In A Downturn, Real Estate Agents Should Market With Future In Mind

Agents who lean into this down market stand to gain market share that could benefit them for years, real estate executives argued Thursday at the Inman Connect Now virtual event.

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Real estate agents who pull back on marketing and lead generation as home sales decline run the risk of losing market share and momentum to competitors, two real estate executives argued Thursday at the Inman Connect Now virtual event.

Agents should think ahead to how they want to position themselves for more active markets in the future when setting their marketing strategies for this slowdown, said CEO Josh Harley of Fathom Realty and CEO Laurie Finkelstein Reader of Laurie Reader Real Estate.

Josh Harley | Fathom Realty

“When we come into a depression, a lot of people will pull back on their marketing just trying to survive and hope to get to the other end,” Harley said. “But what ultimately ends up happening is that they’re the [businesses] that die.”

Agents who spend the time, energy and money to market themselves even during a downturn — when competitors are typically cutting back or leaving the market — stand to survive and thrive, Harley said.

More importantly, he added, those agents stand a good chance of coming out of the down period with a greater market share than before.

There is recent precedent for this, he said. By the end of the housing recession of 2007, the share of agents who had dropped out of the market was greater than the decline in home transactions. Those agents who were still standing had more business when the market improved, he said.

Reader agreed this is a time for agents to make an effort on marketing and lead generation, even if business is slower than it was a year ago.

Laurie Finkelstein Reader | Laurie Reader Real Estate

“It’s all about leaning in right now,” Reader said. “Don’t be afraid, lean in and do what you can from that marketing perspective.”

Since attending Inman Connect Las Vegas in August, Reader says her team has doubled down even further on emphasizing the daily activities that serve the consumer and advance business forward through their sales funnel.

“I’m telling you, Katie, we [as an industry] got away from that,” Reader told event moderator Katie Kossev of the Kossev Group. “And it was really obvious because of the conversations on every panel that we heard [at Inman Connect] was all about going back to human connection [and] human interaction.”

The importance of forming a deeper connection with clients over time becomes clear when considering not only the impact of repeat business but also that of past clients referring their friends to a valued agent.

“People are typically moving for tough reasons,” Reader said. “It’s not always a good reason. And I just believe that what keeps that consumer coming back to you [and] referring five clients a year — it is that human interaction and that human touch.”

Agents who focus on cultivating a more manageable number of meaningful relationships are likely to be more successful than those who try to balance a large number of surface-level acquaintances, Harley said.

Listening to clients and understanding their needs — even if it hurts the odds of a short-term transaction — can earn their trust and lead to more referrals down the line, he said.

“We as agents tend to be almost psychologists,” Harley said.

Email Daniel Houston

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