Joy Tarbell, broker/owner at JtRealty Lakefront to Mountainside, discusses her opinions about the biggest real estate challenge in 2015, why it’s important to do what you can at home about global events and what Realtors bring to the table that clients can’t get online.

Joy Tarbell is broker/owner of JtRealty Lakefront to Mountainside in North Conway, New Hampshire.

Are you optimistic about 2015?

Yes.

The economy?

I think the economy has had some steady improvements and that it will continue to improve.

The housing market?

Sales are steady and have finally stabilized in our area, though prices are not rising yet. I think that once mortgage rates creep up a little higher, it will create an urgency with buyers and things will really start moving again.

Your success?

I’m hyperfocused on my team right now, and will be even more so in 2015. Their success is my success.

What are you worried about?

Inventory. There continues to be a lot of inventory, and it makes buyers very picky, because they can be. They are no longer ignoring small updates or something they don’t like. They search for the absolute perfect home. This makes the process take longer and can leave certain homes on the market for a long time.

How much do you fret about global events?

I’m a realist. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about global events, but I do my part in making small differences wherever I can: energy usage, recycling, a paperless office and other small changes wherever possible. However, we do need to implement global influences into our existing business concepts and practices. This could be alternative energies or virtual assistants, or some other new technology, which could be a game changer from our current business practices. As the world around us changes, we need to be looking ahead as to how it will affect us. It will require good business models and solid systems directed by great managers with the competence and foresight to break away from the standard.

Will mortgage rates go up or down next year?

I think they will go up again, though not to the 5.5-6 percent that the economists say.

Will home prices appreciate next year?

I sure hope so! Our area has bottomed out, so it’s time for it to turn around.

Will agents be more productive next year?

Yes.

Why? Or why not?

I think that more motivated buyers will force agents to step it up. I hope that agents continue to improve on response time and follow-up. I also want agents to continue to utilize online reviews to boost their business on the portal sites. I read reviews before I buy anything; online reviews are gold. And I think that the threat of a bad review should make agents rethink how they run their businesses.

Will the portals play a bigger role in real estate next year?

I think they will continue to grow. No one can compete with the SEO dollars that these companies can spend. They are at the top of searches, and they are national. You can use the same site to search locally or daydream about a second home in Miami. What we have to focus on is giving these clients the information they can’t get online. Provide value, provide a face and provide a smile.

What will be the biggest source of real estate leads next year?

I’m loving Zillow’s new look, and I think it will help them push forward and become the No. 1 source of Internet leads. Our past clients and sphere of influence are still huge and will always be huge, and hopefully more leads will start to pour in from Facebook advertising.

Are you making plans to expand, contract or maintain your business this year?

We have plans to bring on more agents, and a new full-time staff person, though we plan to stay a boutique agency and continue to focus on ski homes, lakefront properties and the luxury home market. We are also looking at “all-inclusive” website solutions to streamline everything and offer more to our agents, to get them to produce more, convert more and close more.

What is the biggest challenge for the industry in the coming year?

I think the biggest challenge for the year ahead will be to educate sellers and buyers to understand that the market hasn’t fully bounced back. On the seller side, helping them to understand that we aren’t ready for 2006 prices yet, but we aren’t dropping anymore. On the buyer side, helping them realize that things are changing, and that they can’t lowball every listing they are interested in or think that every seller is desperate to sell and sell now, like they might have been a few years ago.

But that’s what we do, and it’s what makes us more than a computer program that spits out information. Knowing how to navigate the ebbs and flows and the people involved is what makes Realtors necessary in these transactions. It answers the question, “Do I really need a Realtor?”

Do you have an outlook for 2015 that you want to share with our readers? Email us at contributors@inman.com!

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