Luxury agents forced to get creative

by Jordan Maxwell05 Aug 2015
The Alberta real estate market has been tough on luxury real estate agents like Sam Corea, who has seen his commissions dive 50 per cent compared to this time last year, the industry vet told REP.

“Agents are having to do twice the amount of work for twice as less,” he said. “For me, year-to-date by commissions have gone down by half. As a result, I have more time to invest in my brokerage and look at ways to generate more business.”

The agent’s comments reflect a picture that many agents are dealing with in places like Calgary and Fort McMurray where the housing market has been hit hard due to low oil prices and a dollar that reached an 11-year low on Tuesday, clocking in at $76.12 U.S.

One of Corea’s strategies to close the commission gap was to design a lifestyle magazine that features 30 of his luxury listings (his average home sale is $1.5 million), as well as interior design advice and other helpful tips for buyers and sellers in Calgary.

The $75,000 investment for the magazine has paid some dividends and garnered early praise from the market – it also led to Corea selling two of the 30 homes he put in the magazine.

He added that 70 per cent of his business used to come in the first six months of the year but this year it has been cut in half.
Corea said that February, March and April have typically been key months for selling to oil executives because that’s when their bonuses come through, but this year things haven’t gone as planned with thousands of layoffs in the energy sector. 

According to a recent study from Enform, as many as 185,000 oil and gas industry jobs could be lost by the end of the year.
As a result, Corea, like many other agents, is focusing on buyers instead of sellers, while working his database with more than 3,500 clients he’s sold to over the last 20 years to discover possible repeat business leads.

He’s also taken to TV, offering comment on a CTV morning show once a week, engaging in more networking events and working with charitable organizations.

These moves are helping agents like Corea to stay afloat in a tough real estate market.

“It’s tough because, with my commissions down, it’s hard to invest but agents are having to use more of their time -- which they didn’t always have in the past -- to generate leads and new avenues to make money,” Corea said.

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