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Preparing for the

Next Generation
of Real Estate
CENTURY 21 Award Page 48
Photos courtesy
David Romero
President & CEO
CENTURY 21 Award
RREIN Member
by Barbara Pronin
Preparing for the
Next Generation
of Real Estate
CENTURY 21 Award
Photos courtesy
Barbara Pronin: David, youve led
your own CENTURY 21 franchise
for over 15 years, 10 of them with
CENTURY 21 Award. Tell us a little
about how the frm has grown
over the years and your overall
positioning in your marketplace.
David Romero: We began with four
ofces in Orange County in 1998
and doubled our size in 2004 with
the acquisition of CENTURY 21
Award in San Diego. Today, we have
16 ofces and over 1,000 agents
serving buyers and sellers in San
Diego, Orange, Riverside and San
Bernardino counties. Thats a pretty
diverse area, and we did pull back
a bit during the industry-wide slump,
but Im proud to say we are in our
third consecutive year of steadyif
not amazinggrowth in both sales
and gross commission income. We
are, as you say, second in sales pro-
duction in the CENTURY 21 roster of
companies worldwide, and No. 1 in
per-agent production in our region
for the third year in a row.
BP: What would you point to as
your competitive differentiators?
DR: We are blessed to carry the
CENTURY 21 brand, one of the
worlds most recognized and re-
spected brands, and we take very
seriously the brands proven commit-
ment to professionalism, integrity
and outstanding customer service.
More than that, we are a company
for and about people. In a time of
changing demographics and vastly
differing customer needs, not only
are we committed to rebuilding the
American Dream of homeownership
for every segment of the population,
were also committed to supporting
our agents in this mission. That in-
cludes a program we developed to
pinpoint and meet the needs of the
18- to 35-year-old Gen Y homebuyer.
We have panels of Gen Y consum-
ers and agents meeting to share
ideas, giving us the means and the
impetus to provide our agents with
the right training and tools to be top
producers going forward. Its another
way of proving our commitment ev-
ery day, with every customer, and I
think thats why people see us as
the go-to company for customized
and personal service.
BP: What are todays consum-
ers most concerned with when it
comes to buying and selling real
DR: Buyers are out there looking for
deals, but theyre still a little tenta-
tive. Many havent realized yet that
now is a really good time for buyers,
especially rst-timers, who were cut
out of the playing eld for a while
as investors were scooping up the
bargains. But now, soaring prices
have begun to stabilize, lenders are
lending, and mortgage rates are
still near historic lows. As for sell-
ers, they always want to get the best
price, and with inventory short these
days, some are still holding out. But
with prices stabilizing as they have
aving grown up in a real estate family, the past,
present and future of the industry are in David
Romeros DNA. But at this point in time, the
president and CEO of Southern Californias CENTURY 21
Award is focused on the here and now, determined that his
agents will be the best prepared in the industry to serve
the next generation of home buyers. Its time to focus on
Gen Y, says Romero. We want to understand what they
think, what they need, what they wantand we want to be
sure our agents have the tools and the training to not just
meet these distinctive needs, but to build long and lasting
relationships. In this exclusive interview, Romero shares his
passion for education and his strategy for continuing to grow
the company in the next generation of real estate.
Its time to focus on Gen Y. We want to
understand what they think, what they need,
what they wantand we want to be sure our
agents have the tools and the training to not
just meet these distinctive needs, but to build
long and lasting relationships.
-David Romero
President & CEO
CENTURY 21 Award
been, many are realizing its a good
time to sell, especially if theyve
been putting off a move.
BP: How are your agents meeting
these various consumer needs?
DR: Education is key, and ongoing
training is uppermost for us. We
have a diversity of ages in our agent
population, but we share the same
core values. Our agents are industry
professionals who understand the
local market and are committed to
exceeding customer expectations.
More than that, they have the tools,
the resources, and the people skills
to educate their customers in ways
that empower them to make the
best decisions for themselves and
their families. Our agents are excited
about the opportunities this market
brings to buyers and sellers. Prices
are higher than they were during the
slump, but in many areas, they are
still a long way from the high. And
the current lending environment is
encouraging as well. Sellers can
get a very fair price these days and
seize the opportunity theyve been
waiting for to move up, downsize or
even relocate. For our agents, its
a matter of personalized service
of understanding what every client
needs and wants, and working hard
to help them achieve it.
BP: What is the company doing in
terms of training?
DR: Again, education is key and
training is ongoing. Our Gen Y panels
are a perfect example. Training is a
constant process to ensure that ev-
ery agent is on top of the market and
equipped with the best possible mar-
ket knowledge and resources. We
also have a great leadership team
and perceptive branch leaders who
work to make sure every agent stays
Top left to right: Christian De Vera, REALTOR; Anthony Guerrieri, REALTOR; Wayne Chan, REALTOR; David Romero, President
& CEO; Matt McGinnis, Branch Leader/REALTOR; Layne Rackley, Chief Financial Ofcer.
Bottom left to right: Tristan Cien, Gen Y Liaison/REALTOR; Tassia Bezdeka, Director of Tech Development & Social Marketing;
Martha Karelius, Executive Vice President (North); Sara Jackson, Executive Vice President (South).
at the top of his or her game. Were
big on mentoring and sharing infor-
mation, both face to face and online,
which is just a part of our company
culture. And I try to be in every one of
our ofces at least once each quar-
ter to see that our processes are
working for the benet of both our
agents and our clients.
BP: How has your technology
evolved to meet agent and con-
sumer demands?
DR: We work hard to stay on the
leading edge. We are constantly up-
dating and improving our website,
which is where most customers be-
gin their home search, and we have
a terric, forward-looking tech staff
to help guide us in terms of whats
out there and what we may want to
invest in. Between the brands of-
ferings and those we offer on our
own, agents have 24/7 access to
the best information available and
the best tools to turn it to advan-
tage. This includes everything from
producing virtual tours to using
the newest social media apps. We
also have an agent review program
where customers can see how our
agents have performed during past
transactions and choose one they
are condent will best represent
BP: How have your marketing and
promotional strategies evolved to
better connect with customers?
DR: We do very little print advertis-
ing anymore, but weve made some
excellent marketing partnerships,
including our agent satisfaction plat-
form, which appeals to customers.
And most of our marketing efforts
are operated online where most
people begin their search. Also,
we focus heavily on bringing in new
listings, so theres a lot of familiar
CENTURY 21 signage out there to
remind people we are the local com-
pany of choice.
BP: What about community
DR: CENTURY 21 is a long-time
supporter of Easter Seals, which
provides outreach and advocacy
service for people living with autism
and other disabilities, and we are
proud to be among the brands top
fundraisers. Our company raised
over $72,000 for Easter Seals last
year, much of it through our Clos-
ings for Kids program. In addition
to what we give at the corporate
level, our agents donate a portion
of their commissions at closing to
the Easter Seals campaign. We also
have a very popular rafe each year
with a $10,000 cash prize for rst
place. And I have to say that all of us
working together on behalf of some-
thing we believe in brings us closer
as a team.
BP: In your opinion, David, what
do agents need to focus on in or-
der to succeed?
DR: Service, service, service. As
real estate professionals, we no
longer control the information.
Consumers have access to plenty
of information, so to be success-
ful, agents need to double up on
service, and that includes helping
customers understand and make
the best use of all that free-oat-
ing information. We have tasked
ourselves to rebuild the American
Dream of homeownership for every
demographic in this countryand
the approach is not the same for
meeting the needs of Generation Y
as it is for baby boomers. One of
the reasons we think training is so
important is that it gives our agents
the specic skills they need to be
successful with each demographic,
whether its maximizing the power
of social media or knowing when
high-touch, face-to-face interaction
is more important than high tech.
BP: And fnally, David, what are
your plans for continuing to grow
the company?
DR: Our strategy starts with attract-
ing and training the best agents in
the businesscareer agents who
share our ideals and values and
want to be part of our dynamic and
dedicated team. After six consecu-
tive down years, we are back in a
steady period of growth. In 2013,
our agents earned $48.5 million in
gross commission income. This year,
were projecting $63 million. And in
2015, if we are successful in our
three-year plan, our agents will earn
$100 million. Thats not a random
number. Its based on current results
and solid projections. The plan in-
cludes getting the word out that this
is a once-in-a-generation time to
buy and maximizing every ounce of
our know-how and drive to reach out
and make the American Dream a re-
ality for as many people as humanly
possible. We are personally and pro-
fessionally intent on reaching out
to as many people as possible and
making every transaction a positive
and satisfying experience. RE
For more information, please visit
We are personally
and professionally
intent on reaching
out to as many
people as possible
and making every
transaction a positive
and satisfying
-David Romero
President & CEO
CENTURY 21 Award