Real estate professionals don’t like the term "down market," and mostly avoid writing about it or discussing it.
Real estate is local, so I will say that in my market home sales are down from last month and from last year, but I am not sure how far back I would have to go to see prices as low as they are right now.
There isn’t anything I can do about current market conditions, but there are things that I can do to keep myself motivated, working, happy and even thriving in a down market.
Having the right kind of attitude about it isn’t easy, and I struggled after the surge of business related to the homebuyer tax credits. I went from nonstop activity, to the point of exhaustion, to almost no activity — almost overnight.
Then it picked up again, but the prices of the last two homes I sold barely add up to what one house used to sell for.
I learned a lot about how to ride the rollercoaster and stay up during my first year in the business, and again during my worst year in the business in 2008. The business will always have ups and downs, but to succeed we need to stay up.
Here are 20 ways to stay up in a down market:
1. No matter how slow it gets, stay on a regular schedule. Get started in the morning just like you would on a day filled with appointments.
2. Stay away from anyone who is negative or who has given up. Stick with positive people.
3. Treat each day like it is a golden opportunity, and let go of what did or did not work out yesterday.
4. Plan at least one full day off a week and schedule an activity that you enjoy. Use it as your reward for working hard. Some weeks there are no other rewards for it.
5. Never — and I mean never — stop prospecting. Call past clients, send them e-mail, ask them how they are doing, write blog posts, and stay active on the social networks.
6. Start each day with a to-do list and check it off as you go. Keep working and stay focused.
7. Have lunch with a friend once a week — a friend who does not sell real estate, when possible.
8. Get plenty of exercise and enough sleep. Both help in combating stress and in keeping the energy level high.
9. Don’t dwell on the listings that another agent got, or the buyer who got away. In sales there are usually a few nos before there is a yes.
10. Don’t buy anything expensive — especially anything that requires monthly payments.
11. Be honest with family members about finances or money concerns.
12. Let friends, neighbors and past clients know that you are looking for more business. It is like looking for a job. People need to know that you are still in business and that you have some excess capacity.
13. Go to local networking events, Tweetups and conferences. Most are free and they are opportunities to meet people, get out of the office and learn.
14. Learn from your mistakes but don’t blame yourself for everything that goes wrong. We don’t have total control over everything at all times; we just like to think we do.
15. Use any excess time wisely. Take a class or read a book to learn new skills or ideas.
16. Take some time to update your professional bio wherever it appears online — you can always find ways to improve it.
17. Set some sales goals for the rest of the year and start on next year’s business plan.
18. Find something to laugh about every day and pass it along.
19. Find a volunteer activity in the community. Try the Meals on Wheels program — this group is always looking for volunteers, the time commitment is minimal, and recipients of the food almost always smile when it arrives.
20. Don’t beat yourself up if you did not reach your sales goals for the month. Just ask yourself if you did your best. If the answer is no, start doing your best today. If you did your best, keep in mind that we don’t always reach our goals.
Please feel free to add to this list and to share your ideas with the rest of us on how to stay up in a down market. Every market is different and so is every real estate professional.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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