Since the economic bubble burst in 2007, housing markets all over the country have taken a huge hit — particularly in once-booming places like Florida, California, and Arizona, where average home sale prices have dropped by more than 50 percent in some cases. Still, some real estate agents are turning the recession into a lucrative selling opportunity. Here are some of their innovative sales strategies.
Narrow your niche. After the housing market crashed, Mitch Ribak, a broker with Tropical Realty in Melbourne, Florida, made the unusual decision to stop taking listings and focus exclusively on working with buyers. “Over the next couple of years, we grew by a pace of 20 percent or more,” he says.
Similarly, other realtors have found success by focusing on international buyers looking to take advantage of low-priced real estate in the United States: Giovanna D’Alessandro, a broker from Kissimmee, Florida, has created a specialized program exclusively for Canadian real estate investors. “Building trust and relationships through the use of my intimate knowledge of the Kissimmee vacation home area has helped me gain long-lasting devotees that have referred me a tremendous amount of business,” she says.
Come up with a value-added business model. After the housing crash, realtor Grace Morioka of Area Pro Realty in Santa Clara, California saw her client list begin to dwindle. With her broker’s permission, she opted to create a low-cost buyer’s agent program in which clients are responsible for finding and viewing homes on their own, while she helps them through the sales process after they’ve chosen a home. She’ll then rebate the buyers up to half of her commission. “Now, my practice is booming and several other realtors in our office have modeled their buyers’ programs after this one,” she says.
Build up your presence on the web. Anna Krutchen’s Phoenix Property Shoppe in Phoenix, Arizona took a huge hit in 2008. “I had a big office with agents not doing anything,” she says. She opted to focus her practice primarily on buyers, and took to the web to catch their attention, focusing on SEO-optimized blog posts and ebooks about buying real estate in the Phoenix market. “It pulled us through — not without a lot of bumps and bruises — but we survived, and now are going back up the other direction.”