Earlier this week, Austin Board of Realtors President and CEO Emily Chenevert was named one of the region's top executive leaders at the 2021 Greater Austin Business Awards. The recognition came at the tail end of one of the wildest years in the history of the local housing market — one that saw prices in the metro rise by 25% from January to October, while housing stock remained a fraction of what’s necessary to sate demand.
ABOR, which owns and operates the Austin multiple listings service, has experienced its own significant growth in recent years. In January 2018, when Chenevert assumed her post, ABOR had 11,608 members and 13,788 MLS subscribers. Today, ABOR supports 16,133 members and 19,024 MLS subscribers, according to numbers provided by the organization.
Austin Business Journal spoke with Chenevert about lessons learned from 2021’s housing market and how Realtors can prepare for what many experts agree will be another banner year for the local housing market.
We’re coming to the end of a pretty wild year. What would you say have been some of the hardest things to deal with as a Realtor in Austin?
The thing that's most difficult, across the marketplace for consumers and agents, is our continued lack of housing capacity to meet the demand that just continues to grow. It's hard to put in multiple offers and still feel like you're not getting the house that you want.
I think we're going to continue to face that into next year while we're working hard to try to bring more capacity online. But that demand pipeline is just so intense and long. And I think that the signs economically point toward that continuing to be the case for Central Texas.
Is there anything Realtors can do to prepare for what’s in store in 2022?
I know that Realtors are working to grow their competency outside of traditional geographic boundaries.
We can look at something like this Samsung plant coming into Taylor. Realtors can grow an understanding of areas, like Taylor or the surrounding areas. That will be critical to support the new jobs that are coming to that area, to support the existing housing market there and to support the commercial needs that will come alongside as ancillary support to the factory.
One thing that's happening is people are opening up their understanding of what it means to be in Central Texas and growing their competency in all corners of the region.
What is ABOR excited about in 2022?
We think it's going to be a good year, but I think it’s important for ABOR as an association to prioritize supporting our agents’ needs as this market continues to drive so hard.
We need to be taking care of their wellness, taking care of them as people, expanding their network, so they can expand their competency in every corner of the region. That kind of programming is fun and different and something that we're having to drive hard on right now.
On the multiple listings service side, our greatest adventure is our new partnership in the acquisition of Remine, which is an MLS technology that helps make our market go round. We're really excited to be stepping into the tech community, which is a big part of Austin and not something that we've been deeply entrenched in before. We’re certainly excited about the strategic benefits that that will provide our agents and the consumers that they serve.
Speaking of growth, ABOR itself has grown considerably over the past few years, in terms of the number of agents it serves. What have y’all had to do or change to accommodate that growth?
Covid, in some ways, really pushed us to scale our service to our members in a way that we might not have had the time or the space to do, had we been in the office serving agents across the three physical locations that we managed before.
In that time, we launched a new website, we launched a new online Realtor store, virtual service options such as chat, we expanded our phone service to professional development online, offering continuing education that way. All of those things continue, even as we start to bring our in-person programming back online as well. All of that is infrastructure that helps us serve this growing mass of real estate professionals each and every day.
Is there any other advice you want to share with our readers?
Around the holidays, I think everybody is excited about a little lull. But we expect that we're going to hit that market hard again at the top of the year.
I would say just for consumers, especially if there's a potential that you're looking to buy and sell, use this time, even though it might typically be used to kind of get back with family and be quiet, to really engage in the market. Let's see if we can stay ahead of the pace so that it's not quite so wild at the top of the year.
Article By Michelle Pitcher Staff Writer, Austin Business Journal