By Dino Confalone, 2021 president, The Greater Boston Association of REALTORS®
The 2021 Boston real estate market was a rollercoaster of activity and emotions. Once again, we dealt with the harsh reality of historically low inventory which contributed to a bumpy ride. During the first half of the year, we watched buyers going above and beyond to secure housing at record-setting numbers. The second half of this year, we saw a softening of demand and a more relaxed and slower sale pace. Buyer exhaustion set in from losing out in multiple-offer situations and hesitation became the norm as buyers did not want to overextend themselves financially.
So, what about the year ahead? National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Dr. Lawrence Yun is forecasting a more “normal” market in 2022. That means we are likely to see fewer home sales than this past year, as well as more modest price appreciation. Primarily we are expecting mortgage rates to climb. As a result, in the Greater Boston housing market buyers will need to factor in a rate increase into their budgets. Buyers will need to adjust their sights on search areas or lists of wants-and-needs. Sellers may need to be shown more data or counseled more on current market conditions when setting their price. On top of all of that, Realtors will have to continue proving their value with both buyers and sellers.
Here are TWO ways that Realtors can prove that we are invaluable resources regardless of market conditions:
- Be nicer to your fellow Realtors.
- Competition gets the adrenaline running, but at the end of the day we are in this together. Clients come and go, but the Realtor in the office across the street will have a great listing in a few weeks. Do you really want to be the person known to be intentionally difficult? Did you have seven offers on that last listing? Guess what, it will not hurt you to call those seven buyer agents and let them down easy. A little kindness will go a long way. Return phone calls or texts. Smile, you can kind of tell behind a mask and it will make you feel better. Being a good person is infectious.
- The business of real estate has changed dramatically in the century since REALTORS® created the Code of Ethics. But the Code has served as a steadfast reminder of the duties REALTORS® have to clients, customers and the public even as it evolves with the times. In today’s technology-driven world, Realtors have a guide that spells out what’s right and wrong when it comes to social media, listing displays, data privacy, copyright protection and other quickly changing issues, because the Code, along with the Standards of Practice (which fleshes out the concepts established in the Code principles), are kept up to date by NAR’s Professional Standards Committee. Please visit https://www.nar.realtor/about-nar/policies/code-of-ethics-and-professional-standards.
- Get educated.
- Let’s go back to broker open houses on Thursdays and Fridays. Obviously, adhering to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and incorporating a safety-first principle. Even if you do not have a buyer for that specific home, go and see it! Knowing your market will come back to you when you’re on that next listing and the subject comes up. This will also provide a bit of camaraderie with your fellow Realtors. Oh, how I miss the broker caravan with sandwiches provided from your local lender. This needs to make a comeback.
- Buyer agents must obtain their ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) designation. With the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on-going dispute, clarification is on the way. If you don’t know what I am talking about, that is a problem. Get engaged with your association — that is what we are here for!
- Understand that there is a massive attempt to discount our industry. Know how to work within this constant barrage of “technology” companies trying to get rid of us. Do not forget that a buyer or seller still wants to talk with someone who knows the ins and outs of their specific neighborhood. These “tech” companies will never take that away from us. All real estate is local and we have trusted industry professionals to get it done. We are the quarterbacks and have the plays memorized — let your clients know that. Let’s look at the long game.
- We have to constantly address the subject of fair housing and take steps to eliminate our unintended biases. Our association has provided several opportunities to understand the various housing options, take the initiative to get educated.
- Leverage the “tech” available to us, on-line signature systems, and strong Customer Relationship Management (CRM) will make our jobs easier.
- Stay positive. Markets fluctuate. Keep your eye on the horizon as change will inevitably come.
As the laws of supply and demand fluctuate, one thing is for sure: We’re in this together. Let’s strive to be a better industry and not get caught up in all of the drama. Fundamentals are critical — be creative and work on your database. In every industry it’s the same concept — good customer service and providing value will lead to success and longevity. Stay positive.