Nancy Fennell, president of Dickson Realty was recently interviewed by RISMedia, a leading source of information in the real estate industry. Below is a reprint of her Power Broker Perspectives interview, by Keith Loria.

After working in the corporate world for many years, Nancy Fennell obtained her real estate license in 1985 and hasn’t looked back. Today, as president of Dickson Realty, Fennell believes that homeownership is still one of the cornerstones of the American Dream, which is why she enjoys matching people to their dream homes in the Northern Nevada marketplace.

“Housing is so important,” says Fennell. “It’s the foundation of our neighborhoods, communities and cities. It’s our community gathering place and where our children go to school. Our home is our own blank canvas to create our version of sanctuary.”

With the first half of 2018 behind us, how is your market faring so far this year?
Nancy Fennell:
 In spite of the most severe lack of inventory we’ve ever experienced (12 days of inventory under $350,000), the law of supply and demand, coupled with the 140 new companies that have moved to the region in the past four years (including Tesla, Apple, Google and Switch), has kicked in. While volume is up significantly, units are only up slightly at 5 percent.

Do you have any plans to grow the firm in the next 12 months?
 We do plan to grow our firm. For us, it has never been about quantity, but rather, quality. Growing our firm means continuing to provide our agents with the most efficient and effective tools to leverage their time so that they can do what they do so well. Training, sharing and collaborating will continue to make our existing agents more productive. We’ll expand to new markets, and we’re always open to mergers and acquisitions that make sense.

What sets your firm apart in the marketplace?
 We aren’t for everyone, and not everyone is for us. Having a vision for both our company and our community—and funding it—is what attracts some of the finest agents in the business to us. They share our vision and they set us apart. Growing up as an agent in the business has been a great help. When agents talk, we listen. We work at having a collaborative environment, which is critical when it comes to attracting some of the best and brightest.

How are you updating your technology and training to provide the resources agents need to succeed?
 In addition to employing an outstanding outside firm that we’ve worked with for many years to help us vet our technology needs, we also have an incredibly talented vice president of Marketing who came from the digital world. As far as training, we do offer an in-house training program, but we’ve found that not all agents want to be trained; therefore, we’re providing ways to do what we need to do for them while allowing them to do what they do so well, which is build relationships and help people buy and sell real estate.

How are you attracting new agents to your firm and retaining top producers?
 When the market is good, which it currently is, there are many people entering the business. We might interview 30 or 40 agents a month and hire one or two. Our new agent training, Dickson University, which used to be a six-month program, is now a three-month mandatory program taught by a talented group of leaders that’s attracting new agents to our firm. We feel blessed to have maintained so many of our top producers. It’s all about sharing a vision and building unshakable trust with them. They know they’re important to us, and we will do whatever we can to help make them successful, because if they’re successful, we’re all successful.

What are some of the challenges the industry is facing, and how is your firm responding to combat these issues?
I believe we, as brokers, are one of the biggest challenges to our industry. While we seem to be distracted by the new, shiny idea and the doom of the future, we forget that we’ve always been adaptive. There have always been disruptors in our market and our business. Understanding who we are and what we offer—and being able to share that vision with agents and the public—has grown our company over the years.

Another challenge that we’re experiencing on the national level is a lack of inventory. To combat these issues, we’re spending time working on workforce development, attempting to reduce local building barriers, talking to everyone we know about how to fund affordable housing, working on keeping our state viable for the industries we want to attract, being good corporate citizens and educating the public about how to overcome the challenges in the market.

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