Above: Real estate runs in the family (L to R): Joseph O’Connor, Terrie O’Connor, Matthew O’Connor and Katy O’Connor-Smiechowski Navigate a Rapidly Changing Real Estate Market
Terrie O’Connor REALTORS®
Years in business: 30
Size: 8 offices, 425 agents
Regions Served: Northern New Jersey and Southern New York State
2020 Sales Volume: $675 million
2020 Transactions: Approx. 1,100
Throughout high school and college, Matthew O’Connor provided tech support for his mother’s firm, Terrie O’Connor REALTORS®. After graduating college with an electrical engineering degree, he worked for a tech firm in New Orleans, and in 2002, relocated back to New Jersey. In 2004, O’Connor joined the company full-time to help run and grow the business, using his technology expertise to create the infrastructure and agent tools that are still employed today. He currently serves as chief operating officer and helps lead agents through today’s challenging market conditions.
Keith Loria: How has your market fared in 2021?
Matthew O’Connor: Thus far, the real estate market in northern New Jersey has been very strong. We, like most everywhere in the country, are experiencing an “inventory crunch.” That said, we are still setting records for the number of deals booked and closed throughout the first half of the year. As we all know, there are two sides to every real estate transaction. New listings are coming onto the market at a normal pace, but the overwhelming buyer demand absorbs the inventory at record rates. I fully expect the market to remain strong for the foreseeable future as there is no short-term solution to the inventory crunch and there is still a significant backlog of buyers.
KL: How did the pandemic change the way you operate?
MO: It’s my belief that the pandemic didn’t fundamentally change much of anything operationally, rather it greatly accelerated many changes that were already in progress. We ramped up the volume of virtual photography and tours we produced. We were already up and running with online conferencing software, digital transaction management systems and the ability to work remotely. We all upped our game as a result of the pandemic, and many of those trends will continue long-term.
KL: What do you look for in agents joining your firm?
MO: First and foremost, we are looking for quality people who are highly ethical and possess a strong work ethic. This business isn’t easy. To be successful, you can’t wait for the business to come to you…you must actively prospect for listings and buyers. If you possess those inherent qualities, we can teach you the skills required to succeed.
KL: What is the best advice you can offer agents?
MO: The best advice I can offer is to choose action over in-action. Communicate, network, pick up the phone, talk to people and develop relationships. Most successful agents are still doing the vast majority of their business from their sphere of influence.
KL: How are you handling the inventory shortage?
MO: The inventory shortage is certainly a challenge, but in most parts of the country, record sales are occurring. A real estate transaction has two sides, so you can’t have record sales without also having record numbers of new listings. The buyer demand is outstripping the number of listings and creating a very tight inventory, but new homes are being listed. Times of change create a lot of churn, and if you don’t stay in touch with people, you’ll be surprised when their home is listed with somebody else.
Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.