I don’t anticipate a downturn, market adjustment or recession anytime soon . . . but I do expect one to come eventually. It always does! It’s the nature of our business; it’s cyclical.
The question is: what can you do today to be in position for the next tight market? Of course, I have a few ideas:
Start making contact with Asset Managers at companies that manage REOs. A dozen years ago, that meant attending seminars and conventions and crawling over dozens of other agents to schmooze elusive decision makers. It’s very different today. Making contact usually means going online and completing an application; and then responding when a request for a BPO is issued. It’s a lot easier! And, trust me: your peers are not even thinking about this right now. Beverly Sonnier is in our Friday Coaching Group and it is remarkable that she usually has one or more REO listings in inventory most of the time. So start doing those applications now – and if you need to know which companies to go after, let me know. I have a list.
Decide now how you’ll handle Short Sales going forward. There are probably very few or none in your market at the moment, which makes this the perfect time to consider that process. You may have been an absolute ACE at processing Short Sales during the last downturn. I knew a few Brokers who insisted they loved Short Sales! But do you really want to go through the frustration and aggravation of negotiating with a lender again? I sure wouldn’t! I believe the best course is to form a relationship with a company that specializes in processing Short Sales. You take the listing, you make the sale and then they take over, dealing with the lender and getting to closing. There are a number of companies that do this and it usually costs you nothing. Their fees are generally paid by the lender. I’ll remind you that David Bartels of Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty in Westlake Village, CA has had another company for years that processes Short Sales for other brokers. During the 2007-2012 time frame it wasn’t unusual for him to have more than 90 Short Sales working at once. His team is professional, knowledgeable and this is all they do. Why not reach out and find out about his program – or one of the other ones out there – today.
Start focusing on how buyers are served in your company. They will become the sought after parties in our business when the market shifts. So, how are you marketing to them today? And more important: what are you doing with them once you are in contact with them? Incubation is essential today. Most are taking three months or more after an initial contact before they are ready, willing and able to purchase. So what system do you have for staying in touch in a meaningful way? By the way, typical Realtor blather is usually not meaningful and probably won’t help you cement a relationship. So skip the newsletters, recipes and promotional pieces about how wonderful you are! Instead, put your incubating people on a hot list to be notified any time you take or come across a listing they might like. Touch base once a month with a market update emphasizing things like days on market, months of inventory and appreciation rates. Start paying attention to what’s happening to the buyer leads coming into your office now. What are your conversion rates and how could you improve them?
And, reach out to some of your competitors to find out if they have a referral process. I know that sounds a little odd. But Redfin takes on referral agents in areas where they don’t have a physical presence (and sometimes where they do). Maria Powell at Help-U-Sell Galleria Realty in Tucson is completely buried in buyer leads to the point that she really can’t get to them all! And the lion’s share are from Redfin. There is a detailed process you must go through to become a Redfin partner, but Maria will gladly share her experience with you. Mike Bowling in Yuma just got an invitation from PurpleBricks (of all people!) to become a referral agent for them. Like Redfin, they are looking for people in areas they don’t serve. So who are you hearing about on a National level that doesn’t have a presence in your local market? This would be a great time to reach out and see if you can solve a problem for them!
Your preparation will make a big difference when the market eventually turns and now is a great time to start. Smart sailors mend their canvas when the sun is out . . . so they will be ready when the storm hits.