Many of you are flat out scared of what is happening in the marketplace. With downsizing and consolidating and buy-outs, you are wondering where your business will come from.
I am here to tell you that there is always more than enough business for a true professional who knows his or her business, who puts the concerns of the customer first and who is dedicated to getting the job done right.
I came into real estate in 1981. I made a fine living as a Rookie Realtor in the worst market since the depression. I put together deals for people who wouldn't have been able to own a home without my special talents for problem solving. In a tough market I shine! Because I'll go the extra mile, I'll work a little harder, I'll do the things that "the average Realtor" can't or won't do.
I understood that year that while the market was slow was a great time to get the extra education that I wouldn't have time to get when the market picked up. It was a great time to put systems in place that would be ready when the market picked up. And my darlings, it always picks up. Those of you who are active in Associations, who spend your own money on seminars, classes and courses to perfect your skills understand that you are increasing your net worth by doing do.
It is a cycle. Since the civil war, residential real estate has doubled in price in most places almost every ten years except for the Great Depression of the 1930's. During that 10 years there are 2 booms, 2 slow downs and the rest of the time is rather mediocre. Additionally, you mortgage makers have refi booms. 1981 and 1982 were the absolute worst years since the depression, but it was only two years. Not forever!
You, too, can shine in a tough market! In fact, it's easier because:
- There is less competition.
- There are fewer but more serious buyers to work with.
What I'm saying to you is this: There is no such thing as a bad market. As the pie gets smaller, the dilettantes wash out and that leaves a larger portion of the smaller pie for the pros. It gets better for the survivors.
When the market picks up again, it takes awhile for the dilettantes to get back in, and the survivors get a larger piece of a larger pie. During that time, true professionals make a really fine living! Because they did their homework during the down time. They learned more, they established relationships, they put systems in place.
They didn't wait for the phone to ring. They didn't spend their days moaning about the condition of the market. They discovered or re-discovered ways of creating business.
A lender I know in California decided that it was time for an Affordable Housing Fair. Her premise: Interest rates were still very attractive. The houses were still affordable. The problem was not in the marketplace. The problem was in the perception of the buyers, sellers and the lenders!
When everyone in real estate, mortgages and the press says it's a "bad market", civilians i.e. home buyers, tend to believe it's a "bad market". They tend not to buy.
My friend in California was determined to educate the public thoroughly; to eliminate or at least minimize their discomfort so that she could help them get into homes. She was instrumental in putting together lenders, credit bureaus, Realtors, title companies to talk to these people. To show them it was possible to buy a home this year.
The people involved in that project understand reality. They read the papers, too. But you know, they are too busy doing something about their business to have a lot of spare time to whine about the market!
So maybe this year won't be the boom year it was last year. But there is a pretty fair living to be made for those who refuse to be cowed by the press, and their co-workers who'd rather complain than work. Don't let a slow down in the market scare you. Just keep on doing what needs to be done.
This is the time to investigate new areas of business. To make calls on financial planners or divorce attorneys for instance, if you've never been able to fit them in before. This is the time to call back all of your past customers, make nice, schmooze. Build those relationships you neglected when you were too busy to think straight.
If you are in management, this is a great time to recruit and expand. Hugely successful people and companies in all fields often make big money by being contrarians. They make big money by doing something entirely different than the competition.
This is the time to think ahead. What brilliant ideas struck you when you were in the middle of the refi boom? (I know you had brilliant ideas then. You always do when you are too busy to do anything about them.) Stop for a minute. THINK!
- Did you think about sending out post cards to all of your past customers every quarter so they wouldn't forget your name and would remember to send you referrals?
- Did you think about learning how to use a computer so that you wouldn't get run over on the "information highway"?
- Did you mutter that you could really use an assistant but didn't have time to train one?
- Did you think about putting a talk together for the Chamber of Commerce so that the business people in your community would remember that you make mortgages?
- Did you want to go back for another college-level course so that you could do your job just a bit better? Or understand economics so that you would sound more astute when talking to customers?
You understand don't you, that the average loan officer will do none of the above? The average loan officer will sit around his office and whine about the good old days of yesteryear. Once the pipeline is empty, and the draw is depleted, the average loan officer will wander off to find a "Real Job". Let us kiss him goodbye, wish him well and know that the market place and your industry is better off without him!
Think of this as a time to recharge your batteries as you improve your skills. Think of this as a time to prove your mettle, to become one of those in the top 20% who will not only survive this marketplace but will choose to thrive! Remember the goal of life is not merely knowledge. THE GOAL OF LIFE IS ACTION!