At the end of the year we all tend to contemplate the past and think about our future because of the symbolism of the arbitrary finish line our calendar provides for us.
This is the fourth recession I have endured since I entered the real estate business, and though it has been exhaustingly long, it isn’t that different from the others I have faced. There are things that impact your business – some of them are in your control and some of them are out of your control. That actually makes success easier to achieve.
Step 1: Ignore the things that are out of your control.
You can’t correct the economy or fix the prices of the homes in your marketplace. You can’t increase the number of buyers in your market that can obtain financing because you can’t fix their credit scores or create increased credit liquidity by yourself. So stop fussing,complaining and worrying about what you can’t control and accept the fact that every time you try to fight with reality, reality wins.
Step 2: Review what worked for you this year and what didn’t
2010 was a challenging year in the real estate business. Get some information to help you understand how you fared compared to the market. That’s the ulitmate index in a market like ours. And try to get good information from your MLS or your company. If you outperformed the market, good for you, if you didn’t outperform the market then your need to change your activities and perhaps the pace of your work effort is even more imperative.
Look at the basics of your engagement with consumers to see where you could improve. There are 4 steps to making a sale.
- Meeting the consumer
- Convincing the consumer to work with you
- Demonstrating the product and assisting the buyer in making a choice
- Negotiating an acceptable offer with the seller
What do you need to get better at? Are you working with a lot of inquiries but not getting appointments? Do you have a lot of showing but can’t get the buyer to purchase? Are you writing a lot of agreements that aren’t being closed?
There are also four steps to obtaining a listing
- Meeting the consumer
- Demonstrating your service to convince the consumer to work with you
- Assisting the seller in pricing their property and preparing it for sale
- Negotiating an acceptable offer with the buyer
What needs improvement here? Are you meeting with enough sellers? Do you have a lot of listing appointments but can’t get a signed contract? Do you get a lot of listings only to have them expire because they needed to be priced lower? Do you need to learn to say “no” to unmotivated sellers or to better p[resent offers to purchase?
Make an honest appraisal of what you do during the week. What works? What doesn’t? Make a list, and then stop doing things that are comfortable but non-productive. There are people out there making money right this minute. As you read this. You can do better if you want to.
Step 3 : Work smarter
Learn something – how to make a better presentation, how to show homes better, how to ask for the listing or sale in a more efficient manner. Take the ePro course (ok, that was a commercial, but I really believe that the course that will help people build their business) or a course in working with buyers or sellers, or attend a convention or participate in ReBarCamp, but go to whatever you choose with the goal of obtaining an actionable plan for improving what you do.
And, while I participate in remote learning both as an instructor and a student, I would suggest that you not substitute distance learning for going somewhere and focusing on learning a subject – in my opinion distance learning is best employed when you have no alternative or when you already have a strong working knowledge of the subject and the course is about enhancing your already developed skills. That being said, its better to do something than nothing, so if remote is all you got- then make sure you get it!
Step 4: Get out of your comfort zone and improve
Unless you made more money than you knew what to do with, or you don’t care what you make from your real estate career (in which case you are wasting your time and mine reading this) you must recognize that you need to work harder, longer, smarter, and with greater determination in order to succeed. Remember that even if prices are lower, you can compensate by selling more properties. If the number of transactions in your market is less, it just means that the “pie” is smaller, and that you need to get a larger piece of the pie.
I presented on Social Media in London at the Sunday Times Estate Agents Event, earlier this month, and met a charming fellow named Sean Newman. Sean seemed to be on stage accepting awards every few minutes during the ceremony, and during an award acceptance speech he said that one of his favorite sayings was “If you want to do something you will find a way – If you don’t want to do something you will find an excuse.” Its one of my favorites now too, and I thought a perfect motto for 2011 and beyond.
Best wishes for a Healthy, Happy, and Productive 2011.