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2007-10-11 22:02:00

To Deal with the Trends, You've Gotta Be a PIG

Real Estate Coach Patti Kouri, MCCDo you ever wonder how it happens that one season every designer seems to be featuring clothes with horizontal stripes, or one year every car manufacturer offers a brand-new soft green color? It’s all about trends.

As consumers, we respond to trends. We scoop up horizontal stripes and green cars and iPods and high definition DVDs. But the manufacturers didn’t just start on those products yesterday; they started years ago.

They study their own product history and the history of other types of products. They interview consumers. They look at what’s happening in youth culture and what’s happening abroad. They brainstorm, draw up plans and create prototypes for the most extreme versions of their ideas, which might appear on fashion models in Milan or Paris, or in articles on futurism. Working from those way-out-of-the-box versions, they eventually create the designs that are stocked in stores and showrooms nationwide.

This process is happening faster and faster. There are new “must-have” products available not just every year, but every season or every month. Consumers who want to be perceived as trendsetters – as leaders, not followers – must make crucial and often costly decisions, choosing among subtly different computers, phones, watches, shoes, cars and hairstyles.

These days, the style leaders are likely to be actors and musicians – people with cash, advisors and mass appeal – whose choices, from diets to dogs, influence millions of consumers.

As a real estate agent, you are probably caught right smack in the middle of this process. You want your affluent clients to see you as sophisticated and tasteful, you want your less affluent clients to see you as one of them, a “real person,” and of course you want your colleagues to see you as a brilliant decision maker, trendsetter and person-in-the-know. In other words, all things to all people.

That’s a tough role, but it’s possible if you make a PIG out of yourself: wallow in Perseverance, Integrity and Guts.

Perseverance is the tenacity that keeps you going through good markets and bad, through personal and public tragedy. It’s attitude control that gets you out the door, no matter what. But perseverance is not just about what you do today and tomorrow; it embraces the long view. Think back to those designers: they’re not just in it for the new model or the season, they’re in it to stay, and they are constantly looking ahead. As a Realtor, you need to be aware of past and present markets, but you also need to look at the possible future repercussions of those markets – and, most importantly, develop a strategy for dealing with them.

For example: lenders offer subprime loans; with these loans, buyers purchase properties beyond their means; the economy changes, rates change, and homes go into foreclosure. Dealing with bank-owned properties is an important market segment, but the agents who are most successful in this market are not the ones who introduced themselves to the bank once properties started to foreclose; they’re the ones who have been developing and nurturing those relationships for years. They looked at the future, saw what could happen, prepared for it and had perseverance. Other agents may think they had a crystal ball, but they simply observed, considered and prepared for the possibilities.

What could happen to your market? Is there a region that’s about to open up to new development? What is suggested by population trends? What are the forecasts for important local industries? Think big, long-range, and then imagine how you might position yourself to prepare for those eventualities.

Integrity also keeps you in the market, no matter what, because it means that you will always have clients and referrals. When you advise your clients with integrity, they may not always appreciate your advice at the moment, but they will almost always come to value your honesty. Some of the industry’s most successful agents have lost fabulous listings because they refused to list a property that was way overpriced and the sellers could not be persuaded to reduce. Some have even lost clients when they gave forthright, honest counsel regarding some aspect of a transaction. But those agents also have letters in their files that say, “We wish we had taken your advice…” or “You were the only person who was honest enough to say…” They acted with integrity.

Guts is the third part of being a PIG, and it’s the part that allows you to take risks. If you have guts, you do your homework, you ask the experts, you trust your instincts and then you make a move. Perhaps that means you’re the first to invest in some new technology, or you’re one of the first among your peers to start working with a coach, or you look at what your local planning commission is up to and write a letter to the owner of a strategic piece of land. Whatever it is, it requires vision, nerve and action. Guts means you’re not waiting for the market to happen to you: you’re taking charge of your business.

And you know what? It can be scary. Having perseverance, integrity and guts is not always easy, but it will earn you admiration and respect among your clients and your peers. It’s also not about immediate results; it’s about that very grown-up skill: delayed gratification.

And you know what else? Maybe it will turn out that your vision was right – and maybe not. But because you’re a smart, informed, prepared, savvy agent, you’re not going to invest your entire savings on one possibility – horizontal stripes are not going to be the only offering next season – you’re simply going to start preparing for a number of what-ifs so you are ready for anything when the future arrives.

(Patti Kouri, GRI, Accelerated Performance Coaching, is a Master Coach who works closely with executives, managers, and real estate sales professionals. She offers dynamic and innovative techniques to help people achieve their goals and specializes in breaking through limits. “I work with people with big visions for themselves who want to make a dream into reality or create more meaning in their lives.”  She is the co-Creator of The Real Estate Game®, and hosts the annual JumpStart Workshop.)

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