MEET RYAN TOWN: CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER
With the hustle and bustle of New York City as the backdrop, a new chapter began for Canadian born Ryan Town, as he embarked on a new journey working in the vibrant metropolis of Manhattan. His destination: east coast headquarters for Zillow, the leading online real estate marketplace. Having very little experience in either technology nor real estate, he made up with excitement. He was determined and ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead. Little did he know he was about to work alongside some of real estate’s best and brightest minds going into a global pandemic and what would turn out to be back to back record breaking years for the industry.
Fast forward three and half years to present day, and you find a very different Ryan. Having left his mark at Zillow working with thousands of agents across some of the nations highest performing real estate teams, the knowledge and experience he has gained during his time at ‘the big Z’ have shaped him into a highly sought after leader.
Ryan is on a mission. He feels that today’s real estate agent is not ready for the market that is quickly approaching on the horizon. After analyzing more than 10,000 phone calls between real estate agents and online home shoppers, Ryan has been afforded a unique perspective that real estate agents are brought into real estate learning practices that are outdated and inefficient. Agent’s today are under prepared to deliver on the needs and expectations of the modern online real estate consumer. This is a topic that he’s very passionate about.
If you ask a room full of people what the biggest change in real estate has been over the last 20 years, you’ll hear a few responses. A common answer you will hear is “technology”. Which isn’t wrong. But as technology progresses, it’s changing something much greater. In fact, it has built a completely new set of expectations and principles.
The biggest change in the last 20 years of real estate has been the consumer. The people buying homes are VASTLY different from that generation's past. Technology has greatly empowered the consumer, giving them access to vast amounts of information and the ability to connect with others in ways that were previously unimaginable. The widespread availability of smartphones and the internet has allowed the new consumer to easily have a car arrive to pick them up and order food to their doorstep without speaking on the phone. It has completely shifted how they view the homebuying process as well. It’s easier for them to access property listings, research neighborhoods, and compare prices. Many home buying platforms now offer virtual tours, allowing a new generation of home buyers to view properties from the comfort of their own home, reducing the need for in-person viewings.
This technology, although great, is widening the gap between real estate agents and consumers. This consumer-centric gap is what Ryan believes is going to be the biggest shift in years to come. Agents over the last 20 years have put themselves at the center of the home buying process. It’s all propped up on the premise of being the local expert. Having all the knowledge about the area that you service. With that information widely accessible or taken over by a variety of publications, the agent’s new priorities are fastly shifting.
So how can agent’s survive in this MAJOR shift?
Ryan Town has knowledge, data, and a belief that will allow agents to shift their principles and thrive in the new customer centric environment.
You've coached a lot of agents and teams... Why did you decide to join DJ & Lindsey?
Ryan Town: “DJ & Lindsey, have an amazing ability to take new talent and ramp them into the business, getting their first few deals under their belt, so that they gain confidence quickly and stay in it. We've got agents that are putting up their first two, three deals in the first, you know, 60, 90 days. And that's unheard of in real estate, right? Nobody's really doing that.”
“It's truly impressive. I've worked with teams across the country and there's a lot of great teams out there doing a lot of great things. But I have yet to meet any that are so proficient and successful at helping very early stage, unexperienced talent learn how to do real estate and actually get their first few deals so quickly.”
Do you have a FIRST order of business?
Ryan Town: “I would say, things will get harder before they get easier. There's a bunch of reasons for that. Some part of it is because of the uncertainty around interest rates. That makes people pause and take a step back. You've also got buyers and sellers that are still today having two separate conversations. Sellers are reminiscent of the stories from last year when homes were selling for $100,000 - $200,000 more than ‘asking’ in some markets. And then you have buyers, who are like wolves on the outskirts of the farm. Like just waiting to pick off the good deals, so to speak, you know?”
“So you've got buyers that are paused, waiting for opportunity and you've got sellers that are paused because they're basically regretful that they didn't sell earlier. All this pausing creates less inventory and it creates less buyer demand. So we have a very weird market right now where all that uncertainty is going to create a lot of complexity for the agents who are tasked with balancing and negotiating within that environment.”
“Understanding that, our first order of business, coming into 2023… we need to figure out how to do more with less. When there's less inventory, there are less leads to go around because there's less for people to click on. And when there are less people looking at homes and clicking, there are even less new opportunities again. The need to make the most out of every connection has never been higher.”
“And so for DJ & Lindsey [Real Estate], We, by and far, convert more deals in this market than anybody else, right? We're the big fish in the pond, but we're not the most efficient yet. Which means that there are families out there that start their home search with us, but don't finish with us, and so this is where we are focussed. We are pivoting from a converting model to a conversion model with the customer’s home search at the center of the transaction, and where the people we are serving are prioritized over the properties they are searching for. Solidifying those relationships with the customers who "walk through our doors" and providing such a top level of service they rave about us to their friends and family.” Identifying these opportunities and filling those gaps are definitely at the top of our list this year.
Ryan Town on leadership and the importance of leadership moving forward in this market and industry:
“I’m not sure who said it, but Leadership is like being on an adventure with a group of people through a thick dense jungle…right? It can be difficult. There’s not always a map for parts of the jungle that you find yourself in as you’re going through. And it can be difficult to determine the direction you’re headed in from just looking at the jungle floor.
So leadership is essentially doing the extra work of climbing, so that you can get a clear view and see out across the jungle to determine if you’re headed towards your ultimate destination. So when I think of the direction the market and industry is headed, I think of the jungle just becoming more dense and a little bit unsafe. Becoming more mission critical with increasingly less agents surviving month after month to be able to make it through the jungle.
Agents who are solely dependent on “sphere of influence” customers, their phones aren’t ringing right now. Some of them are, maybe, but agents who are not in lead programs right now have a very hard road ahead of them. And without proper guidance, my fear is that not many agents will make it through that jungle.
So the need for capable tree climbers to go and plot those destinations and best course of action to guide their people through those elements is beyond important. So I think there is going to be a lot of agents with question marks. And as leaders, it's our job to keep our heads up on the business, not just in the business, and stay focused on where we’re going. So we can help illuminate the path for those when things get a little dark.”
With his unique skill set and proven track record of success, Ryan is a valuable asset that will bring any organization to the next level. He is a strategic thinker, data-driven decision maker and a great communicator. With him, our agents are able to tap into the modern, online real estate consumer journey and better deliver on today’s real estate consumers expectations.