This isn’t a news flash by any means but just in case you didn’t know the housing market is taking a dip in the toilet and threatening to fall right in. Along side of that we have mortgage companies doing some major reconfiguring of their lending guild lines and even going out of business. On the other hand we have the dollar taking a big hit as we are almost 2 to 1 with the Euro (not even a year ago we were almost 1 to 1) and the fed doing what they can to help the country from entering into a full blow recession. What can the average real estate agent do in the face of such challenges? How can they survive when they are now fighting over a small number of buyers who are nervous about buying because there is a real possibility that they could end up losing money?
History shows that those that triumph in the face of change are those that are willing to change and adapt. Perhaps the old ways of doing business need to be shelved and new radical ideas need to be implemented. One of the first things that you need to do is study and learn about the market and what it is doing. Those of you that scoff and are saying to yourselves that you have been in the business for such a long time and this little down turn is the same as ones in the past are going to get left behind, by the way you can stop reading now.
What sectors of the real estate industry are growing and even thriving in the current market place? A few that are starting to come into the public eye are the rent to own and lease options. The question then is how can I as a professional real estate agent/broker capitalize on this growing trend? Maybe we need to look at why it is growing, and in fact it is because of the restructuring of the mortgage companies guild lines. Now it is next to impossible for anyone that has a credit score of 680 or less to get a loan without having to give up their first born child to get it (not really but with the higher interest rates and loan fee it can feel like having another child). So unless all of your clients have excellent credit or can pay cash for their next house you as an agent are going to have to change and adapt to the new reality that we call real estate.
There are a few things that will never change and you have to be willing to work on these things to be the best of the best if you plan on surviving over the next few years. One of my personal favorites is going the extra mile. All of you should know what this means if you don’t then shame on you, you need to repent and change. Keep in mind that it is often times the little things that make the biggest difference to your clients and can often times lead to referrals and future work with the same client. Some suggestions are (by no means is this a complete list):
1. Constant feed back so that your client knows what is going on. You should be in contact with your client 3-4 times a week even when you have nothing to report. That way they feel like you are doing something.
2. When you give feed back try to always have something positive or encouraging to say, but be honest. Tell them about the next strategy that you will implement or the extra effort you have put forth to sell their home.
3. Send them hand written notes thanking them for their business.
4. Listen, really listen to their needs and wants so that you know how best to serve them.
5. Take time to educate them on how the process works and give them realistic and honest advice to their home buying and/or selling expectations. Many times you will find that people don’t understand the market and they have unrealistic ideas as to what the market is doing. It would be better to be honest and lose a client then to take the listing and not be able to perform for you client because they have unreal expectations.
6. Always be courteous and professional the golden rule does apply. Treat your clients like gold and that will come back to you.
Now is the time to be creative. Think outside the box and think creatively. I know that you have been taught that there is one way of doing business and if you step outside of the line the you will be violating the code of ethics or worse the state laws which can lead to fines and jail time. If you don’t know what you don’t know then yes this is a problem, but if you take the time to learn the rules and laws then you will quickly see that there is a lot of room to be creative. The more creative and innovative that you are the more likely that you will survive through the challenging times ahead. Learn the market trends see what others are doing and get creative.
Get to the top of your game. Are you playing with real estate or are you a true professional? If you have been a mediocre agent up until this point in your career, now is the time to decide if you are all in or all out. That may mean that you need to change some habits, improve your knowledge and skills, get more designations, improve your marketing and maybe get some help from a mentor or coach. It is times like now that separates the true professionals from the hobby agents and if you are willing to take to the challenge and get to the top of your game then you will have a good chance to making a great living for yourself.
Even though the market is looking bleak and your dedication to the profession will be tested, now truly is a time of great opportunity. If you can capitalize on the gifts and talents that you have inside and commit to becoming a true professional you might see the next couple of years becoming the defining years of your life. If you can see this as an opportunity then you may be the one that brings the next idea that transforms the entire industry.