6 Ways to Survive in Real Estate Over the Next Decade

By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

How did the real estate market change from 2005 to the present day? What were the differences between real estate in 2005 and 1995? How about 1995 and 1985? When you consider how much the business shifted in those respective time spans, it makes you realize how much potential change the next decade holds for real estate. Tom Gillett, real estate broker and president of The Tom Gillett Company Inc., offered the following six “survival” tips in his session yesterday afternoon at the 2012 Association Executives Institute event in Louisville, Ky.

1. Be skeptical: Don’t overreact to every new fad. “Quit chasing the rabbit” of ever-changing media-manufactured trends, Gillett said.

2. Don’t fight the riptide: Rip currents in the ocean are more dangerous for people who try to fight them, because they wear themselves out trying to swim against them instead of going with it. Similarly, if there’s an important new development in the business or your local market (e.g., mobile technology or distressed sales) that you resist, you’ll exhaust yourself. “This market is the same thing,” Gillett said. “If you fight this market, you’ll die.”

3. Show your value proposition: A decade ago, consumers didn’t care as much about what their real estate agents brought to the table. Now, they really want to understand why you’re worth the commission you’re charging, Gillett said. “The market has shifted. We have to be bringing real value,” he added.

4. Operate virtually: Because of the role of the Internet in real estate searches, mobile devices, and the ability to conduct meetings virtually or in locations such as Starbucks, today’s practitioner doesn’t have to spend a lot of time behind a desk in a fancy office. “Twenty five years ago, I had to have a great bricks-and-mortar location,” Gillett said. “Now I could run my business out of a liquor store backroom, as long as I’ve got a good Web presence.”

5. Don’t be all things to all people: Here, Gillett offered up a salient quote from Bill Cosby: “I haven’t learned the secret to success, but I’ve learned the secret to failure, and that’s to try and please everybody.”

6. Have flexible goals: Set clear objectives at various intervals of time (six months, one year, three years, etc.), but don’t be afraid to change them in response to the market as you go. Also, have specific plans to achieve those objectives.

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at bsummerfield@realtors.org.

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  1. Great points… I especially think #4 is important. Starbucks is the office space of the future!

  2. I totally agree with agents needing to be able to show their value proposition to prospective clients. In today’s market, you have to differentiate yourself from the competition.

  3. Hi Brian,

    You have certainly made some good points here! Since I am learning as I go, I have been attempting to improve my online social skills. I firmly believe having the appropriate online presence, given our most trackable trends, is something that makes great business sense.

    I also believe there is a lot to be said for “trying to be all things” I guess the real trick is in finding and maintaining the proper balance of all that you can be and all that you cannot be.

  4. Ann Clark-Rathbun

    I agree with the article.

  5. Realtors that have taken the initiative to retool and concentrate on their professional skill sets during the economic downturn will be well positioned to thrive in the years to come. Understanding the basics, niche marketing and the ability to re-position themselves in the changing times bodes well for them.

  6. We must grow with the times.These are are really great points

  7. Great information. We need to “roll with the tide” and
    follow gut instinct. Do what “feels” right!