like it is, and he’s going give all of our brokers some real entrepreneurial wisdom about working on their business versus working in their business and truly having a plan and a focus.

I’m excited for [Ferry and Taffer], but more importantly, what is going to move the ball forward for all of us is that we listen to our brokers and agents — they want to hear from one another, and we have so many different sessions that have been held and curated by our brokers and owners directly. They are the people who are on the frontlines, in the street every single day serving buyers and sellers.

With that said, conferences can become overwhelming in a lot of ways, so my big piece of advice to everyone coming is to focus on one or two things that resonate and help move your business forward. You can write pages and pages of notes at a conference like this, and then you go back and don’t do anything.

The important part of our business is to get what you can from a knowledge perspective, but apply it to your business and do it consistently. So hopefully, that’s what folks will be there to do.

There’s one thing you said that caught my attention about working ‘on your business’ versus ‘in your business.’ What exactly does that mean, especially in the context of spring homebuying and getting a first taste of what 2024 may look like for the industry?

We’re seeing a lot of green shoots. We’re getting more inventory on the market, [home] prices are holding steady and even creeping up. Being so rate-sensitive, like we are from a real estate industry perspective, it’s interesting to see [mortgage] rates bobbing up and down. Fannie, Freddie and even the National Association of Realtors are expecting rates to decrease and maybe fall below six percent. But who knows, right? Where rates go is kind of how the market will fall.

The good news is we saw the slowest market in 30 years last year, and I think it’s about going up from there. If we as real estate professionals are working on our business, connecting with people, talking to our sphere of influence and potential homebuyers and sellers, there’s so much pent-up demand that we could have a positive year. The agents and the brokers who stick to the basics, focus on the few things that matter most for their business, and don’t get caught up in the noise, could have one of their best years ever and take more of their fair share of the marketplace.

So what basics are you focusing on for Century 21 and its growth in 2024? We spoke in November about your recruitment strategy in the northeast, and a few weeks ago Century 21 was named one of the top 500 franchises in the US. What’s in the bullseye now? 

One of the things I’ve been talking about a lot as the market continues to fluctuate is that not all growth is created equally. We want to continue to bring in brand-new companies and great entrepreneurs. We just signed a [new affiliate] last week — it’s a great diverse company of two gals in Baltimore with 20-plus agents. They were selected as one of the top places to work in Baltimore, so we’re super excited to announce that team and bring more growth-minded folks into the organization.

However, as the market continues to evolve, there are going to be disruptions, and a lot of brokers and agents who want to connect to something bigger are going to be looking for merger [and] acquisition opportunities. They want to join forces with bigger companies that can help service their agents [and] service the customers with better tools and systems.

A lot of our focus has been on helping our existing Century 21 customers grow their businesses through those [M&A] opportunities. But not all brokers are ready, willing and able to grow. It takes investment from a resource perspective and from a dollar perspective, but for the ones who are ready, we’re putting a lot of effort into guiding them.

It’s going to be an interesting year as 2024 continues to unfold and as we see the industry continue to consolidate. But I am always excited about bringing new companies on and helping entrepreneurs.

I know we’re on limited time. As a final question, when you think about the One 21 Experience agenda, what are one or two key takeaways you hope will stick with attendees? And what impact do you hope those takeaways will have on their businesses this year?

They have to remember and always understand that when they sit down with a consumer at the kitchen table, they are with the number No.1 brand in terms of awareness and respect in the industry for 25-plus years. So they don’t have to sell the C21 brand. They don’t have to sell the trust and confidence that Century 21 brings  — they only need to sell themselves and how they are an expert in the local marketplace.

The second thing would be to hone your focus. What are the one or two things that are going to help you improve? Maybe you want to be a better listing agent this year. Use the conference to focus on those things and learn about the tools that can help, like our Moxi technology, which will allow you to gain more listings if you learn to use it well.

I always tell real estate professionals, “We don’t want to try to boil the ocean, right?” We don’t want to try to do a little bit of everything and apply it to our business and think it’s going to work. We want to pick one or two things that will help us move the needle for what we’re trying to achieve for our professional and personal goals.

One of the board members at Anywhere [Real Estate] said this to me a couple of years ago: “Your to-don’t list should be a lot longer than your to-do list.” With all the news and all the stuff that’s out there, we sometimes want to do a little bit of everything. But when you stay focused and you’re true to your game plan, that’s where you’ll find the most success.

Email Marian McPherson

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