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10 Tips to Help You Survive Market Shifts

By Kymberly Franklin posted 08-12-2022 11:20


10 Tips to Help You Survive Market Shifts

Sellers’ market? Buyers’ market? Down market? Booming market? It doesn’t matter if you consistently perform activities that drive success.

Jonathan Spears, founder of the Spears Group with Compass 30A in Destin, closed a deal last spring that was one of his best: a $13 million sale. He did it by reaching out to an agent he’d never met.

“I was the listing agent on this amazing property, and I called an agent from another company whose name I recognized because he was doing a lot of transactions in the area,” says Spears. “The first buyer didn’t work out, but he had another that did. It’s a great success story and now we’ve collaborated on several deals. It never would have happened if I hadn’t proactively called him.”

Spears says that many Realtors® consider other agents as competitors, especially when they work for a different brokerage.

“If you think of them as collaborators, you lift the veil to more opportunities in your market,” says Spears. “When things get tight, there’s a tendency to pull back from other agents. But as the market contracts, it’s better to double down on connecting with other agents.”

Realtors with decades of experience know that housing markets shift frequently. They also know that consistently maintaining relationships and continuously marketing their services provide resilience in every business cycle.

Try these 10 techniques for a thriving business:

1. Deepen your community ties.

Developing strong relationships within your hyperlocal community is the most important thing an agent can do, says Donna Stott, a real estate coach and broker in Woodstock, Georgia.

“People do business with the people they know and trust, and that’s more critical than ever when a market shifts,” Stott says. “Getting to know your customers really well is more important than having thousands of social media followers.”

Spears looks for ways to add value to customers in his market, many of whom are out-of-state vacation homeowners. In the early days of the pandemic when many of them couldn’t travel to their homes, he offered to check on their properties.

“If you’re a pillar of your community, your real estate business will always thrive,” says Loretta Maimone, a broker-
associate with ERA Grizzard Real Estate in Mount Dora. Maimone is a board member and volunteer in countless organizations, including the local chamber of commerce. She also donates significantly to local charities in the name of her clients every Christmas.

2. Ask for referrals.

The most successful real estate agents proudly say that 90% or more of their business comes from referrals. To get those referrals, you need to work seven days a week, follow up on every lead and then consistently ask for referrals, says Susan Demerer, a real estate sales associate with Compass in Boca Raton. “I work my sphere hard,” says Demerer.

Stott suggests that agents ask for help from their sphere. “Be direct and say, ‘I have a buyer who’s looking for a certain type of house in your neighborhood. Do you know anyone who’s thinking of selling?’ Or ask your sphere if they know any buyers who might be looking for a property similar to your listing.”

When you have deep relationships with your connections and have offered them something of value, they’re more likely to want to help you, Stott says.

3. Connect with developers.

Spears created multiple streams of business by getting to know developers in his Emerald Coast market.

“When we hold open houses at model homes, we leverage them to physically get in front of prospects,” says Spears. “We get exposure for the homes and for our agents and find new customers. We also host open houses on social media, which is essentially free advertising.”

Local new-home buyers often have an existing home to sell, and out-of-state buyers are a referral source for friends looking for vacation homes in the area.

4. Create your own investor pool.

While partnering with institutional investors requires a special connection to those corporations, Pam Ermen, a real estate coach, agent and vice president of a team with Corcoran Global Living in San Diego, says agents can create their own investor network by identifying properties in their market that need work. Developing an eye for investment properties and the work required to flip them can generate two transactions per house and a potential stream of similar deals.

“One of my clients asked me to find them an investment property and that grew into a pool of about five local investors who buy anything I can find them,” says Demerer. “I write an offer for them, help them fix it up and then list it for them, which creates a consistent pipeline of business.”

Spears says approximately 50% of his business comes from investors interested in purchasing vacation homes with short-term rental potential. “We help them find sellers with rental income history,” says Spears.

5. Educate yourself.

Ermen suggests that agents focus on market statistics, including migration patterns to understand where buyers are coming from, especially in markets with international and out-of-state buyers.

“An important quality for any agent is to be the local expert on everything in your community, not just real estate,” says Catherine MacKenzie, a Realtor® with ERA Grizzard Real Estate in Mount Dora. MacKenzie and Maimone recommend attending city and county meetings to learn about planning and zoning issues and businesses in your area.

6. Stick to your niche.

Whether your niche is a geographical area, a property style or a type of buyers, such as vacation home purchasers, experts recommend a tight focus on your niche for long-term success. Demerer deliberately chose a community to farm without a lot of other active agents and consistently markets to residents there.

“I’m in a second-home market, so I showcase the lifestyle on social media and market living at the beach to out-of-state buyers,” says Spears. “I use education about our community as a springboard to develop a referral network with agents in other parts of the country.”

7. Collaborate.

Ermen recommends joining business networking groups to expand your referral base.

“Be intentional about the businesses you include, such as moving companies or even rental car companies who may have customers exploring an area for a potential second home purchase,” says Ermen.

Spears proactively connects with other agents locally to find buyers for his listings, as well as developing referral networks with out-of-state agents.

One place to meet new agents, exchange information and get referrals is at continuing education classes, says Maimone. “Go in person to class so you meet other agents and make connections,” says Maimone. “Earn designations related to your niche to build your expertise, and find other agents you can collaborate with.”

8. Stay in touch.

Staying in touch with your sphere works best when you can personalize the contact rather than sending a generic, forgettable message. Maimone and MacKenzie hand-deliver 275 personalized items at Christmas with a text message to those who aren’t home to alert them to the package. They also send birthday and anniversary cards without any branding and with Maimone’s home address for a personal touch.

Client events that bring people together, such as renting out a movie theater or hosting a crawfish boil, are memorable because they’re purely social interactions that don’t involve selling real estate, says Ermen. She also recommends video messages for birthdays and anniversaries.

“Check-in texts or to let someone know you tagged them on social media can be an easy way to stay top of mind with people you know well,” says Stott. This is especially vital in Florida where weather-related events happen with some frequency. Consider texting new-to-the-area residents to offer advice on preparing for an incoming hurricane or check on them after.

Spears has a disciplined system to keep in touch, including calls with developers, daily social media posts and targeted postcards.

9. Consistently use social media.

A strong social media presence won’t necessarily directly gain new business, but it keeps your name and face in front of your sphere of influence, says Mackenzie.

She recommends avoiding posts that promote your sales or yourself. “Posting that you sold a home is just showing that you did your job,” says MacKenzie. Instead, she suggests sharing a few personal items, something funny or an interesting home on the market.

“Social media should be part of your branding,” says Maimone. “The first Realtor who comes to mind if someone is asked for a referral may be their last contact—which could be on social media”

10. Showcase your community.

A good way to keep your brand in front of potential buyers is to post frequent videos that demonstrate different aspects of your local lifestyle, suggests Ermen.

“A ‘get to know your market’ video not only captures the attention of out-of-state buyers, it’s also a way to keep your brand in front of local buyers and sellers who want to know about community activities,” says Ermen.

When it comes to market-proofing your real estate practice, it really comes down to staying in front of your sphere with valuable information and building relationships. It’s a back-to-basics mentality and a systematic approach. Do that and your business will thrive no matter what the market brings. #

Michele Lerner is a freelance journalist and editor.