By Walter Sanford
I love this market! My last market as a top agent was the Southern California real estate depression of 1990 through 1996. It made me rich and set my family up for generations. Let me share with you the silver linings to be found in tough markets. The list below outlines the first 10 of 19 positive outcomes to a difficult market. Stay tuned until next week to see the second half of the list.
1. If you start setting up some proactive seller lead generation systems, you will find that getting listings is easier. Sellers want professionals to sell their homes, and non-professionals seldom make it through a market like this. Sellers look less at discounted real estate services to solve their needs. You will find it takes less energy to capture a good listing. As you increase you personal inventory, you can increase showings, contracts from cooperative agents, buyer phone calls and more double-end possibilities. I challenge you to start one new-seller lead-generation system today.
2. This market has shown you the importance of setting something aside for a rainy day. If buyers who want a steal and sellers who are no longer happy does not tip you off that the old adage of “make hay while the sun shines” is not true, I give up.
I challenge you to open up a money market fund at someplace like ING or Fidelity. Have your broker take 10 percent of every commission check and wire it to your account. Even though it sounds scary, you will never miss it. Also, have one of the two companies (or another like them) take $10 to $1,000 out of your account every month. You will not miss it either.
3. I bet this market has proven to you that debt is a drag. Secured debt is alright if the security is making enough money to pay for the debt, but all other kinds of debt is a drag. I challenge you to have a plan of reduction. Implement a plan that entails paying cash for items. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses, because they’re in debt, too. Make pay downs on the balance on a regular basis. Get a board game for the family and figure out to have more fun while spending less. Start with the highest interest rate item first, then negotiate others down.
4. Who needs stuff? I just had dinner last night with 70-year-old-plus friends. They have lots of stuff. He told me, “Every year you are alive, you like stuff less.” I challenge you to learn eBay, take things to a local auction or the re-sale shops. As for the items that do not sell, give them to the less advantaged. Take the money from the items you do sell, and apply that money to debt or savings account.
5. In this market, it’s hard to read the bad news in the press and then hang out with negative people. Start believing that you are a reflection of the people you hang out with. Realtors will never buy or sell through you so if you hang out with them, they better be uplifting! Get out of the energy-draining relationships. My life never truly turned around until I (nicely) put all bad and energy-sucking people out of my life. I challenge you not to engage with negativity by filling your time with positives and not returning the calls of the negatives.
6. In tough times, time itself becomes more valuable. Some of your communication habits have to change. I challenge you to urge cooperative agents to leave messages on your voice mail if it is not your phone answering time. They need to leave a complete message so you can work on the challenge and propose a solution without having to talk to them in person. Many a deal gets put together with effective voice mail messages, and never actually talking to the other person.
Second, when you and your client need information, try a three-way call. Hit the hold, dial the “answer man’s” number, and connect all three. It will impress your client, answer further questions and eliminate telephone tag.
I challenge you to handle the phone better by time-blocking a special two hours a day for return calls, incoming calls, incoming and outgoing E-mails and snail mail. Then I challenge you to start taming the cooperative calls and starting three-way phone calls to handle the challenge immediately.
7. On every bill you pay, I want you to ask, “How do I reduce it, eliminate it, get someone else to pay for it, or a combination?” If you are going to use print advertising, it better be creative and contrary to the competition. When everyone else advertises their sellers, why can’t you advertise your buyers? If it is not bringing results, try to improve it. If it still has no return, eliminate it. I challenge you to look very carefully at your expenses.
8. Many buyers and sellers have goals that are not being achieved by many Realtors. Charge them more if you know how to achieve their goals. This involves asking more questions to better determine their needs. The answers to these questions will determine if they are realistic and motivated enough to participate in a process that is in their own best interest. Next, prepare a listing presentation that meets their core needs. Why not ask for more commission than the competition is requesting. People are willing to pay for professionals who achieve their goals. If you are one these professionals who achieve goals, ask for more than the “average” agents in your area, but you had better be able to prove you are worth the difference.
9. This market should force you to pay attention to the numbers. How many listings are there compared to 12 and 24 months ago? How long do they take to sell and at what list-to-sale ratio? How does that compare to your list-to-sale ratio? How does that compare to the numbers of the agent that you are about to go up against?
It is all about success, and the numbers prove success. People pay for success and people hang out with success. I challenge you to know the numbers that express your market — your competition’s numbers and your numbers. If they compare well, talk about them in this market and people will take notice.
Take a look back next week when I will show you even more silver linings that can be found in a difficult market.
Walter Sanford was one of the top real estate agents in North America for nearly thirty years, and now, he is one of the most requested speakers, trainers and coaches. For more details, visit waltersanford.com, call 815.929.9258 or email Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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