All of us who actively list and sell real estate are facing one of the most challenging times any of us have ever seen. From an agent’s point of view, we spend our workday trying to create a market that may, in fact, just not be there at this time. From a broker’s point of view, it is not a question “if” we will be operating in the “hole” – the question is how deep we are willing and able to dig that “hole” in order to stay in business. So what do we do?
There are four points we need to focus on at this time in order to survive…
We all need to remember that even though we are in a recession (and unemployment may go as high as 9%) 91% of the U.S. population will be employed. The vast percentage of the population can still buy real estate if they so choose. Furthermore, life changes and these changes often generate the need to buy or sell property – a growing family needs a bigger home; a retiree wants to finally move to that dream place on a lake; etc. Buying and selling property is fundamentally apart of our economic and social life. Recession has not changed these facts. So this is the first point: Even though we are in a recessionary economy at this time, there is, and always will be a real estate market, even though the market is smaller than in year’s past.
Check out what one of the most respected U.S. economist’s, Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, has to say about the economy. You will be the most popular person in the room if you can help those around you gain a perspective on what is going on. Talk about great holiday table talk!
Second point: we can and need to sharpen our skills as REALTORS®. Brokers are heard to complain how their agents aren’t coming into the office on a regular basis nowadays – and just as many agents ask “Why come in when there is nothing to do?” Bologna! This is the time when the foundations of great leaders and salespersons in our business are being built — when others are at home watching daytime TV. Now is the time to learn to earn. Take advantage of all the inexpensive, or even free, courses offered by the National Association of REALTORS®. And take an hour and explore all the educational resources available through Realtor.org. It is absolutely amazing all the information that is available to us at our finger tips through NAR.
Third point: we need to take control of our businesses. No matter if we are brokers or agents, we need to watch our expenses. When the market was good we all slipped into habits of sloppy spending. As brokers, we must now be an example to our agents of prudent and careful spending. If the ship goes down, the whole fleet — our staff and all of our agents — suffers. Agents too must work smarter, with an eye on their own bottom line. Now is the perfect time for both brokers and agents to begin using all the free resources that we have at hand through NAR and Realtor.org.
No one has better and more up to date information about how to succeed in real estate than is available from NAR — through on-line help, Information Central and by asking the NAR staff itself (my experience is that the staff at NAR is eager to help). This is what we pay dues for…
Finally, let us not think that we are alone in this challenging time. The entire REALTOR® organization is standing with us. NAR is not cutting services. On the contrary, NAR leadership and staff have made a conscious decision not to cut the budget, programs or benefits of our trade association despite the down market. They are able to do this because for years, NAR has been an excellent steward of our moneys. They have saved for a rainy. And you don’t have to read it in the headlines to know that this is our rainy day!
The Bottom line here: Our trade organization is able and prepared to see us through this tough time. Most importantly, NAR is seizing this opportunity to promote national legislation that would benefit the real estate consumer, our industry and the country.
As a Broker and a salesperson, I know the times are hard. It is without question the most challenging time I have gone through in 33 years in the business. But perhaps, having been in the business for more than three decades, I have an advantage on some of my fellow REALTOR®: I know this time will pass, and I know the market will improve. Until it does, however, let us all use the assets that NAR has built and provided us with now. All of us can use the help. — Steve Brown, 2009 VP & Liaison to Committees