The Big Difference Between Those Who Tank & Those Who Survive in Down Markets

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With questions about the future of the U.S. housing market being floated, it’s worth asking how the most experienced and successful handle marketing in tougher times.

This isn’t another of those pessimistic posts predicting doom and gloom. In fact, from where I’m standing in my market and niche, things are very good. The outlook looks very good. But there have been analysts who say that home sales may be softening in places like San Francisco, Miami, and New York City. We all know that at some point, that is likely to happen. Maybe it is already happening, or maybe it won’t be for six months or six years. But it is especially important for those newer to real estate to look ahead and determine how they will continue to win when those things do start showing up.

So what’s the best way to keep up your real estate sales and leasing during leaner times?


Related: Is a Market Correction Imminent? Here’s Why NOW is the Time to Prepare.

Don’t Stop Marketing!

The one big difference between those that fade out at the slightest sound of distant thunder and those that make it through the worst recessions is marketing and activity. Sam Zell is famous for being the “grave dancer” who makes a killing while others are going bankrupt. Keller Williams only really saw its best growth come when it took visibility to the next level during some of the toughest years we’ve experienced. I can personally attest to ramping up marketing and activity as a way to break through. This past year during the winter months when others were slowing down, getting ready for the holidays, we ramped up our activity levels. The results were outstanding! It was less noisy.

In fact, not only should you be consistent, but this can be an incredibly opportune moment. These are moments that shake out the average players and those who aren’t committed and that make the big money for the few who stay. Look for opportunities to fill voids left by others, and dominate new niches and market share.


Be Smart With Your Budget

It is important to be wise with your marketing budget. So think targeted marketing, but know when to seize the moment to make a splash.

Keep those guerrilla marketing tactics ready in case things do get leaner than expected. Instead of pulling big lists in an area, pick a neighborhood and go and drive the spot to find those distressed and vacant properties. Get that laser-like focus in marketing.

Related: 4 Things to Do With Extra Cash in a Low Inventory Housing Market

If you aren’t having success in one channel, then adopt another. There’s direct mail, bandit signs, expired listings, showing up to eviction court dates and speaking with landlords who are evicting tenants, door knocking, online marketing, blogging, and more. There are so many avenues! So mix it up. But don’t overlook other investors as a source! Leverage them for deals if they are giving up, or partner on them with what’s working.

A few will always make it no matter what the market does. Those who stop marketing probably won’t.

What are you going to do? What tips and tactics helped you get though the last dip?

Leave your comments below!

About Author

Sterling White

With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling currently manages over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $26MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments and single-family homes. Through the company he co-founded, Holdfolio, he owns just under 400 units. Sterling was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single-family investing and apartment investing to wholesaling and scaling a business.


  1. Scott Schultz

    while the article focuses on continued buying (I agree) the big factor is not over leveraging, what I saw in 2009/10/11/12 were people with Commercial notes that needed to re-up, and the property lost value, and could not re-up because they didnt have enough equity. My advice if you borrow commercial money like I do, NEVER leverage more that 60% LTV this allows for a 20% market drop, and you will still have 20% equity to re-up your loan for another 3 or 5 years. if you borrow 80% on $100K and market drops 10% when your note is due, you need to scrape up $10K +/- to have the 20% needed to re-up, have this situation on a bunch of properties and you are Sunk!!!! be conservative, dont borrow too much, and you can ride out the storm.

  2. Peter Mckernan

    Hey Sterling,

    The biggest takeaways for me of this article is how you mentioned that those big companies (KW) kept marketing even in the bad times and saw the biggest growth!

    Grant Cardone talked about in his book “10X” and in multiple interviews that when he saw the writing on the wall in 2008, 2009, and 2010 with the crash he doubled down while everyone else was backing off from their marketing to save money.

    Good job!

  3. Jay Frederick

    Sterling: Great article. I’ve recently jumped into the Baltimore real estate investing space. The strategies and “frame of mind” explained in your article will definitely be helpful as I navigate through all these opportunities.

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