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The word “unprecedented” has been used a great deal in the last five years to describe the dynamic forces shaping our society — but in the world of real estate, even “unprecedented” is an understatement. Market fluctuations can cause business disruption across the board, yet many savvy agents are charting growth through unprecedented times.
How did they do it? That’s what Tammy Fahmi, Senior Vice President of Global Servicing and Strategy at Sotheby’s International Realty, will be asking on Oct. 6 in an open webinar, “Thriving in a Shifting Market.” Today, the panelists provide a preview of some of the strategies they will discuss in the webinar.
Tammy Fahmi: There have been several market shifts since 2018. Which one was the most challenging for you and why?
Jody Lovell: It was the volume of transactions caused by the housing explosion during COVID-19. Buyers were frenzied to find homes, and inventory was tight. Stress was high, and being the calming factor with clients was critical while managing the details of all those sales. I was coming to the office in the middle of the night to keep up!
Jennifer Mills Klatt: The COVID-19 pandemic was a challenging market for me too. I had to adjust the way I market properties, integrate virtual systems, and manage my time.
Jay Kipp: For me, the main challenge has been low inventory combined with supply chain issues. The inventory shortage caused prices to rise well above the national average. Then, the supply chain delay stealthily impacted our market, affecting new construction, the resale market, and any buyer purchasing less-than-turnkey homes.
TF: Can you share specific strategies that you adopted to help your business adapt and thrive?
JM: Digital assets and online storytelling have become a more elaborately layered marketing plan, with strategic timing on releasing information. These plans include higher quality imagery, video, reels, social media, virtual tours, targeting, and pricing to the proper audience. An aggressive digital branding campaign and client outreach have helped maintain momentum.
JL: I collaborated with clients and other agents to create transactions that were not in the open market. This was the time to broker private client deals — and it still is. Stay connected to your clients and listen carefully to see if downsizing, upsizing, or changing homes for any reason is on their minds. Carefully explore these opportunities.
JK: Client communication is a cornerstone of our success, always — but during turbulent markets, we spend more time analyzing current conditions and sharing this information with our clients. We take more time to listen, more time to ask and answer questions, and more time to discuss strategies to help our clients proceed confidently.
TF: On the topic of clients, how did you support your buyers and sellers amid these difficult market conditions?
JM: I give them the space and reassurance they need, and I have an outreach plan on a CRM. And then, of course, old-fashioned calls, texts, and emails. Buyers have relied on me even more during these uncertain markets.
JL: Yes, just be a friend. Socialize, care, and ask lots of questions. Empathy and compassion are two of the greatest tools we have. But also be realistic and transparent — despite how special their home is, pricing needs to be reevaluated to attract buyers.
JK: It’s all about providing the best information so clients can make the best decisions. Instead of weathering the storm, we advise clients to act with focus. Making informed adjustments to buying or selling strategies wins. As a result, sellers’ prices seemed like a windfall even as the market flattened. And, for buyers who purchased in the not-too-distant past, historically low-interest rates positioned them well for the future.
TF: Are there any surprising lessons or takeaways you would want to share with your fellow luxury agents?
JL: I’ve been applying a lesson I learned in the aftermath of 2008, which is to not be a scapegoat. Back then, I continued to represent sellers who would not accept that the market had changed and kept unrealistic pricing on their homes. The homes sat on the market, and oftentimes the sellers would blame me for not moving the property. Evaluate all your listings, have honest, positive talks with sellers, and trust your gut if they’re stubborn and refuse to budge.
JK: I’ve found that baseline real estate activities have remained a driving business force. We are continually touring properties, connecting with colleagues as well as competitors, attending industry forums, and contributing to our community. In up markets and down markets, we seek the nuance of the moment to propel us beyond difficult conditions. The truth is, the real estate market is always in flux so keep focus on achieving your clients’ objectives. Their needs to either buy or sell are consistent throughout all markets.
“Thriving in a Shifting Market” takes place on Thursday, Oct. 6 at 1:00 pm ET. This is a panel you won’t want to miss! Make sure to register in advance, this is an open webinar available to all agents.