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As the market continues to slow down, many real estate agents are wondering how to navigate the return to a reality where posting consecutive record-breaking years will take more effort than entering a listing on the multiple listing service (MLS).
Although the next several years will be challenging, Philadelphia-based Keller Williams’ team leader Jim Roche and Terrence Murphy Companies’ founder Terrence Murphy said agents can still experience immense success if they’re willing to change their mindsets and outwork the competition.
“This is not the market anymore where you’re just gonna throw something on [the MLS] and set it and forget it,” Roche told the Connect Now virtual crowd on Thursday. “There are people who are just kind of riding the wave, and that won’t work.”
Change your mindset
Although analysts are predicting another two years of slowing home sales and falling sales prices, Roche said agents must focus on the opportunities that a downturn provides — primarily the ability to build skills that will put them lightyears ahead of the competition when the market recovers.
“The biggest word[s] I’m really focused on is opportunity and growth,” he said. “That starts at the top with the CEO or the team leader. That’s the person that’s really promoting and bringing the energy and establishing the culture.”
Roche said leaders will need to help their agents identify opportunities to expand their expertise, create a new niche or find additional income streams that complement their existing book of business.
“We love downturn in markets — not in the sense of seeing anybody get hurt — but it gives me an opportunity to really step away, and separate myself as a leader from my competition,” he said.
Focus on the fundamentals
Alongside an attitude shift, Roche and Murphy said agents must reacquaint themselves with the basics of providing excellent service — something they may have slacked on over the past two years as homes often sold with little effort.
“I’m going to go back to my athletic background,” said Murphy, who spent several years in the NFL. “When the going gets tough, you lean on fundamentals— whether you’re a golfer or football player or a basketball player getting ready to shoot those free throws and have the game-winning shot on the line.”
He added, “As the stakes get higher, you’ve got to lean into the fundamentals.”
For both team leaders, the fundamentals include time blocking, lead generation, negotiations and learning to masterfully analyze contracts.
“I think we need to focus on reading the contracts. We skip past that, because there’s nothing sexy about that, right?” Murphy said. “But if you really understand your contracts, that’s going to that competence, which will create confidence.”
“Number two would be time blocking,” Murphy added. “You have to be having real estate conversations. This market is not going to fall in your lap. You’ve got to be proactive, and you have to pace yourself. I think as real estate agents, we try to do too much, too fast and we burn out. This is a marathon, it’s not a sprint.”
While Murphy is fanatical about contracts and time blocking, Roche said he’s all about helping his agents create a rock-solid lead generation plan.
“Let’s get back to basics, baby,” he said excitedly. “You know, getting on the phones, getting in front of people and getting real direct; that combat sort of style of real estate [that’s] belly to belly and focused on understanding people.”
Understanding the basics isn’t enough — Roche said agents must take a proactive approach to serving their current clients and finding new ones.
“You have to be able to have those tough conversations, handle those objections, and be able to pivot and respond to the issues that are going to arise,” he said. “As everybody saw with COVID, the transaction got a lot tougher, and the best agents were the ones that were able to pivot, control and grow their market share.”
For the Keller Williams team leader, becoming a proactive agent primarily comes down to one thing: accessing and leveraging in-depth data.
“I think the people who do the best in tough markets and tough times have the knowledge,” he said. “We had our big team meeting on Wednesday, and what we did is sat down and get deep into the numbers.”
“I felt like my agents walked out of there with more confidence to be able to talk on anything to anybody at any time,” he added. “Understand your new construction system statistics, understand how much the day’s markets changed in higher value condos. Understand your numbers and be able to speak on that every single day — it’s going to show how much more you invest in your business than the competition.”
Train, train, train
Beyond getting into the weeds with market data, Roche and Murphy said leaders must create opportunities for their agents to collaborate and learn from each other.
“We’re hyper-focused and getting back into [agent training] groups,” Roche said. “You have $30-million producers running around, and sometimes they don’t want to come in and reread the agreement of sale and write down the terms, but [our training sessions are] making them take a step back, evaluate the landscape and understand ‘Hey, we’re also dealing with the same problems and how do we combat these together?’”
For team leaders who don’t have the luxury of leading in-person training, Murphy, who has more than 20 teams across the U.S. and Canada, said creating video and audio content is the way to go.
“I sat down and said, ‘I need to create a podcast, I need to create a place that people in my organization can go and get content,’” he explained. “I needed to start leveraging myself, and I started courses to walk agents through the process of how to set up their business and set up a team.”
Master your money
Lastly, Murphy said agents must get their personal and business finances in order.
“I have a heart for real estate agents just like I have a heart for athletes, right? We don’t get the credit we deserve. We work so hard; we sacrifice so much,” he said. “But I always look at the end, and we don’t have any exit strategy. We can’t get off this hamster wheel.”
He added, “As the market turns, we’ll see a lot of people that will be forced to get out of the business because they didn’t set up other income streams.”