Last year was clearly a challenging one for our industry, though my business was probably as strong as it has ever been. That interesting fact made me take a deeper look at what I was doing in order to understand why my sales were up when industry-wide sales were down.
The conclusions I drew from that analysis may not amaze you, but I do think they point to just how important it is to put a specific set of market conditions into proper perspective. You often hear athletes and coaches talk about the importance of controlling the things you can control and the need to adapt to those things you can’t control. I’d suggest that their strategic insight is equally applicable to real estate, especially today in a market where many factors are beyond the control of even the President, Congress, Wall Street and the Federal Reserve. It is also a market where buyers are scarce and often reluctant, sellers are worried, financing is not easily obtainable and the property inventory is large. Given all that, it would be easy to feel, as a real estate agent, that you have been dealt a losing hand.
Rather than focus on the discouraging external factors of today’s market, consider focusing on two things that you can control: your own attitude toward your business and your knowledge of the real estate market.
How many successful people can you list who have negative attitudes? You probably would not be able to name many. In a market dominated by negative messages, projecting a positive outlook is critical. Even when there is negative news to report to your clients, keep the message factual and avoid the doom and gloom. Our 24/7/365 news cycle provides enough negative information, and Realtors should not add to that.
I can’t control interest rates or the inventory of listings in my market, but I do have a major say in shaping my own attitude. Most successful Realtors generally have a positive attitude toward their work, but I have discovered that when I lose the bounce in my step, I need to do something about it. Otherwise, bad things start to happen. Contracts don’t get written, properties don’t get listed and potential clients vanish. Therefore, I’ve begun to make a real effort to monitor my attitude and to take steps to improve it when necessary. When feeling down or unproductive, I’ll go to a movie, stay home with a book, take a walk or go for a workout. The key is to feel refreshed and ready to do a great job for my clients when I get back to business.
Knowledge really is power, and one thing I know is that people need and want shelter, which makes real estate just about as essential as food and clothing. Certain things follow from that, and one is that if home sales are declining, home rentals must be increasing, creating new opportunities for both real estate agents and real estate investors. In other words, people can’t really withdraw from the housing market the way they can sell all their stocks or stop traveling to foreign countries. There are always opportunities in real estate, the key is to keep looking until you find them.
Today, knowledge is also a Realtor’s most important product. Access to the local MLS is easily available to buyers and sellers, so a Realtor must be much more than a tour guide. If you know your local real estate market, understand what drives property values and know who wants to live there and why, you’ll be able to spot good deals and guide your clients to them. Then, you must share that knowledge and help your clients understand the true current value of the property. Thus, constantly studying your market is an essential component to success, especially in a time when convincing buyers that a property is worth its price can be particularly challenging.
Mark Zipperer is the broker/owner of RE/MAX Edge in Chicago. Zipperer, a top-producing agent in Cook County, can be reached at 773.435.1601