How You Can Thrive in This Challenging Market?

Go Back to Basics and Double Down on What Makes You Valuable

By: 2021 GBAR President Dino Confalone
Special to Banker & Tradesman (Appeared in April 19, 2021 Issue)

Anxiety. Confusion. Stress. These are just a few words that have been associated with the market buyers and sellers are entering into in the Greater Boston area now more than ever. What in the world is going on? And how can real estate professionals navigate these choppy waters? 

Several factors have created a vicious cycle of low inventory and high demand. This economic situation is one of the most challenging I've seen in my three decades in the business. The marketplace resembles a frozen tundra with flashes of fire rising into the sky. When a property hits the market, and if it’s priced right, we are seeing lines in the streets. Multiple offers are the norm and buyers are feeling the pressure. Sellers are definitely in the driver’s seat; however, they can still overprice a property. Educated buyers that have been living and breathing the market will not be fooled. 

Last year’s pandemic and charged political climate created a recurring theme of suburban homeowners hunkering down, with any plans of selling tossed out the window. Building material costs skyrocketed and getting on a general contractor’s schedule became a hot commodity. A lot of intended home improvements (prior to selling) came to a screeching halt. The eventual plan of downsizing and moving into the city took a backseat to shuffling rooms around to create multiple home offices. Our desperately needed inventory is just waiting to be unleashed. Still, we’ve turned the corner and we are seeing signs of thawing. With vaccinations increasing, optimism is abounding. 

Let’s Take It Old School 
How do professionals survive in this market? I suggest going old school. 

So, here is my Jerry Maguire letter. Yes, technology has increased productivity, educated our clients and provided a bit of social engagement. However, let’s not forget that Realtors are the ambassadors to the American dream. The discount–ification of our industry continues to rear its ugly head and we’ll always have to contend with it. But being that industry expert and trusted partner will never go away. First, be nicer to your fellow Realtors and other industry professionals. Competition gets the adrenaline running, but at the end of the day we are in this together. Clients come and go, but the Realtor in the office across the street will have a great listing in a few weeks. Do you really want to be the person known to be intentionally difficult? Did you have seven offers on that last listing? Guess what, it will not hurt you to call those seven buyer agents and let them down easy.  

A little kindness will go a long way. Return phone calls or texts. Smile – it will even make you feel better. Being a good person is infectious. I’ve personally had a seller ask me which buyer’s agent would be good to work with. 

Next, get educated. Let’s go back to broker open houses on Thursdays and Fridays – obviously adhering to the Center of Disease Control guidelines and incorporating a safety-first principle. Even if you do not have a buyer for a specific home, go and see it! Knowing your market will come back to help you when you’re on that next listing and the subject comes up. This will also provide a bit of camaraderie with your fellow Realtors. Oh, how I miss the broker caravan with sandwiches provided from your local lender. This needs to make a comeback. 

Buyer agents must also obtain their ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) designation. With the National Association of Realtors and the federal Department of Justice settlement, clarification is on the way. If you don’t know what I am talking about, that is a problem. Get engaged with your local Realtor association – that is what we are here for! 

Know Your Value 
It’s also important to understand that there is a massive attempt to discount our industry. Know how to work within this constant barrage of “technology” companies trying to get rid of us. Do not forget that a buyer or seller still wants to talk with someone that knows the ins and outs of their specific neighborhood. These companies will never take that away from us. All real estate is local and we have trusted industry professionals to get it done. We are the quarterbacks and have the plays memorized, let your clients know that. Let’s look at the long game. 

We also have to constantly address the subject of fair housing and take steps to eliminate our unintended biases. Our association has provided several opportunities to understand the various housing options, take the initiative to get educated. One exposure to a fair housing violation is the buyer “love letter.” You have to stop using them, as they are only opening you up to liability. If you want to provide a differentiating factor, talk about subjects such as their financing or not having to sell a home to buy. 
And last, but not least: Stay positive. Markets fluctuate, keep your eye on the horizon as change will inevitably come. 

As the laws of supply and demand fluctuate one thing is for sure: We’re in this together. Let’s strive to be a better industry and not get caught up in all of the drama. Fundamentals are critical, be creative and work on your database. In every industry it’s the same concept: Good customer service and providing value will lead to success and longevity. The spring market is upon us, so get out there (safely) and make some connections!  We will get through this, together. 

Dino Confalone is the 2021 president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors and a Realtor with Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty. 

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