By Leigh Brown
Y’all, I hate to lick all the red off your candy, but the days of a super-hot real estate market are behind us (at least for now). While on the surface, that sounds like a bad thing, I have news that will make your day.
A recession is your time to shine!
Think about why someone calls a Realtor. They want someone else to be in charge, especially during a recession, when people might be going through a challenging situation or uncertain time. With your skills, network and knowledge, you have the unique ability to help them navigate the road ahead. How special is that?!
Tip No. 1: Call your people
Calling your past clients is nonnegotiable. I don’t care if you’ve sold one house or 10,000 houses. I can hear you making excuses already (I have a special radar for it; I’m a mom): “But Leighhhhh — I can’t call them out of the blue! I haven’t spoken with them in five years!” Pump the brakes. You can, and you’re going to; I’ll even give you the script.
You: “Hey, [client name] — this is Leigh Brown calling.”
Client: “Oh, hi! We love the house. How are you doing?”
You: “Great to hear! I’m just calling to check in and see how everything is going.”
After you exchange pleasantries and the person realizes you might have an inside scoop to share, they will lower their voice conspiratorially and say, “So tell me — is the market crashing?” After all, they’ve seen the news. They don’t know how to interpret it as you do. Tell them that some days are up, some are down and others are sideways. Every ZIP code is different.
Ask if they’d like you to do a quick value update on their house. If they say yes, inquire about any upgrades they’ve made since you sold them the property. Do your best to come up with a range, even if it’s wide. You will either set off alarm bells or give them a sense of security. Either way, you open the door to being able to ask more questions and reestablish your credibility.
Tip No. 2: Don’t sugarcoat it
Through every interaction you have, remember that your clients are real people going through significant changes. During the last recession, I would bring sellers into my office so we could go down the financial road first. There was no point staging the house if we couldn’t figure out the finances, because so many were in short-sale territory.
In the middle of the table, I had a bottle of Pepto Bismol, a bottle of wine and a box of Kleenex. When people sat down with me, I said, “Pick your poison. This conversation will not be fun, but I am here with you, and we will figure it out together.” Laughter, after all, lowers all defensive barriers. Once I had calmed their nerves, I talked straight with them.
Be upfront about the current market conditions, and provide them with realistic expectations — even if it means acknowledging a loss. If you want to dominate during a recession, tell the truth: not with ugliness, judgment or pessimism. Price the house correctly, keep your client’s personal details to yourself, and let your work and knowledge speak for themselves.
Tip No. 3: Just say hi!
Where I grew up in what-used-to-be rural North Carolina, it was common for people to go out “visiting,” making the rounds with people in the community who might need extra love and conversation.
My grandmother was the first person I ever saw do this, and people loved her for it. She would come in with her friendly, relational approach and could get anyone chatting. If you approach a customer like my grandmother would have, it’s easier to get people to let you in. Many salespeople mess this up by thinking about their business through the lens of leads, metrics and numbers, forgetting that an actual human is looking to be served behind each indicator.
Like what you read and want to be friends? Reach out, DM me on Instagram @LeighThomasBrown and say hi!
Leigh Brown is a CSP® (Certified Speaking Professional™) and international keynote speaker with decades of experience helping real estate agents build their industry presence and confidence. She is president of NC REALTORS®.