Former RE/MAX agent and famed real estate coach Brian Buffini graced the RE/MAX R4 stage this week. He shared why agents shouldn’t worry about iBuyers and why relationships remain supreme.

The real estate industry is going through a period of immense change, with franchisers, brokerages, fintech startups and proptech companies all striving to make their mark and grab the attention — and dollars — of the millions of buyers and sellers on the market. Although some agents and brokers have leaned into the change, others still fear their jobs will soon be obsolete.

Brian Buffini

For those who find themselves in the latter camp, former RE/MAX agent and famed real estate coach Brian Buffini encourages them to shut out the noise and pay attention to the statistics, which reveal iBuyers and FSBO (For Sale By Owner) sellers only account for 8 percent of real estate sales.

“What has happened with all the technology? People are using real estate agents at a higher level than ever before,” Buffini said during his RE/MAX R4 Conference appearance this week. “It’s about relationships … It’s about connecting. It’s about becoming people’s trusted advisor, and they’re referring now at higher rates than ever before.”

Buffini said one of the best ways agents can serve as “trusted advisors” is by helping buyers and sellers understand how macro market trends including home price growth, scant inventory levels and rising mortgage rates specifically apply to them and their real estate goals. Learning to advise well, he said, will result in a win-win situation for agents and consumers.

“Especially when it comes to referrals, the most precious thing anybody can ever do is put their name to you,” he said. “When you get a lead, you need to go back into the mindset of where you were as a brand-new agent with your very first lead.”

“You need to have that level of enthusiasm [and] that level of fire. You know why? Because that’s what that customer deserves,” he added. “It’s their big deal — it’s their home. It’s the biggest decision they’re going to make in a long time.”

Lastly, Buffini told agents to prepare for a topsy-turvy 2022 market with mortgage rates being one of — if not the most important — deciding factors for homebuyers and homesellers. The rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose above 4 percent on Feb. 10; however, Inman mortgage editor Matt Carter said Russia’s attack on Ukraine could dampen rate hikes in the coming weeks.

“The war in Ukraine could prompt the Fed to take a more cautious approach to interest rate hikes,” Carter wrote on Tuesday. “Investors who see U.S. government debt and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) as a safe haven are already channeling billions of dollars into bonds and MBS, driving the price of those assets up and interest rates back down.”

Like Carter, Buffini said mortgage rates could level out and help move the market toward a more balanced landscape where professionals with solid incomes have the foundation to weather shifts and come out on top.

“The last time we had sales like this, there was a giant drop-off. So why is this different? Why will there not be a giant drop-off this time? Why are we not heading for a worldwide real estate recession? There is one word: equity,” he said. “People are putting more down. People are buying for cash and the rates are still kind of stable. Okay, so we’re not heading for a big crash. What we’re heading for is a bit of a leveling off.”

Email Marian McPherson

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