What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been
Much has happened in the real estate market since December 2008— record foreclosures, record-low mortgage rates and bottomed-out home values to name a few things. For professionals who work within this sector—the agents, brokers and mortgage specialists—these last few years have been a wild and not-so-pleasant ride. But how has the roller coaster been for promotional products distributors and suppliers who serve this market? Is there room for a return to sustained sales growth?
WHERE WE ARE
"The drama is nearly over. After a decade of extremes—the ebullient highs of the real estate boom, then the devastating lows of the bust—calmer forces are beginning to prevail in the housing market." - CNN.com, April 1, 2010.
"We really had to cut back on everything, primarily on advertising and mailings," said Joanne Scotti, Realtor/partner owner for Keller Williams Real Estate, Doylestown, Pa. "Agents are definitely still buying promotional items, we are just buying differently."
If agents are still buying, then reason suggests that distributors and suppliers should still be selling. Lisa Kor, marketing manager for Fey Line, Edgerton, Minn., supported this claim. "We continue to see strong sales for our real estate-focused products despite the recession; however, we have noticed reorders that are for lower quantities than previous years," she said.
Agents' favorite promotions, even in times of distress, have been products that leave a long imprint. "The best products for the real estate market ... leave a lasting impression," said Kor. "Something that is both useful and seen on a regular basis to create name recognition, like calendars and kitchenware."
"We are still doing annual calendars," confirmed Scotti. "In today's selling climate, what we are looking for in a promotional product is something that will last a long time when placed with a client."
Dan Kielman, vice president of sales for American Made Cutlery, Waverly, Iowa, agreed. "[Agents] see the power of having their name and logo permanently etched on the blade of a knife that is used several times a week and will still be used 20 years from now," he said.