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Real Estate Strategies | What are You Doing to Turn Your Real Estate Business Around?

In real estate there is always tremendous resistance to change, yet change is inevitable as the changing tides. Some will survive,and some will not. Charles Darwin is pretty much accepted today for his theories on the subject of survival of a species.  So how will we adapt to change personally?  Change occurs every day, and moves us away from a comfort zone into an uncharted territory.  It is perplexing to find that what we employed so successfully yesterday, is not yielding any results today. The newness of our surroundings makes it difficult to come up with new ideas and try different things.  The landscape has changed, and the new surroundings do not bring us any peace of mind. We are more set in our ways than we know, and the thought of confronting hurts us!  We make new resolutions to get up earlier, go to the office more often, we realize that networking may not change your current streams of income...if you and your associates are unable to to adapt to the new market.  New ideas and a fresh approach is needed.  It takes more the discussing the book "Who Moved My Cheese" because it has already moved, and the answer lies in what have you implemented since you've read the book last!  Has it yielded any results, if not, what is your next strategy?  Do you have one?

Stock markets and industry bobble heads will be coming out saying things are not that bad, because that is their job, but your income tells a different story.  Paying your own bills, and preserving your own home are more important than the trends taking place in real estate.  We must begin wiht a total review of persona finances and budgets.  To survive softer times, a new focus for our livelihood has to be made.  A new beginning has to be broached! Choices may have to be made, but only when all the information is at hand.  Think about it as an assessment.

The assessment may be based on trends in our own market place, our personal experience, our own sales history, and local sales increases, units sold, and prices ranges that are moving need to be examined.  We must be able to answer the question, "What is selling and why?"   Are sales hot in single family homes?  Where do more sales occur in your market?  What price ranges?  Is the number of bedrooms a factor?  Why are some units selling when others do not?  What is driving the sales in those areas?  Is it a school district. access to public transportation, price?  Do not be blinded by the national news and headlines.  Things may be better or worse.  Every market is different, but you must know your market!  Be proactive looking for hot spots that are bucking the trend,   Knowledge is always the key to survival.  When you obtain enough information, you are able to move beyond the diagnosis stage and make a prognosis,  Where will you be when this all straightens out, and how well off will you be?  Then you will be able to see where you fit into the scheme of things and develop a new plan to adapt and succeed in the next phase of the market.

Taking more listings, waiting for the phone to ring, desk duty, holding open houses may have been productive in the past, but are not really a plan.  Watching your budget, making modifications of spending, turning away bad business may be a very smart idea.  We have enough on our plates without adding to the stress.  So a signed buyers agency with a pre-approved buyer is a must.  Working with motivated sellers is critical!  What changes are you making in your business?  Here are a few of my own:

Budget and Expenses:

  1. Not renewing unproductive marketing tools
  2. Cancelling unneeded domain names
  3. Cutting Expenses
  4. Cutting Marketing Expenses
  5. No new expenditures or systems
  6. Pre-determined targeted marketing
  7. Using a more gas efficient car for daily runs and errands.

For Sellers:

  • No listing agreements less than 6 months
  • No open homes (glutted market)
  • No overpriced listings - list prices must be within last 4 months comps or less
  • No Discounts (more effort, more time, increase marketing expenses, more stress to sell)
  • No overpriced listings
  • All listings must be clean, immaculate and without odors
  • Neutral decor, turn key condition
  • No Appointment only listings
  • No homes on the market until they are show ready!

For Buyers:

  • Signed buyers agency agreement
  • Working with Pre-Approved Buyers Only
  • Not working any Contingent upon Sales Buyers (too many buyers cannot sell homes!)
  • Not showing any buyers just thinking of moving to area.
  • Buyers need to have a job.
  • Not opening doors for non-clients (will show single home with signed buyer agency only)
  • Meet buyers only at office.
  • No addresses, or detailed free information on websites.
  • No free information over the phone for non clients.
  • Buyers must ride in my car when showing homes!

 

Copyright September 25 2007 Jim Crawford All Rights Reserved

 

RE/MAX Agent Atlanta

 

James Crawford ABR, Broker Associate

RE/MAX Paramount Properties

1605 Mansell Road Suite 106

Alpharetta GA, 30009

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Comment balloon 30 commentsJim Crawford • September 25 2007 10:52AM

Comments

Jim- good points. I like the part about your income, paying your bills, mortgage, etc., being the real proof of how well you're doing.
Posted by Lisa Hill, Daytona Beach Real Estate (Florida Property Experts) over 10 years ago
Lisa Hill Thanks!  I really is time for a re-evaluation of all we know as it applies to us, and our business and goals!
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago
WOW, This is a great comprehensive blog.

It is one needs to be printed out and on my bulletin board in front of MY FACE every day.

Thanks for putting it all in a nutshell. 
Posted by Debbie Cook, Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc) over 10 years ago
Debbie Cook Thank you!  I am glad it helps!
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago

Jim,

I think you're getting a little carried away. Being flexible is the key. Being smarter with your time is good in any market but some of these like, no open houses, meet only at office, must ride in your car, and others are questonable? I think that open house are essential free marketing and can get you a buyer, "it does for me and many others". I never meet clients at my office, I usually pick them up at their home and start looking at properties - if it's a listing I always go to their home. If my buyers choose to follow me that's great, it's thier choice, I want them to feel comfortable.

I'm starting to see many agents getting stricter because of the market. Buyers and sellers are scared and need guidence not stricter agent poicies because the market has forced them to work a little harder. Just my thoughts on it. I would challenge agents to not fall into a knee jerk reaction.

Mike Lewis

Posted by Mike and Dawn Lewis, The Lewis Team at Keller Williams in San Diego CA (The Lewis Team at Keller Williams) over 10 years ago

Mike Lewis  I am talking about my market in Atlanta.  II also qualififed what I mentioned in the blog above as a personal assessment of your own market, marketing plan...not mine. 

in the Atlanta area, inventory is though he roof more than doubled what it should be at 116000 Active Listings, the number of real estate agents are up 300% in 3 years from 13000 to 46000...so in my market how would anopen house sell?  Tell me.  I'd love to hear.  We have about 5 years inventory in condos and town homes, luxury homes are also glutted.  They could not find the open house here, through the sea of for sale signs.  The stats on open houses are interesting also...less than 1/2 of 1 % of open homes are ever sold through an open house.  And those that do?  Most are new construction. If you do not qualify the buyer with all the other agents, you are just doing their work for them.  As for meeting buyers only at the office, not only is it better for safety, it is a chance to sell them.  As for riding in my own car?  I have never in all my years closed anyone that has followed in their car!  I've been doing this since 1979, and I know better, I am going back to basics that make sense.

Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago

My personal favorite is 'buyers need to have jobs!'  This list should be posted in offices everywhere!!! 

Posted by Tamara Inzunza, Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living (RE/MAX Executives) over 10 years ago
Thank you Tamara Inzunza.  It is a pet peeve of ours that someone that is contemplating a move to Atlanta assumes that because they have a job in New York, San Francisco, Chicago or elsewhere that they can just pick up and get a job here.  It does not work that way most of the time.   It is great if I am thinking of becoming a taxi driver, but wiht gas prices where they are, wear and tear on the car...I'd rather have no business at all than bad business.
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago

Jim,

You make some very astute comments about relevant issues for real estate agents in the current, challenging market.  It sounds like your region is having a more difficult time than we are facing here in the Seattle area.  One suggestion that would apply to every market is the value of leveraging time by utilizing electronic marketing systems and working with a knowledgeable virtual assistant.

We're all hoping to see the housing market stabilize in the near term!  Wishing you success.

 

Posted by Vicki Vannoy, Top Producer & R. E. Assistant (Vicki Vannoy -- Virtual Assistant) over 10 years ago

Jim: Some really good observations. What kills me is that many agents aren't doing anything differently, better or even using these slower times to educate or improve their systems or how they do business. They are just waiting it out, waiting for the leads or the phone to ring, or going out of business. Here are some things I have done this year:

Education - got my ABR, ASP & working on GRI

Farming - Every 3 - 4 weeks no matter what. Other agents are cutting back...I'll be the one in their mailbox when they need an agent (just got a call yesterday from a seller who said they were thinking of calling an agent and then there I was in the mail!)

Mastermind - I'm in a group that constantly kicks each other in the butt

AR, alternative advertising, finding more efficient ways to do things - Why pay for SEO placement when AR helps you get good placement for free

Upgrade - Re-work and improve presentations, flyers, brochures, etc. Be the best

Prospecting - Call, write, email those past clients often - work on expired program

Will I make as much money this year as last? Probably not, but you never know. But when the market does start to turn around...watch out...because I'm gonna knock their socks off.

Posted by Kelly Sibilsky (Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD.) over 10 years ago
Vicki Vannoy  Virtual Assistant VA is the way to go!  I am a big believer in replacing paper with electronic, Internet and web.  I also understand you are in one of the few good markets in USA.
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago
Kelly Sibilsky  I think you are smart in your approach.  I recently finished all my continuing education for next August in Georgia.  I am about to start my continuing Ed for Virginia which is due at the end of February 2008.  After I come back from speaking in Branson MO the item I want to attack is my webs, SEO fine tuning, and Active Rain target localism blogs.  When the market picks up again, I will be there with my buyers and sellers way ahead of the curve.  Everyone else is waiting for work to just fall into their laps!  It's not going to happen!  That is pure fantasy!
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago

Jim - You always write the most insightful posts! Your observations are correct. I always have buyers come into the office because I want to see what they look like and want other people to meet them, too. Just to be safe.

I agree with Tamara..."must have a job!"  I've run into more people who don't have a job (tell me they do), or have changed jobs 3-4 times in the last several months and have a hard time qualifying to buy a home.

I think you have to be a little stricter and get out face to face...that's where the business is. Sitting at your desk hoping the phone will ring is ludicrous!  Gave this a 5!

Posted by Linda Scanlan (A Fan of AR) over 10 years ago

Linda Scanlan Thanks, but it is because I sell homes also!  When I write a post it is based on experience, not theory.  Like everyone else, I've made mistakes with buyers, and wasted a lot of time.  I've worked buyers that had no job, and told me they have already spoken to a lender.  I will not do it again.  I will not open doors while another agent takes a nap or works a full time job, then have to negotiate with someone that shows up only for a closing. 

When we streamline our business and cut out the garbage it allows us to move foreword and earn more money because we are not workingunproducivly with time wasters.  That is why I shared above some personal observations.  If a buyer chooses to follow you to a home in a second car without legitimate reasons...they are not going to buy!  End of story! If they do not want to meet you at the office, they are using you, and they may challenge your personal safety.  Now you are just opening doors to persons you do not know because you are desperate!  Not good!

Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago
I agree with most of your items - all very good. The ones I may not be implementing I think are just differences in our markets rather than philosophical differences.
Posted by Elaine Reese, REALTOR® in central Ohio (Real Living HER, Powell Ohio) over 10 years ago
Elaine Reese  Thanks for sharing.  That's OK many markets are different, and the assessment is of your own business.   I'd love to hear what changes everyone is making. Please take a moment to share.
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago
I love it, I alway re-evaluate what worked and what didn't.
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 10 years ago
Missy Caulk  Thanks Missy you arways share so much here on AR!
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago

 We're just hanging out waiting for the next stage to bring in the buyers to Tucson.

Seriously, thank you for this post, Jim.  It's timely, and much appreciated.  I rate you a big 5!  We'll bookmark it and come back for more.

The amount of useful content on Active Rain is what has captured my attention; it's helped my business and my focus.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 10 years ago
Mike Jones  I love the photo!  Team Tuson?  Glad it helped!
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago

Jim,

Excellent post Jim...very good points! I work in a similar manner i.e. Buyer Agency required, Buyer must speak to "my" preferred lender to verify credit standing and income (they do not have to use them but they are required to speak to and verify), Buyer must meet at my office initially so they can be properly ID'd (no such thing as being to safe these days) and qualified. My focus is on Buyers right now unless it's a no-brainer listing! Several big producers (listing agents) struggling these days in this Atlanta market. The most important activities for me are: lead generation, prospecting, booking appointments (face time), follow-up, close.

Operations must be lean and mean in this market or any market for that matter and I have been cutting the fat as well!

Again, great post Jim!

Posted by Mike Anderson over 10 years ago
Mike thanks!  Have to work smarter!  It is not like the fat days where I can let a few potential buyers slip through!
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago
Jim - love the tips and I follow just about all of them - especially the expenses and sellers lists.  In this day and age, if agents aren't willing to recognize that readjustment is a normal phenomenon in this business, then they either haven't been around long enough or just have their head stuck in the sand.
Posted by Irene Morales Ward, Realtor - e-Pro - Northern Virginia Real Estate (REMAX Distinctive Real Estate, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Jim, I hate to say it but this sounds like "old fashioned" common sense.

Something you didn't touch on is the "process" real buyers go through. They want to know everything about an area, they want to know "values," and they want to know what they "want." This education takes time. Maybe two to three weeks if they are working at it. Until they are comfortable with their "education" they are not a prospect. They don't want to talk to an agent because they are afraid of "being sold." When they are "ready" to buy, the first agent they talk to will probably get them.

Now the challenge is to be that first agent. How do you do this? I think that you need to "capture" them during their investigative process, feed them everything they need to "learn" what they want to buy. Do this using a daily email drip campaign with listings INCLUDING ADDRESSES but only your contact information.

When they are "ready" to buy, then your program kicks in. Invite them to your office and go for it.

Bill Roberts

Posted by Bill Roberts, "Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner (Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate) over 10 years ago
Good points, Jim.  Cost control is essential in a market like this one.  You have laid out a plan for your business and that's something many of us fail to do.
Posted by Eric Kodner, CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 - (Madeline Island Realty) over 10 years ago
Bill Roberts Thanks!  I think the buyers are really more in tune with the market than most real estate agents.  The Internet has forced a lot of this shift.  This is where I stay ahead of the curve and allow myself to get in front of them before anyone else. Then it is to nurture them, and not patronize them.  They resent that!   Thanks again Bill.
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago
Showing less, Selling More!  We have sized our team down and reworked our business model.  This is a great start to keep the business running.  One thing I noticed that you wrote - no addresses.  We recently had a debate about that too.  Google pinpoints the addresses now and clients drive all over before they contact a realtor.  In the past, they contacted an agent.  I prefer to keep the addresses private until shown, unless they drove by the sign.   Great post!
Posted by Kay Van Kampen, Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate (RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX Solutions) over 10 years ago
Kay Van Kampen   Thanks Kay!  Google doesn't pay my bills.  So no free addresses.  Those that argue that addresses are Ok to give out....is OK.  They will not be in business much longer anyway.  Google entices views ovf home details for other relationships, ads, loans. mortgages, PPC etc...
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago
Best part.... turn away from bad business. Focus your time and energy on streamlining and preparing for the future. I would also say to focus on a great website, as most realtors don't have one!
Posted by West Hartford CT Real Estate Agent | West Hartford Realtor | www.CTMike.com (ERA Broder Group) over 10 years ago
Michael Chenkus  Turning away bad business if a first!  I know the web is the best way to generate leads at almost no cost.
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 10 years ago

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