Your Product Is Your Curse
No matter what business you’re in, selling is hard. As a real estate agent, however, the challenge is even greater because repeat customers are few and far in between.
Homes, after all, are not electronics or fashion items. They’re not designed to be replaced after a year, nor do they become obsolete. People buy homes with the intention of staying put. In a perfect world, your clients won’t need you again for a long time.
True, unforeseen circumstances require people to move, and according to the latest census, 69.3 percent of all movers stayed within the same county, which means more than two thirds of movers could be returning to the same Realtor. Nevertheless, altogether only 12.5 percent of the U.S. population changed residences in 2010. That’s a slight increase since 2008, but in general, this share has decreased by about half since the late 1940s.
Furthermore, these statistics vary widely depending on where you live. About 14.7 percent of Westerners moved in 2010, but that does you no good if you work in the Northeast, where only 8.3 percent did the same.
So how do you grow your business when demand for your services is limited? By working both sides of the real estate equation. In the old days, agents worked exclusively with sellers, listing their properties for sale and rent. Back then, your job was to get the word out about a seller’s property and attract buyers. The more listings you had, the better off you were.
Today, however, it’s also common to work with the buyer. In this scenario, success is all about leads, people who are interested in buying a home. Once you’ve found a lead, your job is to turn him from a prospect to a customer by helping him secure the home he’d like to rent or purchase.
This usually means you’re a matchmaker, connecting buyers with listings your agency already has. You could also be an advocate, helping them browse someone else’s listings. In either case, the arrangement is basically the same: agents use their experience to ensure that buyers don’t get screwed. Instead of selling a property, you’re selling your expertise.
So which is more important, leads or listings? That depends on your location. But regardless of the figures, it’s crucial to keep a close eye on both. In a difficult market and a changing industry, the best path to success for an agent is to be adaptable and willing to work with sellers and buyers. Concentrate solely on one, and you’ll find yourself struggling keep your business afloat.