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More than 11,000 Keller Williams agents attended the brokerage Mega Camp in Austin
Amid rising COVID cases, years of unprecedented home price growth, increasing mortgage rates, slowing home sales, and cooling homebuyer demand, over 11,300 Keller Williams agents, brokers and team leaders gathered in Austin, Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday for Keller Williams Mega Camp.
Attendees listened to panelists cover the state of the housing market and how to thrive in the market of the moment.
Two themes dominated the gathering: “Charge the storm” and “Where entrepreneurs thrive,” the second of which is the brokerage’s new tag line, which it unveiled Wednesday morning.
According to brokerage founder and executive chairman, Gary Keller, this is the most confusing market he has ever seen.
“It’s confusing, and it’s only confusing because you have mixed signals,” Keller told attendees on Tuesday. “Normally, you would expect all the signals to aim in one direction. And that’s not what’s happening.”
Keller noted that despite rising interest rates and home prices, homes are selling at a record pace with the typical number of days on market coming in at just 14 days. In addition, even as inflation continues hampering consumers and companies, unemployment has continued to fall, reaching its pre-pandemic level, while job openings continue to rise.
As real estate professionals prepared to tackle this market, Keller encouraged agents to “charge the storm,” a motto which was emblazoned on his T-shirt with a buffalo.
“Buffaloes are an interesting animal,” Keller said. “When a storm occurs, they’re the singular animal that runs into the storm. Somehow they figured out that if you face the storm and run into it, you get through it better and faster.”
“When times are good, understand at some point, they’ll get tougher,” Keller continued. “And when times are tougher, at some point, they’ll get good. That’s just the way the world works.”
Keller also encouraged agents to get comfortable with a certain amount of uncertainty as they head into the next year, using the volatile mortgage rates, as an example.
“If you’re talking to individuals that don’t understand mortgage rates, they do not realize that 2.9% was a gift from the gods maybe never to be seen again in your lifetime,” he said. “But a lot of people remember, again, that when I got in real estate, and interest rates were below 10%. That was considered amazing. Then they rose to almost 18%, and I remember all of these experienced agents in the office where I worked — they all went, ‘Nobody’s going to buy real estate at these rates, we’re just going to sit and wait for it to come back.’ I don’t think they lasted in the industry. I ignored the market and kept doing my activities, and there were four or five months where I actually didn’t have any closings… And by the end of the year, I hit every financial goal I set for myself.”
While Keller believes the industry is on track to close 5.1 million home sales in 2022, he does not feel that this is a reason to be alarmed, despite the sizable drop from the 6.1 million sales closed in 2021.
“If you look at 5.1 and you go all the way back to 1995, 5.1 [million] looks pretty darn good, so perspective really matters,” he said. “There’s plenty of real estate being bought and sold to build fantastic businesses and have fantastic income around that business.”
However, Jay Papasan, Keller William’s vice president of strategic content, noted that there is a big difference between 5.1 million transactions in 1995 versus 2022.
“The last time we were at 5 million [transactions] there was a third of the Realtors that there are today,” Papasan said. “So there’s just more people chasing the same transactions.”
Keller Williams’ executives acknowledged that some agents may decide to dial back some of their activity and try to wait out the market. For agents who were looking to take this approach, the brokerage’s senior economist Ruben Gonzalez had some good news about the rapid home price appreciation, which has hampered homebuyers’ purchase power along with the rising mortgage rates.
“For some perspective, the last time we had a double-digit price increase, that was followed by seven years of single-digit price increases,” Gonzalez said. “So having multiple years of double-digits is very unusual and it’s not something that’s going to persist.”
For Keller, this news was yet another reason why agents should charge ahead with their business, encouraging them to all be entrepreneurs. As the market shifts and settles in to yet another “new normal,” Keller said agents should focus on lead generation, improving their education, getting back in touch with their sphere of influence.
“We are still in a seller’s market, but what you are feeling is the shift,” Keller said. “In the market you came out of you spent more time servicing business and less time lead generating because business was abundant, and it moved fast. When the market shifts, you don’t necessarily have to put more hours in a day, you have to shift the way you spend your time.”
According to Keller, in order to make the most out of their day and succeed in this market or any market for that matter, agents need to take control of their day.
“Perfection is highly overrated,” Keller said. “If you can wake up in the morning and control your day before noon, you will have the greatest life possible.”
Keller said agents should devote that time to activities that help them attract new buyers and sellers.
Jen Davis, the vice president of KW MAPS Coaching, told attendees that high levels of productivity have other added benefits besides more clients to work with.
“In anxious times, productive activity limits your anxiety,” Davis said. “When production is high, anxiety is low.”
In order to take control of their time, Keller suggested agents hire an executive assistant if possible, telling attendees that, that was “the first thing I did when I got money.”
Keller promised agents that if they can take control of their morning and say no to obligations they do not have time for or do not serve their goals they will eliminate a lot of stress.
“Successful people are not successful all day long,” he said.
Looking ahead, Keller told agents that things will be challenging, but reminded them to focus on their primary focus as agents.
“Your goal is to give [clients] the perspective and give them the change to understand all the issues so they can make an informed decision,” Keller said.
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