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The Recovery Is Here—but Do You Feel It? An Editorial

May 2, 2012

Posted by

Charles Dahlheimer

Recognized as one of the industrys leading visionaries, Dahlheimer is publisher of The Real Estate Professional magazine and The Real Estate Executive Summary.  He co-authored Real Es Read more

A recent Los Angeles Times article noted that the overall economy has been making “steady, if unspectacular gains” even in the area of housing, which has been one of the last holdouts.  “What are important are sales and inventory, and those are pointing in the right direction,” says Christopher Thornberg, a principal at Beacon Economics who was one of the early callers of the housing crash. “I would say that by the end of the year, they should translate into better prices.”

Thornberg adds, “The recovery is here.”

And this from Los Angeles, where real estate prices soared to previously unseen heights and dropped to horrendous lows.  (The median home price there, before the bubble burst, was $505,000.  Last month, it was $280,000.)

But we’re also hearing positive comments from nearly every sector of the marketplace.

Martha Pomares, 2012 chairman of the board of the Miami Association of Realtors, reports that pending sales activity in Miami-Dade County remains at strong levels and points to further growth and strengthening in a market driven by both domestic and international buyers and investors.

Nationally, the Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 4.1 percent to 101.4 in March from 97.4 in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. The index is 12.8 percent higher than the 89.9 index reported in March 2011.

All great news!

But do you feel it?

John Wendorff, founder and CEO of The Personal Marketing Company, notes that the combination of historically low mortgage rates coupled with a less fearful public outcry from Washington, D.C. has given many company and association executives a reason for optimism.  “But there’s one problem,” notes Wendorff.  “Many of the agents aren’t ‘feeling it.’”

According to Wendorff, most of the agents that he’s spoken with over the past few weeks have said they aren’t seeing any more market activity right now than they have over the past four or five years.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” notes Wendorff, “because the only way an agent could see more activity is by being more active themselves.  And the fact is that most of the agents I’m speaking with have forgotten ‘how’ to go about building relationships with people they don’t know.”

Wendorff has been a “hands on” leader in his niche of the industry, “personal marketing,” through more than 30 years of ups and downs, and spends a lot of time in one-on-one conversations with brokers and agents out in the field.

“The promise of ‘mass riches from Internet leads’ or that ‘social media will bring clients begging to your door’ has always been just a mirage,” explains Wendorff.  “It’s no different from the mass mailing and telephone banks from 25 years ago, or the ‘brand promise’ of consumers streaming into a real estate office because of a national brand name on the building.”

Wendorff notes that real estate has always been a one-to-one “People Business,” not a mass market “Image Business.” “Although knowing what to do and how to do it when it comes to a transaction is important,” says Wendorff,  “it’s also critical that you know enough people who like, trust and remember you when it’s time to make a moving decision so that you can make a living knowing ‘what and how’ to do it.”

According to Wendorff, long-term successful agents make finding and nurturing new contacts look easy and natural.  “These agents never forget that the lifeblood of their business isn’t technology, information or brand.  It is the quantity and quality of their relationships.”

At the helm of one of the nation’s oldest and most successful suppliers of real estate marketing products, John has become legendary for his daily (6AM) inspirational e-mails  to his entire staff—a practice that could well be adopted by broker-owners and managers of real estate companies.

One morning last week, John noted that “many of our agents have forgotten the foundation of their business—people.  And because we haven’t focused enough lately on the people side, we end up giving them ‘permission’ to engage in self-defeating and wasteful behaviors.

“It is our responsibility to stand up against the “easy riches” crew and tell agents the whole truth:  your personal productivity and self-esteem is totally dependent on your ability to plant, cultivate and harvest relationships, based on your desire to help clients succeed in reaching their personal goals.  In other words, their job for their clients is exactly what our job is for our clients.

“So, starting today, let’s reach out to our clients and give them a sense of importance and urgency in our discussions with them.  Otherwise, in another month or so, they’ll be so far behind that they will totally miss out on what promises to be an excellent selling season.”

Might be a message here for the managers and coaches who are responsible for setting the pace for the recovery?