The World is Upside Down
Between the credit crisis, housing bubble, Wall Street collapse, ridiculous food and goods pricing, gasoline pricing, and overall downward pressure on optimism, it seems on the inside that the world is just upside down.
Every Man for Themselves
I’ve watched blogs become vacated and static, voices go silent, and excitement go dormant time and time again around the blogging community because, to be quite honest, many just either don’t have the answer, good news to speak of, or fear making an educated guess because what’s going on is very different (or at least it feels that way).
Why Aren’t The Phones Ringing?
What’s most amusing to me about the current state of affairs online is much the very same reason I as an agent said goodbye to the office store front. I loathe being around negativity, I dislike being around naysayers, and it’s difficult for me to listen to people who truly believe that nothing can be done any other way than it’s ever been done before. The mentality of waiting for the phones to ring drives me nuts, and dreaming that the grass will be green in March, and until then I’ll just complain is something that drives me insane- meanwhile bitching and soapboxing about anything and everything the producers do is a waste of time and probably wrong.
I said goodbye to that feeling many many years ago, and many times, it’s served me well. Those people I once left sitting in that office are no longer in the business- they failed to adapt, they accepted conditions on face value, and seemed okay with waiting on a new solution in a box for $99.95 per year that would get them through the winter- hilarious.
On the Move
I’ve always been of a different school of thought, I truly dislike experts that preach a one track approach to a multi-pronged scenario. I want products, goods, and services from companies that think like me, who enjoy the risk of doing something differently, who step outside of the box, that want to give more for a little less and who care about the consumer experience.
This is important because it happens to be a lot like my business. You see, if the writing is on the wall that rentals will be what’s hot for the next 9 months, guess what, I’m going after that market- I’m not the snob that says that it’s beneath me. Why would I say that or even make such a move? Because those that I lease today will buy through me tomorrow- a new pool of personal clients. I enjoy the practice of being on the job, close to the ground to feel where the world is trending, and in the trenches with the consumer delivering outside of the box thinking, great service for maybe a little less, and yes, adopting new tools to deliver fantastic service to my clients.
Planning and Understanding
Even in bad times, I want to engage buyers and sellers, renters and those not in the market; I want my fingers on the pulse of people, not on the pulse of the office- it’s why I remain engaged in the blogging community, why I write and read blogs, and why I’m very careful not to burn bridges. I remain close to thinkers who think like I do who I believe are pulse takers and opportunity developers.
There is no time for pessimism for the real estate professional, it’s our job to seek out constructive information and create opportunities for those wanting to buy and sell, our job to meet that consumer in whatever venue or avenue the consumer wishes to engage, and deliver realistic solutions.
The Motivation is Not the Goal
I’ve been so fed up with the mindset that a successful agent is the top producer mentality for years, it’s truly what makes me sick to my stomach about this profession. In my eyes, the successful agent is the agent that is unsatisfied, that beats odds, and finds opportunity in bad situations. Those that can use a pulse to adapt and be ahead of the curve, or swerve their business to reduce the impact of circumstances beyond their control. My eye has never ever been on what my competition is doing, nor worrying about their practice (nor blog for that matter) or how they’re surviving, in fact, my eye is on the ball, and that ball is the pulse, not the motivation- I’m after consistent volume over top months every day.
Higher Ground or Drown
A great example is that home sales in Austin in October plummeted 50% over last year in the same month, and that a 12 month year is now in truth only a 10 month year- October and November simply don’t exist. A 55 agent brokerage reported this week that in October only 7 contracts were written by 4 agents. That means that in January, most likely only a small percentage of those 7 contracts will have produced actual revenue- that is the state of affairs in Austin, although Austin beats most cities in the national numbers consistently, this tells me that most practices around the country are most likely flailing. Our practice suffered 8 fall offs in the month of October, solidifying a disastrous scenario for our December month- did we wait for December to react? No, we reacted on the second fall off in week one of October in focus of December and beyond.
Who’s Carrying Who?
In September, a few agents in a different state reported to us that their businesses were failing even after having moved over to a very popular virtual brokerage. This in and of itself wasn’t so much a reflection of the economy as much as it was a reflection of the idea that because the Broker says they’re producing means they’re actually producing- often times, they are subject to the same failures as the individual agent, and it is the individual that ultimately must take responsibility for their own destiny.
Honey, We Need to Talk Moments
Here in Austin during the same time in August and September, we began looking at the realities that we can do the same with one office that we do with two, we can reduce outgoing expenses, and adapt individually for avenues that pay out quickly in order to salvage our year. We ignored pessimists telling us what we already know and instead, reached deep within the pulse we can actually feel to meet our consumer where their needs lie.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because the truth again is that pessimism is something the entrepreneur has little time for- failure is not something the professional will settle for. The professional doesn’t have time to sit around and criticize things they know nothing about, and the professional doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. The professional will continue to weed out what doesn’t pay the bills and ramp up opportunities that cost little but are high impact to the pipeline.
I’ll Just Ignore that Ugly Purple Thing
What you’re not reading a lot of in the sphere is how tough it really is, what you’re not seeing a lot of is how folks are adapting, and what you’re not hearing is a belief in themselves nor the market- and if I’m not seeing those things, then neither is the consumer.
So here are some options-
- If you haven’t had to sell a short sale yet, the chances are high that you will, so take a class.
- If you haven’t had to lease, you soon will, so retool your blog now if you have experience.
- Double up your listing resistance, and don’t fill your sellers with false hope. Just last night a seller told me that she knew things would be tough, but she was prepared for the long haul. It was nice not having to tell her for a change – sellers and buyers aren’t stupid.
- Get yourself in touch with the pulse of your economy, where is it trending, and what will the housing needs be in the next 3, 6, and 9 months down the road and make sure that you take into account how you can use what you’re doing now to move you forward when the markets adjust again.
- Reduce your expenses, but boost your marketing dollars- if a tree falls in the forest…
- Not sure where your markets trending? Take a risk- you’re an expert, right?
- Get out of the way of falling real estate agents – they’re really heavy and fast flying on the way down.
- Ignore pessimism, and find opportunity. Loathe living in other peoples realities or you may find theirs to be yours.
- How big is your network? Are you truly afraid to tell those you’ve built relationships with that you’re actually in business?
- Engage buyers and sellers face to face where possible, get out of the house, and by all means, get yourself as far away from the office as humanly possible.
- Look busy, be busy. Get up, get dressed, be professional, and look successful. Not only will you look better, but you’ll feel better.
- Do you hate nametags? I know a Doctor by their lab coat, tags and stethoscopes in the hospital; revisit opportunities that make you appear “on duty.”
- You’d better have opportunities in your pocket to overcome objections in pessimistic times. Educate yourself, and educate others.
Babe, It’s Not Me, It’s You
So there’s a few things you can do right now. Everything you do, write, and spend today feeds you tomorrow – unless you yourself are a falling agent, in which case, you’ll forgive us if we step aside as you dwell in times that once were, wish for brighter tomorrows, ignore commitments you’ve made, beg for the phone to ring, and criticize those that ignore you. Chances are you only skimmed this post anyway, and will diligently misunderstand it. Those left are those that understand that a paradigm of pessimism is unacceptable, accept realities, educate themselves and others, and understand exactly what I’m talking about- that the reality of pessimism is that the day you embraced it is actually the day you quit the real estate business, and unfortunately, you’ve become very easy to spot.