It certainly looks like the real estate market has peaked, and at least nationally, housing has entered a correction of some kind. What exactly this will look like as we move forward is not fully understood, with mortgage rates pushing some buyers out and a recession potentially creating broad economic pain for both buyers and homeowners. Even with all the uncertainty, what you can do right now as an agent is make sure you understand your local market—what is going on with housing, with consumers and with others in the industry.
Here are four people you should be talking to right now in your area to stay ahead of market changes.
Your local city/county officials
To get a big-picture idea of what is happening in your city as far as housing, these are the first people you should talk to. Here, you can find out about leading indicators like building permits, see where recent land transactions are occurring and learn about zoning changes that could transform the kinds of homes built in your market. While this information won’t directly create business for you, it will allow you to better target and plan for the months ahead.
While you almost certainly already have some kind of relationship with these people, this is a good time to really check in on what they are seeing and hearing. Those in the mortgage industry can really help you understand consumers in your community—if people are being denied, if locked-in rates are expiring, if consumers are trying to wait out rate hikes. All these things can help you pivot your business for a new kind of economy.
A downturn is not going to affect all business models equally. If you are expecting your production or workload to change, now might be a good time to start exploring what other brokerages or companies offer—everything from fees to marketing to splits. Also, if you have a good relationship with another agent, see if they will share their experiences or how they are preparing for a downturn. Even though you are competing with these people, a pullback in the market is something that all agents are working through together.
Where the builders go, agents should often follow. If you can, find out from homebuilders in your region where (or if) new construction is happening. If a builder is struggling to find buyers in a downturn, you might have a chance to pitch yourself. You can also begin to feel out pricing trends—builders are looking months ahead of time when considering a project, and if you have a good relationship with someone you can start to understand the medium-term outlook for your region.
No one is certain where real estate is going from its recent highs. Especially for those new to the industry, a downturn is a frightening and confusing prospect. Rather than allowing a continuous barrage of headlines from the national media to bury you, you can continue to make sure you have the most local knowledge, drawn from local relations, to make the best decisions for your business.