I had heard that the recession in Michigan would last five years, and we were in year two. And because we were young and crazy, my colleague and I decided to start our own company when word came down that our current brokerage was slated to close.
It was 2009 and we had $100 to open a bank account. I remember shaking while signing my name. I’m not a risk taker, so this was insane. My own bank account was pretty sad, the economy was terrible, and we had just built a house three years prior that had drastically dropped in value.
Although I don’t remember much about that time, knowing me, I’m sure I was stressed to the max.
Just as I am now.
Back in my Coldwell Banker days, we had a trainer fly in to meet with us. The market was just starting to downturn, and the speaker’s advice to us when asked, “How’s the market?” was to say “Unbelievable!”
She said this is better than saying Bad, Good, Great, Poor, Terrible, Slow, etc. “Unbelievable” is one of those words that depending on the mindset of the one who hears it can put their own positive or negative spin on it.
And although I’ve never followed this exact advice, I’ve always tried to remain honest, while erring on the side of positive and upbeat.
But no more.
Now when people ask me about the market, I say, “It’s weird.” This, of course, gets raised eyebrows, but ultimately leads into more conversation, and an honest one at that.
“When was the last time you had consumers lining up to spend a ton of money on a product and not be able to buy it? We literally have 306 members in our association, and only 457 active listings. You do the math. So, yeah, the market is weird and quite frankly, it sucks for everyone except the seller. So if you have a house to sell, NOW is the time.”
No more sugar coating. No more faking it. I’m telling it like it is. This market is making me crazy, and I’m just going to keep going old school, keep on keeping on, and know that I will get to the other side, just like I did a decade ago.
But I can’t do this alone. We all need to be honest in our conversations with the public. Whether it be while standing in line at the grocery store, talking to a buddy at a party, or even on social media, we need to spread the word. This isn’t a Jackson problem, a Michigan property, or a Midwest problem. It is a NATIONWIDE problem. And we need to get this out there because most people have no idea.
I realize it’s a Catch 22- our sellers don’t want to sell because they know their house will sell quickly and they won’t be able to find a house to buy. And they know they are in a weakened position to buy because their offer will be contingent upon the closing of their home.
So what to do?
Be creative! Negotiate a longer possession time after closing so our sellers can find a house. Locate furnished short term rentals. Know which storage facilities are available. Brainstorm ideas with the client’s lender to make their offer more appealing. Arm yourself with enough information and solutions to ease your client’s mind. They need to know that we can make this happen with as little stress as possible.
There are a myriad of solutions, but the one that won’t work is sitting back, complaining about the market, and putting your head in the sand.
Yes, this market is tough. Yes, it’s making it hard to stay in the fight. But the battle will end, and we will come out on top again. So chin up, get to work, and be honest. Our industry has been through worse- way worse- and we’ll make it through.
So the next time someone asks you how the market is, be honest. It’s just weird.
P.S. If you have any creative solutions to increase inventory, please share in the comments!
Amy Gilpin, Associate Broker, Manager, ABR, SRES.
Sixteen years of helping clients. Nine years of helping agents. All for this crazy thing we call real estate.
Production Realty 517-879-4141 Jackson, MI Amy@ProductionRealty.com