Is There an Upside to a Downturn?

Of course there is. A slowing market gives you the chance to show off your selling skills.

July 1, 2006

Several years ago, during the heat of the rising market that most of the country was experiencing, I said to an audience: “I may be the only person you know who prays every day for a real estate slowdown.” Half of the audience jumped out of their chairs with the look of shock on their faces. Here’s my reasoning.

The way I see it, great sales people don’t have as many chances to demonstrate their skills when the real estate market is red hot. That’s because in a hot market, selling skills do not tend to take center stage. Buyers are lured by low interest rates and inventory is tight. Homes sell fast and sellers are generally pleased with the price they get.

But now that prices are leveling off and inventory is rising in many markets, the story is changing. Buyers are more hesitant to make a move, and they have a greater selection of homes from which to choose. Sellers who recently controlled the market are suddenly looking for help.

Now it’s your time to shine with sellers. Now is the time to turn challenges into opportunities to show how skilled you are in marketing a property, attracting buyers, and negotiating a successful deal. Now is the time to build trust by educating buyers on current market trends and by helping them stay calm even as they’re surrounded by less-than-enthusiastic media reports on the real estate market.

Follow these tips, and you'll be on your way to impressing seller after seller:

  • Sharpen your skills. In a slowing market, your value to sellers is defined by your marketing and presentation skills, your ability to handle tough pricing situations, and your success in negotiations. You also must be able to educate sellers on the changing marketing conditions. If you haven’t dealt with such scenarios in a while, refresh your skills right away so you’re ready for whatever comes your way. Take classes, enroll in training, and read books.
  • Stick to a plan. Commit to a very specific plan of action for each listing. No longer can you list a property and expect it to sell quickly with multiple offers. Outline exactly you are going to do in terms marketing each house to get it sold. Will you take video tours of the property, stage the home, hold open houses, place ads in local publications? Explain the specifics of your marketing plan during listing presentations to gain an edge over competitors, and then be diligent about sticking to your plan.
  • Help clients remain level-headed. As one top agent said to me in 1990: “We have to be the calming person in every transaction.” In a slowing market, sellers tend to be more anxious — and in some cases, actually afraid — of what will happen next. Your job is to walk into each sales situation with an air of confidence that will calm and relax your clients. Keep them informed of market conditions by showing them hard data from the MLS and newspaper reports, and always make sure that all of their questions are answered.
  • Adapt quickly. Probably the most important thing you must to in a declining or changing market is to adapt quickly. Think ahead of the curve; Stay up to date on what’s happening in the market so you know what to expect next. Your ability to adapt to a variety of people in a variety of situations is the key to building your business.
  • Be flexible. How flexible are you? How quick are you to change your work habits and behavior? How willing are you to see each transaction from the other person’s perspective? These are deciding factors in your growth over the next couple of years as we go through what I consider to be “the perfect time for all of you that are great agents to grow and succeed.”
  • Keep an open mind. Think about how these ideas apply to you and put them into action. Each of us can improve our business dramatically in this changing market, so let’s make it happen starting today.

Mike Ferry is an expert on real estate sales techniques, training, and motivation. He’s the founder of the Mike Ferry Organization, a real estate coaching and training organization based in Irvine, Calif.

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