No matter what kind of market environment you’re experiencing, there are opportunities for growth and decline. According to Jimmy Burgess, it’s the skills you build that will determine what happens to your business during the current market.

With fewer deals to go around, many markets experiencing a downshift and more agents than ever, it makes business sense to reach for the fundamentals. That’s why at Inman, we’re going Back to Basics with curated throwbacks to some of our most-read stories as well as new insights from agents in the field — all culminating in Inman’s Playbook for the Fall Market, a two-day virtual event that you should make plans to attend.

No matter how challenging the market is, there will always be agents that find success. The change in the current market environment will not be different. Certain agents will develop new skills, and their businesses will grow. Others will not change, and their businesses will decline.

Wikipedia defines a skill as the learned ability to perform an action with determined results with good execution. The key word in the definition is learned, meaning skills can be developed. Each of the following seven skills can be learned and enhanced through study and practice.

If your desire is to thrive in this changing market environment, developing these seven skills is worth the effort.

1. The ability to identify shifts in the market early

Change is inevitable. What we are seeing in the market now is not what we will see in the future. Subtle market shifts are constantly occurring, and the person that can identify these shifts early has a huge advantage over her competitors. It all starts by understanding the cyclical nature of the real estate business and how these cyclical influences shape market movements.

In the natural world, fall always comes after summer. In real estate, times of expansion (summer) are always followed by times of dormancy or decline (fall and winter). Sometimes the fall and winter seasons are mild and other times they are harsh, but they follow the “summer seasons” every single time. To think differently would be naïve.

It would also be naïve to not realize that spring always comes after winter. New growth begins in nature during the spring, and markets expand again during the cyclical “springs” of the real estate market.

So how do you know when there are changes happening in your market? It all starts with the numbers. I like to track the number of closed sales, pending contracts, number of listed homes, average sales price, and average days on market. Tracking these numbers for the current month versus the previous month or versus the same month in the previous year provides clarity on the direction the market is moving.

The agent that can identify changes in the market early and act on those understandings sooner than others will always gain market share.

2. Clearly communicating market data in an easy-to-understand way

It is one thing to be able to identify changes, but the skill of communicating how these changes affect buyers and sellers is a skill that adds value to the marketplace that is always rewarded. When creating content, ask yourself if the information you are providing will be of value to your ideal client, easy to understand and presented in a way that your ideal client will enjoy consuming.

One way to develop this skill is to follow agents in other markets. Study how they communicate market information and make note of the ways they communicate that appeal to you. Always be authentically you, but modeling your communication after some of the methods they utilize can speed up the process of finding your voice.

The clearer your communication, the more opportunities for business that will come your way.

3. Creating marketing that generates momentum

Real estate marketing is a skill that many attempt, but few execute in a way that creates momentum. Again, you do not need to recreate the wheel. Social media has made it easy to see how other agents across the country are marketing their businesses. If you’re looking for some great examples, you can find 22 Instagram accounts in this article where agents are marketing themselves and their businesses at a high level.

From real estate social media content to YouTube property video strategies, when marketing creates momentum for your business, growth is on the horizon.

4. Building rapport quickly with people you meet

Focusing on building new and deeper relationships is vitally important for building a long-term, successful business. All relationships start with an initial meeting and your ability to build rapport quickly helps ensure the first impression you make is a positive one. This skill can be developed if you focus on a few key actions.

  • Smile: The simple act of smiling when you first meet someone is a great way to begin the process of building rapport.
  • Make direct eye contact: Eye contact shows you are interested in them and what they have to say.
  • Ask a question: Questions show your interest in knowing more about them or what is important to them.
  • Mirror their physical behaviors: The process of mirroring someone’s physical behaviors like crossing your arms if they cross theirs, or leaning forward if they lean forward, connects their subconscious mind with yours.
  • Give them a compliment: One of the best ways to endear yourself with someone is to give them a compliment. Don’t give a compliment unless it is authentic. Find something you genuinely admire about them to compliment.
  • Follow up after first meeting: A quick text or note letting them know it was great meeting them and setting a time to follow-up with them is the bridge from instant rapport to a long-term relationship.

5. Systematizing follow-up

The ability to systemize your follow-up is a skill that is often overlooked. Systems stabilize your business. They help your income become less sporadic and more predictable. Do you have systems in place? If not, this is a skill that will yield results for years to come.

The following are a few ways to systemize your follow-up:

  • Set to-do lists after each interaction: Schedule in your calendar when you will call or text them next.
  • Automate property updates: Whether it is a buyer or seller, having your CRM or MLS automatically email them properties that are pertinent to their situation helps provide consistency to your communication.
  • After sale plans: Preparing a plan that follows up via email, text or prompts you to call past clients on their home anniversary date, birthday, or other special date keeps you connected.

6. The ability to tell a compelling story

The person that develops the skill of storytelling will always have a leg up on her competition. This is especially true in a changing market where buyers and sellers are searching for information.

Develop the skill of sharing the story of how you helped your ideal client overcome their biggest obstacle. Share the story of how your new listing can provide a lifetime of memories through summer afternoon barbeques with friends in the beautiful backyard or family gatherings in the spacious living room. Educate and entertain people by explaining the trends in the market and how they affect buyers and sellers.

Whether it be through Instagram stories, Facebook video posts, TikTok, or YouTube videos, the value of storytelling for real estate agents continues to escalate.

7. Develop an unmatched work ethic

You can have all the skills in the world, but if you lack execution, you will fail. There are certain seasons when hard work is more valuable than other times. Changing markets are a time when your extra effort and hard work are compounded.

In a changing market, many agents go into ostrich mode. They bury their heads in the sand and hope that the change either will not happen or that it will pass quickly. This is your time to seize market share while others are coasting. The hardest working agents always become the top producing agents. This is especially true in changing markets.

The current market environment offers enormous opportunities for agents looking to grow their businesses. This is the exact market you need to build the business of your dreams. Identify the skills you are lacking, and start developing them today.

Jimmy Burgess is the CEO for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in northwest Florida. You can connect with him on Instagram or YouTube.

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