The Importance of Trust in a Shifting Real Estate Market

2009 was my very best year in the Manhattan real estate business! When I share that fact with the agents whom I have the fortune of coaching, they are genuinely surprised and always ask, “how?” The answer is TRUST.

When Lehman Brothers collapsed on September 15, 2008, there was an eerie calm before the veritable storm but then the phones began ringing and conversations over cocktails and meals were fraught with panicked discussions of doom and gloom. Many lost everything, some lost a lot, others not so much, but no one went untouched by the fear that gripped our nation in the weeks and months following the financial crisis.

Fear can be an incredible motivating factor, but it often motivates us to make knee jerk reactionary decisions that aren’t in our best interest. I decided immediately following the crash that my philosophy of being an advocate for my friends, family and customers hadn’t been more important since the horrifying days post 9/11. Let me be clear that in no way am I comparing our current shifting housing market to that of post 9/11 nor that immediately following the financial crisis in 2008. That said, there is incredible opportunity in any shifting market if you connect authentically with your customers and develop a trusting relationship.

As our current market has become more favorable for buyers, they most often want to know if we think the market will continue to soften. Of course no one has a crystal ball but if you are a provider of accurate data as it pertains to their specific situation, you as their agent and advocate become a real asset in their search and home purchase. On the other side of the equation, if you have the opportunity to represent a seller, pricing properly and talking your customer off the ledge is of utmost importance.

The most important thing you can do for a buyer or a seller at this time is remove yourself from the equation and determine what is best for them. Consider things like timeline and length of ownership as well other things like interest rate sensitivity for buyers. For sellers, analyze their true motivation. In 2009, I talked many prospective sellers out of selling their homes. I even appeared on the Today Show reminding everyone that the loss of equity on paper was not long term and unless they had to sell for financial, relocation or other personal reasons, it was best to just strap in and hold on. Many of those sellers chose to sell. Others are still happily living in those homes and I remain their go to expert for advice on housing.

In conclusion, a shifting market is NOT a time to be a transactional agent. Building solid, meaningful and trusting relationships with your customers and advocating for them based on their needs will win you more business and a much more favorable reputation.

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