- STEPPING UP IN A DOWN MARKET

As home sales begin a slowdown in many areas throughout the country, real estate agents must contemplate their future actions very carefully. Rather than being afraid of a slowing real estate economy, successful agents should view these changes in their market as an opportunity.

History dictates that the best agents will continue to succeed, and many will even increase their production in such difficult times. While this may seem hard to believe at first blush, consider that in a strong market, just about anyone can sell real estate.

When homes are selling fast, inferior competitors may very well beat you out of listings, and gain the allegiance of buyers, simply based on the strength of their personalities.

On the other hand, when the times get tough many of your competitors will falter, as the easy deals dry up. More importantly, consumers become much more likely to pay attention to the credentials, experience and quality of service that the better agents can provide.

In just about every industry and profession, good times bring with them new competitors. However, it's the slower markets that shake out the weak and allow the strong to not only survive, but often to thrive.

Survivor Behavior

If you are confident regarding your professional skills, competency, and ability to survive then it's time to make plans for a more successful future.

Fortunately, you probably already know much of what you should be doing in a slow market, if you can only recall the advice you've likely given yourself through the past several years. Think of just how many times have you been too busy to capitalize on good ideas, and then said to yourself: "I'll do that when the market slows down and I have the time."

For many, now just might be that time.

Adopt Technology -

You've no doubt picked up many great ideas on how to better integrate technology into your business over the past several years. Unfortunately, most of us have had more ideas than we have had the time to implement them.

Whether your goals have been to upgrade your contact management, overhaul your Web site, or convert your office to a paperless document management system, this is the perfect time to do so.

Not only is it easier to implement and upgrade technology when you're not overwhelmed with business, but the competition and desire for profitability within the tech sector has resulted in excellent buying opportunities as well.

If you don't implement now, and instead wait for your market to pick up steam, you'll once again be too busy to take on such projects and will have missed a great opportunity.

Expand Your Sphere of Influence -

Working a "Sphere of Influence" and or a "Geographical Area of Specialization" is always a good idea for anyone involved in sales. However, when the market is hot, every one else is doing the same. Many of the people that you send mail to, call, and look to for business leads are being mailed to, called by, and pressed for leads by many other agents as well.

However, when the market slows down, much of your competition will relax their efforts, and particularly those that cost money to continue. This presents an excellent opportunity for those agents who wish to survive, and even thrive, in a slower marketplace.

When the market was good, everyone was sending newsletters and postcards to your prospects. But, if your market is slowing down, then fewer of your competitors will continue such marketing efforts.

Rather than reducing your direct prospecting efforts, this is the time to expand them. The newsletters, postcards and other marketing pieces that you send will now have a much greater opportunity to stand out from the shrinking crowd.

Hunt "Expireds" and "FSBOs" -

While top agents are often actively soliciting "For Sale By Owner" properties as well as their competitor's "Expired Listings" - doing so is seldom either fun and may not always be very productive in a strong market.

FSBOs often believe that they can sell their properties in a hot market without professional assistance, and many will actually succeed. At the same time, expired listings are few are far between, and there may be many good reasons why you wouldn't want to take the listings that didn't sell in a hot market.

Fortunately, nothing takes the wind out of a FSBO's sails like a slow marketplace that offers ample competing properties. In a slower market, you'll find that owners are much less confident, and much more open to discussing professional marketing and assistance.

Likewise, many good listings taken by inferior competition will not sell. These properties provide the true professional with many opportunities to distinguish their superior marketing services.

If you're an above average agent, then this is the best time to join the hunt and aggressively pursue such sellers.

 

Learn New Skills -

Odds are, you've been meaning to learn more about many of the technologies that you already own. Taking time out of your busy schedule to attend computer-training classes is never easy, but you know that you should. If you don't take the time to educate yourself in a slow market, when will you?

A slower market is also a great time to attend business seminars and to complete the professional designations that you've been working toward over the years.

Again, you've likely put off many such activities when you were just "too busy" and promised yourself that you would invest in your skills when things slowed down. Why not go ahead and listen to yourself?

Additionally, what better time is there to be around exiting and motivated speakers and trainers than when you most need to be excited and motivated?

 

Maintain Your Marketing -

Whatever you do, don't cut back on your marketing just because area sales are softening. If you're currently spending money on unproductive advertising, then it's certainly a good time to cut such waste from your budget.

However, there's no better time to keep yourself in front of the public than when your competition is cutting back. Not only will it be easier to stand out in the public's mind, but also in down times the successes that you promote will seem that much more impressive to potential customers and clients.

When consumers are faced with a tough market, they will be more likely to look for quality service. A down market may be just the right time to actually expand your marketing and to launch new campaigns that you put off when you had plenty of business.

If you're a competent professional, then there's no reason to fear a slowing real estate economy. While there's no guarantee that you can expand your production during a soft market, many top performers do just this.

Even if you cannot increase your sales during soft times, you can certainly strengthen your skills, your public recognition and the quality of your service. Doing so now will put you in the best possible position to capitalize on the real estate rebound.

While there's no way to tell when your market will again pick up steam, it will eventually do so. The actions you take now can insure that you're ready and able to take advantage of it when the time comes.

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Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale