The 5 Biggest Challenges Facing Real Estate Agents in 2019 and How to Handle Them
The real estate industry is always evolving. It changes all the time, based on hundreds of diverse factors, from technology to weather to design trends.
These changes can pose challenges for real estate agents, who need to keep up and adapt if they want to remain successful.
These are the five biggest challenges facing real estate agents in 2019 — and how to handle them.
1. Climate Change
It’s no longer just tree-huggers who are interested in environmentally-friendly features and safeguards against environmental disasters. With climate change (and its effects) now one of the defining issues of our times, an increasing number of buyers are looking at their future home purchase through a new lens.
They want to know what sustainability components a property has; about its construction materials; whether the area is prone to floods or wildfires, and what the long-term outlook is.
For real estate agents, this poses two challenges:
- Depending on the location, this could reduce the real estate inventory that buyers are interested in.
- It may be a topic that real estate agents can’t speak authoritatively to.
Get educated, get prepared.
Set out to learn as much as you can about climate change, short- and long-term projections and what the outlook is for your geographic region. Make sure you’re reading vetted materials from trustworthy sources (beware the fake news sites claiming forest fires are a fabrication). Arm yourself not with an opinion, but facts and figures that an environmentally-minded buyer might want to know.
You should also be knowledgeable about the latest in sustainable construction, homeowner’s insurance as it pertains to natural disasters and “green” construction happening in your area. If you’re passionate about environmentally-friendly homes or safeguarding against the effects of climate change, you could even make this your real estate niche.
2. New Mortgage Rules
The mortgage rules in Canada have undergone some pretty dramatic changes in the last few years. New laws — the “stress test” — have changed the concept of affordability, making it difficult for many buyers to make a move or to enter the market at all.
No matter what buyers are offered by lenders, their financial situation must be tested with a hypothetical higher mortgage rate, to make sure that they wouldn’t drown if rates were to rise.
Of course, what affects buyers affects real estate agents. A smaller pool of buyers means a smaller pool of clients. This is an issue that has been facing real estate agents since Canada’s new rules came into effect in early 2018 and they will remain a challenge for as long as the rule remains in place.
Position yourself as an ally for buyers. Using social media, your blog and your newsletter, publish educational content that gives buyers easy-to-understand, helpful information about how they can navigate the real estate market when affordability has changed.
Be an expert on more affordable housing types, such as townhomes and condo apartments, and stay on top of new listings and new construction in your area.
3. Increasing Competition
The Canadian Real Estate Association has a membership of more than 130,000 real estate agents across Canada. The National Association of REALTORS® in the U.S. counts more than 1.3 million REALTORs® as its members.
Those numbers grow every day, meaning your competition grows, too. Standing out, finding clients and taking your real estate business to the next level becomes harder.
You need to separate yourself from the crowd by deciding what’s unique about your business and using it as a selling point. This could mean…
- Choosing a client niche, such as first-time buyers or vacation home hunters
- Focusing on a property niche, such as luxury real estate or condos
- Dedicating time and energy to becoming a recognizable figure on social media
- Becoming a trusted go-to source for media stories about real estate (getting free press for your real estate business in the process)
4. Low Inventory
Depending on what area you live and work in, you may currently be dealing with the issue of low inventory.
A lack of properties means a lack of buyers means a lack of clients. A low-inventory market makes it challenging to land listings, especially when competition from other agents is fierce. It’s a dreaded situation that all agents will have to face at some point or another.
How does an agent get listings in a low-inventory market? By…
- Intensifying their marketing efforts
- Enhancing relationships with past clients, current leads and referral networks
- Getting creative with how and where they look for prospects
5. The Changing Face of Marketing
Marketing for real estate agents used to look like business cards, newspaper and maybe the odd bus stop display.
Things are radically different today. And while most agents have caught up with the times — launching personal branded real estate websites, trying out Instagram real estate marketing strategies — the ongoing challenge is that the marketing game is changing all the time. Especially when it comes to digital and social media marketing.
There’s always a new tool, a new feature and new trend to keep up with. If you don’t keep up, you risk being left behind.
First and foremost, keep yourself informed. Add websites like the Social Media Examiner and the Hubspot blog to your daily reading list, so you can learn about Facebook advertising changes and Instagram updates as soon they happen. Not to toot our own horn, but this blog is also a great place to learn about how real estate agents can take advantage of new marketing opportunities.
Secondly, don’t be afraid to experiment. When you hear about a new online marketing tactic, give it a go and see if you can make it work for your business. It’s the real estate agents who are too intimidated to try something new that risk being overshadowed.
What real estate challenges have you encountered recently and how have you worked to overcome it?