By John Graff, CEO/Broker of Ashby & Graff Real Estate
More than 5.5 million houses were bought and sold in the United States in 2017. The number in 2018, once fully calculated, is expected to be nearly the same. Both years are well below the more than 7 million homes sold in 2005 and 6.5 million sold in 2006. For the nearly 1.4 million REALTORS® working in the U.S., this has meant learning to adapt to a less than robust economy...and the future is not likely to bring an upturn.
Industry analysts are predicting that house sales will slow in 2019, particularly due to rising mortgage interest rates. What does that mean for the average real estate professional? It means looking for new and innovative ways to market and sell homes, as well as additional revenue streams to help supplement your real estate income.
While finding new listings and closing deals can be a little more challenging in a down economy, there are a number of things you can do to build your reputation and encourage those people who are still buying and selling homes to turn to you. Here are three real estate sales tactics to employ in a down economy:
Embrace new technology. When you're busy listing, marketing and selling homes, you may not be inclined to take the time to learn about all of the new technology available to you. However, mastering these resources can set you apart from most other agents. For example, learning how to create 360-degree home tours can bring you potential buyers from all over the region, not just people who are close enough to drive by the property.
Connect with the relocation market. When the economy takes a turn for the worse, businesses often move employees to new offices and stores away from those that are closing. Developing a good relationship with a relocation company is never a bad plan, but it can be especially beneficial during an economic downturn.
Don't ignore the international market. Depending on your city, you may find that international buyers are attracted to your properties. In some cases, overseas buyers can buy an entire home in the U.S. for the price it would cost them to add onto their property at home, due to the increasingly unfavorable exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and strong overseas currencies.
Another good tactic for real estate professionals in a down economy is to seek complementary streams of income—ways to make money that still involve real estate, but are different from your daily work of listing and marketing homes. Just a few ideas include:
Host seminars or webinars for home sellers. There are always people interested in learning more about making the most of buying or selling their home. After all, for most families, their home is their largest single investment. Hosting a seminar or, better yet, a webinar, can establish you as a real estate authority while also earning you a per-person fee for the event.
Write an ebook. For a few weeks of intense work, you can earn money on ebook sales for years to come. Unlike traditional publishing, platforms like Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing allow you to take your book from a manuscript to market in just a few days, rather than the months a traditional publisher can take. Penning an ebook about an aspect of real estate sales is also a good way to build your brand and gather a following of people who'll likely need to buy or sell a home in the future. You can concentrate on one aspect of home-selling and -buying, such as "How to stage your home for a quick sale" or "How to negotiate the best deal when purchasing a home." And unlike traditional self-publishing, platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing handle all of the distribution for a percentage of the sales revenue.
Invest in rental property. As a real estate professional, you're in a great position to see attractively-priced homes that you can turn into rental properties. Renting homes and condos lets you make money while you're out doing other things, like showing homes. It also helps solidify your reputation as someone who understands the local housing market.
Yes, a downturn in the economy can be scary and stressful; however, it also presents unique opportunities. Make sure that you're ready for a likely challenging market this coming year by expanding your sales efforts into new markets, such as the international or relocation market, and developing new revenue streams, such as hosting seminars or writing ebooks. Not only will you weather the downtown with your income intact, you'll be in a great position to thrive when the market turns upward again.
John Graff is the CEO/broker of Ashby & Graff Real Estate in Los Angeles, Calif., where he brings over 15 years of combined real estate and public policy experience. He sits on several committees, including the Beverly Hills/Greater Los Angeles Association of REALTORS® Grievance Committee. Prior to his involvement in real estate, he spent a decade working in politics and government, from local schools to the U.S. Presidency.