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One of the most effective ways that real estate agents can help buyers and sellers overcome their fear of entering the market right now is by speaking their same language and becoming a valuable resource for them, agents said during a panel entitled “Defy the Market: How to Win in Real Estate today” during Inman Connect on Thursday.
For Dawn McKenna of the Dawn McKenna Group at Coldwell Banker, her luxury clients relate to the nitty-gritty of the numbers. So, McKenna tries to show her clients how, although mortgage rates are much higher than they once were, home prices in her markets are also much more reasonable than they were back when rates were at historic lows. And that means, it’s a great time to get into the market.
“The most important point to make right now to some of these buyers who were waiting in the wings is, they were fine to jump in in 2021 and 2022 when they were paying 20 percent to 58 percent more, in my market at least, for houses,” McKenna told the Inman Connect audience. “So if you look at the difference between 3 percent and 6.8 percent, you’re actually in a lot of ways ahead of the game if you buy now and/or flat. And you can control it better and it’s not hysterical.”
For instance, McKenna and her agents don’t have to fight to get their foot in the door in the way they once had to at the market’s peak, and buyers don’t need to feel pressured to waive important steps like a home inspection.
McKenna also added that agents who partner with a qualified mortgage broker or lender are also typically able to work with clients to figure out the right plan to make the process affordable.
“When you get with a great broker or mortgage lender, there’s some creative ways to say, ‘Hey let’s do this and then refi that,'” she said.
It’s also important to remind clients who the market experts are in this scenario, Talia McKinney of SERHANT. pointed out — namely, the real estate agent.
“We’re advisors. We are not note-takers, we are not there to let our buyers and sellers rule the roost and tell us,” McKinney said. “We are the professionals, we do this on the daily … Yes, interest rates may be higher, but like Dawn said, you can get really good prices right now, so prices may be dropping. These are all things you need to be able to advise your clients on.”
Of course, part of reminding clients of your expertise is continuing to educate yourself on what is happening in the market and having the data to back up that advice at your fingertips, McKinney added.
Moderator Dana Cadena said in these scenarios “When I’m consulting with consumers, I’ll always honor them by saying ‘Yes, you’re the boss; I’m the expert.'”
A larger theme that McKenna has been working towards for success in 2024 is “alleviate the friction,” she told Cadena and McKinney. She felt that “co-opetition” between agents would be important going into 2024 so that agents can get more business by co-listing and co-brokering more deals together.
Another way in which she’s been working in recent years to reduce friction in the transaction is by developing an app that allows buyers and sellers to communicate with each other. After a successful couple of years using it with her own real estate team to give them a leg up on the competition, she decided to sell the app to Luxury Presence to make it scalable.
Added McKinney, “I feel like everyone just needs to play nice in the sandbox and everyone needs to collaborate and have good relationships with other agents. That’s huge.”
Cadena likened collaboration between agents to the “currency” that helps make an agent valuable to clients.
Although tools for data, analytics, marketing and more provide huge value to an agent and their client, McKenna said that nothing will replace an agent and the personal aspects they bring to their business.
And that is a huge value-add to the transaction, McKinney added.
“You just need to lean into that and say ‘This is who I am,'” she said.
Use tools like ChatGPT and AI to help you level up your business in the new year, McKinney said, but then also bring yourself into the equation by simply “being a person.” Later, she said creating a specific business plan with measurable goals for the next week, month, year or two years is another solid way to get ahead in 2024, while keeping those goals in check and being sure that you’re hitting them.
Few actions will replace the value of simply calling up a past client to check in or tell them that something they saw reminded the agent of their client that day, McKenna said, because it opens up opportunities for other discussions. But never call them with a sales pitch.
“I never call a client saying, ‘Do you want to buy this?'” the team leader said. “I call a client because I listen.”
That’s how agents transform into advisors “for a lot more than real estate,” she said.