Industry experts said at Inman Connect Now that real estate agents need to focus on the basics, education and their communities, as market winds change direction.

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As the signs of a market shift continue to pile up daily, real estate agents across the U.S. are having to grapple with a serious question: Is this also the moment they should shift marketing practices, and if so — how?

That question was the focus of a Thursday session at Inman Connect Now. The session featured Christine George, head of marketing and agent development at Leading Edge Real Estate, and India Whitlock, an agent at the Madison Mason Home Group in Baltimore. And both panelists were in agreement that a market shift is upon us. 

“When you start seeing a bunch of price adjustments coming through your email, that’s a big indicator,” Whitlock said. “When you start seeing your clients pre-approvals go from $350,000 to $250,000 that’s an indicator. When you start to see houses start to sit on the market longer, that’s a clear indicator.”

But even as these types of indicators become more common, Whitlock said it’s still possible to succeed in real estate — though some newer agents may now get a unique chance to learn about a very different kind of market.

Here are some of the tips that Whitlock and George shared for keeping marketing relevant in a time when homes don’t quite sell themselves.

Make real estate the byproduct of something else

Whitlock recalled during the session, that she and her brokerage regularly do events in her community, including a recurring “brown bag” effort that involves donating items to a local shelter. In another case, they held an event when attendees were asked to bring books that could also be donated. Some events have ultimately resulted in Whitlock ending up on the local news to talk about the community projects.

The point of these events is to frame Whitlock and her company as “not just agents, but agents of the people.” In other words, Whitlock said, these efforts get the brokerage’s name out there without being heavy handed. She described this strategy as “making real estate the byproduct of something else,” such as community service.

“At the Madison Mason Home Group, we make real estate second and people first, because it’s really about them,” she said.

These kinds of efforts can ultimately result in referrals, and Whitlock said that in some cases people who already have agents, will nevertheless still refer friends to her, thanks to her efforts in the community.

“We put profit second and people first,” Whitlock concluded.

Clockwise from top left, Christine George, India Whitlock and moderator Jemila Winsey at Inman Connect Now. Credit: Inman

Get back to basics

George said during Thursday’s session that this is also a good time to “get back to basics.” Among many other things, that means staying in “touch with your sphere of influence,” and remembering that real estate is a relationships business.

“Share who you are with the people in your sphere and the business will come,” she added.

George went on to suggest that agents try to interact with friends and family on social media, even if they’re not talking about real estate, because it’ll help keep them top of mind for people. Agents can also reach out to people via phone, email, text messages or even hand-written notes in order to make sure clients don’t forget them.

“There are so many free ways to be reaching out and nurturing those relationships,” she said. “It’s getting back to basics and making sure you’re top of mind with everybody in your sphere.”

Clockwise from top left, Christine George, India Whitlock and moderator Jemila Winsey at Inman Connect Now. Credit: Inman

Focus on education

George also said that some agents may have to start having hard conversations with would-be clients. For instance, some homeowners may have seen neighbors’ properties sell recently and thus expect a similar experience. But thanks to rapidly changing mortgage rates, today’s homesellers may have wildly different experiences compared to what was happening just weeks ago.

The solution for this challenge, George said, is to focus on education. Among other things, that means agents should bring “the data they need to make sure they can present the story they want to present.” And it means talking frankly about the fact that the market is changing right now.

“This is a great time to educate people on the shift that is happening and what it means to them if they’re going to downsize their house,” George said. “It’s really a great time to talk about what’s happening in the market and educate people.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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