Liniger in Chicago: 'Demand Will Come' 

REALISTIC OPTIMISM: Dave Liniger says a positive turnaround is coming, but it won't happen quickly or without focus and training.

CHAMPION: Former NFL star Joe Theismann delivered a rousing address on overcoming adversity.

By George White, RE/MAX Times Managing Editor 

CHICAGO - Demand built on demographics and population - rather than questionable lending policies - will spark the next wave of strong home sales in the U.S., Dave Liniger told nearly 700 Affiliates at the 2009 RE/MAX Summer Conference for Broker/Owners and Managers on Monday.

The confluence of two massive population groups - 80 million Baby Boomers born from 1946-1964 and 74 million Millennials born from 1980-1995 - will fuel a huge increase in transactions from 2012 onward, the RE/MAX International Chairman and Co-Founder said at the conference's Opening General Session. Immigration and minority household trends will add to the upturn, he noted.

As the Millennials, who are 15-29 now, reach their prime homebuying years - the average first-time buyer is 33, though that number appears to be trending downward - the Baby Boomers will be selling and downsizing. The rise in demand will drive the market upward, Liniger said.

"Very good years are coming," he said, adding that RE/MAX International - through technology, training, social media and other initiatives - will help Broker/Owners and Associates connect with these consumers.

Being successful today
For the time being, though, local markets will stay as they are, Liniger said. In fact, unemployment and a second wave of foreclosures in 2010 and 2011 are likely to make things worse before they get better. He urged Broker/Owners to help their Sales Associates close transactions through distressed properties, REOs, first-time homebuyers and investors. His constant theme: Affiliates cannot sit back and wait for a quick turnaround - because it's not coming.

"I'm not negative; I'm realistic," he said. "If you're not realistic, you can't make the adjustments you need to make in order to survive and prosper."

Liniger said RE/MAX leaders have met many times with key lenders and government officials to push for foreclosure solutions and a standardized and streamlined short-sale process.

He also called the Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) course the best training he's ever encountered. More than 6,000 RE/MAX Associates have earned the designation, he said, and others should consider it.

"Short sales are the key for the next 18-24 months. Our people must be trained to handle them," he said, noting that true recovery simply isn't possible until the foreclosure problem is solved.

The smartest place to be
RE/MAX continues to be the best network for top agents, Liniger said. Its unmatched technology, brand name awareness, training, market share and advertising provide significant competitive advantages for Broker/Owners and Sales Associates.

Liniger also thanked Affiliates for their enduring support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and children's hospitals, noting that RE/MAX will soon reach the $100 million mark in Children's Miracle Network contributions.

Rousing life lessons
Following Liniger's address, former Notre Dame and NFL star Joe Theismann explained how he has approached life since his football career ended suddenly - his leg was broken on national TV - in 1985. He drew parallels between his adversity and the real estate industry's current struggles.

"We all face obstacles and hurdles; the test is what you do about them," Theismann said. "Real champions don't stay down. They figure out what to do, and then they do it. Why is RE/MAX where it is? Because they reject the idea of failing."