I have a friend who, for the sake of this post, I am going to call Ted. I don’t actually know any Teds, so we should be safe using this name. I am sure you know someone like Ted. He’s the kind of guy who manages to focus on the negative, no matter how well things are going for him. Also, he is certain to point out how badly YOUR business must be going, with the current economy:
ME: Hey, Ted. How’s it going today?
TED: Pretty good. I guess you must be just about broke, what with the real estate market in the tank, huh?
ME: Actually, this has been our strongest month in awhile. I am working on a couple of closings, and my agents have been busy.
TED: Well, don’t get too confident. The Dow took another nosedive yesterday.
ME: Frankly, I stopped watching the Dow a long time ago. Every time that I hear about it dropping a lot, it seems like it is at the same level where I saw it before.
TED: They’re saying gas prices may go to FIVE dollars a gallon in the wake of the recent hurricane.
ME: I hope it doesn’t get that high, but I suppose we don’t have a lot of choice in the matter.
TED: Also, I was reading in the paper that real estate sales are down 20% in Austin from last year.
ME: I call this “how to lie with statistics”. Comparing it to last year makes for interesting newspaper fodder, but the trend in Austin is still strong. 2007 was a relatively good sales year, so the fact that it has dropped off doesn’t really surprise me. Prices actually went up a little during the same period.
TED: I have hemorrhoids.
ME: What? Why are you telling me this?
TED: I ran out of negative things to say, and it was the first thing to come to mind.
ME: You have made me feel tired, Ted. See you later.
Ted is the kind of guy who can make you feel awkward and sad for having a newborn baby, or getting a big commission, or winning a gold medal. He drains you, and you likely want to avoid him with every ounce of your being.
I try really hard not to be like Ted, even when things seem to be a struggle. I can assure you that you probably won’t gain any new clients by focusing on the “cons” of the current market. There are always plenty of arguments in favor of making a move now, especially for buyers (low interest rates, more inventory, etc.). For sellers, the key is to be honest with them about their prospects and pricing. If they need to sell, take the listing. If they are just seeing what will happen, run like the wind.
I was taught to always say, “Great!” when someone asks how business is going. This strikes me as disingenuous, and I can’t bring myself to do that if it isn’t true all the time. However, I do talk about which things are going well, rather than burdening them with my problems or concerns. If sales are slow one month, I might say, “Business is slower than it was a couple of years ago, but we’re having a pretty good year overall. The market in Austin has held up remarkably well. If things improve nationally, we are positioned for some great years ahead.”
I am not advocating that you present sunshine and rainbows to every client, but don’t focus on the lemons if you can avoid it. No one likes hearing about Ted’s hemorrhoids.