By Ginger Downs, RCE, CAE, IOM
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Association of Realtors
A business is not judged solely by its success in a robust economy, but by how it fares in any market condition. When the chips are down, a savvy businessperson gets creative by tweaking his or her business plan, developing fresh marketing strategies and strengthening customer outreach. Businesses that continue along an unchanged course, determined to “wait out” a less than perfect market, will fall behind.
For the real estate industry and American economy as a whole, 2007 was a year unlike any other, and 2008 promises to be equally challenging. It is time to train yourself to spot opportunities and openings to expand and increase your business, operating outside of the age-old “if you build it, they will come” mentality. Markets are cyclical; as surely as current conditions will pass, they will return someday. It is not time to weather the storm. It is time to gear up, and get going.
We are not the only industry experiencing a slow market or to have been hurt by the mortgage crisis. If millions of homeowners cannot afford their mortgage payments and face foreclosure, it’s unlikely that they are buying cars, taking vacations or going out to dinner every night. Some of Wall Street’s biggest banks have suffered losses as a result of predatory lending. It’s time to get over the mindset that this is only happening to us.
On Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008, the Chicago Association of Realtors hosted its annual Economic Forecast at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza. This year’s event, “Riding the Waves of an Unstable Economy: What to Expect in 2008 and Beyond,” featured a panel of financial experts who gave an overview of local, state, national and global real estate and economic trends.
The panelists were Howard Ackerman, president, Fifth Third Bank; Steven M. Levitt, CMPS, CRMS, vice president of Mortgage Lending, Guaranteed Rate; Scott Ian Macintosh, senior economist, Commercial/Investment Real Estate, National Association of Realtors; and William A. Strauss, senior economist, Federal Reserve Bank, Chicago. Mary Umberger, real estate columnist for the Chicago Tribune, moderated the panel.
Those of you who attended the Economic Forecast learned that prospering in this economy requires refocusing your business strategy. This is a good year to invest in developing your skill set. Earning designations, such as Accredited Staging Professional (ASP), Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) or Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES), gives you an edge over the competition. Each course teaches you how to better communicate with your clients, and the services necessary to do business in niches like the senior, international or green housing sectors. Imagine a retired 70-year-old who is looking to buy a second home in a warmer climate. Who would that client prefer to work with: a Realtor with no specific designations or a Realtor with both an SRES and RSPS (Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist)? The choice is clear. Most customers would likely prefer the personalized, customized attention and expertise from a Realtor with relevant designations.
Panelist Levitt offered this advice to Realtors who are worried about doing business in 2008: “There is a difference between being worried and acting proactively in the face of a difficult market … Those who are savvy will endure this cycle.” Which would you rather be: worried or proactive? The answer should be crystal clear.
THE CHICAGO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (CAR), “THE VOICE FOR REAL ESTATE IN CHICAGO” SINCE 1883, REPRESENTS THE BUSINESS INTERESTS OF MORE THAN 16,000 REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS IN CHICAGOLAND. CAR IS LED BY A VOLUNTARY BOARD OF DIRECTORS, ELECTED BY THE MEMBERSHIP, WHO WORKS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH A PROFESSIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF.
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