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Where to Go When the Housing Market Gets S.L.O.W.

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Sales + Marketing

Where to Go When the Housing Market Gets S.L.O.W.

There are two paths you can take in a changing new-home sales market, but only one of them will help you succeed during a slowdown

By Quint Lears January 8, 2023
Just like this "go slow" road sign, a slowing housing market requires that home builders adjust their approach
If you're going to stay the course in home building, regardless of market fluctuations, you need to decide whether you're going to be just average or push yourself to become outstanding. | Image: jayzynism / Arcady/ stock.adobe.com
This article first appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of Pro Builder.

What do I do now? In many markets, new-home sales have gone from red-hot to full stop. The transition has been jarring, and for many sales professionals, direction is the question.

First, I want you to know that you are in the best business on Earth. New-home sales is still the fastest growing, most exciting, and most lucrative sector of real estate today. If you are in the building industry, you lead every other sector of real estate, and new homes lead the way in style, design, energy efficiency, safety, technology, and service after the sale.

How to Overcome Challenges So You Can Succeed in Any Market Conditions

When we perform our craft successfully, hundreds of goods, services, and industries are positively affected. So, the first order of business during challenging times is to make the decision that you’re not going anywhere. I want you to draw a mental line in the sand (and if you’re feeling bold, say out loud with me): “I am the right person, at the right time, and I am in the right business. I am prepared to do whatever it takes to overcome any challenge and to be successful in any market. I will not quit!”

Still, new-home sales can be a difficult business. As front-line professionals, we experience the highs and the lows of it. I know what it’s like to end the month with negative sales, have more cancellations than new buyers, and to question whether you’re even in the right profession.

During the last downturn in 2007, I asked Adrienne Albert, CEO of residential development advisory firm The Marketing Directors, how she was handling the change in the market (emotionally). Her response: “I don’t have time to be depressed. Too many people depend upon me.”

Her response made an impact on me, and I feel it would be wise for all of us to adopt the same attitude. I’m not trying to add pressure or impose guilt, but rather to tap into that inner strength and resilience that only comes when we pour our energy and focus into a higher purpose and selfless service.


What Do You Do When the Housing Market Slows?

Where do we go when things get slow? I believe there are two paths we can take. From experience, I can assure you that one of those paths is the right way, and one is the wrong way. The right way is S.L.O.W.

S = Service. The last two years have been blazing hot in the new-home sales world. Many in the business, including me, took sales for granted and, by default, allowed service to suffer tremendously.

I’m not proud to say it, but there were some days when I was so busy that small courtesies, such as offering a customer a cold bottle of water or even standing up to greet them, were lost amidst the maelstrom of paperwork and new contracts.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” and I think it’s time to refocus on the details and courtesies of service.

Nurses are a great example. They are so focused on serving and meeting the needs of their patients that they have little time to worry about the insurance market or hospital business. What if we, as new-home sales professionals, were more like nurses, and instead of thinking about interest rates, buy-down points, and incentives, we were truly focused on being of service to our customers.

L = Learning. In this business, if we don’t grow, we go; if we don’t improve, we will be removed; and if we get complacent, they will find our replacement. It’s time to crack open a new book, get that professional designation, and finish those continuing-education classes. Never stop learning.

O = Organize. Benjamin Franklin said, “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” Let’s use our downtime to get organized.

Do me a favor and look at your desk. Now is the time to clear out cluttered drawers, clean up files, and wash the car. Professional organizer and two-time cancer survivor, author Lynda Peterson says it best: “With organization comes empowerment.”

W = Wellness. It’s been said that many people destroy their health trying to gain wealth and then spend their wealth trying to get their health back. How many times have you skipped lunch and worked through dinner? How many nights have you lost sleep worrying about those customers who are thinking about cancelling?

Remember, we can’t transmit that which we do not possess. If we are not healthy and feeling our best, it’s difficult to emanate enthusiasm and positive energy to our customers.

Take time to recharge and invest in your health and wellness and you will be rewarded personally and professionally.

The Wrong Way to Go S.L.O.W.

There is a wrong way to go S.L.O.W., a different interpretation that digs a hole that’s difficult to climb out of. It’s important to recognize this path ... and to avoid it.

S = Stress. How many of my customers are going to cancel? How high will interest rates go? Will I still have a job? These questions can compound the stress of what is an already challenging job.

Watching the news and trying to predict economic cycles is fruitless. Stressing about things beyond our control is the first step on the wrong path when things get slow.

L = Lose hope. Obsessively stressing about things that are out of our control can lead to a sense of hopelessness. Wasting hours on unproductive, meaningless distractions is the sign of a person who is losing hope. This is a danger zone.

O = Overcompensate. When I’m slacking and the bills are piling up, it’s easy to panic and overcompensate, and I can tell you from experience that it does not work. The hardest time to make a sale is when you “have” to make a sale. The customer senses your desperation, is turned off by the aggressive sales approach, and, ultimately, walks away. At this point, if you don’t self-correct and change direction, the results can be dire.

W = Wither. Just as plants and animals fail to thrive and will wither and die if their environment doesn’t provide what they need, you may find yourself failing to thrive. If you’re in a downward sales spiral, dig deep and take drastic measures to re-create your previous circumstances.

Since we decided we’re going to stay the course in this business “no matter what” (remember that?), the next question is: Are you going to be just average or become great? Are you going to push yourself to become outstanding in your field?

Let’s dedicate ourselves to giving our customers world-class Service, to always be Learning, to Organize every aspect of our lives, and to focus on a life of Wellness. That way, when we sense and experience a changing market, we can smile and say, “That’s OK because I know where to go when things get S.L.O.W.”

Quint Lears, MIRM, is a licensed Realtor, published author, and host of online media platform NewHomeSales.com. He is a frequent speaker and sought-after sales trainer, motivator, and coach.


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