- Really know your local market. Be the pro in your local market. Make sure you know the numbers - not just the numbers quoted in the media but the real numbers for your market and the reason behind the numbers. You might disagree with the media, you might be challenged by the media or by the public but if you really know your local market that knowledge will stand out. Too many agents today just go through the motions and don't take the time to develop the knowledge that will serve them and their customers best.
- Know where the opportunities are. There are opportunities in every market and every type of market. As it recovers, your local market will transition through a series of opportunities for renters, investors, move-up buyers, 2nd home buyers, etc. Know what the current opportunity is and target that demographic.
- Mine past clients. Anybody who purchased a home from you prior to 2002 probably has equity built up. No doubt it is less equity than they had a year ago but if you can show them how to turn their current home into a rental and improve their own housing situation, or how they can accomplish that by selling even in today's market and positioning themselves for the recovery, you have made a client for life.
- Let people know homes are selling. They won't get that in the media. The headlines all scream sales are down, new homes aren't selling, new home permits are at all time low, homes aren't selling - and it just isn't true. Especially in some areas (including areas of California) sales are double what they were a year ago yet that hardly blips on the media radar. Again, know your local market and don't be afraid to let people know it's not as bad as reported.
- Communicate to renters. Again in some areas, like California, where prices have fallen by anywhere from 40% to 60%, and housing affordability is at a level we haven't seen for a decade, this is an ideal time for first-time homebuyers to take advantage of the market. They are being kept on the sidelines right now by the headlines and irresponsible journalism and it's our job to seek them out and make them aware of the opportunities. As local markets bottom out and work their way through the sloppy bottom, interest rates will rise and these buyers may find their chance disappearing long before the media ever realizes we've bottomed out.
Finally, the panel in general and Perriello in particular advised Realtors to let people know about the recently enacted $7,500 tax credit incentive. He cautioned - 'know the difference between an tax rebate and a credit'. This credit you will have to pay back but it's like getting a $7,500 interest-free loan from the government for 10 years. This might just be the final push your customers need to make a buy decision - and it's currently a limited time offer, expiring in June 2009. This is part of knowing your market and communicating that knowledge to your customers.