By Stephanie Andre
RISMEDIA, April 21, 2009-With over 950 responses, RISMedia’s 21st Annual Power Broker Survey indicates that real estate professionals haven’t let the tough economy slow them down. Here, Sherry Chris, president & CEO, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate discusses how her newly launched company remained focused throughout the doom and gloom and how they are positioned to remain strong once the worst is over.
How did 2008 turn out compared to your expectations and why?
If we back up to the beginning of the year, 2008 held hope and promise for the market, and, of course, that didn’t happen. By midway through 2008, we realized we were going to need to weather the storm. At Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, we were in a totally different place. After all, we launched in July. As the market continued to decline, brokers did, however, start to reach out to us about our thoughts on the future of the industry and how this new brand could help. When we built Better Homes and Gardens’ tools and services, we built the model around the real estate industry of the future.
How did the market’s decline financially affect your company, specifically because you were launching?
We, like everyone else, have a very tight budget. That said, how do you get the word out? That’s when we really began to get into the social networking space. It’s played out very well for us-it speaks to what our brand is about and it’s cost effective.
Our presence on Facebook, Twitter and our corporate blog is huge. Those three things have allowed us to reach thousands and people-agents and brokers. But you have to be very disciplined to use social media-you can’t just attract friends and put a PowerPoint presentation up for everyone to see. You have to think about your audience. It’s quite a significant structure that you need to practice to use effectively.
What role do you need to play as a leader during a difficult market?
Leadership in a time like this is more crucial than ever. I see my role as one of helping people focus on what they can and can’t control. It’s easy to stray and start worrying about things that aren’t in your control. Look at what you can do and what you can control and you’ll come out of this fine-for brokers and agents. Brokers are doing the things they need to do that they never dreamed of-cutbacks, consolidations, etc. The bonus is that those who succeed in this tough market will emerge as very strong companies when we come out of this.
Where should agents be focusing most of their time in order to stay afloat?
They have to keep listings that are well priced and manage the expectations of their sellers. They also have to go back to the techniques that have always worked: pick up the phone, hold buyers seminars-all the things we used to have to do to succeed in this business.
What are your predications for the year ahead?
This year is going to be tough. We’re still going to see more foreclosures; it will be a challenging year. We all have to put our heads down and focus on what we can control. With the right tools and attitude, brokers and agents will be able to make a living.
To read the entire story and to view a complete list of those who ranked in this year’s Power Broker Survey, click here.
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