What should agents do in the slow real estate season?
No matter where you work in real estate, there is a slow season in your market.
Things pick up and then things go quiet. But what time of year that is and what each agent does with it with varies greatly.
Come the fall, the slow season moves over the Seattle area like a cloud, and Kirkland, Washington agent Georgia Wall knows that means buying and selling comes to a halt. But her marketing efforts do not.
“Buyers are distracted and spending money on shopping, not houses,” she said. “And sellers are busy having friends and family over for the holidays and putting lights up. No one wants to move around this time of year.”
“During our slower times, I like to stop and reflect on what we are doing well, and also examine where our opportunities are, and how we can improve,” said Carie Igel of Fathom Realty in Columbus, Ohio. “Some of this improvement is shifting around responsibilities within the team. I like to manage to my team’s strengths instead of making someone do something they don’t like.”
The same time of year is a bit different for Anchor Real Estate’s Josh Tucker in Lake Norman, North Carolina. “Interestingly, my niche gives me a ‘bump’ this time of year during the slow-down,” he said. “This is the NASCAR off-season and I sell to a lot of people in that industry.”
Does a slow season mean agents should slow their marketing down, too?
For many agents, the seasonal slowdown in business equates a slowdown in their business expenditures as well. Fewer dollars coming in the door during that time period make it harder to spend those dollars on things like advertising and brand-building.
But Josh Tucker says that’s a mistake.
“I think it is the best time to market and advertise,” he said when asked if agents should continue to invest in their advertising during the slow season. “I believe the buyers and sellers that surface in the spring are probably planning on buying or selling during the holidays, but life gets hectic, so they wait. But having the ability to get in front of them early through targeted marketing and advertising is crucial.”
In Florida, the ebb and flow of the real estate season isn’t as strict, particularly if you set your marketing up properly. Marc Greenberg and Nicole Chapman are with Realty Pros Assured, and they work hard to ensure they keep their pipeline filled. But even when sales slow down, marketing never does.
“You might not be actually earning right now, but if you’re aren’t spending right now either, you won’t be earning come next quarter,” Marc said. “If you’re quiet now, expect to have a quiet Q1.”
Carie Igel agreed. For a real estate agent, going quiet at any time of the year is a critical mistake because it means you stop being the agent people think of when it comes to repeat and referral business. You lose mindshare and stop being top of mind.
“I strive daily to remind my past clients that I am still in the business,” she said. “If you ask most people if they know a Realtor, they can tell you one name. I want to make sure when they are asked who their Realtor is, that my name comes to mind.”
In Washington, Georgia Wall uses her slow season to get the kind of face-to-face time she can’t fit in during the rest of the year, visiting clients with new babies or new puppies and just seeing them enjoying their home. She even maximizes her efforts to support local businesses in Kirkland.
“I ask what I can do to help them this time of year,” she said. “Many of them have special gifts, and I’ll put those on Instagram and blog or post on Facebook and try to help them promote. Small business owners love the support, and I love helping them get the word out!”
Branding doesn’t mean dumping huge dollars into your marketing campaigns. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting out there. “Buy some candy canes,” advised Marc Greenberg for any agents who are nervous about the bottom line. “Attach your business card to them and drop them in gas stations or convenience stores in your area.“
Big plans and bigger goals in 2017
Georgia goes so far as to get face time with someone very specific: herself. She purposely blocks time for an off-site workshop.
“This time of year is critical for me because it’s when I do all of my business planning for the next year.” She has a specific agenda for this solo time, where she will reflect on three key areas: the past, where she identifies any unexpected failures or successes that she can learn from; the present, in which she can see what she’s doing right now that’s working; and the future, where she can outline how she wants to grow both professionally and personally in the coming year.
Josh Tucker also has big plans for the new year. “My business partner and I are also opening a new office that will be focused more around the client experience rather than the agent experience,” he shared. “We are excited to see that next phase of growth happen and continue to grow our presence in our market.”
For the team at Fathom in Ohio, it’s all about who they know. “We are focusing on our sphere of influence very heavily this year, “ Carie shared. “We will be holding each other accountable for following up with new leads and making sure all are being touched and appropriately helped and converted to sold transactions.”