Liniger Labels Current Industry Upheaval a ‘Cleansing Moment’ at RE/MAX Convention

RE/MAX Holdings Co-Founder Dave Liniger, left, on stage with CEO Erik Carlson at R4 2024 in Las Vegas.

There can be nothing more reassuring for the employees of a company when their industry faces uncertain times than listening to the wise words of a leader and legend who has experienced peaks and valleys over and over for 50-plus years and has come out the other side stronger and more inspired. 

Taking the stage at the Opening General Session of the 2024 RE/MAX R4 Convention in Las Vegas on March 24, RE/MAX Co-Founder Dave Liniger was forceful from the jump while addressing nearly 5,000 attendees from 60 countries.

“In 51 years, this company has never lost,” he exclaimed. “When you go up against the competition, you might get knocked down a few times. But with grit, persistence, determination and ambition, you have what you need to get up and fight again. In real estate, that means doing whatever it takes to win the listing or the client and never settling or quitting. It means outperforming the competition consistently.”

Liniger spoke to ongoing industry changes, especially about how the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) proposed settlement of seller-initiated lawsuits could impact how agents work with homebuyers in the U.S. These potential changes, he stressed, will likely have a noticeable impact only on part-time and non-serious agents. RE/MAX, he emphasized, attracts full-time professionals.

“We know how to adjust. We’ve always been adaptable,” he said, noting how RE/MAX protected its brokerages, teams and agents by being one of the first companies to reach a settlement. “We take care of our own.”

Liniger detailed what has happened within the industry of late, and the challenges being faced, while also showcasing that even after five-plus decades in the industry he still knows how to galvanize the masses.

“Interesting times in the real estate business right now,” he said. “I’ve been in it for 55, 56 years now and this is the most crazy situation I’ve ever seen. We’re fighting this slow market because we can’t get enough inventory because people have to have mortgages at 2.5% to 5% for 15 years. The average interest rate in the last 51 years of RE/MAX was 7% or 8%. 

“You have these incredible lawsuits and settlements that are going on, and you’ve probably been watching. Big changes are going to come about. Obviously it has a lot to do with the MLS and underneath the settlement agreements of all the various companies. Settling offers of compensation are still permitted, but they can’t take place in the MLS. In other words, you can’t list what the co-oping commission might be. How much of a change would that be? Nobody knows. I think it’ll have an impact on buyer agents, and I think it’ll have a tremendous impact on the part-timers and the large number of incompetent people in our industry.”

That last part drew laughter and applause, and Liniger followed it up with an even stronger point.

“If you’d like some ammunition, Consumer Federation of America put out a real estate study approximately two months ago and determined that 50% of the NAR membership had not had a closing in 12 months. So it’s going to be much harder on the beginners.

“We’ve been through seven recessions plus this time period right now. Unskilled agents are going to leave, but it will not hurt. This is not going to end our industry. It’s a cleansing moment I think.”

Throughout his presentation, Liniger emphasized the importance of being a street fighter in the competitive real estate industry. He shared his belief that success often comes from being resourceful and thinking outside the box. He humorously advised the audience, “If you’re ever going to go to a knife fight, take a gun.” But he then turned serious.

“When you figure out how to battle the competition, you’re probably going to get knocked down a few times. But with grit, persistence, determination and vision, you have what you need to get up and fight. In real estate, that means doing whatever it takes to win the listing or the client, and never settling or quitting. It means outperforming the competition consistently to where your consumer knows you’re worth being paid.”

RE/MAX Holdings, Inc. CEO Erik Carlson joined Liniger on stage for a candid conversation.

“Before I came in, I knew RE/MAX was an industry leader,” said Carlson, who was hired in November. “I have bought and sold homes with a RE/MAX agent, so I’m also a customer. I really appreciate all the competitive advantages that the brand has. What I think is most impressive is the people. RE/MAX agents are the gold standard.”

That standard was started in 1973 by Liniger and his wife, Gail, the RE/MAX co-founder. Together, Carlson said, they built a culture of productivity that continues to win.

“I said it before and I’m going to keep saying it. We are obsessed with providing affiliates the best experience possible so that you are equipped to do the same for buyers and sellers in your market,” Carlson continued. “Our mission is to deliver the best experience in everything real estate. Our vision is to be the global real estate leader and the ultimate destination for both professionals and customers.”

Helping ensure that experience is Amy Lessinger. Addressing the crowd for the first time since being named president of RE/MAX in February, Lessinger shared her RE/MAX origin story, which began 26 years ago when she joined a Reno, Nevada, brokerage as a young agent. A recent college grad at the time, Lessinger moved her business to RE/MAX. At the urging of her mentor, she attended the annual RE/MAX convention—and knew she had found her professional home. 

She wasn’t a top producer yet, but knew that working among them, and learning from them, was the best way to get there. She went on to lead a dominant team, open a RE/MAX franchise and help build a 130-agent brokerage. Four years ago, she joined the RE/MAX headquarters team to have an even wider impact.

“I have a unique lens,” she told the crowd. “I understand what it takes for you to get started in this business. I understand what it takes for you to grow and succeed in the business. And I understand what happens when this business takes you down a few pegs. 

“The other thing I really understand is how to lead through change. We’re going to continue to lead with the best education, the best tools and second-to-none support to help you navigate the new landscape (of real estate).”

As the presentation came to a close, Liniger expressed his gratitude to the audience for their support and dedication. The room erupted in applause and appreciation for their leader’s inspiring words and valuable insights shared.

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