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Mike Simonsen

Mike Simonsen is the founder and president of real estate analytics firm Altos Research, which has provided national and local real estate data to financial institutions, real estate professionals, and investors across the country for more than 15 years. An expert trendspotter, Mike uses Altos data to identify market shifts months before they hit the headlines.

In this episode of the Top of Mind podcast, Mike Simonsen is joined by Greg Sexton, Chief Operating Officer at Century21. Greg shares his extensive expertise as a leader at one of the most iconic real estate brands in the world, talks about the latest agency trends, and gives his outlook for the real estate market.

About Greg Sexton

Greg Sexton

Greg Sexton is the Chief Operating Officer of Century21. Greg leads Century21’s domestic and international operations, including industry-leading tech platform tools, learning and development, and data-driven products. Century21 is one of the most iconic residential real estate brands of the last 50 years, with 155,000 agents worldwide.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Why smart marketing and branding are essential in real estate
  • How Century21’s famous Super Bowl commercial came to be
  • Why Millennials are seeking out Realtors and not just relying on apps to buy homes
  • How the pandemic changed the home-buying process and which trends are here to stay
  • Why suddenly brokerages can expand into new states, far away from their home markets
  • Why the team model for real estate agents is becoming more dominant
  • Why there is growth in the US real estate market from international buyers

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Brought to you by...

This episode is brought to you by Altos Research. Altos is the #1 market data company for realtors, title, and escrow. 

Each week, Altos Research tracks every home for sale in the country, all the pricing, and all the changes in pricing, and synthesizes those analytics to make them available before becoming visible through traditional channels.

Altos Research is a full-featured lead conversion engine. Our system uses real-time market reports to attract and engage prospective buyers and sellers. Designed to work with minimal setup, Altos helps you move leads through the funnel automatically, alerting you when they're ready to take action.

Schedule a demo to see Altos in action. You can also get a copy of our free eBook: How To Use Market Data to Build Your Real Estate Business.

Visit Altos Research at for more information or set up a call with us here.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:02  

Welcome to Top of Mind the show where we talk to real estate industry insiders and experts about the biggest trends impacting the market today. Enjoy the show.

Mike Simonsen  0:13  

Mike Simonsen here. Thanks for joining me today. Welcome to the Top of Mind podcast. This is where I talk to the smartest leaders, thinkers and doers in the real estate industry. For a couple of years now, we've been sharing the latest market data the Altos Research market data in our weekly video series. With a new Top of Mind podcast, we're looking to add some context to that discussion, some some context to the data going beyond the data and talking to the leaders in the industry about what's happening in the market and, and the broader dynamics that are beyond the data. So each week, Altos tracks every home for sale in the country, all the pricing or the supply and demand, we do all of those analytics and all the changes in that data and we make it available to you. Before you see it in the traditional channels. Visit for free consultation on how you can use the market data in your business today. So without further ado, let me introduce my guest today. Greg Sexton is the Chief Operating Officer of Century21. Greg leads Century21 his domestic and international operations, including industry leading tech platform tools, learning and data driven products, which I'm particularly interested in talking about today. And that the Century21 Team leverages to better serve their customers and clients. I'm, of course, a huge fan of using data to better serve your clients, especially in this market Century21 is really one of the iconic residential real estate brands of the last 150 years or less 50 years with 155,000 agents around the world. So Greg, welcome. Thanks for joining me today.

Greg Sexton  2:02  

Absolutely. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity to spend time with you today, Mike, that's great.

Mike Simonsen  2:07  

So I think most people in the industry, frankly, most adults in the US, you've probably heard of Century21. But for those who need a refresher or like, you know, it's a dynamic industry. Tell us about Century21. Tell us what's going on right now. And tell us about the brand. And you're rolling it?

Greg Sexton  2:25  

Absolutely, I appreciate that. Well, this is kind of a unique time for me to talk about Century21. Because just this past year 2021, we celebrated 50 years in the industry as a franchise real estate company. And you know, back then we kind of introduced franchising in the real estate world, if you will, in business. And currently we're in 86 countries, and have approximately 155,000 agents carrying that Century21 business card. So we're a very global company, if you will. And one of the things that we might talk a little bit further, Mike about is we the real estate is global. So we love the fact that we are in that many countries because of the global aspect of the business we do. Yeah, I think one of the things that from a security perspective, we spend millions of millions of dollars a year making sure that our brand is out there, and for 23 years straight now we have the highest brand awareness and the recent survey. So that's, that's something that we're very, very proud of, for agents for brand as you move forward, especially into an industry that is very brand focused so Century21.

Mike Simonsen  3:33  

That's great. I want to look forward to talking about branding, you guys have done a lot of investment in branding. So a lot of things. I'm interested in talking about that. And also how that applies at the agent level. But first, give me a little bit about you and how you ended up in this role running, you know, the iconic Century21

Greg Sexton  3:50  

Sure, my background goes back to actually franchising in the real estate sales perspective. So when I first started you go back 24 years with which was then our parent company said that I actually started as a franchise sales representative for the state of Tennessee. That was purely my job. But I spent most of my career actually in the franchise sales side of the business and then moving over into the operations about halfway through that that experience. So it's all been wrapped around Century21. For those 24 years, I'm doing a lot of mergers and acquisitions on the franchise sales side of it. And then also now in the operation side spending a lot of time as you said, working with our technology groups, we're still working with our franchise sales team as we continue to grow the business there but spending majority of my time now really working with our franchisees on how to grow their business. That's that's our flag on the hill, if you will, Mike is how do we grow market share both for the  Century21 iconic brands, but also for our franchisees by driving business to our agents.

Mike Simonsen  4:54  

That's great. The so let's talk about the brand now so the brand century point one is funny because I'm a Gen Xer at Century21. Through my, my whole life is maybe the brand that I would have grew up in the Midwest, I don't know if that, if that had market share, you know, meaning in the 80s, or whatever. But but but it's you know, it's, it may be the, the brand that I most throw my life associate with. And I know you guys have invested a lot not just in, like the the whole brand. I see in your background, you've got some brand elements, which, like, I'd love you to tell me. So tell me about tell me about like your thinking about the brand and what you think about brand in general and and your strategy for the Century21.

Greg Sexton  5:40  

Absolutely. And you know, you might have thought that I'd be kind of sitting here in a gold jacket, because that truly is iconic. Now, the majority of our agents domestically in the US certainly don't wear the gold jacket anymore. But if you think back to what you were talking about, when you were a kid, when I was a kid, that gold jacket, said real estate, and now across the world, it says real estate. In fact, when we traveled internationally to spend time with our master franchises there, they all are wearing that gold jacket, proudly, it is a big part of their brand in that marketplace. And so that's kind of where we started the iconic brand was since 2001. And as we move forward, we've done a lot of marketing, I don't know if you remember but call it about four or five years ago, we actually did Superbowl commercial really getting out there and making sure that our iconic brand stays out there and is very relevant with our agents, and frankly, the consumers out there. So we do spend a lot of time and money, making sure to keep that brand out there. In fact, just in branding in General Mike, my personal opinion about branding, especially when it comes to real estate is it's essential. One of the opportunities that I have is to spend time with those companies that we are talking to you about being coming in the in the Sichuan family, if you will. And as we go through that journey with them, where they're taking a look at all of our systems, tools, our branding, our marketing, I always say to them, I'm not sure exactly where this journey is gonna end for either one of them, even one of us if this makes sense for you to be part of Century21, and part of your business plan. But this is what I would tell you brand with someone, I believe branding is that important. And a lot of it is because of the sheer cost of technology alone, we spend millions of dollars a year within Century21 And Realogy, our parent company to drive the most compelling state of the art technology to our franchisees to our agents, it's very, very difficult for somebody as an independent real estate company and independent agent to actually go out and purchase that technology and then make sure that it stays relevant and up to date. And so I always tell people, that's why branding is important brand with someone I was hoping Century21 I think we had the best brand in the world. But brand was someone that's great.

Mike Simonsen  7:58  

I could picture our friend Bill Lublin, who runs a big central brokerage in Philly. I can picture bill when they were in the gold jacket. But no,

Greg Sexton  8:09  

I think I've seen Delta gold jacket before he looks pretty good.

Mike Simonsen  8:12  

But it looks pretty good. So that's great. So So tell me about the Superbowl commercial. You guys you are in the process, if I recall correctly about sort of relaunching the brand with new identity and things. And so how did you go? Alright, Superbowl commercial is our move.

Greg Sexton  8:30  

Hey, you know what, there's a great story behind that, Mike, because we were in the process. We had a new leader Come on, be the president Rick Davidson, he asked me to come over from another part of the real GE family and work the operations. And one of the first things we did is we felt like we needed to get out there and listen to our franchisees to understand where do they feel like we needed to help them to help them grow. And we had always been a brand that was very, very heavy in TV. And we had shifted over and we're doing a lot more digital, if you will, from a marketing perspective. And so we heard loud and clear as we went out there with our franchisees, hey, we need to be back on TV need to be on TV. And we just heard that all over us. We came back in our our board room. And we were kind of just comparing notes about our travels out there what we were hearing. And all that said, Well, I'm hearing so much about what really wanting us back on TVs, how important that is. And somebody in the room and I can't exactly remember who it was. We had our marketing folks in there too. Somebody said, I'll tell you what, we'll do a Superbowl commercial battle, get us back on TV. Everybody kind of chuckled and laughed and everything. And then we all looked at each other and said that's what the most powerful brand in real estate needs to do. And so we literally launched from that from that board room. We started putting together a Superbowl commercial we launched it it was our tagline that we had just come out with was smarter, bolder, faster. And so we ended up having some celebrities in our commercials So represented the smarter, the bolder. And the faster. And that was what our commercial was all wrapped around for the Superbowl. What a phenomenal experience being a Superbowl commercial, because there's just so much that goes behind an actual commercial. And you would think, well, hey, I usually just delete right through the commercials and fast forward, not the Super Bowl. That's one place where we're all as Americans kind of focused on Hey, what's the next commercial? So a whole lot that goes into it?

Mike Simonsen  10:27  

That's cool. I love that it was bottom up driven, driven from like, the actual need, as opposed to some sort of ego driven top down things. That's really exciting. So So are you saying you're not gonna go do a Superbowl commercial, that's just a QR code floating around the screen.

Greg Sexton  10:42  

That's not a that's not on the map right now. Let's just check it.

But I will tell you, this is amazing. Amazing how much runway you get from that before the Super Bowl, than obviously during but even after, there's a lot of chatter out there. And from a guy who's not a marketing guy, I just think that it's great if you can get back too much traction and chatter off of a commercial.

Mike Simonsen  11:08  

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. For your you have as a straight pure sales background. Like you just hope that someone hands that to you. Exactly. That's awesome. That's, that's great. Super fun. You remember how much you guys spent on it? Can you tell us I mean, I don't remember and probably wouldn't, wouldn't talk about gonna tell you. But don't tell me if you do. Okay. Fair enough. So, alright, so So 186 countries, one of the things that I'm interested in this year, is let's maybe shift to the market. You know, we Altos, we've measured the market, and and we help agents communicate about the market. And, and, you know, it's in this point right now, and to February 2022, the markets nuts, the markets, nuts, and there are all kinds of headwinds like risks. I mean, the day we're recording this, you know, all of a sudden, there's a war going on. And there's, you know, inflation and interest rates. So, tell me about your outlook on the market. Sure. And it just like, what do you see at the at the brand level? What what visibility Do you have? Tell me about your Outlook right now?

Greg Sexton  12:20  

Yeah, you know, you made some great points there, Mike, because there are there are headwinds, but what has been amazing, since actually, the pandemic started, how real estate has continued to do really well through all these different headwinds. And I think it's really highlighted how important the home is, and the home buying process and how important is for families? And I'll tell you from a personal perspective, I we'd like what we see in front of us, there's just a lot of still excitement out there, and energy about the home buying process. And what we're seeing Mike is a lot of people entering the home bought experience that might not have necessarily been there before. And a lot of that was caused by the pandemic. And, you know, I'll tell you one of the areas where first time homebuyers is what you made for not just first time homebuyers, but millennials, one of things that has been really compelling is some of the changes that have occurred with the millennials coming into the buying market, because a lot of times in the past, we've talked about millennials, and I happen to have two of them in my family. And they are very, very smart. And they'd like to tell dad that they got this. They know, they're very smart, they know what to do. What's interesting is they really realize now that how important real estate is for their futures. And in fact, the millennials use a realtor as as much or more than any other cohort out there. That just shows how important real estate is how important a real estate agent is. You want to think about millennials this year in the past, they were kind of on the sidelines, when it came to to buy they were they were open to renting they'd like to live in the major cities will tell you worse, the millennials really storming into the market. And this is a very large share group of homebuyers of, you know, somewhere in the neighborhood of 35% plus. So, that is a real trend that I think happened a lot because of the COVID pandemic that kind of changed everything. I do think, Mike that some things that have happened that have driven the housing market during the pandemic, you know, might level off some, but there's gonna be some of these things that we never expected would be something that we'd be talking about two years, and probably even five years and beyond that because of the pandemic. And you I'll tell you, one of the things that we've really seen that I think continues to drive the market is the work from home. That really did change a lot of things where a lot of companies had to you didn't have a choice we shifted to people Working from their homes, I think companies found out, wow, we're not seeing productivity go down at all. In fact, I will tell you personally, we didn't see that a decline in productivity. In fact, our employees stepped up and really deliver during this time, this made a great opportunity for the real estate market for the real estate agent to start working with their clients about, hey, you might need to change what your your home situation looks like now, because now the family is gonna be right there in the home, it became the office, the home, the place for dinner, the place for work, lunch, everything was right there. Another phenomenon, Mike was homeschooling. That's something that we do think is going to live on past getting out of this and navigating through the pandemic, we think there's going to be more homeschooling, again, creates a real estate opportunity.

Mike Simonsen  15:52  

Yeah, let me ask you a couple of questions there. So you said a couple things that are really cool. You mentioned that, that millennials use Realtors more than previous generations. You tell me about that?

Greg Sexton  16:03  

Well, not necessarily more than previous generations, but they absolutely utilize realtors, when you would, as I mentioned, I have I have two millennials, and they are very independent diapers, and a lot of things they do on their own, except for when it comes to making the most important purchase financially for their future for for their families. They do rely on a realtor. And what that tells us and in all the different research and things we do is that they realize that this is such an important decision that they need somebody to help them understand what that investment looks like, understand the things that they need to be weary of. And so they do seek out a professional. That is not something that at least for myself, that I ever thought would be the case with this group of individuals generation.

Mike Simonsen  16:48  

Yeah. So the comment, the conventional wisdom is that the millennials are going to use their apps and they're going to go want to do clicks. And but do so do you think it's maybe that millennials are they are they, they're used to having greater access to experts. And so they are more comfortable reaching out to a realtor as an expert like they is that is there, maybe something like that, where, where, you know, we assumed it was going to be about clicking a button, but all of a sudden, they're in a world where they have expert access all the time, and they have YouTube, you can learn anything in the world on YouTube. You know, it's like, Okay, let me reach out. And it's okay to have a relationship with an expert. Do you think what do you think about that?

Greg Sexton  17:33  

Yeah, I think that that's part of the mic. But I actually think it's more about the fact that, that they are independent thinkers, and and I know through all of our apps and the technology, they're out there searching for homes, certainly on their own. But what it really comes down to signing the paper on a big, big purchase like this, that even they kind of take a step back and say, I want an expert, I want a local market expert, I want a subject matter expert that knows about this marketplace, again, can show me the different things that I need to be on the lookout for that I might not be able to get by just clicking an app and reading something. I want that interaction, that relationship with somebody that can guide me through this such is so important part of my life. I think it's more about that.

Mike Simonsen  18:21  

Yeah. Okay, that's, that's great. You mentioned, you know, the work from home and the school from home phenomenon. Have you noticed anything different for your agents or for your sales process or markets? Have you noticed that those trends changing the way you work or that your agents work,

Greg Sexton  18:43  

without a shadow of a doubt, one of the things that we've seen right from the beginning of the pandemic, if you will, is a need for us to really get out there and pivot if you will, in our training. So we set up a lot of training very fast online training, to help our agents adjust to this change environment. And a lot of that meant, you know, training on how to do virtual closings, how to do virtual open houses, things like that, to make sure that there was still a demand out there. And it might none of us knew who as we rolled into caught March of 2020. None of us knew where this was going. From a housing perspective. Obviously, it went phenomenally well. And I think that's a lot of a lot to do about how the industry and how it Century21 We adjusted to that process where we still made it available for our consumers, to look for that home to find the home to buy the home through all these different processes that we put in place to make that an easier thing. Again, I think some of those things are going to continue to live on never get we think we would be able to do closings like we do can drive leads like we do now. So it's it really was an eye opening experience that I I believe it's going to carry forward and be better for the consumer better for our agents. But a lot of that focus goes back to what I initially said, was making sure that we trained our agents to adapt quickly. And to make sure that they were doing those things that were most relevant right now, because of the changing landscape and environment.

Mike Simonsen  20:20  

Do you have? Do you have a like, I'm sure you do have some kind of training program, like, tell me about the the training program that you do with your agents? Like do you have? What's your strategy on it? Or what's the technology? Tell me about the cool stuff about it? Yeah, literally, from

Greg Sexton  20:34  

a training perspective, we have just a portfolio of training, and what we find Mike about our agents, and some agents really like training and spend quite a bit of time in training. We also have a lot of agents who just want short, little, you know, tidbits, if you will, on training, where maybe they can even sit in front of an open house, on their phone and take training. So we have now mobile training, where it's, it's literally some five minute quick type trainings all the way through long, you know, our half day training, as well as where we get our agents together in a room. So there's also that networking type type training that we do. And a lot of our courses are around goal planning, making sure that agents know how to prospect which we think is the most basic thing in real estate. But a lot of times things get in our way as real estate agents and and we don't do those things that we're supposed to be doing. So a lot of is focused on prospecting technology, we do a lot of training in the technology arena, to make sure that our agents know the technology we have, and how to use it. So it's just we have a library full of training. And that's probably one of the areas that we focus on the most. One of the things that I would say, my two, we find, when we look at all the way in scape of all of our agents throughout the city room and Cisco system, which you saw as an herb is how many we have, were able to take a look at those agents that take training on a regular basis. And those agents that don't. And it's amazing the production levels, how they go up for those agents that really do focus time, set aside time to do that training, their growth, their the money that they make is expect exponentially more than those that don't. And here's what's an interesting point about that, might we find that those agents that are highly experienced those seasoned agents, those are the ones that actually do the training more than some of the agents that are new into the business. So that tells us that there is success in training, and that those agents that are highly successful, want even more training.

Mike Simonsen  22:37  

That's that's really, I mean, it makes sense that that's the case. Right. But but it's also really fascinating to be able to correlate, you know, the the high producers that have been around for a long time that still invest in that training. Tell me about experience level for the for the brand itself. So a lot of brokerages grow by putting some bodies in the seats, and some brokerages focus on, you know, growth through, you know, acquisition or so tell me about your ideal agent. Are you in a place where you're like we like to bring in young agents brand new because there's growth? Or do you like to tell me about Tell me about your strategy for

Greg Sexton  23:18  

that world? Sure. You know, what is great Mike about the Century21 brand is we have every type of situation as you just talked about. And we have what I call kind of the organic growth, we're recruiting our franchisees to recruiting. And that means experienced agents. In some cases, some will focus there some focus on kind of the new agents coming into the real estate industry. What is the phenomenon that we have seen since the pandemic, if you will, and then I can go back and talk about 2000, called eight through 11, when we went through what basically was the recession, if you will, and the phenomenon that we saw there, we're starting to see a little bit of the same and what I'm talking about there is really mergers and acquisitions. In fact, I will tell you that the majority of myself and my team, we spend that that much time on mergers, acquisitions, and actually one of the things that are that we call within such three one is gold to gold. And this is where we are seeing a phenomenon in this industry of consolidation, meaning large brokerages getting bigger by acquiring other smaller brokers and the gold the gold is where it's something kind of unique for Century21 that we love to do is we'll take a Century21 That you know better the been in the Sichuan system 10 2040 years, and they've decided, hey, it's time to exit. And so what we're able to do is take that company and roll them into a another highly performing Century21 company and then they come together and form a great company together. That is probably One of the phenomenons that's going on right now that I expect to consent to continue to see across the industry, because really consolidation is where it's at your century. If you go back to Century21. And you think, Mike, about how how we got to be the brand we are today, how did we get to be a household name? Well, there was a day in the industry where there was a Century21, pretty much on every corner. And that was that worked back then. But that's not necessarily where the industry is today. And certainly not where Century21 is, we are consolidating as well, and making sure that we have these great large companies, who then can provide to their agents, all those tools, that technology that I talked about the training that I talked about, that's an important element as well, to make sure that we provide an avenue for exit strategies, if you will, for our companies, and, frankly, for our agents who come into these newer new these other companies that are really high performing companies.

Mike Simonsen  25:59  

So that's that's an interesting strategy. Consolidation is big, there's a lot of cheap money in the world driving a lot of a lot of buying market share. And and so you anticipate that continues, even in a world where money gets a little more expensive?

Greg Sexton  26:14  

Yeah, I really do. There is not a slowdown at all, Mike in this, again, I spend the majority of my week involved in some type of m&a activity, be it from us acquiring an unaffiliated company and bringing them into the Century21 company, through, you know, one of our offices for these gold gold's that I will talk about it. Here's an interesting thing, too, that we find, might we go back and look at, Hey, was that was that merger was the acquisition successful. I'm a firm believer that when it comes to, especially from a gold to gold, one plus one doesn't equal two, it's usually three, four, or five. And the beneficiary what I mean there is the agents typically benefit because usually, when a company has been in the industry for 40 or 50 years, and they're looking for an exit strategy, they are looking for an exit strategy, not necessarily focused on growth, you put them with a new company, and it's energetic, it's exciting. It's on more of a growth perspective. It's amazing how we see those agents productivity, that might have been pretty level for a couple of years in this other company. Now, it's crazy how much we see them grow. So that's exciting. I don't expect that that trend is going to end anytime soon. In fact, I think it's exciting for the industry. Yeah,

Mike Simonsen  27:34  

that's, that's super cool. So some really interesting ideas that you mentioned in that the the gold the gold provides one of your franchisees and it provides you allows you to keep those agents in the in the fold. It's like a win win strategy. That's really that's really exciting. Do you have are there? Are there brokers or franchisees who are that or that that are in your network that are saying, it's my strategy to acquire as many as I can in this region or in the day like there are there are a handful of them that are going full force that are the acquirers are?

Greg Sexton  28:13  

Absolutely. And frankly, we hold our teams that work with our franchisees accountable for knowing the growth, how our franchisees want to grow. So every one of our personal people that work at work in the field know, their book of business, are they at acquire? Or will they ultimately want to be acquired, and we keep that list? Because when an opportunity happens in a marketplace, where a company comes to us and says, hey, it's been a good ride, but 40 years into this, we're ready to go off to the Bahamas or wherever and enjoy life. And can you help us find the buyer? We don't want to react them. So we do all this proactively. And we have these lists that we immediately put these companies together, start the conversations. And we from a corporate perspective, just help facilitate putting that together? I'll tell you, Mike, as we bring companies into the situation system, and I've been involved on that, as I mentioned, the franchise sales side for a long time. This is one of those real compelling things that causes companies to take a look at Century21 as opposed to maybe one of our competitors, because we almost have this built in exit strategy, if you will. It's because we're in our business, whenever you do a merger and acquisition. The one worry the main worry that an owner has is a Will I have what we call breakage will agents not want to join this new company and suddenly they'll go somewhere else. And it is so much easier to put together a gold the gold because they're going from Century21 to Century21. And that's why we really push this to this avenue of an exit strategy because it makes it very compelling and you'd be surprised how many new franchisees say I'm thinking about joining sit through analysis certainly not thinking about getting out of the business or the industry before Won't that be nice? 2030 years from now?

Mike Simonsen  30:03  

Yeah. So breakage, I didn't know the term was breakage. I like that. But it's that's a real big deal when you when you acquire a broker, because in many ways the power is in the agent's hands. Yeah. And so do you give metrics on on like breakage like, like, we can show that that when we when we do a gold to gold deal we we could show how like low the breakage is you probably don't have

Greg Sexton  30:32  

we do have we do track that very, very closely, I will just tell you that our breakage is very minimal. And it's because we spend a lot of time on the actual transition side of it, we have a full transition transition team that goes in once we let them know, hey, looks like this, these two companies are coming together, they literally start working at that point, to make sure that we get out there the day we make the announcement, we're in there talking with the agents, we have their business cards of their new company ready for him that day. Because we want them to feel like hey, you got a new home. In fact, it's a great home. And then we work with the owners to make sure that we've got our arms around the agents to make sure that they are feeling comfortable about this change. Because change is not easy. We all know that. But the easier that we make the process, the better we see, when it comes to that word you just said that we use often in the industry breakage, that's

Mike Simonsen  31:25  

that's tripping you can imagine that, you know, the systems aren't changing and that you know that the, the culture isn't changing that much. It's maybe some different when you're on your acquirers. Your your brokers who are acquiring on this? Are they did they did a work to it this or does it work better to stay geographically connected? Or can I go and say, Hey, I'm in Philly, but this broker in Vegas is up for sale

Greg Sexton  31:54  

by them? You know, Mike, that's a great, great question. Because Had you asked that question. Three to five years ago, I would have said absolutely, definitely within their their state. In fact, that's maybe even narrow that more to the next market over. Now. Let's go over five, six states. Let's go from Illinois to Florida. We're seeing an absolute change. And I'm glad you brought this up, Mike, because that's probably the biggest change that I've seen over the last three to five years, is the willingness of brokers to jump states complete and jump from one side of the country to the other side of the country where they see opportunities. And I think a lot of that is driven by technology. And the back office systems that you now have, you can be in an a Chicago, Illinois and run an operation in Florida, which we have today with one of our great brokerages now. And it's because they have good systems where we didn't have that years ago. So great question. And the answer is unequivocally yes. And I expect that trend to only increase. We're seeing a lot of companies from the northeast, come to Florida, and open off offices in Florida. And I don't want to speak for them. But my guess is that as they're thinking about retiring in the Northeast, where it's cold, they may want to go go like everybody else has gone in that area to have enough Florida second home or whatever, well, maybe they plan on making that a permanent home, when they exit the business. Well, maybe they're not going to exit, they're just gonna move to their operations in Florida instead, we are absolutely seeing that phenomenon. That's really

Mike Simonsen  33:35  

cool. And you can imagine there's a whole, you know, decades of clients in New York, who like you can if you can move with your, with your previous buyers, to with that with them to their next state. Like that could be really compelling. You know,

Greg Sexton  33:53  

you know, one of the things that we're also seeing Mike is not only is it brokerage companies opening up existing offices in these other markets like Florida, we're seeing agents who are spending, you know, nine months in a year in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, but then they've gone to Florida as kind of a second home for those winter months. But now they're going and doing business there during that time period that they're now licensed there. So these are this is what I love about this industry, Mike is it's ever changing, but it's ever changing in a positive way, because there's more ways that we can actually do more business. And you're one of these phenomenons within and while of the real estate business, it's not because agents who make a lot of money in real estate because those agents that do really well in real estate, it's because they love the fact that they are helping others live out the American dream of homeownership, and that's kind of the driving thing. So when you when you think about these phenomenons, like you just talked about what industry is there where you can be 60 7080 years old, ready for retirement, but you know what, I think I'll go to Florida and continue to serve clients there. How cool is that?

Mike Simonsen  35:05  

Yeah, that's really, really exciting. That actually brings up another trend that I'm interested to hear your take on at the at the agent level, one of the big trends in the last five years has been a shift from being solo agent to team, a team where you have maybe one lead and a bunch of people who are either doing buyer transactions or sourcing leads or something like that. Tell me about your take on teams and, and what's happening, what's going on and how that looks inside of Century21.

Greg Sexton  35:34  

Sure, another one of those phenomenons that continues to grow in this industry and and I'll be candid, transparent, like when when teams started coming around a few years back, I really thought this might be somewhat of a phenomenon that kind of goes away over time, and it gets back to the individual real estate agent. Well, Greg, Greg was wrong, be the first to admit to that. But I think it's a good thing, because we and I think we're going to continue to see agent teams grow. In fact, we've adjusted a lot of our training to make sure that we are staying relevant for teams as well. In fact, one of the things that's biggest since 20 ones is our awards program, where every year, we give awards out to our top producing agents. Well, guess what we've shifted, and also awards now for our top teams, because it's that important. And I think this trend will absolutely continue. I think you're going to see teams even get larger, where you'll have a what some of us might have referred to years ago as well, that's a company. No, that's just a large team within a company. I can I see this trend continuing. And I will tell you from a situation standpoint, we're taking the stance that this will continue. And we need to develop more and more technology and training to make sure that we are a welcoming place for teens.

Mike Simonsen  36:58  

That's yeah, the I think so to the I probably in the same boat as you it where I looked at teams and I thought, either, okay, looks like a brokerage to me. Like why would it be any different but it they very much are the same? Like the trend seems non unstoppable.

Greg Sexton  37:16  

Yeah. Well, not only that, I think one of the things that we see, and we hear about teams, because yeah, you're right, a lot of times they look like a brokerage company. But here's the interesting thing about these teams in just those conversations, they still understand the power of branding, and how branding is important to the consumer. So even though they might be this big, powerful team, they want that brand behind them they know that brands gonna drive leads, it is that security consumers like to do business with well respected brands. And so that's an interesting element about teams that they are very big, very strong.

Mike Simonsen  37:52  

They like brandy. Yeah, yeah, that's good. And the and the brands, and it seems like the good teams are doing a good job with branding and some of the some of the challenges, is it, you know, is it my name? Or is it the Century21? Day, like, which one is more important there? Do you have guidelines for that? Like,

Greg Sexton  38:11  

yeah, we absolutely do have guidelines on how we handle that. But we do everything we can to promote the agents, we realize that the agent, I was just giving a speech in California yesterday to to a group of agents and you know, I ended by saying, and I sincerely mean this, my Century21 brand, or for that matter, any real estate brand, but for the 6.1 brand, we are nothing, nothing without our agents. Those agents that carry our business cards are who we are, because without them, Greg's not here, our brand doesn't matter. And so we don't ever take that for granted. And I think that even with teams, and individual agents, you have to constantly remember, for us there the customer, our agents are our customer, our companies, our brokers are our customer. And that's something we try not to forget. And I personally try not to ever take for granted.

Mike Simonsen  39:04  

Yeah, for sure. For sure. So let's take the last few minutes to talk international Century21 is a big international brand. The US market has been nuts, but it kind of pales in comparison to a lot of countries, a lot of the Western economies, the markets been even more nuts. Do you see that? Like, you know, the home prices going parabolic? And do you? Do you have? Is that impacting your business? Do you have thoughts on what's going on out there in the world? Yeah,

Greg Sexton  39:33  

in fact, we spend a lot of time talking about what's happening with our master franchisees. We're constantly reaching out and saying, Hey, what's going on in your country? Because one of the things that we see is, we can learn from each other. We see trends when you're in 86 countries, you start to see some trends that may not have even hit the US and have the impact here. But what I will tell you, Mike, is that what we're seeing here, the challenges that we're facing, caught from a Inventory perspective. What's interesting when you look at internationally, yes, there are certainly markets that are facing that. But what's interesting is, there are some markets that aren't. In fact, we've got some interesting information from take Argentina. Last year in Argentina, the city of Buenos Aires saw are only 70% of their inventory sold. And so for them, it was quite the opposite of an inventory problem. In fact, there, they'll also tell you that their price is very competitive. What we're seeing mostly from an international perspective is is the opposite, though, that they're having tight inventory as well. Bidding wars, just like we hear about here in the US, Portugal and Spain recently found out from from our master franchise there that their franchisees are seeing rising prices, tight inventory, multiple multiple offers on come on properties, Canada, much the same. So we spend a lot of time with our masters trying to understand, learn from that. And what's neat is we also do training, to make sure that our masters in these other countries know how to overcome the challenges within the housing market, just like we do here in the US. Here's what's also really, really interesting, Mike, I feel from a global perspective, we talked earlier about real estate being global. We are, as I spoke to this group of agents yesterday, I was telling them that it is amazing the billions and billions of dollars spent spent by clients outside of the United States on property inside the US. And, frankly, over the last two years or so, that has been constrained simply because of COVID people couldn't get here to look at properties there, it was just virtually impossible to make those transactions happen, like we had in the past. But here's the great news for us in real estate, that as we navigate through the pandemic, there is a lot of pent up demand in Europe and other parts, wanting to come back and spend money in California, Florida, on properties. So that's something that we're trying to make sure that we are letting our agents know be well prepared for this. Because this global trend is going to happen again, we're in a cyclical business. And it's even going to be more cyclical, cyclical from an international perspective in a positive way. And so I say, great opportunity to hear from an international perspective, for everybody that's in the real estate industry here in the United States.

Mike Simonsen  42:33  

That's real, that's real insight. It's not something I considered before that, that we know that we have a fair amount, especially the California in the Florida, New York and places like that, that have international buyers a lot. But I hadn't really considered that had been constrained via in the pandemic, and therefore there's actually pent up demand for that for those purchases as things loosen up.

Greg Sexton  42:56  

Absolutely. In fact, we're because when you're a brand like us 86 countries, we have all this conversations all the time with our master franchises, they share what they're hearing from clients there. And we have also a Global website where we're able to see the conversations and the transactions that are going across the continent. And it is amazing how much they're talking about, can't wait till things open back up. So they can start coming in spending more money here in the United States on properties and, and frankly, as a as a housing economy and as a just economy in general us we ought to be super excited about that.

Mike Simonsen  43:32  

Yeah, that is that's that's optimistic even in a world where it's hard to imagine the US market slowing too much but but you know, adding that as a fuel that international demand fuel pent up international demand fuel, he said it's an interesting factor. But listen, Craig, let's let's wrap up the conversation. V. You know, a lot of our audience are realtors and brokers and, you know, participants in this space, where should people find you and go to Century21? What do you like people to reach you?

Greg Sexton  44:02  

Sure, you know, we have a gentleman named Peter Moscow, who is kind of our PR director and he's one of the fields all the incoming people that are interested in being part of the Century21 family have questions about real estate in general and his his contact is And I would also encourage anybody, they can always reach out to me and you know, I'm And I always love hearing feedback and what we can be doing better to serve that our clients out there are agents out there, so right I will will

Mike Simonsen  44:36  

include those a little bit of contact information in the show notes for the for the podcast, anything else, Greg, that you want to make sure that people know about Century21 about you before we take off today.

Greg Sexton  44:48  

By the only thing I will say is as I said earlier, as we navigate ourselves through this pandemic. It is really exciting to see that your real estate has done well. But really horizon looks very, very well going forward. And with all the world's challenges that you mentioned before and everything. What I love about this business is real estate is still a great bet. It's a great investment. And I love the fact that even some of the millennial generations and things are getting more excited. first time homebuyers are getting excited about homeownership. I think that bodes well just for all of us that know and love this real estate business. So excited about that. And I want to thank you for the opportunity to spend some time with you. Today, Mike, I hope we get the opportunity again.

Mike Simonsen  45:31  

I'm looking forward to it. Thanks so much. All right, everybody. That's all we have for today. Thank you for joining me on the Top of Mind podcast from Altos Research reminder that Altos tracks every home for sale in the country every week, and we analyze all the pricing and all the changes in prices. And we we make that data available to you mostly through your real estate agents to end consumers before it's available in all the traditional channels. So visit For a free consultation on how to use that market data and your business. And we will see you next time. Thanks, everybody.

Outro  46:09  

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