3 Steps for Navigating the Market Turbulence

Sales coach Dirk Zeller has three simple suggestions for anyone who's trying to figure out how to survive the ups and downs of today's real estate environment.

July 1, 2009

Markets across the country have been fluctuating wildly on a monthly basis, and despite some signs of improvement, it doesn’t look like the turbulence will abate anytime soon. Brokers, sales associates, lenders, and any other professionals who make their living in real estate should face this new reality and prepare for a tumultuous environment for the foreseeable future.

However, there are three specific steps you can take to ensure your success and income in this uncertain marketplace whenever you encounter low production, changing marketplaces, or falling short of goals.

Step 1: Re-price your listings to reflect real market value.

With only 47 percent of listed homes selling last year, it seems clear that we have a problem in pricing. My own analysis shows that about 80 percent of homes for sale in most marketplaces are overpriced—that is, unlikely to be sold at anything like their listed price. In contrast, short sales and foreclosures in most marketplaces are selling because usually they are priced more competitively.

The fastest and easiest way to a commission check is a well-priced listing. Price usually trumps all other factors—for you, the buyer, and the seller. What a property will actually sell for is dictated by the marketplace. The only decision is whether to sell or not.

In some situations, you’ll need to convince clients that they need to sell at a price below their expectations, painful though it may be. If you have a listing that is going to be a short sale but the seller just doesn’t know it yet, then tell him. If your client has to sell and can’t hold onto the home, then help her face the facts.

Step 2: Call all leads and ask for face-to-face appointments.

We are less personal today than when I entered the business more than 20 years ago. We need to focus more on face-to-face presentations. I believe one of the problems we have in the real estate business is with the word “sales.”

Too many agents have lost their way—or never even knew the way—in this industry. While new technology has altered lead generation—through the Internet, social networking, Web sites, call capture, squeeze pages, electronic newsletters, and other formats—the model of lead conversion has largely been unaltered. All leads still ideally need to be run through a fundamental sales channel of calling and face-to-face conversion.

Think about it: What’s your conversion rate on a lead that you can’t get face-to-face with? If you got face-to-face with them, did you book the appointment using e-mail or a phone call? If you said e-mail, then how many leads did you need to create or interact with via e-mail to get one of them to finally meet with you face-to-face?

Step 3: Start prospecting now!

I realize that once I use the “P” word, a lot of people in real estate immediately say, “He’s out of touch.” Am I? I don’t think prospecting will ever become obsolete or out of touch. Searching for sales leads systematically in a personal and direct manner will always have a place in sales—and especially real estate sales.

If, when I used the “P” word, your mind went to a place where you are mindlessly dialing random numbers down a street or calling expireds or FSBOs, you really don’t understand what prospecting is. Sure, those are forms of prospecting, to be sure, but not all agents should do them.

Being a top producer in real estate means having a personal system for making contact with prospects and doing it consistently. Not having that plan and discipline leaves you at the mercy of the market.

If you don’t have it, you may find yourself having to learn new scripts and dialogues such as, “Welcome to McDonalds, may I take your order?”

 Dirk Zeller is a speaker, author and CEO of Real Estate Champions. His company trains more than 350,000 real estate professionals each year through live events, online training, self-study programs and newsletters. He's written several articles and books, including Your First Year in Real Estate, Success as a Real Estate Agent for Dummies and Telephone Sales for Dummies. To learn more, visit http://www.realestatechampions.com.