The true estate field has been disrupted in 2020, but not automatically to its detriment. In a new Q&A with Karri Callahan, CFO of the world, franchise-based mostly real estate enterprise RE/MAX, I discussed a variety of troubles connected to her firm and field, as perfectly as broader matters for finance specialists in the 21st century. In the first section of a two-element series, I requested Karri about how Covid-19 has impacted the authentic estate industry and how she as CFO has resolved new worries and chances. Moreover, I requested her about RE/MAX’s franchise design and how a central finance chief can efficiently control a sprawling network of brokers all about the globe while retaining a powerful business society

Jeff Thomson: The actual estate market tends to go through in an financial downturn. In the Covid-19 downturn, serious estate has been severely impacted, in particular in urban centers. On the other hand, there have been good gains for actual estate in less populated parts as people appear to leave towns. How has this unexpected re-balancing of the industry impacted RE/MAX’s business enterprise and operations? What have you completed as CFO to mitigate or capitalize on that effect?

Karri Callahan: One could think true estate has been slowed by the pandemic and resulting economic downturn, but in reality, although present house profits had been frustrated in the late spring and early summer, exercise has because strongly rebounded. Quite a few markets across the U.S. are scorching very hot – fueled by lower desire charges, large need and extremely small inventory. There aren’t lots of properties for sale, but people that do get listed are advertising speedily. As we have viewed, residential actual estate has been a vivid spot and has the opportunity of helping to lead in the country’s financial recovery.

In accordance to the most recent RE/MAX National Housing Report, July had the ideal thirty day period of home revenue in our report’s 12-year history and according to the Nationwide Association of Realtors, just about every of the four key areas throughout the U.S. noticed gains in equally month-in excess of-thirty day period and 12 months-in excess of-yr pending home sales transactions in July. Inventory ranges and the unemployment level may possibly be the governors on how powerful the housing marketplace in the end performs this yr.

With residence staying the center of people’s life this calendar year, it’s only all-natural we’ll see anticipated shifts in the sector as men and women reassess the attributes most critical to them in their up coming property. Various components will perpetuate migration as families may well determine to go closer to 1 a further, leave an city heart if they continue on functioning remotely or basically transfer due to modifying needs found by shelling out more time at property this yr – like the want for a garden or a household office.

The jury is however out on regardless of whether escalating mobility tied to operating remotely has had town dwellers leaving urban facilities, creating a housing current market boom in suburban and rural areas. For RE/MAX, that development would bode nicely for us supplied our vast franchise footprint of around 3,500 offices distribute across the United States. The pandemic unquestionably accelerated the by now constricted stock concentrations in several urban – and suburban – places in the U.S. The most significant problem for several of these metros will probably continue to be the lack of obtainable and inexpensive stock. As much as performing from residence insurance policies continue to be adopted and might trigger some shifts in migration, there are loads of persons who delight in dwelling in cities and will probable gladly get the area of other folks who may well have left for a unique possibility.

The worldwide pandemic moved quickly, and we think we ended up capable to reply just as speedily, because of to the eye-catching money traits of our enterprise design and the money flexibility that it offers. Early in the pandemic we implemented a application built to lower costs and assistance conserve income. Overall, our intention was to protect jobs as a lot as probable to support the continued expansion of our benefit proposition and decrease discretionary devote. We adjusted our value framework swiftly to align with the environment with out resorting to date to layoffs or furloughs. At the same time, we expanded our assistance offerings, extended our network’s significant economic support and maintained our dividend.

Thomson: RE/MAX is a global firm functioning on a franchise design, functioning with much more than 130,000 agents throughout the world. Does this complicate or simplify your job as leader of the finance functionality? Does it pose worries to reporting or forecasting when you are working with so a lot of semi-independent operators with their own specific company challenges?

Callahan: The expansive global footprint of the RE/MAX community is one of our company’s strongest competitive benefits and is 1 of the most exciting elements of my job. From a solitary business office that opened in 1973 in Denver, Colorado, RE/MAX has grown into a international actual estate community with extra than 130,000 revenue associates in far more than 110 international locations and territories and above 8,000 places of work around the world.

My role, as with all of the a number of hundred workers centered in our Denver Headquarters, is to provide and assist our franchisees to the maximum diploma probable. The money picture at our corporation – the grasp franchisor – includes all operational factors of our small business as perfectly as ongoing investments that strengthen and/or grow our price proposition. We’ve been incredibly aggressive, specifically the past couple yrs, in earning strategic investments that assistance our brokers recruit and our agents maximize their gross sales prospects. Ultimately we’re a growth business, so that’s income effectively invested.

In conditions of challenges, it is good to say our construction tends to make things exciting. Each business office we have in the entire world – more than 8,000 of them – is independently owned and operated. Our enterprise was launched by an entrepreneur and our franchisees are successful business owners with a large array of views. We also have a number of independently owned regions that sub-franchise the RE/MAX model in the U.S. and Canada – covering about 35% of our membership in all those two nations around the world – and all of our international regions are independently owned and operated as nicely. So our community is basically a huge selection of impartial companies united by the manufacturer, the sources, the values and especially the society. We like to say that we are a business enterprise that builds businesses and that at RE/MAX you are in business for on your own but not by you. That indicates we have a large range of affiliate stakeholders whose livelihoods rely on RE/MAX staying fiscally healthful – and when you add our staff and our shareholders on best, our group has a great deal to take into consideration with every single selection.

That said, as numerous as RE/MAX experts are, they also have a tendency to share typical main features: they’re severe about company, producing at the optimum amount, and supplying the finest buyer practical experience. Our means to catch the attention of pros like that, and assist them triumph even much more as aspect of our networks, is a important purpose we have been so successful for so long. What does that necessarily mean from a money standpoint? It signifies we can have faith in the engine that drives our profits – potent agents who near heaps of sales – which in change builds robust brokerages that catch the attention of even additional brokers. We’ve found the cycle do the job in each kind of marketplace ecosystem, which gives us great self esteem in our approach. But we never sluggish down or quit innovating, and we choose certainly nothing at all for granted.

This short article has been edited and condensed.