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I recently had the privilege of teaching a class locally at the Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy. Most attendees were newer to real estate, and to me, that means under five years in the business.
At the end of each class I teach, I always open up for discussion on anything real estate related. The students wanted to talk about the market ahead and asked me my thoughts.
My response was, “If you are in this business for under five years, you are about to learn over the next four-plus years how to treat your business like a business and be very consistent.
“If you don’t understand what this means, learn it sooner than later, or you won’t be doing this for much longer. Be very careful what gurus you subscribe to, and know more than your competitors; get used to going the extra mile and invest in yourself.”
I was met with mostly stunned silence as if I just took the wind out of all their sails, and I probably did. Had we had more time, I could have spent another hour explaining this and relieved myself of some guilt driving back to my office, but my intention was to shock them a bit and make them think.
If you are newer in this business and have yet to experience a slow or down market, you need to prepare yourself. Here are some classes I would recommend taking, and if a class or seminar isn’t available to you, get a book on the subject.
A good business plan will help you treat your business like a business. What I mean by that is, you need to know where your business will come from.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What does it take to bring that business?
- What will it cost?
- How much do I budget to run it?
If you are not treating your business like a business, start now. Separate your business and personal accounts, schedule your prospecting and know how many calls or touches you need to make to get the number of appointments that will achieve the necessary closings to reach your business goals.
Our brand, and probably yours too, offers an excellent business planning platform and training, which I highly stress and recommend to our agents. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has some very good advice on business planning.
If your time management skills are questionable, the coming market may be a problem for you. When running a successful business, you need to be diligent in your routines, get up early, plan and prioritize your day, and schedule your prospecting and follow-ups.
You must be consistent with this to survive the slow market. In addition to a course, class or seminar on this, find people who are excellent at time management, and pick their brains, and ask them how they manage their time so well. Some of my favorite online resources about this topic are offered by Mindtools.com.
‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’
A book written in 1936 by Dale Carnegie, this book helped a young 20-something me understand the value of becoming genuinely interested in other people, the importance of remembering names, the value of listening and making others feel important, and a ton of other things that made me reflect, this should be required reading in high schools.
In the coming real estate market, the art of winning the client with relationship selling will be invaluable; as the level of listings and sales decrease, earning the client’s trust by listening and genuinely demonstrating your care, will propel you above the others who may be focusing on just numbers.
After reading this book, I took the actual Dale Carnegie Sales Course, which I also highly recommend, that course and this book changed my life during a down market. There are many excellent sales trainers and coaches, and several are geared to just real estate.
Successful people will be creative in their marketing techniques. I love outside-the-box stuff and seeing agents utilizing something different to promote themselves or their listings.
Learn how social media works, how the algorithms function and the techniques that get the most out of your marketing budget. You don’t have to go back to college, but do spend some time on this. Many brands offer training, and there’s a ton of stuff on YouTube.
Those who can stand out and be remembered will shine. In addition to standing out, learning how to be consistent is key. Get a system that works for you, or spend a little more and have it done for you. I can not stress enough the importance of marketing consistency.
Foreclosures and short sales
We haven’t seen a lot of inventory in this area for quite some time, but I remember the last down market in which 30 percent of our listing inventory was foreclosures at one point, and another 40 percent was short sales.
Although I do not believe there will be a huge amount of REO and short sale opportunities in my local market, I understand that there are other areas of the country where a shadow inventory is looming and is expected to come down the pike.
If you’re unfamiliar with how these properties are sold, get educated — because if you allow yourself to be trained through a transaction, you may cost your client a property and you a sale.
Many REO sellers do not follow the same platforms and procedures as what may be customary in your market. HUD listing brokers are obligated to perform monthly training on the sales process; some do it live, some over Zoom, but if you just google it, I am sure you can find one.
The National Association of Realtors does offer a certification course for short sales and foreclosures as well.
All markets are different. What is true during a buyer’s or seller’s market in my backyard may not be true in yours. If you have been in this business less than five years, get ready for some change. It’s going to happen.
You can’t stick your head in the sand and wait for what you are comfortable with to come back; you have to move with the market. I highly recommend seeking out a seasoned agent who has experienced a slower market or two local to you, and they will have the best advice.
Regardless, it’s not the end of the world, as I tell my agents all the time, don’t be a secret agent, and keep moving forward.
Jack Gross is the president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Cassidon Realty in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.