What Can Agents Do to Keep Busy?
In a recent interview, I was asked to comment on real estate business during the holidays. Specifically, what can real estate agents do in order to keep busy in a traditionally slow season? When did I think the market would pick up again? To be quite frank, I wasn’t a big fan of these questions and I needed to choose my words wisely. First off, I never perceive the holidays as a “slow” season in real estate. The holidays is just one of many seasons. And, it is the responsibility of the real estate agent to adapt activities and business style from season to season.
One of the traits of a highly successful real estate agent is the ability to continuously adapt to the ever-changing marketplace. Not only does that include bending and molding work styles and activities during the holiday season, but this also includes adapting to the changing needs of the consumer.
In 2007, the market changed drastically. Due to economic changes and a national recession, borrowers started losing their homes to foreclosure or were required to sell in short sale. At that time, the National Association of Realtors® faced a serious decline in its membership. These extremely time-consuming and frustrating real estate transactions scared off thousands of Realtors®.
Author Joseph O’Neill says, “Complication represents opportunity. The more something is complicated, the more potential competitors will be deterred.” While he wasn’t speaking about the act of listing a short sale, this interesting comment is one way to approach the selection of a niche, specialized area, or unique way to create your brand in the field of real estate.
4 Real Estate Niches to Consider
Here are some things that you may want to add to your real estate bag of tricks for 2014:
- Property Management. In the past six years, millions of homeowners have become renters. Consider the steady income associated with property management as a great way to pay the bills in good and bad economic times.
- New Neighborhoods and Farm Areas. What’s the average sales price for your closings? Are there local neighborhoods that have a higher median sales price? Market in new areas where the median sales price is higher and you can increase your income for the coming year.
- Architectural Specialist. What’s popular in your part of town? Perhaps you are an expert in Craftsman style homes, Eichler homes, or even new construction. When you demonstrate expertise and build trust in a single area, buyers and sellers will keep you very busy.
- Short Sales. One out of seven homeowners still owes more on their mortgage than their home is worth. And, according to the U.S. Treasury, approximately $30 billion in home equity lines of credit (dating to 2004) is due for reset in 2014, $53 billion the following year, and (get this…) $111 billion in 2018. While definitely a diminishing niche, there will still be short sale opportunities in 2014.
How to Know When to Adapt
Without a crystal ball, it is difficult to know when to adapt your real estate plan. That’s why you need to continuously evaluate your success. If one marketing piece or prospecting style that used to be extremely successful doesn’t function any longer, it’s time to reassess and make changes accordingly.
For me, I’ve been riding a really long wave in the ocean of short sales. It has been a great ride, and I’ll probably ride it until it crashes. But, I know that it won’t last forever, and have made changes accordingly—adding new tips, tools, techniques, and market niches to my bag of tricks. That way, when the wave crashes, I probably won’t even get wet.
As to the question, “When will the market pick up again?” The market isn’t slow; it’s different. To be successful in real estate, you’ve got to work towards those differences and make them into opportunities. That’s not always easy, but it’s what makes selling real estate so much fun!