Several years ago I traveled to San Francisco to attend the NAR Annual Convention. Being a big fan of California red wine, I arranged to arrive a day early so I could visit the world famous Napa and Sonoma valleys. Both are well-known for producing some of the best wine in the world, and I intended to taste as much as I could. (I even brought my own driver so I could taste responsibly.)
As it turned out, the conference was in October, and the weather was perfect. When we got to Napa valley, I noticed that the air was filled with the smell of grapes. It was unforgettable. I asked someone if it always smelled so nice and they said “no, only during crushing season.” Crushing season is right after the grape harvest when all the wineries are crushing the fruit and starting the process of making wine. Now whenever I think of autumn, I generally think of crushing season.
So why did I tell you that? Because today I want to tell you about another kind of crushing season. Yesterday I wrote an article citing the latest economic data which indicated that most agents could see a sharp pullback in their income for the fall quarter. But for some agents, this coming quarter could be even busier than their summer boom. For some this autumn will be “fall back” while for others it will be “crushing season” because they will be “crushin’ it!”
[slang] To excel beyond all foreseen abilities. To wildly surpass any goal or expectation.
I believe there are three reasons why this fall can be your crushing season. First, there is plenty of business out there. Second, most agents will be expecting a pullback and will get exactly what they expect so there will be fewer agents to compete with. Finally, the opportunity to really stand out will be greater than ever. Let’s look at each of those in a little more detail.
Plenty of Business. Yes, the data is clear. Every year after the summer buying season, the market tends to pull back. This year will be no exception. But while there will be less transaction volume in total, there will still be a lot of real estate bought and sold.
Let me share an illustration that will help me illustrate my point. Every morning before dawn I endure a very slow six-mile run. One morning as I was running through a very nice area of town, I heard a dog bark. It wasn’t one of those “little dog” barks, but rather one of those bear-like dog barks. I turned to see a huge white chow that looked like a wolf running right at us. To say I was afraid is an understatement.
I turned to my running partner and said whatever you do, don’t break stride and don’t look the dog in the eye. The dog ran up beside us so close we could feel his breath while he barked ferociously. We never slowed down or even acknowledged the dog’s presence as we ran. After what seemed like an eternity, the dog eventually lost interest, turned around, and went back home.
We both breathed a huge sigh of relief that we were alive. Now I ask you a question: Suppose that dog had been intent on having having us for breakfast? Would I have had to outrun the dog to survive? The answer is no. I would have only had to outrun my friend! And so it is in this business.
When times are tough, you don’t have to be the very best agent in town to survive. You don’t have to be better than the economy. You only have to be better than the weakest agents. Many of them will quickly drop by the wayside, leaving more and more market share to be enjoyed by those that are tough enough or smart enough to hang in there.
Fewer Agents to Compete With. As in my illustration above, when the going gets tough, many agents simply disappear. They give up, effectively dropping out of the business until next spring. So, yes, there will be a slightly smaller pie, but there will be fewer slices of that pie. And the number of slices will be disproportionate to the smaller pie itself. For example, the pie might be 30% smaller, but the number of slices might be 50% less. In other words, there will be more business available for those fewer agents who do stick it out.
When you place your ads, there will be fewer competing ads. Don’t believe me, pick up a homes magazine. The slightly fewer customers will be divided between a significantly fewer number of agents. That means that the opportunity to crush it will be better than ever! And best of all, to participate all you need is a way of identifying those customers, or in other words, effective lead capture. And once you’ve captured those leads, you will have fewer agents competing for the business so converting and retaining those clients will be easier than ever.
Opportunity to Stand Out. There is an extra benefit of the smaller pie but fewer mouths phenomenon. Because inventories are seasonally lower, there will be fewer buyers competing for those listings. Many of the homes on the market have been on the market for a long time and sellers are getting nervous. When you factor in all those market forces, you have a unique opportunity to look like a genius.
With buyers, you can demonstrate how great you are at negotiating bigger discounts and better terms for your clients. Sellers will be desperate to sell and will likely make concessions that they might not have made last spring or even during the summer. Now that they see the winter coming they will be desperate to sell and you can exploit that to the advantage of your buyer clients.
With sellers, you can take listings when inventory levels are at the lowest point of the entire year and make those listings stand out so they sell quickly. Because there are fewer homes to choose from, and because most of the inventory will have a higher number of days on market and with it a certain amount of stigma, your seller’s new listing will stand out like a sore thumb and command top dollar.
Both of those scenarios make you the best agent in the world, in your client’s eyes. Either you are the best negotiator ever or you are the listing magician who sold their home in no time and got them top dollar. And either of those will play extremely well next spring when their friends are beginning to think about buying or selling. You will have boosted your referral base enormously because you crushed it this fall.
So as you begin to think about whether to dial it down and relax this fall or whether to ramp it up and take advantage of this season to really crush it, I hope you will consider making this your busy season. The dividends will be huge and the opportunity will never be greater.