To keep the American experiment alive and well, we need the support of people who are being overlooked in the current market. Broker owner Troy Palmquist offers insight into ways to make the dream more achievable.
As real estate professionals, we like to talk about “the American dream of owning a home.” We use it as a sort of shorthand for all the ideas that come with having a little piece of land that’s all yours. It speaks to the rugged individualism, financial purpose, and freedom that are all part of the American character.
However, depending on which gender, economic, cultural, educational, and other spectrums you fall into, the American dream of home ownership can ring remarkably hollow. As people work longer hours for money that doesn’t go very far, and real estate prices skyrocket along with interest rates, it can feel impractical, if not impossible, to envision a future that includes property ownership.
I think this year many of us are realizing in a whole new way that the American Dream goes beyond owning a home. It’s about autonomy. It’s about someone being able to make their own decisions, whether it’s about buying a house or about their own bodies.
As real estate agents, it’s up to us to do more than just talk. We must walk the path and help others along the way. This is not about handouts. It’s about giving meaning to what we say in our marketing materials and on our blogs. It’s about being action-oriented, rather than sitting back and waiting for a well-funded buyer or investor to reach out to us while ignoring people who may need a little more time and effort.
It’s also about staying educated so we can fight the pessimism and negativity that is out there. This is not 2008 and the market is not crashing. There are opportunities for everyone, but it requires a shrewd understanding of the market and the variety of strategies and options available today.
This is how we can help people achieve their own piece of the American Dream while growing the businesses of our dreams.
Find out about alternative financing options
Not everyone has perfect credit, a fat bank account, and a perfect situation. Some people work on a single income and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Some people have lost a partner, either through death or divorce. Some people just need help lining up their financial ducks. Ask questions. Talk to your leads and prospects about their financial needs and have a range of fellow lenders to call in a variety of situations.
Look for homes and neighborhoods that need some love and match them with buyers
Yes, you have buyers who want all the bells and whistles and are willing to bid tens of thousands if you ask for the “right” neighborhood, but there are also plenty of buyers out there who just want an opportunity. Find out about neighborhoods and housing options that are more affordable and be a true matchmaker for budget buyers.
Become solution-oriented and focus on those who need your help most
As the market changes there are some agents who have been able to sit back and choose their clients who now need to put in the work. Work with buyers who need help and find solutions that make sense on their schedule and budget. Help educate them and fill in the gaps in their real estate and financial knowledge. You will create valued customers and referral sources for the rest of your career.
Develop a professional network with a heart for everyone in your market
Meet lenders, title companies, movers, community leaders and nonprofit directors. Expand your professional network beyond the Power Brokers and look for ways to leverage your expertise to reach the people in your market who would benefit most from your insights and advice.
Partner with and get involved with organizations that share this vision
Who is working on affordability and housing issues in your area? They need you and the knowledge you have to offer. Get involved in a way that allows you to add real value and use your passion for the common good.
Drop your cynicism
You may have some negative attitudes that you need to check at the door to transform the lives of your customers and communities.
Will it be harder to work with someone who needs some help and education than someone who only knows how to write a check? Yes.
Is it worth using your expertise to help an individual or family find a place to call their own? You bet.
Understand the importance of home ownership
We live in a time when people are losing their individual freedoms. They’re scared and, frankly, they don’t feel that America’s promise, the American Dream, has much to do with them.
It is not only wrong but also dangerous to make the majority of our population feel disenfranchised and that they have no part in our neighborhoods. For the American Dream to work, you need a lot of people’s approval, and right now, a lot of people don’t see the system working for them.
As an agent, you have to work for them. You need to give them guidance and insight to help them invest their time, energy and money into their own piece of the pie. It is vital to maintaining the health of our nation, our economy, our neighborhoods and our industry.