Figuring Out How to Survive and Thrive in a Down Market

Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 AZ Broker BR030809000

We all know that the last few years have been extremely challenging. What we make of difficult times is the miracle in waiting. Do you get innovative? Do you go back to basics? Do you get out of the business? Everyone eventually makes a choice to survive and thrive, or find another passion. What have you done?

Here's my story ... AND I look forward to hearing what you've done to survive and thrive in this market. I believe that by sharing what works, what doesn't work, etc., we can all come through this a whole lot more intact by a long shot. Please share your innovative tactics!

It certainly has been the most challenging and the most rewarding journey for me personally ... ever. I was a "single agent" working within a big company here in Arizona until 2006. I had been considering opening my own firm for several years, but the timing hadn't been quite right, due to family considerations. Finally in August of 2006, we had our plan in place and opened our doors.

The first year ran rather smoothly, as we ran the business out of my home office and business was quite brisk. That lead me to procure an outside office so we could begin growing the business and recruiting agents. In April 2007, we moved into our new beautiful office ... and this is where the real miracles began happening.

It didn't become crystal clear until about the end of the summer that we were headed into a down market, and fast. We were doing ok with buyers, though, and some of our listings were still selling until about October 07. After reviewing all of our listings and researching our market areas, we knew we had to make some drastic changes.

We began getting very serious with sellers about their chances of selling (which at that point was slim to none). They were all overpriced for the current conditions and, as I'm sure you know, it was next to impossible to get them to understand the market had changed. So we gave them a choice, lower the price to a reasonable level, take it off the market, or rent the home out. Most chose to take their homes off the market and wait it out. They're still waiting in some instances.

In comes 2008, and things just kept getting quieter and quieter. It was like a morgue around the office. We could have almost closed the office and gone on vacation, except the cash flow wouldn't allow that. In my 23+ years in business, I had never experienced anything similiar. So now what?

Here is what I said: "Pull up your big boy/girl pants, and let's all get to work. Be grateful for what we do have now. Keep a postive mind set. Get back to basics. Get out in the community and network like crazy.  Volunteer more. Take classes. Have some fun in the midst of the downturn. Believe this market will turn around. Get innovative and creative. Let your passions go crazy. Be a true grit Banana!"

Just now, I took a moment to ask my agents to remind me of the activities we created. I wanted to get an idea of their perception of how we all made it through the tough time together as a team.

Their smiles lit up and they started rattling off all the events we were part of in a HUGE way. They all said ... "We built our brand in a big way! And it's paying off now," they reminded me!

So what did we do to be different and innovative and stand out in the crowd?

1. We are all active members of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerece and a few of us are Ambassadors. As Ambassadors, we went to every ribbon cutting , every event, every workshop, every everything! We made a huge splash in our community (see pictures below).

2.  We volunteered for community events. We did fundraisers for nonprofit agencies. 

3.  We went back to basics and drilled that down to a science, and worked it each and every day.

4.  Agents worked on taking more CE classes and designations. I taught workshops and spoke at as many community and business groups as possible.

5. I got heavily involved in internet marketing, went to seminars with the top marketeers, and hired an internet coach, Tracy Repchuk. She headed me in the right direction of blogging and all the social media sites. She also is teaching me (to this day) various elements to landing pages, sales pages, niches on the Net, etc. etc. Active Rain was another HUGE gift in the mix. I have lots to learn yet and it's a fun journey along the way. I know the Internet is the place to be now and in the future.

6. Lastly and most importantly, we held the belief that we would succeed. We kept our grateful journals.  We stayed postive. And we had fun together ... lots of fun. I figure you may as well make the best of things, and we did! We didn't have a lot of cash flow ... but we got creative! And we're standing today and growing stronger, more innovative and more creative every week.

Now for some fun pictures! Laugh and enjoy the sheer silliness and brillance (of which we figured out after the fact with several outings in banana suits). It worked and still does.  Who doesn't love some fun in their lives, especially now?

Now it's your turn!  Share your story of innovation and true grit.  Let's rock the house down!

Banana's at work and play

Posted by




Anna “Banana” Kruchten

Broker, CRS, CRB

HomeSmart Real Estate


Certified Residential Broker  CRB

Certified Residential Specilist CRS

AZ DRE Certified Real Estate Instuctor


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Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Anna..I am trying to stay positive..but every day it is getting harder and harder,,I see agents packing up and getting out of the buisness ..really good super agents..banks are getting tougher,appraisers are cutting values..sellers want to know why there homes are not selling...I am staying positive here in the Rain and active in the community hoping for better day ahead..great blogsmile ..Thank you

HelpfulHannah your friend in Philadelphia

May 18, 2009 11:41 AM #1
Anna Banana Kruchten Arizona's Top Banana!
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

Hi Hannah

Stay positive and keep doing the basics and hang in there! I do believe we are turning a corner (at least here in Phx) and I hope that's the case in your neck of the wooods.. And yes the lenders, appraisors etc are doing all kinds of different things and we have to adjust to 'what is now". It's a different game with different rules.  Time to get innovative and hold your vision as well.

Thanks for stopping by!

May 18, 2009 11:53 AM #2
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Hello Anna, yes every day does get harder and more frustring.....I think I'm going to become a waitress. Take the money and run.

Thanks for the psot today.

Patricia Aulson/Portsmouth NH Real Estate

May 18, 2009 12:51 PM #3
Claude Cross
Homes By Cross, Inc. - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte NC Homes For Sale

Anna - I started AR in JAN 09. I also went ballistic with online presence in late 08 as the wind was missing in our normal channels. I'm slammed now and other aren't. I'm not complaining about a good thing. The feet first plunge into social and seo marketing turned us around. I'm not smart enough to say what caused the shift. I'm just goinf to keep doing what I'm doing. Hoping much success in all you do

May 18, 2009 01:26 PM #4
Anna Banana Kruchten Arizona's Top Banana!
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

Patricia.....hang in there!  It'll come around for you.

Claude...Sounds like you've got things working like we do. Social and seo is part of the mix..a big part so it seems.  It Has taken a lot of work but it's amazing how it's paying off now.  And it's fun.  Hope you're enjoying it as well. Sounds like it!

May 18, 2009 01:34 PM #5
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Anna, I joined AR in 2007 at the recommendation of my broker -but just 'got it' last summer. Since then my life has never been the same. I am constantly using the things I learn here to reinvent myself and our business. I have been in GoToMeeting more times than I can count, attended NAR for the first time and met lots of AR stars - and I'm so glad to have met you here as well! :)


May 18, 2009 02:42 PM #6
Anna Banana Kruchten Arizona's Top Banana!
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

Hi Sharon!

Congrats to you for figuring it out and going with it to the max! It's all about having passion and a joy to growing and learing, isn't it? There is so much more energy on the creative side and it's so fun.  I haven't done the GoToMeeting.......and maybe I'll have time to check that out and/or suggest it to our agents (tomorrow at sales meeting).  I've heard good things about it for sure!  I heard NAR convention was great this year.......I'll be there next year and we'll meet up.

Thannks for sharing what has been working for you!  I know it will assist me,my office plus other folks as well.

Banana :)


May 18, 2009 03:50 PM #7
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