The ability to keep a close eye on the horizon and a finger on the pulse of market and economic trends is no longer a “sometimes” skill needed by industry professionals; rather, it is now a necessary tool of the trade.
Our team of trainers and I have been fielding hundreds of questions from sales associates seeking to circumvent the tough market syndrome that seems to overwhelm so many agents. They’re tapping into the knowledge and resources all around them in an effort to uncover the NOW strategies needed to stay inspired, motivated and ahead of the competition.
When it comes to trend-watching and overcoming challenges, our friend and industry leader Bill Barrett is the man in charge. I recently turned to him to get his insight and ideas on maximizing momentum in a changing market. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:
Q: I have always admired your ability to accurately read and communicate market trends to your audiences. What do you feel is the most significant trend in our market today?
A: Like you and your team, I hear that question a lot. I would say the single biggest item that agents need to focus on today is getting their listings priced correctly. And the single biggest challenge is that the market is still going down.
This is a very unusual time in our economy. Real estate is a leading industry today, instead of a following. In other words, in the past, interest rates have gone up, unemployment goes up and corporate rates go down. Now, interest rates are good, unemployment is down and corporate rates are fine—but the real estate market in many pockets of the country has plummeted. Why? I think what we are finding is that prices went very high—too high, in fact—and now we are seeing a dramatic “normalizing” of the market.
Q: What does all of that mean to agents on the street?
A: Well, I think there is a real problem right now in the industry, psychologically. There are so many articles out there talking about how the market is down, bubbles bursting, etc., and I believe it may continue to decrease and may be that way for a year or so. That is why it is more important than ever for agents to stress to their sellers the importance of pricing their homes correctly. Otherwise, they run the risk of missing target buyers altogether.
Q: I remember a charting tool you suggest your Superstars use to help communicate this point effectively with sellers. Can you share that?
A: Sure! I tell my students and audience participants to develop a 5-Year Chart for their market area. Down the left side, I suggest writing:
• 5 Years
• 4 Years
• 3 Years
• 2 Years
• 1 Year
• 6 Months
Then I have them make the following column headings across the top and write in the statistics for each time period above:
• Average sales price
• Average days on the market
• Amount of inventory
• List-to-sell ratio
Now, instead of “selling and telling,” agents are better able to “educate and inform.” Then the real estate agent becomes the messenger.
We need to educate sellers on the fact that real estate is still a local event and that not all “national trends” are applicable to their particular area. For example, look at the Portland and Seattle areas, which are currently seeing 8% to 12% increases. Develop your local stats chart, and become both an advocate and an educator for consumers in your area.