There’s always a way that agents can position themselves for changing market conditions, and brokers can facilitate that process, according to broker-owners Bridget Gilbert and Laura Garner.

In May, we’ll go deep on money and finance for a special theme month, by talking to leaders about where the mortgage market is heading and how technology and business strategies are evolving to suit the needs of buyers now. A prestigious new set of awards, called Best of Finance, debuts this month too, celebrating the leaders in this space. And subscribe to Mortgage Brief for weekly updates all year long.

Fannie Mae’s projections for a “subdued” housing market for the rest of the year put 2023 annual sales at 4.2 million, the slowest pace since 2010. But they are bullish on 2024, forecasting a 4.5 percent increase in sales to ostensibly align with their predicted drop in interest rates.

So, what does that mean for agents right now? The next six to 12 months are critical to setting the stage for continued success. Rather than sitting back and riding out a slow market, here are six things we are counseling our agents to do to get out in front and be well-positioned for 2024.

Work your sphere of influence

Yes, there is limited inventory. Yes, the sales pace has slowed. But the reality is that life changes don’t wait for mortgage rates. People will still be moving up, downsizing and relocating. And while many people may not be quite ready now, they are likely attuned to the market.

All of this means that focusing on your sphere of influence now can pay off later. Sure, we all want instant gratification, but cultivating relationships with the people in your network and reaching out to past clients for referrals keeps you top of mind when people do decide to make their move. All of this sphere of influence activity now will support a strong 2024.

Perfect your elevator speech

The media may not be getting it right when it comes to the housing market. Now is the time to be fully prepared to confidently answer the question, “So how’s the market?” Consumers are hungry for meaty answers so dig into the data and really understand what’s happening in your market and in your specific areas of focus.

In addition to the data, provide your perspective on what it’s like to actually live in the neighborhoods you serve. Mention dog parks, beer pubs or, even better, dog-friendly beer pubs. Your research and knowledge, combined with your expertise, will be expressed as confidence, which consumers are always attracted to when making the biggest purchase of their lives. 

Be willing to make changes

A changing market may require that you make some changes in how you do business. Many of our agents have not experienced conditions like these yet in their careers, so they need to think differently about how to navigate it and how to change their salesmanship.

One great example is marketing. For the last three years, we haven’t had to devote much energy to marketing ourselves. We were instead learning how to master multiple offers and figure out which contingencies to waive.  But with a slower-paced market, learning or re-learning the marketing tools you have at your disposal through your brokerage is a great use of your time.

For instance, we are making a point to teach our agents how to use our CRM to market to their spheres and we have just introduced a new digital storybook tool agents can use for presentations, on their social media and on their websites.

Master your mindset

Being bullish is always preferable to adopting a bear mentality. Now is not the time to hibernate. Choose to see opportunity rather than obstacles.

Understand that our disciplines change as the market changes. Fear can make you want to hide, but discipline means you go into the office to soak up the synergies inherent in talking to your colleagues by sharing inspiration, ideas and best practices.

We are hosting weekly Collaboration Corners at the office to facilitate an exchange of ideas, creating an opportunity for agents to toss around ideas on what’s working and what’s not. At the highest level, staying active is critical, but it requires discipline.

Mind your mental health

As independent contractors, agents don’t have the luxury of a steady paycheck. When income streams slow down, anxiety and self-doubt can increase. That may lead to a desire to drop out for a while, which can negatively affect your current income stream and in the future. Being aware of the things that can alter a positive mindset is important.

Isolating is a sure-fire way to make matters worse, so getting to the office, taking someone to lunch, learning a new tool with a colleague or attending a community event can all foster connection as a way to support good mental health.

As owners, we make it a point to check in regularly with our agents, encouraging them to attend sales meetings and team lunches. We also instituted a Health Set group which is focused on maintaining a positive outlook. 

Think like a newbie

Up market or down market, real estate is still a popular and viable career that is attracting at least 40 new agents a month to our local Realtor association. We continue to recruit new licensees who are attracted to our focus on training, coaching and mentoring. We foster good relationships from the start and help our agents get plugged into everything we have to offer.

We have found that our culture of collaboration helps us stand out in the market to attract and retain new talent. The energy and excitement new agents bring to the company is contagious. They haven’t known any other market and they are going after it with all they have.

Our experienced agents definitely benefit by being around new agents and their positive outlook, and our new agents are able to learn from their experienced colleagues. 

Looking ahead

While we don’t have a crystal ball, we can predict that the market will bounce back at some point. Right now, agents should be focused on positioning themselves for that shift — whenever it happens — by maintaining their visibility, mastering new marketing tools and keeping a positive mindset. 

Bridget Gilbert and Laura Garner are co-owners/brokers at ERA Summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Connect with Gilbert and Garner on LinkedIn.

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