Make 2010 Your Best Year Ever

Although New Year's Day has passed, it's not too late to make resolutions for improving your business. Here are a few simple things you can do to become a better professional.

February 1, 2010

We have just completed one of the most challenging years ever in the real estate industry. In the last year, we've experienced significant economic change, equity reduction, sales price, distressed properties, lending guidelines, and technology, just to name a few.

Through all the changes there is one constant: People still need homes and competent, qualified real estate professionals to represent their interests in purchasing and selling those homes. To gain an edge and achieve your goals for 2010, we'll again need to stay ahead of the market, our customers, and competition. Here are a few thoughts and ideas to make 2010 your best year ever.

Read and Study More

As practitioners, we have to use the resources that help us foreshadow market trends. We must be more educated on market conditions and trends, as well as economic conditions and trends both locally, regionally, and nationally. Unfortunately, too few of us study, analyze, and use the wealth of information that is easily available to us.

You should use NAR's Rights Tools, Right Now initiative at least once a month. Go and see what new reports and resources have been posted so you can keep ahead of the changing marketplace. Also, be sure to get the annual NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers—it will give you a clear picture of the mindset of consumers through the previous year.

Use Third-Party Data

I've seen articles in the last 60 days in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today (to name a few respected sources) that are forecasting an interest rate increase by this spring. Noted economists from companies like Moody's and Barclay's, along with university academics, are projecting an increase of 1 percent over current rates by spring due to the Federal Reserve discontinuing its purchase of mortgage-backed securities. The Fed ends its $1.25 billion purchasing at the end of March. That's the kind of information you should be using to forecast where the market is headed.

Carefully Select Your Clients and Prospects

I believe 2010 will be the year where practitioners can't afford to work with low-probability, unmotivated, or uncooperative clients. For most of 2009, only 50 percent of the homes listed in most markets actually sold, and sometimes it was even less than that. We, as real estate pros and brokers, spend our time, effort, energy, and dollars on these low-quality or even unsalable listings.

In 2010, that model will lead to more practitioners leaving the industry and companies going out of business. We need to be more effective in evaluating the marketplace, our prospects' motivation level, and our anticipated return on investment—in essence, being better businesspeople to ensure we earn a reasonable and fair profit for the services we provide.

Being ready for success in 2010 will demand change, but it will also demand application of solid fundamentals. In focusing on the new and innovative, don't neglect the simple things that will make you a success in any marketplace.

 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