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holding house representing home ownershipIf you ask real estate professionals all over the world what is the most common question they are asked when someone finds out they are in real estate, the response will be, “How’s the market?” This is also the most common missed opportunity in our business.

Somewhere along the way, real estate agents have gotten auto-programmed to give a generic answer to this question. We will say things like, “great,” “really good,” or “fantastic,” but there are two big problems with these responses. One, it’s lazy, and two, it’s often untrue.

These default-type answers show a real lack of expertise and drive from the agent. In some areas of the country, these answers would be straight up misleading, but more often, they don’t reflect an understanding of what’s going on in today’s market. When someone asks you this question, they may genuinely have an interest in your knowledge and opinion. They themselves may be thinking of buying or selling, or know someone who is.

Great agents see this question as a prospecting opportunity, as well as a way to demonstrate their expertise as a salesperson and local market expert. So, the next time someone asks, “How’s the market?” try this response instead: “It’s complicated. Why do you ask?”

This response will engage a further dialogue, as well as give you a chance to have an in-depth conversation. You, in turn, can then ask a few questions to understand where their interest comes from. Just like that, you may have secured your next client.

To say that today’s market is complicated is a more accurate summary. Inventory is challenging, financing rules are changing, loan products are numerous, the economy is a question mark…yes, it is complicated.

Let’s assume you’re asked this question five times a week and just one of those opportunities converts into a client. That could be a new client every week. In theory, this is the most affordable prospecting and marketing strategy there is.

Now that you know how to respond to the “how’s the market” question, you’ll need to increase the odds of people asking you this magic question. You can do that by wearing your name badge, wearing clothing that identifies you as a REALTOR®, going to networking events, community events, etc. I recently met an agent who told me that he goes to his local Starbucks every day and engages in conversation with people until he has successfully given out five business cards. He says that every time he gives out a business card and exchanges information with someone, it’s almost always a result of a conversation about the market.

We put a lot of focus on using technology and online marketing today to generate business opportunities, and it’s an important part of our profession. However, let’s not overlook the power of human interaction, curiosity and conversation.

Wendy Forsythe is the executive vice president and head of global operations at Carrington Real Estate Services, where she is responsible for the operations and growth of the national brokerage.

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