I think it is pretty obvious for those of us in the real estate industry in the Greater Toronto Area that the game has changed here. Since April, the market has shifted.

A great coach of mine, Dan Sullivan, once said, “Play the game with the cards you are dealt, not the ones you wished you had.”

There is a great book called Shift – How top agents tackle tough times by Gary Keller that I would highly recommend to everyone. Here is some insight from the book and the thoughts I shared at my mastermind group recently, relying on my 28 1/2 years in the business.

1. When the market shifts, shift with it.

Don’t try to fight it or deny it. Many listing agents are in serious denial about this market.

2. Get real and get right.

Local shifts happen very quickly from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market. (Buyers’ to sellers’ markets happen gradually). If you were around in April 1990, you know what I mean. It shifted quickly and took two years for prices to stop dropping (eventually by 40 per cent). The game of real estate is played between your ears. You must adjust your mindset and your actions quickly.

3. K.A.S.H .

Knowledge, attitude, skills and habits are what you need to change right now. We have moved into a market where highly skilled agents will begin to dominate because they know what to do.

4. Re-margin your business fast.

Cut your expenses now by 20 per cent at the very least. You will learn that listings cost a lot of money. Having a lot of listings that don’t sell will kill your cash flow. All listing expenses are upfront, with the hope of getting paid later.

5. Find the motivated.

There is a difference between a buyer and buyer-buyer and a seller and a seller-seller. A buyer wants to buy but a buyer-buyer must buy…. same with sellers.

6. Step up your lead generation efforts.

You will need twice (or three times) as many buyers and sellers to make the same income you made in the last 12 months.

7. Get to the table – lead conversion.

You must know your numbers, know your value and know your scripts. This is a high-skill game now.

8. Three main buyer habits. 

They think the market is crashing. They will start to low ball (or like the good ole days when we drew up offers for multiple houses in one night and just played sellers against each other) or will begin to play the “wait and see” game.

9. Three main seller habits.

Anchoring behaviour (anchoring their price expectations to the home on their street that sold three months ago). Sellers will refinance and do renovations (this has been happening for a few years). Sellers will chase the market down and adjust their price too late.

10. Price ahead of the market, not behind it.

We have entered the “beauty pageant” market where there is only one winner every week in the neighborhood. When the tide was rising, everything sold for crazy money. The tide is moving out now. Price ahead of the market.

11. The maximum price for your home is today’s price, not yesterday’s.

At one time, you could have bought Facebook stock for $20 or sold your Nortel stock for $140. I was 40-years-old once too. Things change.

12. Focus on your eight core competencies 80 per cent of the time:
  • Get the training and knowledge you need
  • Lead generate and capture
  • Present your services to buyers and sellers at appointments
  • Go out and show homes to buyers and sellers
  • Write offers and negotiate contracts
  • Bullet-proof your transaction with higher deposits and quicker closings
  • Co-ordinate the closing
  • Manage your money!

We have transitioned from a “lucky sellers – unlucky buyers” market in the first quarter of 2017. We have now entered a “lucky buyer – unlucky seller” market (unless you win the beauty pageant that week). Smart sellers adjust quickly to the market and smart buyers buy on “dips”, not at the top of the market.


  1. There’s a graphic that editor Jim uses at this article that shows in point form what I often refer to as mimicking a heart monitor in ICU. That and my bell curve reference tells the whole story, and “screams.” If people never read such articles, all they have to do is read the graphic. Show it to clients who simply cannot misinterpret or misunderstand what it speaks.

    But agents would be well-advised not to use generalities, but prepare real, quantifiable, provable local specific information, that applies to your explicit trading area. If you work more than one area, prepare graphics for each area. Sounds like “work” some say? Yes. And that’s what helps keep business in the pipeline.


    4. . . . “Having a lot of listings that don’t sell will kill your cash flow. All listing expenses are upfront, with the hope of getting paid later”

    Absolutely true…
    Why was it that I didn’t have ten expiries in ten years? I always wondered why the dailies produced so many expiries. Of course we know why listings expire: for several reasons. I just could never address why mine always sold. And I certainly absolutely never ever underpriced a listing, as some agents purposely convince sellers to do, and I’m not referring to that being done to generate multiple offers.

    7. . . . “You must know your numbers, know your value and know your scripts. This is a high-skill game now.”

    Sorry to say, but I wish certain words were not in the real estate lexicon. “Game being an often used one.” The semantics of the English language being what it is, words have multiple meanings; and must make it especially difficult for those newcomers to Canada, learning English, (regardless of ESL programs) particularly as language relates to real estate. Yet they are obviously brilliant, having passed the exam courses.

    I am aware of a lawyer who speaks very little English. He has a real estate agent (not a broker) do much of his legal business (preparing legal contracts), and help run his office and do business with those needing legal work done who also don’t speak much English, (even so agent is not a lawyer), who have difficulty with the English language as it relates to law. It’s a peculiar arrangement.

    How the lawyer passed the bar, is a big question. But like in real estate, English doesn’t have to be well-spoken, only well-understood, to be successful in real estate or in law.

    I have had some of the most well-educated, sophisticated buyers and sellers during my career, along with people who were neither, yet very few of either category knew much about how the real estate industry operates. Some thought they did, but were often genuinely surprised at what they either didn’t know or didn’t see. Or took for granted.

    It was clear that many could have been taken advantage of by reckless operators. And case studies provide an abundance of such.

    I had such a blessed career, no question about it. Yet I likely spent more time behind my desk than showing houses. But every hour was lead generating time. Not a minute wasted.

    Do you live in the moment, or do you use absolutely use every point of contact with any member of the public as a business building block for “future” business. That’s how you turn people interaction into business. Surely you don’t toss those “not today thanks” notes in the trash bin?

    As years passed I learned that you didn’t have to work hard to work smart. Long hours is not the same equation. You just have to put your time to good use. Analyze and organize. It’s really not difficult, but can be time-consuming. Amazingly there are trainers who promote operating the real estate business on a 9-5 basis, and actually made it work.

    I was just talking with a wealthy American businessman, who works all over the world and knows plenty of agents. We were just talking business in general. But he genuinely tried to convince me that he “knows the real estate business”and many top producers stateside, and all about how “we all” do business.

    I mean this is positively a brilliant man (in his own field of expertise). We ALL live within the strictures of our own knowledge base, and its related structures. Don’t think for one minute that no matter how clever you are that you know all that needs knowing. None of us is or does. The world is revolving and evolving at warp-speed.

    I couldn’t resist giving him a crash course in how not all of us operates “that way.” (As he had explained; even high class agents, pushy salesman convincing buyers and sellers to do the agent’s bidding. WHAT! ???) our ‘reputation’ precedes us.

    I once saw a banner on an eighteen wheeler rolling down the highway amid strike-talks. The banner said: “If you got it, a truck brought it.” Another aha moment! I learned a lot that day.

    Mentally, I tried to tie that comment to our industry. I never forgot it. Brought a whole new respect for truck drivers. In urban planning and development, think it through…

    First urban planning and development consideration: Water. Rail lines are built along waterways. Highways are built along rail lines. And through that series of each apparatus, towns and cities grow. And everyone in all capacities needs a place to call home. So various types of housing appear. Some gentrify; others stagnate. And the people move from place to place often to where the work is. What do you know in finite detail about where you work? (As an agent.)

    The transport truck banner indeed spoke the truth. Loud and clear. Not unlike the graphic accompanying this article today.

    Now it’s nearly that you need a degree in computer science to operate a grocery store cash register.

    Life has become unnecessarily complicated. Keeping data base information up to date is a full time job. And so many do not keep proper back up information, relying on things like cloud to automatically fall back on. By now many know nothing is a sure thing, even when carved in tablet stone.

    The article comment about the 1990 market…

    Many of you know that at the ten-year juncture in my career (licenced back in 1980), I opened my own boutique business in 1991. It had mostly cost me a couple of hundred thousand dollars annually to be associated with the magnificent firm name, on a fifty:fifty split.

    And I never ever complained. It was largely just a COG; a cost of doing business, seeing as how you pretty much had to have Board access.

    1991 was one of my most successful numbers years, as were the following “recession” years. I truly saw no signs of a recession for several following years. Why? Was I completely dumb? I heard about it every day, and of course news headlines confirmed it.

    I had a client whose Cdn banker went to Florida. While there, keeping tabs on head office banking daily declarations that the world as we know it was coming unglued and that high end items like Jags and yachts and jewellery, and such would be hit hardest and suffer most. The young banker, quite unskilled at interpreting balance sheets and P and L statements was suddenly on a mission, went through his company customer client files and started “recalling customer company loans and credit lines” even so customers had never missed a payment or a quarterly report. That was the immediate end of a long time local business (more than one), and the instant demise of executives, causing them and their families untold grief. An executive called me to list his private house, explaining what had happened. Such stories filled money magazines and newspapers.

    I spent the bulk of 1990 taking my broker courses, all contiguous, back to back, at nearly age 50, and still wrote my regular business volume.

    The corporate office administrator, in 1990, was in charge of ordering imprinted sold cards. My solds needed the cards ordered from the printer. She flatly refused, saying already the phone never stopped ringing needing my msgs taken, too often. What she and the mgr didn’t realize was that although the sold cards had my name on in little print size, the company name was simultaneously being marketed, generating calls that sometimes never made their way to me, but keeping the corporate name, too, out there front and centre. People make decisions that destroy other people, not because they are bad or stupid people, mostly because they don’t know the facts.

    We had mandatory Tuesday meetings. A good thing. But I suggested more than once that the receptionists and admin boss lady should attend those meetings also, to get a better understanding of how and why an office required certain procedures. Didn’t happen.

    Until recent years where a family crisis in the cancer world took over my life, and I literally had to put my life on hold, personal and business wise, I enjoyed a most remarkable career, and yet so often heard that I worked in an unconventional way, I certainly didn’t understand what that meant exactly.

    But as I read today’s real estate concepts and “game plans,” I can better relate why people thought so, perhaps. Readers have often heard me say I didn’t look left, I didn’t look right, I concentrated on business and generating more, but actually thought everyone did what I did, and mostly using the same methods. Now I get it. They didn’t. They don’t.

    Likely if I were new in the business today I would give up thinking there was any hope of reaching such authored article pinnacles, nice people that they really are, and choose a career with a more likely chance of success.

    I’m of Heino’s vintage, and sometimes feel as though I have lived several lives, and lifetimes. And wouldn’t trade off a minute of it all. It was the best of times and the worst of times, not unlike the lead in to “A Tale of Two Cities.”

    The real estate world can be wonderful, but you are the one who makes it or breaks it. No one, absolutely no one can do it for you.

    Remember that with every course you take, every book you read, every interaction that takes place, in the end, you are you.

    I’m glad and grateful “I did it my way.” And as best as can be figured so are my clients, and even colleagues whose interacting I helped support along the path, over 38 years.

    Carolyne L ?

    • I loved reading this and pretty much everything else you post. Life is full of learning moments. I learn at least one thing each and every day !

      • Thank you, Sabine. We all learn at least one new thing each day, and when you have posted on REM, we have learned from you, too. One such thing is showing kindness and having a generous caring spirit. Important. One more business skill, with a personal touch. Not ever to be minimized.

        Carolyne L ?


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