Is it Okay to Blame the Market for Your Lower Production?


posted by on Reflections From a Difficult Market

In my last blog, I mentioned that I refuse to work with agents (on a consulting basis) if their only explanation for their struggles is to blame the Other Guy. If someone isn’t willing to first look in the mirror to find the solutions to their dilemma, I know I’ll be of no use to them!

But let’s talk about blame for a moment… rational blame versus irrational blame.

I think it’s pointless to “blame” our clients for our troubles. Oh, we real estate agents are experts in doing this – after all – the phrase “Buyers are Liars” is deeply ingrained in our industry, as obnoxious as it is (don’t get me started). We ridicule our sellers for wanting Top Dollar for their home in Less-than-Top condition, or for “needing” a certain sales price to be able to sell. Well, guess what? The ability to resolve these transaction-specific issues IS our job and the reason we’re paid the way we are. If we can’t empathize, thus effectively communicate with our clients, then that’s our fault, not theirs.

That’s a topic for a different day.

Today I want to talk about the other thing we blame for our struggles – The Market. And y’know what? I’ll buy that. I do think it’s perfectly reasonable to blame the market and/or the economy for a failing (or frustrated) real estate career. Hey, if buyers aren’t buying, there’s NOTHING we can do about that – we certainly can’t manufacture buyers if none exist!

So, what if YOUR market sucks? And some certainly do. I’ve been contacted by agents in most of the askinfamously sucky markets, including Las Vegas, Florida, Michigan and Phoenix, wanting to know if I can help them. Well, frankly, I’m not sure I can, at least not in the time-frame they need in order to survive.

Here’s what I ask these struggling agents:

JA asks: “In your market…

is there business to be had, if you could figure out how to get it?” (One agent I spoke with said that the very top producers are selling no more than a dozen homes per year. If this is true, I’d say that no, there is NOT much business to be had at this time).

….are there buyers?” (Of course, this is related to the first question, but a bit more specific. In some markets or specific market areas, there simply may not be a buyer on the planet right now. Again, there’s nothing that can be done about that.)

are houses selling?” (Many agents ask me for help getting listings, but when I ask this question and the answer is “no, not really,” I have to wonder why one would want listings!)

If you work in an unviable market, then you need to make some tough decisions; decisions that may conflict mightily with your gut. Here are your options as I see them:

1.       Focus on the future – stop fretting about the NOW and strive to increase the number of raving fans in your Sphere of Influence. When good times return (and they will), you’ll be one of the few still standing. Of course, this requires that you have an alternative source of income or that you drastically curtail your lifestyle.

2.       Back off… slow down… take a deep breath. ARE you doing what you know needs to be done to generate business or are you so scared and frustrated that you’re spending most of your time bon-bonning on the couch (or behind the keyboard)? Don’t declare the market dead if you haven’t given it a good effort. Even if your good efforts fail, at least you’ll know you tried. Re-evaluate your business plan and review (or create a list of) your activity goals. Are you holding up your end of the bargain? If you can honestly say that you aren’t, give it a few more uber-focused months and see if things turn around.

3.       Quit. Yeah, quit. There’s no shame in throwing in the towel and moving onto something else that pays the bills and allows you to sleep peacefully at night. I know lots of agents, great ones even, who have chosen this path and they’re actually proud of themselves for making this very tough decision.

But… if your market is okay (and many are), stop blaming the Other Guy for your troubles and let’s get you back in the saddle!!!