What To Watch As Keller Williams’ Family Reunion Unfolds This Week

Only two months in, this year has already proven to be a big one for Keller Williams.

Earlier this month, for example, the company expanded internationally with a push into Sint Maarten. And in the never-ending battle for top talent, it lured a high-profile team in Philadelphia away from Berkshire Hathaway.

The company got even more attention when it recruited eXp Realty President Stacey Onnen to serve as Keller Williams’ new head of business operations. Keller Williams and eXp have long maintained a rivalry, and that rivalry picked up even more steam days later when it was revealed that eXp wanted to bring on former Keller Williams CEO Mark Willis — though there is an ongoing legal dispute over that hire.

In any case, the point is that in just a month and a half Keller Williams has managed to dominate headlines this year. And now with the company’s rivalries blazing, the housing market in a perpetual supply shortage, the pandemic lingering and interest in real estate higher than ever, Keller Williams is holding its annual Family Reunion gathering. There’s a lot to talk about.

The event is taking place both virtually and live in Orlando, Florida. It kicks off Sunday with sessions featuring big names such as Gary Keller and Marc King, and continues into Monday with a series of breakout sessions. Topics will range from the state of Keller Williams itself to the housing market, and should offer hints about where the industry is going.

Here’s what to watch for:

1. Will Keller Williams ever go public?

At this point it’s becoming a bit of a cliché to say everyone is watching for news of a potential Keller Williams initial public offering (IPO). Inman has covered the topic here, here, here and here, among other places. An IPO has been on every “what to watch for at Keller Williams” list literally for years now.

But just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant. And each time Inman has asked Keller Williams executives about a potential IPO they have declined to commit one way or another — hinting that going public remains on the table, even if its not a foregone inevitability.

At this point, the safe money is on no news about an IPO at this particular Family Reunion. But there’s tremendous pressure on real estate companies to grow, to attract top talent, to digitize and to generally evolve. And while Keller Williams is big and powerful, upstart rivals such as eXp Realty and Compass would gladly take its crown. And that means the incentives to go public remain powerful as well.

Key session to watch: 

Sunday, Feb. 20: State Of The Company with Carl Liebert and Marc King. 11 a.m. EST.

2. What’s going on with the housing market?

The last two years have thrown the housing market into chaos — albeit a profitable chaos for agents who managed to close deals. Supply is low, demand is high, prices are rising and each new day represents uncharted territory for even seasoned real estate professionals. All of which is to say, the biggest challenge currently facing agents may actually be a collection of challenges stemming from the unusual circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s family reunion will kick off with an exploration of today’s market dynamics. The session will feature Gary Keller, among other top company leaders, and should offer insights into what lies ahead. Subsequent sessions will explore ways for agents to get more listings.

Key sessions to watch:

Sunday, Feb. 20: State Of The Housing Market with Gary Keller, Jay Papasan, Jason Abrams and Ruben Gonzalez. 8:30 a.m. EST.

Sunday, Feb. 20: T.E.A.M. – Where Together Everyone Achieves More. 2 p.m. EST.

Sunday, Feb. 20: It’s All Who You Know: Systems To Create Real Connections With Your Sphere. 2 p.m. EST.

Sunday, Feb. 20: Win-Win Buyer Experiences: Score Big For Your Buyers And Your Business. 2 p.m. EST.

Sunday, Feb. 20: Pivot: Shift Ahead LIVE. 3:45 p.m. EST.

Sunday, Feb. 20: No Such Thing As A Cold Lead: Follow-Up Techniques To Earn More Business. 3:45 p.m. EST.

Monday, Feb. 21: From Zero To MREA: Four Steps To Get More Listings. 1:30 p.m. EST.

3. What does the labor shortage mean for real estate?

One of the more surprising and recent outcomes of the pandemic has been an acute labor shortage. Sometimes dubbed the Great Resignation, it has involved both white collar workers leaving their posts, as well as an inability of businesses in the service sector to become staffed. So, restaurants cut their hours, grocery stores can’t get shelves stocked, schools don’t have enough teachers and shipping companies can’t find enough truck drivers.

To some extent, real estate has been insulated from this issue because much of the industry’s labor force is made up of contract workers. A typical agent doesn’t have sick days the way a school teacher might.

But in a sign that the impacts of the labor shortage may be creeping more seriously into the residential real estate industry, Family Reunion includes multiple sessions this year on team building, including one that explicitly references the Great Resignation.

Key sessions to watch:

Sunday, Feb. 20: T.E.A.M. – Where Together Everyone Achieves More. 2 p.m. EST.

Sunday, Feb. 20: Build A $25 Million+ Sphere-Based Business As An Individual Agent With An Assistant. 2 p.m. EST.

Monday, Feb. 21: Building (And Rebuilding) Your Team During The “Great Resignation.” 1:30 p.m. EST.

4. How is Keller Williams going to compete with its rivals?

Though Keller Williams has made a variety of moves so far in 2022, the stories that generated the biggest response among Inman readers were those about its rivalry with other companies. And one possible explanation for growing rivalries — as well as the appeal of stories about rivalries — is that competition in the industry has never been more fierce. Though agent ranks are growing, there is a limited number of top performers and rarely a day goes by when there isn’t news of someone jumping ship for a new brokerage.

Teams are an important part of this story, and appealing to teams has become a big part of many companies’ strategies for dealing with competition. And Keller Williams, of course, helped pioneer the idea of teams. But as the industry becomes more crowded it’s worth keeping an eye on how companies plan to beat out their rivals, cater to teams and build a brand that remains relevant.

Sunday, Feb. 20: T.E.A.M. – Where Together Everyone Achieves More. 2 p.m. EST.

Sunday, Feb. 20: Expand With Speed And Scale. 2 p.m. EST.

Sunday, Feb. 20: Build A Brand That Matters. 3:45 p.m. EST.

Monday, Feb. 21: Building (And Rebuilding) Your Team During The “Great Resignation.” 1:30 p.m. EST.

Monday, Feb. 21: 7 Ways To Build A Powerful Agent-Admin Partnership. 1:30 p.m. EST.

Monday, Feb. 21: Go From Anywhere To Wealth: Follow The Paths Of Top Wealth Builders. 3:15 p.m. EST.

5. How is technology going to be a part of the future?

Gary Keller has famously centered his company around technology, but given the rapid spread of tech in real estate it remains to be seen how much of an edge that pivot will give Keller Williams, as well as just what the tech-infused future might look like.

Keller Williams has made big tech announcements at past Family Reunions. For example, the company formally unveiled its Command platform at the gathering in 2019. So it’s possible that this Family Reunion could also include bigger announcements.

But even if there aren’t huge new products, the event’s various sessions on tech should offer glimpses into the way existing and near-term technology are reaching further and further in agents’ work. In other words, big announcements or not, the way technology gets discussed at Family Reunion will speak to the philosophical role Keller Williams envisions for tech.

Key sessions to watch: 

Sunday, Feb. 20: State Of The Company With Carl Liebert And Marc King. 11 a.m. EST.

Sunday, Feb. 20: It’s All Who You Know: Systems To Create Real Connections With Your Sphere. 2 p.m. EST.

Sunday, Feb. 20: Secrets From The Pros: 3 Things You MUST Be Doing In Command TODAY! 3:45 p.m. EST.

Monday, Feb. 21: Leverage Systems Every Solo Agent Needs To Know. 1:30 p.m. EST.

Monday, Feb. 21: The Future Is Bright: Plug In And Power Up With KW Tech. 3:15 p.m. EST.

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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