In these times, double down — on your skills, on your knowledge, on you. Join us Aug. 8-10 at Inman Connect Las Vegas to lean into the shift and learn from the best. Get your ticket now for the best price.
Liz Gehringer wants agents to double down on fundamentals.
Gehringer serves as the president and CEO of Anywhere Franchise Brands, as well as acting president and chief operating officer of Coldwell Banker. She started at the company more than a decade ago, back when it was still Realogy, and has since held numerous leadership roles — those that give her a unique view into real estate’s trenches.
Now, as the industry grapples with record-low inventory, stubborn prices and the specter of a looming recession, Gehringer had some advice for agents who want to thrive: Build a book of business, stay in touch with clients and don’t get mired in the headlines and market cyclicality.
Gehringer shared those tips during a recent conversation with Inman. The discussion took place in anticipation of Gehringer’s upcoming appearance on the stage at Inman Connect Las Vegas, which will take place Aug. 8-10.
What follows is a version of that conversation, in which Gehringer shares her insights about the market and previews what might come up at Inman Connect. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Inman: Talk to me about what you’re seeing in the market and what the big story is right now.
Gehringer: We’re used to the cyclical business and we’re in a bit of a cycle. We don’t have a ton of inventory, and I think it’s definitely a time in which people need to be doing their foundational work.
For agents and brokers, there’s always an opportunity to be getting back to the foundation of what we do, versus getting stuck in the market cycle. That’s what’s good about brokers and agents, they actually can manage these things pretty handily as long as we can help them stay focused on what they should be doing in this particular market.
So they might be using the wrong playbook depending on when they joined the market. Or are they focused too much on buyers when they need to be focused on sellers and getting listings?
We get a little bit driven by the news or by macro factors. But I think it’s a matter of taking hold of your sphere and who specifically you’re going after. So, are you in the right playbook right now? Are you on the right side of the transaction? We need to get people focused on creating listings.
You mention creating listings. How do you do that? Let’s say you’re an agent and are just coming up dry. What do you do?
You need to get out and work the market. Figure out where the movement is. Where are the permits being pulled? Where are the hot areas? Where are people going to and from?
I’ve seen some new approaches. Agents are getting a little more energized by data. They might understand migration a little more closely. Let’s say they know customers are coming from a certain market, they’re actually going out and getting to know people in those markets. So going out and getting the customer. That’s a little more on the buy side, but we’re seeing a more informed agent.
Agents have always been informed, but maybe we’re getting even better at that because there’s more data available. You can figure out much more about customers and properties and prior owners. You can track your sphere much more carefully. You have your book of business and you know they’re going to stay in that home for 10 years or something like that. There’s much more information on buyer patterns and who is getting ready to do a deal.
It’s also getting in touch during that cycle too. This is your book of business and you know they’re on a certain life cycle. So, have you stayed in touch with them over the course of time? And staying in touch isn’t saying, ‘Hey, I’m Liz I’m an agent.’ It’s more like, what have you done that’s of interest to that customer?
During the pandemic, the industry was almost moving on its own. So let’s say you were an agent who was not as diligent during that period with keeping up with your book of business. How do you revive it now? How do you make up for lost time?
I think you have to be sincere.
The successful agents are genuinely involved in their community. They have local knowledge. They know everybody in town. They’re showing up and doing good things from a genuine place, for the community. So you might see me if I’m an agent not just posting a listing, especially when there’s less inventory — you’ll see me posting that I’m in the town, or you see me at town events. I’m working on community service events. Being in the natural fabric of the community, it serves the agents’ book of business.
I think real estate agents generally do a really awesome job of that, showing up for the town and the people. It might be historic preservation. It might be community service. It might be events for children. It runs the gamut and people can pick up their own interests. But I think that’s a beautiful way to get back in.
Sometimes the people closest to you can be a customer base too. You’re probably in touch with more people than you think. Sometimes your own family has questions about things that seem like baseline concepts to us. But all the people around us are looking to us as experts. That is your sphere.
You’re going to be on stage at Inman Connect Las Vegas. What is it you want to tell the industry? What’s the essential knowledge people need right now?
I think I really want to talk about that concept of foundational work versus cyclical. There are a lot of agents who don’t get that institutionalized agent training or some of that has fallen away. People have gotten away from discipline.
I think also we should talk about specialization. Are you focused on luxury? Are you learning a new specialty? We see agents learning the commercial business or making the move into other areas of expertise.
But mainly the idea is that they’re there, that’s the most important thing. Real estate is a very collaborative environment. The fact that across all these brands people can refer business to each other and learn from each other — that joint effort of us coming together, just the fact that they’re at the event, that’s the right track. That’s how to grow your business.
In a room with a lot of different brands and companies, do you have any advice for agents who might be ready for a change or who might be new and trying to choose a brand to partner with?
You always want to surround yourself with the people who are going to support you and who will resonate with you — the brand that exemplifies who you are. There could be, for example, a charitable aspect of where that is aligned.
But I think primarily it’s the support. You want to provide your customer a full-service experience, so you need that too. They get that if you get that.
Then think about your expertise. Do you need a lot of help on social and listing distribution? Take a really long look at the tools that the brand offers to you.
Customers have been shown to go to quality. Especially at times when things are a little more challenging, they prefer a name that they know and can trust. That’s something that in our family of brands is really important to us. We really stress the way we conduct our business, the professionalism, the ethical conduct. But also the depth of expertise.
I think you find that consumers are taking a little more care with their transactions. They want a little more guidance. It’s just more difficult to get that deal and get that deal done, so you want to be guided by a legitimate expert. You want to know what’s happening in the market where homes are coming up for sale and you want to be guided by the best.