Some agents had their best year ever in 2009. The difference between these agents and those who are struggling comes down to a single word: mindset.

I belong to a group of real estate industry speakers. At the annual National Association of Realtors conference last month, we were fortunate to have Jennifer Cummings coach our group on how to market our services in today’s tough environment.

Some agents had their best year ever in 2009. The difference between these agents and those who are struggling comes down to a single word: mindset.

I belong to a group of real estate industry speakers. At the annual National Association of Realtors conference last month, we were fortunate to have Jennifer Cummings coach our group on how to market our services in today’s tough environment.

Cummings is an economist by background. Her clients include Fortune 100 companies and luxury real estate agents. Her observations provide insight for all agents who are serious about improving their business in 2010.

1. The greatest challenge for 2010: your mindset
During the first half of this decade, most agents and clients were experiencing an abundance mindset. Real estate prices were rising dramatically, credit was easy, and most felt confident that good times were ahead. The challenge we are facing during this recession is a sense of scarcity. The lack of consumer confidence means people hang on to their money, defer big purchases unless they are absolutely necessary, and are risk-averse. As Cummings puts it, people have shifted from a "profit" to a "panic" mindset.

Cummings points out that more wealth is created during recessions than at any other time. Recessions do end. While you can’t control when your market will shift, you can control your reaction to the market.

Your mindset is like a thermostat. Where you set your focus determines your experience. To illustrate this point, complete the following exercise: Carefully note of all the things in your immediate environment that are green or brown. Be prepared to write them down. Spend at least one minute doing this. Now close your eyes and recall what is red or pink in the room.

The point of this exercise is that if you are focused on what is negative, you don’t see the other opportunities that may be elsewhere. The key shift is to search for the opportunity — not the obstacles — in your market.

The same is true for our clients. According to Cummings, when the market was booming, people were purchasing based upon their fear of missing out on the opportunity. Buyers were under the impression that the longer they waited to purchase, the more they would have to pay.

If they waited too long to purchase, they might be entirely shut out of the process. The flip side of that fear can be seen in sellers today. Even though the market is showing signs of improving, there is still an overarching fear that it could decline more. …CONTINUED

It’s this fear that is stopping both agents and clients alike. To market your services in this new environment, here are three steps that Cummings recommends you take.

1. Safety, not fear
Today, people are looking for relief from fear and pain. When people are experiencing fear, don’t add more fear to the equation. Even though it may be true, avoid statements such as "If you don’t purchase now, you will probably miss out on the best interest rates in your lifetime." Or for sellers, "If you turn down this offer, you will probably end up taking even less since the prices may decline even further." These statements only contribute to the panic and insecurity people are already experiencing. People are searching for safety and for someone who is trustworthy, steady and dependable.

2. The No. 1 marketing mistake: message-to-market match
To make your message match today’s market, avoid fear and focus on the facts. In terms of buyers, show them a printout of how much they will pay in interest if the rates increase by 1 percentage point. For sellers, share how much inventory is on the market in their price range as well as other important market statistics. Be the resource that helps your clients make the best possible decision given their unique situation and the current market conditions. 

3. If you want to fish, go where the fishes are
The days of putting up a sign or taking out a newspaper ad to reach potential clients have passed. Granted, these marketing strategies can still generate leads. Nevertheless, you must actively seek out which parts of your market are the most active and then become involved in serving those clients.

For example, according to the most recent National Association of Realtors "2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers," 34 percent of all home purchasers were 25 to 34 (comprised of Gen X and Gen Y). In terms of first-time buyers, this group represents 51 percent of all first-timers. Very few agents specialize in this niche.

According to the same survey, the primary motivation (43 percent) for this group to buy is their "desire to own a home." Forty percent of this group went online as the first step in their buying process. To tap into this rich buyer resource, interview people in your marketplace who fit this profile. Find out what matters to them.

Where do they go for fun? What types of property are they most likely to purchase in your area? Once you have this information, set up a separate page on your Web site that is devoted to serving this niche. Your goal is to have your Gen Y visitors feel that "this site is all about me and my lifestyle."

2010 will be filled with trials and tribulations, but it will also be packed with opportunity. The question you must ask is, "Where will you put your focus?"

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.

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