What is the future for the US real estate industry? It depends on whom you ask. Some experts see pent-up buyer and seller demand and increasing vaccination rates keeping the housing market humming for the long-term, while others fear that higher home prices and rising interest rates will put a damper on the red-hot real estate market.
If you’re not sure what to make of who’s right, the best defense for your business is a good offense. Here are some ways to make sure that you’re ready for what’s next—whatever it may be.
1. Keep communication and content creation steady
When you are busy, it’s easy to let your content strategy, email outreach, and other marketing methods go by the wayside. Then, if the market cools, you are back to square one, reconnecting and reestablishing yourself with your sphere and potential clients. By making communication and content creation a consistent part of your professional life, rain or shine, you ensure a steady stream of leads and referrals, even in a down market.
2. Diversify your lead-gen strategy
During market shifts, you may find that you need to change your lead generation strategy and focus. If you’ve been used to reaching out to sellers, you may need to shift to buyers. If you’ve been used to getting all the leads you need through organic content, you may need to boost some posts or focus on some new advertising platforms. Don’t get stuck on what has always worked before; be open to the possibility of trying something new.
While branding is important, for most real estate professionals it needs to be grounded in something personal. If your marketing tends to be formal and austere, now might be the time to create warmer, more candid images and content. People want to connect and to see you as a person, not just a logo. Take the opportunity to maximize your emotional connection, both with your sphere and with new leads who are encountering you for the first time.
4. Track expenses for maximum cost-efficiency
When times are good, it is easy to get into careless spending habits and say “yes” to new initiatives without really following up to see how well they’re working. Track your expenses as part of your monthly bookkeeping, and find out what paid platforms and marketing initiatives are working for your business. Prioritize cost-cutting on an ongoing basis and always know if something is no longer viable.
Real estate agents are notorious for spending big on new leads while doing little or nothing to stay in touch with past clients. That’s usually because real estate clients don’t use their services every year or two—they may not have a real estate need for a decade or more. However, your former clients know people who are buying, selling, marrying, having babies, and retiring. By staying in touch with them, you remain top of mind so that when real estate comes up, they’ll say, “I know the greatest agent. You’ve just got to meet her/him.”
6. Work with a financial planner and CPA
Just as you don’t set off on a trip to an unfamiliar neighborhood without putting the address into your GPS, you shouldn’t set off into the financial unknown without consulting a financial expert. A financial planner or advisor can offer insights for your long-range planning, while a CPA will help you understand how monthly expenses, business ownership, and taxes are impacted by changes in your personal finances and in the broader economy.
You may want to meet with your planner once a year or once a quarter to stay on top of your big picture items, while you’ll probably be in weekly or monthly contact with your CPA for more short-term issues.
One of the best ways to stay up-to-date on the movements in your market and in the industry is to hang out with people who are operating at the top of their game. This puts you in line for the latest information, insights, and strategies that are working for your top-producing colleagues.
Reach out to a respected peer or mentor for a cup of coffee. Volunteer for a committee at the local or state association level. Join the leadership team of your professional organization. Attend meetings and conferences, not only to learn something new but to hobnob with leaders in your market and in the industry.
8. Stay nimble and take advantage of changing market conditions
The people who struggle the most during market downturns and adjustments are those who are convinced that “what has always worked” will always continue to work. In truth, things change and, while you may not need to reinvent the wheel to stay successful, you probably need to be open to some changes.
Remember, change doesn’t have to be bad. In some cases, changing your marketing, focus, or lead gen strategies may help you to get out of a rut and reinvigorate your business — and your passion for real estate.
While you want to help everyone, especially when clients are hard to come by, you may find that your marketing is more effective by going narrower and focusing on a specific niche. Is the luxury market losing steam? Maybe this is the time to specialize in smaller condominiums, starter homes, and first-time homebuyers. Is the economy in your area weak? This may be the time to pivot toward short sales, foreclosures, and working with investors in your area. Find out how to make changing market conditions work for you so that you can keep working.
10. Optimize the tools at your disposal
Update your CRM. Master your transaction management platform. Maximize your reach on social media. Don’t let your frustration get the best of you. Use your downtime to do something new, updating systems and processes as needed. You’ll find that you are up and running more efficiently and effectively than ever before when the market comes back.