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Market reports made easy: 5 ways to tell stories with data


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When mining diamonds, it takes an investment of time, money, and energy to extract valuable results. The same is true of real estate market reports. Producing a market publication requires effort, but the results are a valuable tool for expanding your knowledge, articulating your perspectives, and enhancing the sales process for you and your clients.

With the technological disruptions taking place in today’s real estate landscape, being behind on timely insights is no longer an option. Blaine “Doc” Ellingson, an agent with ONE Sotheby’s International Realty in Palm Beach Gardens, makes a practice of leveraging real estate reports to inform his business, and has also contributed his own research insights to South Florida’s annual Perspectives report. Likewise, Ari Wintraub, an agent with Sotheby’s International Realty — Brentwood Brokerage, uses market reports like the recently-released 2019 California Market Trends report to keep up with an industry that’s constantly changing.

How do they do it? What are their strategies for using research to empower their clients, while producing and publishing observations of their own? Here’s how two agents unite the power of story and data in their competitive markets.

Choose your resources wisely

Blaine “Doc” Ellingson, Broker Associate, ONE Sotheby’s International Realty

Avoid “data dumps”, and focus instead on the handful of sources that speak to you and your clients to bring your reports to life. “Develop your reports using your specific niche market data and primary research authorities,” advises Ellingson. His favorite examples include the Case-Shiller Price Indices; forecasts by Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the National Association of REALTORS?; and consumer publications such as The Wall Street Journal and Mansion Global. ONE Sotheby’s International Realty also releases regular reports that associates like Ellingson can hone and distribute to their targeted markets.

These sources supply raw material to support your own view of what’s happening in your market. But more than that, they give you the numbers and stories you need to guide your clients through the nuances of the sales process and market cycles.

“Clients, particularly sellers, have been moved to action with reliable data these reports consistently demonstrate,” says Ellingson. In one instance, a client came up to him in public to personally thank him for market insights, that allowed him to sell prior to the bottom of the 2006–2012 real estate crisis.

Focus your scope

Luxury home street view

Sotheby’s International Realty – Brentwood Brokerage

Ari Wintraub, Global Real Estate Advisor, Sotheby’s International Realty — Brentwood Brokerage

You can’t reference every insight you find, especially when you’re working with long-form market reports. That’s why Wintraub focuses on the key statistics that matter most to his clients and is consistent in his approach. “I cover the last quarter’s change from that same quarter in the previous year, by neighborhood,” he says.

The metrics he highlights most often include average or median sales price, days on market, amount of closings, and quantity of homes on the market.

To that list, Ellingson also adds absorption rate, to represent not only how many homes are on the market and the number that have sold, but the pace at which they’re selling over a set period of time. “I utilize all the pertinent data from my local MLS,” he adds.

Put yourself on the spot

Of course, the pressures of learning market reports and creating custom data can be challenging. “I had always been told how important they were, but I couldn’t bring myself to get them out,” says Wintraub. “I was intimidated by the thought of giving market reports. In L.A., I cover a wide area, and so I always felt overwhelmed by it.” Having materials coming in from his company was a helpful starting point — reports like the 2019 California Market Trends report gave him somewhere to begin.

To cut down on the tension further, Wintraub went out and purchased a desktop tripod for his cellphone. “From my desk at the office, I would commit to filming myself, and by that obligation of being on camera, I was forced to study the market and have something relevant to say,” he recounts. “My process is to read a report, study and digest the numbers, come up with a storyline and a couple of takeaways, and talk about it on camera.”

By sharing his market insights in a form he felt an affinity for, Wintraub freed himself to do valuable reporting and gave himself a motivator for new research.

“Additionally, I have real, fresh, and relevant content to share on my YouTube channel that’s easier for folks to digest,” says Wintraub. In an email, he links the long-form version of the report with his own video summary, offering his clients a variety of formats. The videos have been well received, and engagement can be easily tracked through views and comments.

Stay ahead of requests

Luxury beach house

ONE Sotheby’s International Realty

Market reports provide clients with the hard numbers and objective perspective they need to have confidence in their deals and know that they’re making the right decisions. “When working with buyers, they will often express concern over whether they are buying at a peak, potentially paying too much,” says Ellingson. “The recent reports in the 2019 Perspectives are useful in alleviating their fears.”

For Wintraub, interpreting reports allows him to turn the data into a narrative that speaks to his clients. “There’s always an angle to take; isn’t that what it is to be an agent? Find the opportunities and the openings. If the home market is stagnant, talk about investment properties. If prices are soaring and people want to stand back, speak about growth in commercial, or in your city as a whole — what’s happening in transit, infrastructure, community improvement. No matter if the market is up, down, or sideways, there is always a move or strategy you can advise.”

Tell stories that resonate

Ellingson agrees, and cites Peter Gruber’s book Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story when he explains that people don’t want data dumps. “Your clients are not moved by a marketing report alone, but by relevant stories that show what’s in it for them,” he says. “Stories make facts and figures memorable, resonant, and actionable.”

Telling the story of your real estate brand can also make your market reports more compelling and meaningful. “In sharing my market reports (most often in a meeting of new potential sellers) and before launching into the pertinent data, illustrations, marketing success stories, I share with them the Sotheby’s International Realty story, which is powerful, timeless, and adds a brand equity to each transaction, like no other firm.”

When you can seamlessly bring together the numbers and the story of your market in a format that appeals to your audience, you provide your clients with a dynamic manual for their real estate decisions. And offering valuable insights allows you to reinforce your brand credibility and authority over time.

About Sotheby’s International Realty

Sotheby’s International Realty was founded in 1976 as a real estate service for discerning clients of Sotheby’s auction house. Today, the company’s global footprint spans 990 offices located in 72 countries and territories worldwide, including 43 company-owned brokerage offices in key metropolitan and resort markets. In February 2004, Realogy entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a franchise system. The franchise system is comprised of an affiliate network, where each office is independently owned and operated. Sotheby’s International Realty supports its affiliates and agents with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Affiliates and agents also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744. For more information, visit

The affiliate network is operated by Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, and the company owned brokerages are operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Both entities are subsidiaries of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY) a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC and Sotheby’s International Realty Inc., both fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.

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