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Amy Lessinger believes experience will be a difference maker for RE/MAX in a post-settlement world

Unlike other real estate professionals who have hopped between brands and companies, Amy Lessinger has spent the vast majority of her nearly three-decade-long career at RE/MAX.

During her 26 years at the firm, Lessinger has been an agent, a team leader and a broker-owner before ultimately being named president of RE/MAX in February 2024. HousingWire recently caught up with Lessinger to discuss how she is using all of her experience and knowledge of RE/MAX to help her in this newest leadership role.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Brooklee Han: You’ve been at RE/MAX now for 26 years. Can you talk about what first drew you to the brand and what has kept you with the firm for so many years?

Amy Lessinger: When I think back to that 26-year-old who joined RE/MAX, I was just out of college and really wanted to be great at the business. I had only been in the business 18 months prior to joining, so I was still pretty new.

But when I sat down with my long-time broker, Gary Canepa, I just knew that I’d met my tribe. I just really felt like, ‘Wow, these people are productive professionals.’ I wanted to not only be good at the business, but great, and I felt that in order for me to do that and achieve that, I needed to surround myself with people who were high producers.

Amy Lessinger

BH: RE/MAX is still known today for having some of the most productive agents in the business. Do you feel like that is a draw for agents?

Lessinger: We stand for education and excellence. Our agents produce twice as much as our competitors based off of RealTrends rankings numbers.

I think that is really important because we are the home of the productive professional. And the way that we help agents sell more houses is through education, technology, support and leveraging our iconic brand, where we are the most trusted professionals in the eyes of the consumer. And I think that is a big draw for agents, particularly with a lot of the changes that are going on in the market right now.

Agents need to have a high level of skill when navigating conversations with buyers about what it means to be represented and what are the fiduciary responsibilities that the agent owes to that buyer — and of course, to have those transparent conversations about compensation.

BH: Many in the industry are viewing these changes as an opportunity for firms, brokers and agents to level up and grow. How are you looking to do that at RE/MAX?

Lessinger: We have always actively supported our agents in navigating new terrain. RE/MAX has been around for over 50 years. And of course, during those 50 years, we’ve navigated double-digit interest rates, the Great Recession where everyone had to figure out how to do short sales, and we’ve brought education to our agents during those times.

We navigated them, we leveled up and we learned to thrive no matter what the market conditions are. So, I think this is really no different. We launched a new designation course to our entire network called ‘The Buyer Agency Professional.’ It was developed by Kaplan, but we deployed it literally within 48 hours of receiving the news of the National Association of Realtors’ settlement agreement. So, we were already preparing on the back end to make sure that our agents would be ready no matter what the changes were coming to the industry.

The course has tools for explaining what it means for buyers to be represented, and what the benefits to sellers are to have buyers that are represented on the other side. Then it of course discusses how to have that transparent conversation about how agents are paid.

But this is just one of several new tools that we have launched. We have also deployed a new buyer guide for consumers to help our agents facilitate those conversations, as well as a lot of marketing materials and support materials.

BH: RE/MAX agents are known as some of the most productive in the industry, as we have discussed, but also as some of the most experienced. How do you feel these characteristics will serve the overall RE/MAX brand in the post-NAR settlement world we are heading into?

Lessinger: I think that our future is extremely bright. We have already covered a lot of ground as a firm, and we have always supported our agents in helping them be the most productive professionals. I think that these changes offer us the best opportunity for improved performance this year and to build on our strong foundation for the long term.

We have spent a lot of time assessing programs to accelerate, expand and take advantage of the opportunity, so that consumers really value and understand what it means to have an agent on your side who has an incredible skill set. And so, we are proud of that and we intend to leverage it going forward.

BH: RE/MAX was the second firm to settle the commission lawsuits. Can you talk about the decision to settle and how that decision has impacted your agents, brokers and franchisees?

Lessinger: Our settlement, among other terms, spells out that for our franchisees, their membership in NAR is their choice. I think that offers our brokers the ability to make the choice with what makes the most sense for them.

I believe NAR is valuable in the fact that they are one of the largest trade organizations out there protecting property ownership rights, and that is something every agent should be mindful of. But we were agreeable to putting that decision in our brokers’ hands.

I think, moving forward, with respect to how this changes the playing field, I think the spotlight being on buyer agency and what it means to be represented is a healthy thing. We welcome these changes. We have always encouraged our agents to have those transparent conversations and bring skills to the table when representing either a buyer or a seller.

BH: RE/MAX has been struggling with its domestic agent count in recent years and many agents are expected to leave the business as a result of the NAR settlement agreement. What is RE/MAX doing to try to attract more agents and improve its count?

Lessinger: We are motivated by and really confident in our competitive advantages and exciting potential growth opportunities. We are certainly very well aware of what we need to do to improve our performance, and I think two of those top priorities in our playbook are really clear: We need to stabilize and grow our U.S. agent count, and we need to expand our mortgage business.

I think posting gains in those two areas will help us build market share, will increase revenue and will ultimately increase earnings. And I think each of those creates momentum for additional growth and so, how will we do that? We will leverage our current initiatives and continue to develop innovative strategies because we know how important those two objectives are in both the short term and long term.

BH: What are some the initiatives you are currently working on?

Lessinger: We’ve been very heavy in the CMA (comparative market analysis) space for a couple of years now because what we know is that we have a lot of brokers out there in our network — and in the greater industry — who are looking for either a succession plan or a growth plan.

So, we have retooled our sales team to be able to play effectively in that space, and we have had so much success. It continues to grow and build, so we will continue to leverage that because it offers us the opportunity to grow in batches by aligning with companies that want to grow together. It offers them scale, efficiency and succession planning.

We are really proud of the fact that we saw that opportunity early and we began playing that space much more aggressively. So, when you couple that with our teams initiative, you’ve got a pretty good combination to drive growth.

BH: You have held a variety of roles within the industry throughout your career. How is that breadth of experience helping you as a leader right now?

Lessinger: I think the fact that I have worn every single hat gives me a unique lens. I really see things through the eyes of the agent, the eyes of the team leaders, the eyes of the broker-owners and managers and recruiters. And so, everything that we do here at headquarters is designed to help drive productivity for our agents, and to help them be more professional and more productive.

For our brokers, everything we provide is designed to help them go and attract an agent they are interested in — and keep agents that they have — and then help their agents sell more houses. Because at the end of the day, productivity is where this game is truly won.

I see that from all different angles and lenses. And so, everything that we drive forward is filtered through that lens in order to continue for us to build market share and focus on our growth of being No. 1 in every market that we serve.

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