By LISA KLEIN
Real estate professionals have seen record numbers throughout most of the pandemic, with homes flying off the shelves and inventory seemingly low, forming habits for fast sales that will not work as the market levels.
Getting over that COVID-induced mindset and sharpening sales skills will be important for winning listings in 2022.
“I think our biggest challenge is, we got thrust into a hot market and all of a sudden, we were off and running and we had to change how we did business to keep up with the speed of it,” said Dan Elzer, a real estate veteran and president of sales consulting firm The Training Academy, during Luxury Portfolio International’s 2021 Affluence Forum.
“Now people are getting more normalized, a little slower in their decision process, and we’re using those urgency skills that we picked up in a market that requires a little more slowing down, a little more discovery, a little more understanding,” he said.
Mr. Elzer was in conversation with Mickey Alam Khan, president of Luxury Portfolio International.
The pace of home sales has been dizzying over the last 18 months. Transactions have been returning to a more leisurely stride throughout 2021 though, a trend that will continue into next year.
Homes are expected to sit on the market for a bit longer, but that just means a return to normal.
“It’s still going to be an amazing year,” Mr. Elzer said of 2022. “But when you go from 100 miles an hour to 70 miles an hour, it feels like something’s wrong.”
Another figment of the pandemic carrying over into the new year is a housing inventory shortage.
“We have this belief that there’s no inventory out there,” Mr. Elzer said.
“Did it take having a listing to have a sale?” he said. “If you’ve had more sales than you’ve ever had, then you’ve had more listings too.”
Higher-than-normal demand does not mean homes are not coming onto the market. It just means that they have been disappearing faster.
“But if you stop looking for it, you’ll never get it,” Mr. Elzer said.
As the sales pace slows, sellers will be more critical of who they choose to list their home, looking for an agent who knows their stuff and is immersed in the affluent marketplace.
Agents also have to be forward-thinking, keeping on top of what is to come in the real estate market.
“What happened in 2020, many people already know isn’t happening in 2021, and isn’t going to happen in 2022,” Mr. Elzer said, adding that agents need to look through the windshield instead of the rearview mirror.
To win a listing agents will need to differentiate themselves from the competition, as more time on the market will require a more personalized approach.
According to Mr. Elzer, the urge to tour the home and immediately talking pricing is a mistake.
“We get interviewed on the walk through instead of building rapport,” he said. “We get commoditized, and now we’re looked at no differently than the other luxury company with a stamp on their card that came through the door.”
Instead, agents should sit down at the kitchen table with their potential clients and engage with them by asking some basic questions about why they are moving and what they hope to happen throughout the process.
“I go through this series of questions, making them the hero,” Mr. Elzer said. “Let them talk.”
What should come out during the conversation are the sellers’ motivations – the main ones being a fast sale, getting top dollar, or having a stress-free experience – and emotions about the sale.
“I want to begin with understanding your needs, any challenges you have with this property and any move you’re thinking of making,” Mr. Elzer said. “Talk about the things that are important to them.”
After that, it is only a matter of showing the sellers what an agent brings to the table that will fulfill their personal needs.
“I can present in a way that no one else has talked to them,” Mr. Elzer said. “I’m the doctor, you’re the patient.
“Everything I say after those first questions is meeting them where they are,” he said. “And now they feel that I’ve listened, and everything I bring to the table will solve the problems they have.
“Now I simply have to ask for their business.”