What do some of the region’s brokers have to say about 2011 and what to expect for 2012?

On a panel at Tuesday’s SILVAR Menlo Park/Atherton District meeting were brokers of the larger real estate companies – Mike James (Coldwell Banker), Maureen Barker (Keller Williams), Larry Klapow (Intero Real Estate Services) and Don Faught (Alain Pinel Realtors). They told SILVAR REALTORS® that compared to other markets, the Bay Area is doing quite well.

“You are definitely very, very fortunate,” Faught told Silicon Valley’s REALTORS®. “California is on sale … Interest rates are great, money is free.”

Yet, consumers hesitate. The brokers said the biggest challenges facing consumers are uncertainty about the future, the lack of jobs or fear they may not have a job in the future, and difficulty meeting strict loan requirements. Klapow said there is a “crisis of confidence.” People are nervous about the future and those who want to purchase homes are having a difficult time getting a loan. Barker said people are feeling so much uncertainty about the future that even with lower home prices and interest rates, they won’t act.

Asked about the role of the Internet and technology in real estate, James said consumers today have access to so much information, and it is the REALTOR®s job “to make sense of the information and educate them.” 

“Technology helps facilitate what we need, but we need to get in touch with consumers and each other,” said Faught.

The brokers spoke about the importance of social media. “Social media is here to stay,” declared Barker. “Real estate is going to be transacted differently, especially by the next generation. … It’s a vehicle to help build who we are, but you need to get smart about how you do it. It’s about creating relationships and being in touch.”

The brokers also discussed the benefits of participating in organized real estate. James noted, “The more involved you are, the better you will be. There are benefits to staying connected and networking with your peers.”

“It is important to have a voice in our industry in Washington,” stressed Klapow.

“We need to be involved,” said Faught, who is California Association of REALTORS®’ treasurer and 2012 president-elect. “If we are not involved in politics, there won’t be an industry.”

How should agents prepare for 2012?

James believes 2012 will be a lot like 2011. “If you don’t like 2011, then you need to change what you are doing, put more effort and reach out to all areas,” said James. “Retool, revamp or you will slip.”

“Mindset is number one. You need to have the right mindset,” said Barker. “Now is a great opportunity to focus on what you love to do, find the right niche, use your gifts, sharpen your area of expertise, take classes, learn more about social media, and video blogging, challenge yourselves to stay up with it.”

“Remain relevant. Filter through information and apply to each client’s unique situation. Find new and fresh things, show your true value,” said Klapow.

Faught said, “We are affected by what we know. During the slow time, work on yourselves. Our value is educating consumers. We need to work ourselves so we can work the data and help consumers understand it.”

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