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The word “unprecedented” has been used a lot over the past five years to describe the dynamic forces shaping our society, but in the world of real estate, even “unprecedented” is an understatement. Market fluctuations can disrupt business at any level, but many savvy agents are planning for growth through unprecedented times.
How did they do it? That’s what Tammy Fahmi, Senior Vice President of Global Servicing and Strategy at Sotheby’s International Realty, will ask on October 6 in an open webinar, “Thriving in a Shifting Market.” Today, the panelists provide insight into some of the strategies they will discuss in the webinar.
Tammy Fahmi: There have been several changes in the market since 2018. Which was the most difficult for you and why?
Jody Lovell: This was the volume of transactions caused by the real estate explosion during COVID-19. Buyers were frantic to find homes and inventory was tight. The stress was high and being the calming factor with customers was key when handling the details of all those sales. I came to the office in the middle of the night to follow!
Jennifer Mills Klatt: The COVID-19 pandemic has been a tough market for me as well. I had to adjust the way I market properties, integrate virtual systems and manage my time.
Jay Kip: For me, the main challenge has been low inventory combined with supply chain issues. The shortage of inventory drove prices well above the national average. Then, the supply chain delay had a stealthy impact on our market, affecting new construction, the resale market, and any buyer purchasing less than turnkey homes.
TF: Can you share any specific strategies you’ve adopted to help your business adapt and thrive?
JM: Digital assets and online storytelling became a more elaborate layered marketing plan, with a strategic timeline for releasing information. These plans include higher quality images, videos, reels, social media, virtual tours, targeting and pricing for the right audience. An aggressive digital branding campaign and customer outreach helped maintain momentum.
JL: I have collaborated with clients and other agents to create transactions that were not on the open market. It was time to negotiate deals with private clients – and it still is. Stay in touch with your clients and listen carefully to see if they are considering downsizing, expanding or changing homes for any reason. Carefully explore these opportunities.
JK: Communication with customers is always the cornerstone of our success, but during turbulent markets we spend more time analyzing current conditions and sharing that information with our customers. We take more time to listen, more time to ask and answer questions, and more time to discuss strategies to help our clients move forward with confidence.
TF: Speaking of customers, how did you support your buyers and sellers in these difficult market conditions?
JM: I give them the space and reassurance they need, and I have an outreach plan on a CRM. And then, of course, old-fashioned calls, texts and emails. Buyers trusted me even more during these uncertain markets.
JL: Yes, just be a friend. Socialize, take care of yourself, and ask lots of questions. Empathy and compassion are two of the best tools we have. But also be realistic and transparent – despite how unique their home is, prices need to be reassessed to attract buyers.
JK: It’s about providing the best information so customers can make the best decisions. Instead of weathering the storm, we advise clients to act with focus. Making informed adjustments to buy or sell strategies wins. As a result, seller prices looked like a bargain even as the market flattened. And, for buyers who bought in the not-too-distant past, historically low interest rates have positioned them well for the future.
TF: Are there any surprising lessons or teachings that you would like to share with your fellow luxury agents?
JL: I applied a lesson I learned in the aftermath of 2008, which is not to be a scapegoat. At the time, I continued to represent sellers who did not accept that the market had changed and maintained unrealistic prices on their homes. Homes were on the market and sellers often blamed me for not moving the property. Rate all your listings, have honest and positive discussions with sellers, and trust your instincts if they’re stubborn and refuse to budge.
JK: I have seen that the core real estate business has remained a driving business force. We continually visit properties, communicate with colleagues as well as competitors, attend industry forums and contribute to our community. In bull and bear markets, we look for the nuance of the moment to propel us through difficult conditions. The truth is, the real estate market is always on the move, so focus on achieving your clients’ goals. Their buying or selling needs are the same in all markets.
“Thriving in a Shifting Market” takes place Thursday, October 6 at 1:00 p.m. ET. This is a panel not to be missed! Be sure to register in advance, this is a webinar open to all agents.
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