via Inman Select
Erica dishes on the economy and maintaining agent value in 2015
Are you optimistic about 2015?
An approaching year always carries a certain sense of hope and excitement, and I’m especially looking forward to seeing how work and new relationships from this year progress and grow in 2015.
Yes; the economy has slowly, but progressively, gotten better, and the U.S. is working toward once again being a balanced and stable contributor to the global economy. Watching the unemployment rate get lower, seeing mortgage interest rates hover below 4 percent and knowing that the Federal Reserve is cautious about raising rates, which have effectively been around zero since 2008, leaves me feeling confident that slow and steady will win the race. Things are not as secure as we really need them to be, but we appear to be on the right path toward stabilization, which does leave me feeling optimistic about 2015. Also, with a presidential election on the horizon, it’s safe to say that things will continue to progress slowly and the Fed will proceed with caution.
The housing market?
The housing market has been fairly volatile in the recent past, but in late 2013 and into 2014 it feels as though things are getting back on track. Even with a little lull from the fall extending into winter the market is better now than it was a few years ago and appears to continue to get better.
I’m very excited for a successful year … working with The Boutique Real Estate Group allows me the amazing opportunity to work with, and learn from, industry leaders. Whether it’s the introduction of the latest technological advancements, Raj Qsar stretching our company’s reach globally and teaching us about out-of-the-box market preparation for our client’s homes, or our in-house staff reminding us to build and nurture relationships, they all lend to our “boutique” culture of approaching real estate differently and effectively — and, as a result, thriving.
What are you worried about?
My worries tend to be more personal; will I connect with the right people?
How much do you fret about global events?
The global economy is such a force to be reckoned with and has so many constantly changing facets that it can be overwhelming … I don’t know that I worry about global events as much as I try to maintain a working knowledge of what’s occurring. Am I worried that the European and Japanese markets are set to tank? Yes. But I’m hopeful that the right people, who are much smarter than I am, are already addressing the potential problems. So, I tend to concentrate more on what I can do to affect positive change — I can make sure my clients are realistic and setting the listing price of their homes in a way that makes sense in their local market while still achieving their personal goals, and in the instance of buyers, I can work diligently to find them a home that is responsibly set within their budget while still allowing for future growth in their real estate portfolio.
Will mortgage rates go up or down next year?
It seems that “stability” is the name of the game … rates will move, they will respond to the climate set on Wall Street, but will there be drastic changes in either direction? Probably not. It seems that the Fed is set to keep rates low going into 2015 while we concentrate on maintaining the strength our economy has gained up to this point. 2016 going into 2017? Now, that’s a different ball game.
Will home prices appreciate next year?
As long as we stay the course, homes will most likely see a gain in 2015 … some homeowners have seen gains already this year.
Will agents be more productive next year? Why or why not?
Agent productivity is such a subjective thing — agents who are producing now will continue to do well; agents who are learning and implementing strong strategies now will do well next year. Personally, I plan on being massively productive, and my goal is to triple my numbers from this year.
Will the portals play a bigger role next year?
It will be interesting to see how Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia will play out in February; the industry impact could be dulled as the company experiences growing pains, and it’s possible that newer strategies will be implemented later in the year leaving the largest changes to occur in 2016. However, the portals will always play a large role — potential buyers and sellers are interested in the ease of use of these products that seem to offer tons of information freely at your fingertips.
What will be the biggest source of real estate leads next year?
This is still a word-of-mouth market; the biggest source of leads will always be current clients.
Are you making plans to expand, contract or maintain your business next year?
Our company is growing at an amazing pace, and it’s quite a ride! It is my intention to grow with The Boutique and triple last year’s business.
What is the biggest challenge for the industry in the coming year?
Maintaining agent value is a main concern for me. It is easy for consumers to get caught up in the portals, to jump online and do some quick research and feel like they have good working knowledge of the local area. But it falls to our shoulders to show our clients that, actually, quick and easy is not the order of the day; websites like Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com, etc., cannot give an all-encompassing value estimate. There is no algorithm for nuance; there is no way to measure the subjective nature of home selling or the emotion involved on the consumer level. It is up to us to ensure that clients are aware of our value by sharing our comprehensive market knowledge, anticipating their needs and exceeding their expectations in every transaction — and by offering them the personal touch that these websites cannot give.