Holiday Listings

Each year, about this time, Realtors across the country hear those same three little words “…after the Holidays”. The real estate market tends to go into an economic hibernation for a couple of months as activity slows down. Our focus shifts from seeking listings and promoting sales activities to turkey and hanging out with the family.  We plan our cross-country trips, hang the lights, buy gifts for our loved ones, and make sure we are stocked up on eggnog. Mmmm, eggnog!

For our clients, it is just as stressful a time of the year as for us! Not to mention the kids. Oh yeah, they’re around! Many times, the last thing our sellers want is the added stress of selling a home. So, each year, about this time, we resign ourselves to having a slow month or two. These are all valid points, but certainly not the only points to ponder. This December could be a productive work month if you know how to position yourself.

Occasionally, I will send out a postcard to my farm area entitled “8 Reasons to List during the Holidays”.  The intent was not only to promote myself and the services I could provide, but also to create a shift in the mind of the seller who had already decided to put off listing until the New Year. I would also send the little card to my current listings who I knew might expire during this period. I will share a few of those ideas with you.

First, the listed home is already looking pretty! No need to “tidy up” before a showing or make the place look festive, or bake wonderful smelling cookies in the oven to make it all seem like home. It already does. The owners did your staging for you!  There’s also no need to cut the grass just before a showing appointment.

For sale in snowAnother good consideration is the Holiday schedule itself. Many times, manufacturing plants and other businesses will completely shut down for a couple of weeks.  This means those “by confirmed appointment” sellers are now much more flexible, and easier to reach by phone. The brokers appointment system can simply block out important family days and sub-Holidays like New Years Eve. Buyers are in the same boat with extended vacation and many want to take advantage of the free time.

Another key factor, and perhaps the most important, is a smaller market! Remember, a lot of sellers are thinking “…after the Holidays”, and the inventory actually shrinks. Real estate is already competitive, so why not take advantage while the competition is on hiatus. Not to mention, come January, all those new and “new again” listings will twinkle in our MLS system like lights on a tree.

Plenty of people, people just don’t want to get out in the cold. However, if someone is willing to bundle up, schedule an appointment, and take a meeting with a Realtor in the dead of Winter, they’re serious! It’s a good opportunity to eliminate the “Looky Loos” who are less than serious and think of house hunting as a hobby. Buyers are also stressed out and otherwise involved, yet if they take the time to see a home with your sign in the yard, they may just be willing to put ink on paper. You couldn’t give your sellers a better gift!

These are all great considerations when it comes to working for your clients, but there are distinct advantages for the professional as well. Not only is the overall market better for our clients, but it’s better for YOU! For years, I have made myself available to anyone and everyone who want to buy or sell. Without fail, I always pick up new clients at this time because everyone else had their phones turned off. Consistently, I heard stories of how people must have called a dozen agents, but no one picked up or returned their call. Well, I do, and I get new clients out of it, too. Some of them will be people relocating to the area in a few weeks or months, and had this time to look for properties. I don’t mind the delayed gratitude if I know the buyers are serious.

Yes, there are a lot of points to consider during the Holiday season, but your mental default should not be that of “Nobody wants to buy or sell during the Holidays”.  By working smart and being available, you just might be able to put a nice little bow on the end of your business year.

 

Mandatory Meetings!

Meetings in the business world are like cellphones and opioids. You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. But is every formal get-together really necessary? Most people NOT presiding over one would say “no”. Maybe they have a point. When was the last time you heard a group of people leaving a conference room and collectively say; “Now, that was productive”. If anything, they rush back to their workstations to return missed calls and make up for the LOST time.

Don’t get me wrong, meetings have their usefulness. It is an opportunity for the boss to show his face and thereby get an instant read on where everyone on the team is with the latest project. It also shows the boss’ support of his subordinates. By maintaining the flow of information, management may prevent certain members from secluding themselves… and doing God knows what.  The team may discover mistakes being made and get the project back on track. Too, there is something to be said for synergy and collaboration.  It also provides much needed face time for building team camaraderie (psst… Millennials, that’s REALLY important). But these are perhaps the most grand ideals for having a meeting in the first place.

Here are some quick pointers on how to have a more effective meeting time:

Is it necessity or habit? If there is a “standing meeting”, perhaps Wednesdays mornings for the sales force, consider whether you really have to meet THIS week. If sales are good this quarter, keep your people in the field and OUT of the office. Actually, that applies to poor sales as well.

Select a time frame (like an appointment?) and stick to it. Keep a “huddle” to just that., short, sweet and to the point. If you call a meeting at 11:30 and lunch begins at Noon, you have exactly 30 minutes. Going over time and ordering everybody food is NOT OK. The occasional overage due to an unforeseen emergency will be forgiven. Make it a habit and your team will grow to resent you. After all you are not respecting their time or tSurvivedAnotherMeetinghe productivity they bring to the company during it.

It’s alright to have empty seats. Should everyone in the department be present for a meeting just because they are in the department? People not assigned to the latest projects and other specialist would much rather be doing their own work.  Veterans who have been “down that road before” should only be asked to attend due to the expertise they can provide or to understand how the work will be distributed.

I have a love/hate relationship with agendas. Granted, the boss is paying the employees so he or she gets to ramble on as long as they want. However, irritated and underutilized employees tend to find work elsewhere. It may seem too formal to have a list of topics but being too casual can pull the discussion down a rabbit trail. Before you know it, people are looking at their watches. Select the points you think most imperative to discuss and stick with it. Don’t keep it a surprise! Email copies of the agenda to all participants BEFORE the meeting so people will know what to expect… oh and to be prepared too.

Perhaps the most productive meetings I have attended are where the participants are independent contractors or volunteers rather than employees. And therein lies the rub. They WANT to be there. If you are calling a meeting, you need to ask yourself what the attendees will get out of it. If your people do not grow in some way or become more efficient, the meeting may not be necessary at all.

Over 2500 years ago, Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War. Millions of business people have  read it and liken business to war itself. Personally, I do not like that analogy because at the end of the day, no one has died and hopefully, no property was destroyed. However, Sun Tzu did have a wonderful grasp of how groups are effected by leadership, be it good or bad. He stated an army (company or other group) did NOT exist for waging war (or simply to come to work each day). Rather, an army exists for VICTORY (productivity or increasing market share).  Holding meetings may seem like a very managerial thing to do, but is it a good use of everyone’s time when an email would have done just as well.

Blaine Little