Industry icon Floyd Wickman shares insight, ideas and inspiration
for staying at the top of your game in a changing market.
By Julie Escobar
The going is most definitely tough in many parts of our country. I have talked to hundreds of agents lately who are seeking the inside secrets to maintaining momentum (or simply surviving) in a changing economy. Having been around this industry long enough to have some of the best minds in the business on speed dial, I let my fingers do the walking to answer some of the most difficult questions. Floyd Wickman was the first to come to mind. Having weathered the storms and surges of every possible market condition during the past 40 years—and having trained, motivated, coached and cultivated hundreds of thousands of agents and managers—there was no doubt that this industry icon would have a few thoughts to share. Here is how our conversation went:
Q: It’s no secret that the market is tough. What are some of the biggest challenges today’s agents are up against?
A: Like you and your ProspectsPLUS! account executives, our team has been inundated with questions just like this. I guess if I had to say what I hear agents struggling with the most right now it would be, first of all, getting their deals closed or pending sales that do not go to closing. Second, agents have more inventory than many are used to handling. And third, the length of time between listing and sold is much longer, making it more difficult to manage.
Many agents are simply not used to these challenges and, in a lot of cases, neither are their managers. Many managers have just not been in the business long enough to have experienced market conditions like this, so where do agents turn?
Q: I guess they turn to us! So pretend I am a struggling agent. What advice do you have for me with regard to a higher percentage of deals NOT closing?
A: First, I would have you look at the reasons why deals are not closing. Understand why lenders are pulling back and changing the way they do business. The increased foreclosure rate makes them more likely to turn down loans and less apt to give the benefit of the doubt when it comes to appraisals. Buyers, too, have an attitude that there are unlimited property choices and are more demanding, sometimes even to the point of arrogance.
Second, master the art of straight-line communication. It is more essential than ever that the buyer is met in the office, pre-qualified, pre-approved and PREPARED to expect the worst AND make a decision. Choose your words wisely. For example: “Mr. and Mrs. Buyer, we are going to start today with a meeting of the minds. There is a lot of inventory available, and I am going to ask you to make a decision if you find something you like—and to be reasonable when you make that decision. I am not in the business of helping steal homes. I am in the business of finding the right homes at the right price in the shortest period of time.”
I love to see agents get buyers pre-approved through their own suggested mortgage source, because it gives them more clout when it comes to keeping the process moving. In the case of a buyer who has been pre-approved elsewhere, you might say, “Mr. and Mrs. Buyer, if there is a better deal out there, it doesn’t hurt you to find out. Let’s talk to my lender and see what they have to say as well, and you can choose which works best for you.”
Remember, too, that “pre-qualify” does not just mean what is the best they are looking for, but what is the worst, as well. Find the urgency, and you can communicate the value of making a decision quicker and negotiate the subtleties of helping them accept rather than settle. In other words, accept a property and get settled into what they need, not necessarily all they want.