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So-called ‘resort marketplaces,’ can be tough to manage for agents with seasonal ebbs and flows. These markets are far from your traditional year-round homes in the suburbs, and it could lead to months of inactivity if you don’t know how to navigate those ups and downs.
“We get slow, and we panic and then all of the sudden ski season or summer season hits and we have clients everywhere walking into open houses, showing their homes, then we complain, come spring or fall, that it’s slow again,” Benson said. “To me, you have to decide on January 1st of that year what your business plan is, you have to plan the slow months.”
Benson explained that brokers need to lay out which month they’re going to visit feeder market offices.
“The most important thing you can do is actually leave your town and go to the markets where you’re getting the majority of your clients,” Benson said.
Brokers also need to plan which months they’re going to reach out to other brokers for referrals, which months they’re going to do prospecting and tailor their marketing activities so they’re free and ready to focus on actual qualified clients when the busy months hit, Benson said.
Andrew Thomka-Gazdik, a real estate advisor with Sotheby’s International Realty in Palm Beach, Florida, is an agent in one of the wealthiest vacation markets in the country. Palm Beach Island, for example, nearly triples in population in the short season of roughly Thanksgiving to Easter.
Thomka-Gazdik said they get a lot of window shoppers during the season, but the real buyers try to pounce at the end of the season, thinking they’ll get a better deal. However, when the season finally slows, there’s plenty of ways for agents to stay on top of their business.
“Traditionally, now is our slow time, but now’s a perfect opportunity to research what’s available, follow up with your existing clients, work on gaining new clients through referrals and advertising,” Thomka-Gazdik said. “I’m doing advertising in the Northeast now because all of my clients and those buyers are all up there in The Hamptons, New York City, The Cape or Nantucket. We want them to keep us in mind while they’re up there before they make their plans for the winter again.”
Thomka-Gazdik said agents also need to look for other revenue streams and use some of the slower times to work on taking classes and improving your skills. And of course, agents need to be conscious that they may hit a slow slump, so they should be budgeting.
“Sometimes can you refer your Palm Beach client, who is going out to Colorado, to Europe, back up north,” Thomka-Gazdik said. “Palm Beach is one of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the world. A lot of these people, this is their third or fourth home.”
Erik Cavarra, the managing broker of Engel & Völkers Snowmass sees the rise and fall of the market first hand in Aspen and Snowmass, two international destinations that are dependent on the season.
“Brokers tend to recommend listing strategies to sellers that follow the increase in visitors as the community grows with guests for the winter and summer seasons,” Cavarra said. “Occupancy levels rise with skier visits, and summers abound with many families escaping the heat in other destinations to find the mountain lifestyle fitting for the diverse cultural and adventure spirited lifestyles.”
Cavarra explained that brokers need to be in tune with the trends, however, explaining that in his particular market, he’s seeing an extension of the two main seasons.
“Visitors are now extending their vacations into certain months of the year, that perhaps a few years ago they may not have considered,” Cavarra said. “As an example, October has always been a traditionally slower time as families are back in school with children, but there are still numerous options for families and lifestyle such as hiking, biking or golfing.”
The off-seasons have changed too. Brokers used to take that time for vacation, but savvy buyers and sellers have started taking advantage of the slower crowds.
“Buyers are now on the look-out for properties and opportunities in slower periods in hopes to find a deal that may lingered on the market and not sold in the height of the summer or winter selling seasons,” Cavarra said. “For sellers, off-seasons have become opportunities to position or re-position properties for sale before the start of a new season approaches with decorating, remodels or upgrades to furnishings.”
Hawaii is another so-called ‘resort market,’ with unique seasons. For Mark Guagliardo, principal broker of Hawaii Real Estate Team, it’s all about understanding the type of buyer. In January to April, that’s snowbirds moving down for the season. In the summer, it’s family budget visitors visiting when flights are cheaper, and from August to December, the islands get a lot of Canadian visitors.
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