On Thursday, we held a show in the SWS Virtual Studio entitled "Mastering Your Market for Fun & Profit" where my guest Chiara Petro and I discussed WHY being a Market Master is something you might want to be and HOW to go about becoming one!
My definition of being a Market Master is that if someone tells me where they live, I get a mental image of their neighborhood, subdivision or condo building. I don’t necessarily know what year their house was built or how big it is, although I might be able to guess pretty accurately, but I have a general sense of the overall ambience, what amenities are nearby and I probably have a real estate-related anecdote or two about the area I can toss out. I call it being "conversationally familiar" with the Market when I can easily and confidently chat about the real estate in an area without resorting to the tired old "Well, I don't really know, but I'd be happy to find out for you!"
At the end of the show, I asked the audience to send in their favorite tip-of-the-day, and here are the results:
Favorit-est Tip #1: Leave the GPS at Home!
As you're working toward becoming a Master of Your Market, leave the GPS at home to force yourself to learn how to find your way around without relying on that voice coming from the little box on your dash. Not only does this give you far more credibility when buyers are sitting in your car, but you'll also have a much better mental picture of your market area and how the various neighborhoods, highways and commercial districts relate to each other geographically.
Favorit-est Tip #2: Preview, preview, preview!
If "previewing" is allowed in your market, take advantage of it... as often as you can! There's no way you can become a Master of Your Market by memorizing MLS statistics or even looking at pictures - you need to be out IN it. And your previewing tours will be far more effective if you practice "opinionated previewing" which means you look at similar homes (i.e. similar price range, vintage, architecture, etc.) and compare the homes to each other as opposed to just heading out and looking at a bunch of unrelated properties.
Favorit-est Tip #3: "Averages" are meaningless; instead, research the "ranges"
The "average" price, square footage, days on market or list-to-sold ratio statistic in a market area is likely a meaningless indicator of what's really going on there. When researching a Market to become a Master of it, focus on identifying the "ranges" - highest and lowest price, largest and smallest square footage, highest and lowest days on market, etc.
Favorit-est Tip #4: Identify alternatives to the Market You're Mastering
As you're Mastering one Market area, try to identify alternatives to that area that a buyer might also consider. For example, perhaps a buyer loves a certain style of home that can be found in the neighborhood you're mastering, but needs a larger lot than is typically available there. Or perhaps they can't quite afford that neighborhood, and would appreciate knowing what other parts of town offer similar homes and amenities for less money. Being conversationally familiar with the alternatives will give you tremendous credibility when talking with buyers.
Favorit-est Tip #5: Patronize businesses in the Market You're Mastering
Hey, you gotta shop somewhere... you gotta eat sometime... you gotta get your hair cut, your dog groomed and your dry-cleaning done, so why not do it in the Market You're Mastering? Not only will you be likely to meet people who have real estate needs in the area, but you'll also be able to speak intelligently to clients about the local businesses and amenities.
Favorit-est Tip #6: Identify all landmark buildings in the Market You're Mastering
Drive around the Market You're Mastering and make notes of the buildings you see that aren't readily identifiable. Schools, churches, rest homes, etc. Find out what they are so when you're working with a buyer and the buyers asks "What's that?" you'll know the answer!
Other favorit-est tips from the show included:
- Blog and create market reports about what you learn while previewing
- Read other agents’ blogs & newsletters
- Know school district boundaries & statistics
- Choose one geographic area at a time to master
- Know your office inventory