Q&A with Robyn Erlenbush, Broker/OwnerERA Landmark Realty, Bozeman, M.T.
Realty Biz News: The housing market of the last few years has been characterized by a frenzy of activity and a cauldron of emotions. How have you responded, particularly in your conversations with buyers and sellers?
Robyn Erlenbush: We are exposed to so many different messages in the media that tell a story – a story that attempts to paint a national trend with characteristics that reach far and wide. To some extent, these narratives are helpful but really only at a 30,000-foot view. But for individual consumers in a specific place at a specific time, these high-level narratives are not particularly relevant That’s why hyper-local insight from a real estate professional in your market is critical to making sense of buying or selling for your unique situation. The national narrative – and the emotions that are being stirred up around that story – may not apply to you.
RBN: Can you talk about these emotions? I imagine people might be afraid of rising mortgage rates, frustrated by lack of inventory, confused about contingencies, and discouraged by days on market.
RE: All of the above, but frankly, I’d much rather speak about the data than the emotions. It’s so much more illustrative of what’s happening. People should make decisions based on localized facts, not national trends, averages or emotions.
RBN: Fair comment. So how are you talking to buyers and sellers about the data?
RE: Well, most importantly, our marketing messages speak directly to the consumer. If we’re doing a blog post about the local economy, we tell consumers what it means to them. If we’re publishing a monthly newsletter about local market conditions, we segment the data so we can speak specifically to as many consumers as possible. For instance, we discuss activity and trends in various price bands. We also provide analysis and insights on activity in different geographic segments of our market. We recently reported on the impact of the recent floods in Yellowstone Park. We provide a level of depth and accuracy that a consumer simply cannot get from Zillow or NAR reports.
RBN: What specific messages do you have for sellers?
RE: When crafting a narrative, words are really important. We don’t talk about a market downturn or bubble; we refer to the shift in the market and what we’re seeing as a result of the shift. If a home is not getting showings, we talk about repositioning the home with new photos, new staging, and potentially a new price. The strategy is to keep the home from getting stagnant. This is important to keep sellers from panicking. There is no need to panic – we just need to be strategic. For example, a sound pricing strategy in today’s market is the practice of choosing relevant sales as far back as 12 months ago. This can help bracket this new market shift by showing a broader range of comparative pricing.
RBN: And what messages do you have for buyers?
RE: There’s no question that the recent rise in mortgage rates has resulted in a pause in the market. The national narrative talks about how the median mortgage repayment rate on a $500,000 home has increased from $2,100 to $2,900 (this was in a New York Times article on July 14, 2022). This can be scary for buyers! But where is the discussion of the many loan options that exist? We are educating buyers on alternative financing options like a 7-1 ARM, for instance. Because if you are scared out of the market by the national headlines, you will miss opportunities.
RBN: Any final thoughts?
RE: This is the perfect time to stay very close to all of your clients. Make a point of sending handwritten notes, seeing them, and dropping off a bottle of wine, or a picnic lunch. Ask them what their life is like now and what you can do to help. It becomes more about relationships than prospecting. And when people are constantly frightened and worrying about what’s next, we can be the voice of calm. Instead of people being paralyzed by fear, we can move them forward.