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Perception Is Reality in Our Industry, Too

I started a small marketing company in 1996, leaving behind the fascinating and glamorous world of retail and restaurant management. I was 25 years old, and I was tired of working for someone else. Much of our focus for my fledgling venture was on selling marketing and printing services to real estate agents. I quickly realized that many of our customers were making really good money, and some (most?) of them weren't even that sharp. Real estate couldn't be rocket science, right?


The truth is, real estate isn't all that difficult, as long as you understand a few key concepts, namely:

  • It's an emotional decision when someone buys a house, whether it's their first or their 51st home.

  • People want their agent to communicate with them....often.

  • It's important to be flexible. Things don't always go as you might think they will.

  • It's critical not to take things personally. Some "clients" will take advantage of your time and expertise. Period.

But I digress. I have a larger point I wanted to make here.

I was thinking about the current apparent upswing in our market, at least here in Austin, and the old advertising and marketing adage certainly applies to our industry:

Perception Is Reality.

What does this mean, though?

Well, in the world of marketing, it means that whatever your potential customer or client perceives to be the truth becomes the truth about your business. If you're considered to be reputable and service-driven, your business will likely grow accordingly. Conversely, if your company is known to be filled with ripoff artists, I'm sure you can guess what your long-term prospects will be.

There's one thing that I've witnessed for years in this business, and it's intriguing to me. I'll do my best to explain it within the confines of this post. Basically, our economy is simpler than pundits would have you believe. I don't intend to simplify it to the point of inaccuracy, but local and national economies often rise and fall based on one simple item: Perception.

If people think that the sky is falling, they retreat into their home and stop spending money. This applies to real estate, perhaps even more than the majority of other industries. I saw this most clearly in the wake of 9/11, when just about all non-necessary moves were put on hold for months. The stock market fell precipitously as well. Why? Perception. The infrastructure of our country wasn't destroyed, but people were understandably afraid, and it sent shockwaves through the economy.

Conversely, when the home buying public perceives that "things are getting better or "the market is picking up steam", they begin to buy again, or even to invest in property (side note: you might as well invest in real estate - it's better than any bank return out there today). When people spend, it magically gets better. Amazing, huh?

I'm not the type of real estate broker who always tells my friends and clients that things are going well. We've made it through a really rough patch and survived a downturn, and we're not out of the woods yet. Old-school real estate training taught me to always say, "Great!" when asked about how the market is going. I can't do that. I can now say, however, that things are truly busy for me right now, and I hope it continues.

Thanks for reading!

Photo credit: Aristocrats-hat via
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