How agents can thrive in a challenging market

Over the past decade, Australia has been in a golden age of property that has seen increasing house prices, happy vendors and competitive buyers – an environment that made things relatively easy for the average real estate agent. However, recent lower auction clearance rates and stagnating buyer activity means agents need to roll up their sleeves and take a new approach to keep things moving.

Most younger agents have never experienced a market like this before and will find themselves at a loss when the phone stops ringing off the hook. Tony Morrison, director of Harcourts Victoria and Tasmania, shares his top tips for how agents can not only survive, but thrive in a more challenging market.

Being proactive
Even up to a few years ago buyers would rush to every open house to avoid missing out, but this is no longer the case. Many are hesitant to buy in a slower market and would prefer to wait until it’s “safe” and things pick back up, so will avoid actively looking for or reaching out to an agent.

Agents must therefore move from a reactive approach to a more proactive one, engaging with their existing database and meeting new people to establish and solidify relationships. This can include something as simple as picking up the phone and checking in with past clients, or going to local community events and meeting people. This kind of face-to-face connection can be priceless and will always make a bigger impact than a direct marketing flyer or email.

Customer service
Customer service is always important, but in a quieter market it’s essential. Buyers haven’t always been highly-regarded by agents as there were always so many to choose from, but in today’s market it’s those agents who look after buyers who will do well.

Buying or selling a home is an emotional decision and your clients want to feel like they are your top priority. Take time to get to know your clients, understand their needs and cater your service accordingly. Going the extra mile will really show and can give people the reassurance they need at relatively stressful time. The dividends will pay off when your client goes on to recommend you to their friends and family and those enquiries start to rise.

It’s not all doom and gloom in today’s market. Agents have more tools than ever at their fingertips and people are spending an increasing amount of time online looking for property, particularly the prominent first home buyer demographic.

Savvy agents will leverage this and know how to talk to their audience in the medium of their choice. Using social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram is a great way to grab people’s attention in a less direct way than a phone call or email.

Share your property listings on your social channels and give your audience another touchpoint through which to engage with your brand, ask questions and share content with their friends. Virtual property walk-throughs are becoming the preferred method to view a property for those unable to make it to an open house, so consider sharing video tours of your best listings.

Creating this kind of experience online means you’re providing value to your audience and qualifying your leads at the same time, as those who do reach out will already know the ins and outs of the property they’re interested in. There’s no doubt the market of today is a little tougher for agents than it was a few years ago, but as the saying goes, a smooth sea never made for a skilled sailor.

Now is the time to hone your skills and keep building a healthy client portfolio based on interpersonal relationships, trust and loyalty. The sales are still there for those willing to put in the extra effort.

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Tony Morrison

With a successful real estate career spanning over 30 years, Tony Morrison is dual CEO of Harcourts Victoria and Tasmania