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Viewpoints Part IV

RISMEDIA, January 24, 2009-Rumor has it-headlines announce it-we’re in the midst of a recession. But according to Glade Jones, president & CEO of Obeo, a proactive plan and positive attitude go a long way. In this week’s Viewpoints, Jones offers his take on what 2009 will mean for real estate.

Glade Jones
President & CEO

While it cannot be denied that the economy is in a precarious position, I refuse to let the word “recession” become an excuse for failure. For those of us with the right mindset, failure is not an option.

Remember the “Whack-a-Mole” game at the arcade when you were a kid? That was the game in which you’d take a whack every time the mechanical mole raised his smiling little head. In tough economic times, you may find yourself playing “Whack-a-Mole” with various problems in the industry. Sales are down, whack! Budgets are cut, whack! Traditional marketing methods are no longer working, whack! At best, this approach isn’t very productive, and at worst, is exhausting.

Recognizing the challenges that lie before us and creating a business plan that focuses on not just surviving but thriving is the key to navigating these times of economic stress. Initiative combined with a positive, proactive approach will conquer a slower economy and ultimately gain market share in a down market.

I suggest creating a “success funnel” consisting of daily action items. This routine of tasks provides more predictable results versus random actions, i.e. the “Whack-a-Mole” method.

The other important key to success is meaningfully identifying and connecting with buyers and sellers. We know that today fewer people will qualify for a home mortgage. That challenge is topped off with the fact that the consumer is changing. The Baby Boomers-many of whom will be working longer after their investments were depleted in this last round of stock market plunge-are aging and downsizing.

The Millennials, with their propensity for instant gratification and adaptation to the Web for all things knowledge-based, create a whole new challenge. How does a real estate professional connect to these diverse-yet shrinking-groups?

The key to success is and will be walking the fine line between personal relationships that foster the all-important word-of-mouth-especially among the Baby Boomers-and technology, a must with our Millennials. We must provide each group the tools to make good decisions.

Those tools must include ways to appeal to a sense of community and connectedness to friends, family and meaningful experiences. For the Millennial generation in particular, their decision-making process is similar to a video game. If they fail, they just hit “reset” and start over.

Unlike their parents and grandparents who may be OK hitting the “refresh” button, Millennials are more likely to search out an engaging technical platform that draws them in and makes site search easy. Both Millennials and Baby Boomers seek the ability to visualize themselves in this new home, but certainly those visions are different. Baby Boomers seek comfort; Millennials, according to recent market research, are looking for ease. A big backyard, for instance, does not strike their “appeal” button.

It is important to note that both groups know what they want. The successful, thriving company will be the one that provides an easy yet comprehensive way to provide this content to prospective home buyers as well as homeowners.