August 19, 2020
“Is this a terrible time to get my New Jersey real estate license?” a student asked in our real estate licensing class yesterday. I asked her why she would say that. “Because the news is so grim—and ever more-so with each passing day,” she replied. I noticed several other nodding heads—all of our real estate licensing course are now presented through Zoom, and this topic really engaged the entire class.
The situation is bad . . .
A couple of days earlier, the news reported another 1.2 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims—joining the 30 million who had already lost their jobs. Not a day passes when we don’t see reports of how the USA is trailing the world in slowing down the Coronavirus, and then there is the political situation in Washington . . .
. . . but opportunities abound!
One of my favorite stories was of a shoe salesman who was dispatched to sell shoes in the poorest part of Appalachia. Every one of his predecessors had failed in that market, the most recent one having quit, giving the excuse, “There’s no potential here. Nobody wears shoes.” Within a few months, the new salesman rose to become the top sales representative in the company. He was so successful that they brought him in to receive an award at the company’s annual convention. “To what do you attribute your success where so many people before you have failed,” the director of sales asked, in front of the huge audience. The man shrugged his shoulders. “It’s easy,” he said. “There is unlimited potential there: nobody wears shoes!”
People will ALWAYS need real estate agents
Why do people buy and sell property?
- They want to own their first home.
- They want a bigger home.
- They want to downsize their home.
- They want a retirement home.
- They need to move because of their job.
- They get divorced and must sell their home.
- They got divorced and need a new home!
- They die and their heirs need to sell the home.
- They want to invest in income-producing real estate.
Every one of those reasons existed before anybody had heard of COVID-19; they exist today, and they will exist long after COVID-19 becomes just an awful memory.
What will change is the way real estate agents do business. And to survive tomorrow, practitioners need to get their ducks in order today.
Real Estate Success 101.
The most important reason clients choose a real estate agent is for their personal market knowledge and expertise. Real estate is not a bricks & mortar business; it is a people business. People do business with people they like and trust. I made the shocking discovery some years ago that I had not stayed in touch with dozens of past clients. Many of those folks had been incredibly complimentary of my service when I had sold their property—and I had abandoned them. Some had even gone on to buy new homes. They had forgotten me because I had forgotten to stay in touch with them.
During COVID-19, you have the best opportunity in a generation to reach out to your sphere of influence. After all, everybody is stuck at home! Make it a habit to call 5-10 people every day just to say, “I was concerned about you. Are you doing ok?” Ask about their family, their jobs, what is new in their lives, and take a couple of moments to tell them about the current real estate market in their area. Nothing means more to a customer than the demonstration that you care about them.
Talk to any real estate superstar and they will tell you one of the keys to their success is to never forget the basics that got them to where there are.
The real estate market has undergone more change in the past six months than in the last 10 years. Mortgages now have much more stringent qualification criteria. Sellers are skittish about letting just anybody go through their homes for sale. Open houses in many markets are things of the past, replaced by “virtual” open houses. Real estate settlements—indeed, the entire transaction—is primarily done electronically.
To succeed in the “new reality” real estate market, real estate agents must be tech savvy; they must associate with brokers who offer a complete array of technology tools—and the training in how to use them.
Welcome to the Virtual Workspace.
The days of crowded offices, weekly sales meetings all crammed into the conference room, and “lunch & learns” from various vendors are things of the past—at least, for the foreseeable future.
Having to work from home, alone, is a real blow to those agents who are gregarious and who derive energy from the camaraderie of an office full of coworkers around them all day. Making weekly “dates” by phone, or by Zoom can still accomplish those same pleasures without having to meet face-to-face. Remember, it was never really the lunch that mattered, it was the conversation, the idea-sharing, the fellowship that you enjoyed about those times.
Hot, Hot, HOT!
The real estate market is on fire right now. There is not enough inventory to meet demand. Properties are frequently selling after receiving multiple offers. So I start as I began: “Is this a terrible time to get my New Jersey real estate license?” I cannot think of any better time in the last generation than to choose to get your real estate license right now. That decision could help decide your career for the rest of your life.
One of the best books I have ever read on how to adapt to changing times is SHIFT: How Top Real Estate Agents Tackle Tough Times by Gary Keller and Dave Jenks.
It is well worth the investment.
Garden State Real Estate Academy is New Jersey’s top-rated real estate licensing school. pre-licensing and broker licensing classes must usually be taken in live classroom settings, we have temporary permission to offer these classes via Zoom. We have both daytime and evening classes that start every two weeks. For more information, go to www.GSREacademy.com
David C. Forward is a licensed real estate broker and instructor and was first licensed as a Realtor® 31 years ago. During his career, David and his business partner sold more than 450 homes in South Jersey. He is now School Director of Garden Real Estate Academy, has won numerous awards for real estate sales, is a much-requested public speaker who has addressed audiences on six continents and is the author of 15 books. David can be reached at David@GSREacademy.com