Samantha DeBianchi is one of Miami’s foremost real estate agents — she appears frequently on major news networks to talk about the market, and if anybody knows anything about growing a client base, it’s DeBianchi. She’s always looking for the hidden opportunities that can be found in any market, and she’s been preparing for this market cycle shift for long enough that she’s able to approach it with perfect confidence.

DeBianchi is going to be participating in a panel discussion about how to find the clients who need you and grow your client base at Inman Connect New York, January 29 through February 1 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square. We talked to her about the opportunities that exist in any market and how she’s been building her vacation-rental business.

Tell us a little more about your session. How will it address how the industry can embrace the shifting market?

I think the problem in our industry is that a lot of these big box companies like to say you’re either a buyer’s agent or a seller’s agent, and obviously it’s been super favorable for a seller’s agent in the past few years, and because people get boxed into one side or the other, they get freaked out when a shift happens. Realtors need to be Realtors, not just a buyer’s agent or a seller’s agent — they need to be more of an advisor, really understand the market and understand cycles, and understand how to assist their clients.

How I see it, there’s never a “bad” market. There’s always opportunity in any market, it’s just how you look at the market and perspective. When the recession happened, it was a great time to be buying. A lot of people didn’t have the money, but a lot of people did. So I think the goal as a real estate agent is to not just advertise yourself as working with buyers or sellers, but really understanding your industry and craft and trade entirely, not just from one angle. That’s the game-changer in this business.

Some people think “Sam only sells luxury real estate” but I’ve been setting up portfolios for investment clients who have been buying multiple properties. I’m showing them that I sold them a million-dollar home but also showed them another way of making money through real estate, and I’m also showing my value — not just showing a pretty kitchen and closing a deal and making these nice commission checks. I’m also setting up portfolios and helping them with their future, and I think that’s extremely important.

What do you think are the biggest opportunities to focus on in the real estate industry right now?

Instead of just thinking of the next deal and waiting for the downturn, look at the opportunities of the downturn. Prices are going to come down and it might not be as advantageous to sellers, but I can tell you a million reasons why it’s a good time to be in real estate. It’s just changing things up — if you last worked with a client a year ago, send them an update. They worked with you because they liked you and trust you and believe in you. Sending out a newsletter with your take and your opinion and base it off information you’re reading, stating “this is what I think is happening in the market and here are some opportunities I’ve seen.”

I’ve been buying single-family homes that I’m turning into Airbnbs, and I’ve been posting about it on social media, created a blog to show what I’m doing. I have clients calling me who tell me they want to buy two or three homes a year to Airbnb them, and suddenly I have a whole niche market because I’m putting it out there and doing what I’d personally want to do in this current real estate market. People also want to follow you and do what you’re doing because they see that you’re doing well and they want to make money from it. If you show them how to make money, they’ll want to work with you.

To stay competitive, agents, brokers and companies need to execute quickly. What do you feel are key areas where quick execution can vastly improve the customer experience?

To me, technology is old-school. I will say that I have been seeing the trend of buyers who are a lot more educated, they see the pictures, and then they call their trusted real estate advisor to home in and negotiate appropriately. There’s still a lot of value to a Realtor, and I don’t think we’re going anywhere. It’s a service-based industry, and you can’t rely on an algorithm to tell you what a home is worth. I think there is so much value behind the Realtor, but they have to be a lot more educated because buyers are coming in a lot more savvy than they were five years ago. I think that’s the value that’s added — old-school reading, understanding your market and your inventory, basic stuff that people should already know how to do, but now more than ever buyers are already coming in with information. If they’re telling you stuff you don’t even know, you might as well leave that appointment.

What are your hopes for the next 12 months, and what will you be working on?

I’m going to be working on a lot of things. I’ve been preparing for this buyer’s market for a while, I’ve been saying this for the past six months on national news that this is happening. You can read any stat from Case-Shiller, but I know people and I’m in this industry and this is what I do all day long — I know this is happening. Just preparing, again — I’ve got, from the nine years I’ve been doing this, a database of clients, and explaining to them the current market condition and what they should be doing, despite mortgage rates slightly increasing it’s going to be a great time to buy, it’s going to be a market where you can negotiate more, there will be more inventory out there. And what I’m personally doing, setting up my own Airbnbs, I have two more under contract and seven homes personally right now, and I also manage a bunch of other homes for my clients. Everyone — whether it’s a millennial or an empty-nester — everyone wants to be able to make money, and real estate is a great way to do that. I’m really going to be pushing that.

Discover the opportunities in a changing market at Inman Connect New York, January 29 – February 1. Jumpstart 2019 with tactical takeaways, unlimited networking and thought-provoking speakers. Learn more.

Thinking about bringing your team? You may qualify for special group perks! Contact us to learn more.

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