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Stayin’ alive in a shrunken real estate market

Diary of a Real Estate Rookie

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So we just had this discussion in the office today: How are we going to increase business? Five years ago, lots of real estate agents knew the answer to that question: We can just get a share of an ever-increasing market! Home-ownership rates had been trending up and there were about 6 million transactions a year, so eager salespeople would just sell newbies their first home or boomers their second. Well, the U.S. home-ownership rate crested in 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Housing Vacancy Survey. It's currently at a seasonally adjusted 68.1 percent. Although that's still higher than the 64 percent that was the norm in the mid-1990s, the rate is now going down. And obviously, with less pie there's just one way to increase business -- take it from the next guy. That sounds fine as an overarching statement, but it's more difficult to implement on the individual level. My competitors have established brands. Am I going to outspend them? Undercut them on price? Hit ...