As the market cools, prepare to shift gears

propertyFor the past three years I have taught continuing education unit classes to real estate agents in upstate New York and New Jersey. This week, my real estate class participants agreed that the rumors were true: The over-the-top real estate market is cooling. As interest rates rise, buyers can’t afford what they really want – or they aren’t interested in paying exorbitant prices. There goes that customer.

In general, there are fewer homes for sale, in part because there is still an ongoing housing shortage and sellers are realizing they can’t get those high prices. There goes their window so maybe it’s time to sit this one outside! Oh, let’s not forget the constant rises in timber prices. Less wood stock on the market equals insufficient material for new homes, which equates to fewer homes being built.

I also read about losses in pension funds for retirees and, of course, continued rising food prices and the lack of computer chips for cars, PCs, laptops, etc. “Winter is coming,” as they say in the hit HBO series, “Game.” of Thrones.”

So, who cares, you may ask? For the past two and a half years, floor sellers have capitalized on consumers with pent-up desires and extra cash who were about to replace their ugly floors. But as consumer demand cools, it’s time for retailers to turn around. And that means back to basics. Below are some tips:

Follow up on customers who are just sitting there and needing attention. You know – the ones on the shelves that you ignore because you’ve been busy with so many new customers. Reach out to your database and connect with those old customers you forgot.

Talk to a good salesperson to organize lunch for business associates in your community or area. These include: builders, real estate agents, architects, interior designers, lenders and bankers. Everyone will feel the delay, so why not get the players involved and see how you can all work together. Economic slowdowns affect everyone, including those who bring you business.

Look for new ways. Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) is still new, but will soon become an old avenue. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the CAPS designation program teaches the technical, business management and customer service skills essential to compete in the fastest-growing segment of the home renovation industry: home modifications for the elderly. You have to jump on it while it’s still hot. You may also want to contact another organization, Age Safe America, to find out how to become certified as a home safety consultant. This allows you to provide homeowners with recommendations on what home changes should be made to allow a senior to continue living in their home. Please note: there are lawyers and estate planners who have clients who are willing to pay you for a home valuation.

Be wary of other companies or organizations you can partner with to generate additional business. Who do you know with whom you can combine your database to bring in more customers? Maybe contact dealers who sell appliances and kitchen renovations? In the current climate it is important to look for opportunities to present yourself as a flooring specialist.


Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for 20 years. Contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com to have her speak at your company or to schedule a consultation

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