By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
No one knows for sure when residential real estate will officially “recover,” but a turnaround may not be far off. When it comes, practitioners and brokers who spent the downturn fundamentally improving their business will be in the best position to take advantage of the upswing, a panel of real estate executives said at the Real Estate Services Forum on Saturday at the 2010 REALTORS® Conference & Expo.
“We’re in the seventh inning of a full-blown housing correction,” said Ron Peltier, chair and CEO of HomeServices of America. “I think what’s happening is that all of the nonsense is getting pushed out of the market. If we understand that, we can be better operators.”
At this point, the industry is still in “survival mode,” but there are signs of improvement. For example, as Realogy President and CEO Alex Perriello pointed out, there has been a significant increase this year in home sales over $500,000 and in all-cash transactions. “We’re seeing the value buyer getting back into the market; these are people who are well-off financially and very thoughtful. What that tells me is that the smart money is calling bottom,” he said.
So how can you lay the groundwork to ride the resurgence? RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly said one important step is to focus on the things you can control, such as continuing education and business relationships, and not worry too much about the things you can’t, such as unemployment. Peltier added that deep knowledge of your local market is critical. But one thing the panel repeatedly emphasized was a commitment to helping out consumers, even when there isn’t an immediate financial benefit.
“We keep saying ‘distressed properties,'” Kelly said. “They’re not distressed properties, they’re distressed families. We can’t repair their balance sheet, but as REALTORS®, we can do a lot to help keep them in their homes.”
Perriello agreed: “If you do a good job when people need you, those people will be your customers for life. That’s your dividend.”