During an Inman Connect panel this week, top producers recommended that agents be ready to provide more context to buyers and sellers, be proactive about building relationships and prepare to speed up into the holidays to dominate the slowdown.
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Homebuyer and seller knowledge of rapid changes in the national housing market this year has emerged as one of the leading headwinds for top producers in markets across the country, an Inman Connect panel said Wednesday.
But agents can still generate business by staying on top of recent trends in their markets and by providing context to clients who have questions or concerns.
“For my buyers I’ve got to explain why there’s not enough inventory for what they need,” Dee Dee Guggenheim Howes, a Compass agent in Houston, said. “For my sellers I’m having to overcome the news.”
Howes joined Los Angeles luxury agent Rod Watson, founder and national director at LAVIPagent, and Christa Huffstickler, of Engel & Volkers Atlanta, in a Connect discussion about how agents can dominate their markets through the rest of the year.
Homebuyers are hearing that mortgage rates have spiked above 7 percent, Howes said, but they need to know some programs might let them obtain a lower rate.
“Is it really 7 percent?” she asked. “I just closed one yesterday that was multi-million dollars in the luxury market for 4.65 percent.”
Home sales have slowed considerably throughout the year. But there’s another side to that trend, Howes said.
“Vacation homes, that slowed down,” she said. “Is there an opportunity there? If you didn’t do it in the last three years, you might be able to do it now.”
The three agreed one of their biggest challenges comes from the widespread coverage of the rapidly shifting market, with Huffstickler suggesting media coverage is “paranoia” and “fear-mongering.”
Huffstickler said her team takes a proactive approach to manage clients’ questions about what they’ve learned through news stories about interest rates that more than doubled in less than a year, inflation that reached its highest level in more than four decades and the overall slowdown of the housing market.
“We are not shy at all about reaching out to journalists to say, ‘Hey we noticed that you wrote this article and it’s not exactly entirely true, and here’s some data that we’ve pulled to help you understand why,’ ” she said. “Or when we find interesting pieces of information, actually creating relationships with these media and these journalists and saying, ‘Hey listen we just saw this interesting positive piece of information specific to Atlanta and we wanted to share this with you.’ ”
Specifically, she noted that mortgage rates have historically been higher than they are now and the rise in inventory actually moved the market closer to balance.
On producing through the slower months, Huffstickler said she defies the holiday slowdown.
“I hear so many people in the real estate business that say, ‘Oh, my god it’s the holiday. I’m just so ready for a break,’ ” she said. “To me, that’s the time to really double down and hit targeting your clients as hard as you possibly can.”
From branded candy on Halloween to pies around Thanksgiving and gifts around Christmas and Hanukkah, Huffstickler said there are ways to build leads when others are taking a break.
Watson stressed the importance of maintaining personal relationships. He takes his luxury clients to sporting events and out for dinner and wine.
“It’s all about contact, contact. Staying in front of the people that know you, like you and trust you,” he said. “Ninety percent of our business is referrals. We’re thankful for that and we just do our best to keep that engagement process going.”
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