The hidden opportunities of a challenging market

When the unexpected happens, luxury agents are primed to adapt BY NIKKI FIELD

I also believe we can all benefit professionally from this season of slowing down. I talk to my own team about the three Rs essential to luxury real estate right now: recharge, refresh, and re-engage.

  • Time to recharge is an asset. As luxury agents, we have an “always-on” mentality, and being able to take a break, relax, and realign with ourselves is a skill we should be exercising more.
  • As agents, we should constantly refresh our knowledge — especially in the event of a crisis, when we’re suddenly operating in a new reality.
  • It’s crucial to re-engage with clients and other external stakeholders, not only to assure them that we’re here to support them at this time, but to think critically through what needs and requests they’ll have in the near future.

To that list, I would add a fourth R: reboot. As we conduct more of our work remotely, it becomes increasingly clear that technology has a defining role in the future of luxury real estate, and we can take advantage of this time to master it. Let’s take a closer look at each of these concepts to see how agents can remain agile when business slows down.

1. Recharge with a productive sabbatical

As a luxury agent in New York City, I have seen the impacts of crises, both economic and humanitarian, on the market and on society. It can be challenging to process, whether on a personal or a professional level. Some of the best advice I’ve received is to see these interruptions to everyday life as a sabbatical.

A sabbatical is a period of time when you take yourself away from the business and focus on your personal and professional development without the added stressors of your day-to-day obligations. When our lives — as well as those of our friends, families, colleagues, and clients — have been upended by recent events, a sabbatical provides us with a necessary respite. And in an economic downturn, everyone is forced to take some additional time off, so you can be less concerned about falling behind.

In the luxury space, finding time for yourself is a skill to hone. And as a leader in your business and your community, it’s also an opportunity to reassure and reconnect with others. Reserve time on your work calls to check in personally with your team, and don’t shy away from the fears and challenges you’re facing at this time.

2. Refresh your knowledge and focus

Economic downturns change the context in which we work, sometimes for the foreseeable future, so it’s essential to conduct research. Historically, how did your market fare during past crises? How did it perform in the aftermath, and how long was the road to full recovery? Understanding those useful indicators can help you realistically plot your own strategic roadmap for the weeks and months — and perhaps even years — ahead.

It’s also important to note that economic crises impact different regions at different times, so you can look to markets that are at a later stage in the recovery journey and evaluate the implications for your own area.

Last but not least, an economic interruption presents you with an opportunity to specialize. My own career has been characterized by pivots in which I was able to find success by identifying a niche in the market and filling it. So stay agile, observe trends as they evolve, and focus your skills in order to effectively meet your client’s needs.

If you’re a generalist now, consider becoming a specialist as we enter a new era of real estate, and promote your specialty actively and publicly. Those who recognize tomorrow’s buyers and sellers today will be first out of the gate when business finds its way back to normal.

3. Re-engage strategically with clients

Now more than ever, we need to think through the demands, desires, and goals of our clients and prospects, even if we may be seeing less of them in person. They will likely be focused on different opportunities and priorities going forward. And, as you specialize within your market, your ideal buyer and seller profile might shift as well.

  • Clients may be looking to move their families to new neighborhoods as a result of a societal shift, so be ready with available inventory and local insights to share with them.
  • In any economic downturn, there are highly motivated sellers who want to put their properties on the market; others may be looking to part with their primary or secondary residence as they permanently relocate. Be ready to support these clients.
  • Investors will be monitoring the situation in real time, keen to learn where opportunities lie in the luxury market; identify them and reach out.

4. Reboot how you conduct your business

Technology will be the fuel that drives luxury sales into the foreseeable future and beyond. Agents who regarded it as a secondary consideration, rather than an indispensable asset, need to reboot their approach and invest time and resources into fine-tuning their technology skills. Video tours, virtual stagings, and social media marketing are moving real estate at a time when little else can. This momentum isn’t likely to slow down, particularly as economic activity speeds up.

What we see when we look back over the history of our industry is that real estate adapts. All signs point to luxury agents being even busier in tomorrow’s market than they were in yesterday’s — but only if they’re ready with the skills necessary to navigate our reality, whatever it may entail. Opportunities to contribute, connect, and learn are available to agents no matter the economic climate.