The New Way To Get Real Estate Clients

There are a gazillion real estate agents out there.  Well, not quite.  But you get the picture.  There’s no shortage of competition trying to take the bread off of your table.

To compete, win, and get real estate clients before our competitors do, we must stand out.  And be great at what we do.  And evolve with changing strategies and tactics that work in the modern world.

The one constant is that real estate is a relationship business.  There must be a significant level of trust between you and your client before they’ll fully hire you to represent them.

The thing that changes though is how we develop that trust.  If you’re lucky enough to meet with your client/prospect in person a few times, you’re in a pretty good position for someone to get to know, like, and trust you.  And then hire you.

But meeting someone in person isn’t the typical situation.  More often, we’re getting leads online or getting a referral somehow.  It’s these situations where we really need to prove ourselves just to get to that step where we can hopefully meet in person.

So how do we real estate agents “sell” in a world where no one seems to want to buy us?

new way to get real estate clients

Know This First

The first thing to consider is that our modern culture has changed in the way that we buy things.  So, we cannot continue to try and sell in an out-dated way.

We must change how we sell so that we can change how prospects see us (actually, I don’t like the word “prospect” so I’m just going to use the word “people” from here on out).  We must change their understanding of what we do.

In my experience, both buyers and sellers have done a ton of research by the time I get to them (at least the serious ones do, anyway).  That’s partially because data is EVERYWHERE and partially because the general consumer is smart enough to at least make an effort to find the stats and data that they believe is relevant to their cause.

Because of this, data is no longer what we have to offer a home buyer or seller.

Data is now a commodity.  Having it does not separate us from anyone.  It doesn’t even separate us from a dumb computer algorithm any longer (think: Zestimate).

However, what we do have to offer – and what separates us from our various forms of competition – is information.  Data is the coal and what we as agents can do is squeeze it in just the right manner so that it becomes diamond.

And diamonds are worth lots more than coal.

It’s information that people want, yet they generally don’t know how to get it from the raw data.  It’s these insights that we agents have that make us special.

Build Authority

I mentioned earlier that we don’t buy in the same way we used to just a few years ago.  You’d agree that, as compared to 3 or 5 or certainly 10 years ago, you research major purchases much more than you used to, right?  Don’t you know a lot more about the car you want to buy?  Heck, don’t you now even research that $30 knick-knack on Amazon before you take out your credit card?

Home buyers and sellers do the same.  They want to know more about buying and selling a home so that they don’t get screwed some way or another.

This leaves us a great opportunity to be there for them before they even know they need help.  We do this by building authority in our local market.

There’s lots of ways to do this.  Some are as simple as building up your reviews on Yelp or any of the major home search portals.

Or maybe you’ve got a blog where you write about local market stats in your town/area.

Maybe you promote free ebooks on buying/selling or other types of checklists or toolkits to help educate and empower your future customers.

I like to use Facebook Ads to build my pipeline.

However you do it, your goal is to be in front of people and show them that you know what you’re talking about.  Be the expert in your area.  Build authority and people will feel easier about asking you for help.

Be Useful

Authority helps show you know what you’re talking about.

But being useful is when this authoritative knowledge can be applied to someone’s specific situation to help them.

Usefulness is really what we’re after here.  This is what our clients really want from us.  Actually, this is what they need from us.

If we’re not useful, then there’s no need for us to exist.  There is no need for someone to hire us.  They might as well just go back to trying to figure things out on the internet by themselves.  Or, worse, hire someone else who’s proved that they can be useful.

Being useful to someone may or may not include real estate-related items.  Maybe usefulness is simply giving someone a phone number for a vendor that they would have had to find on their own.  Or maybe it’s a 30-page CMA for someone who thinks they already have all the info they need.

Whatever the task at hand is, help someone out.  Be there with a purpose and provide the information that makes you worth someone’s time.

100% Transparency

“Hurry, time is running out!”

“But wait, if you order now…”

I’m not sure about you, but I really don’t like fake urgency.  I understand the concept of pressure to get a person to decide on something, but I think most people can see through the thinly-veiled methods to get them to sign on the dotted line.

That’s why I believe in total transparency.  I want people to know that I’m genuine in what I say and what I do.  I could have made more money in this business by now, but some deals I let go because they weren’t the right choice for that particular client.

I think if you demonstrate an intention to save someone from a bad decision in the short term, you’ll gain more in the long-term by the trust you’ve built.

The New Way

People buy differently.

So, we must sell differently.

If you can combine authority, usefulness, and transparency with a marketing plan that works for you, you won’t have to worry about not having enough clients.

 

 

How To Focus Your Real Estate Business

I’m a sucker for the “latest and greatest” shiny new object.

The benefit to that addiction is that, when I find a “winner,” I’m ahead of the curve on that topic because I was one of the first to try it out.

The downside is that I’m often chasing things that turn out to be losers, waste my time, don’t apply to real estate, and just generally shatter my focus.

So, this year, I’ve already begun a very concentrated effort to focus my real estate business on just a few things that have either worked for me previously or have shown strong potential.  Everything else is getting less of my attention – a lot less.

The way I’m doing that – and the way I’m focusing with laser-like targeting – is just to turn everything “off” that doesn’t help me get to my goals.  I’m looking at things in a very black or white manner.  Either they clearly help me or they clearly don’t.

focus on your real estate business

The first thing I’ve done is to eliminate much of my email.  I’m on a ton of real estate and marketing email lists and decided to weed out everything that doesn’t provide a ton of consistent value.  To do that quickly, I created an account with unroll.me so that I could easily unsubscribe from any email senders I didn’t want any longer.

The next thing I did was to go through all my marketing efforts over the last few years.  I evaluated what efforts clearly and directly made me money.  Most didn’t, so they were crossed of my list.

Of anything that has shown potential, I prioritized how well each marketing tactic worked, what I like doing, and what I feel I can do consistently.  I was left with this real estate marketing plan.

I’m currently in the process to evaluate all my expenses from the last year.  By going through each expense, line by line, I’m taking notes on where exactly my money is going and if I can do without that particular investment in my business.  Of course, the goal to my refocusing efforts is to make more money, so it makes sense to figure out where I don’t have to spend it in the first place.

I turned off all “notifications” of emails and texts on my phone and computer.  These are notorious drains on your ability to focus on one thing.  I don’t hear any sounds or see any pop up notifications any longer.  I have to manually go and check for new messages and I’m trying to do this only sporadically throughout the day.

My office is super clean, too.  I took some time to throw away a lot of papers and items that I know I’m just never going to take the time to look at or read.  A clean office is an efficient office.

I’m getting better at planning certain times of the day for certain activities.  In an interview I did with Brian Icenhower, a lot of what he suggested that separates top agents from everyone else is their ability to build lead generation activities into their day just like any other scheduled appointment.

My days are not perfect and I’m not expecting that they ever will be.  But focusing my real estate business in the ways mentioned above has already started to increase my productivity and happiness.  I’m going to continue to forget about the 80% of things that drain my focus and concentrate on the 20% of things that make me productive.

How about you?  How do you stay focused in your real estate business?

 

26: Is Being A Real Estate Agent Fun?

As a former recruiter helping people find jobs, I met with people every single day and listened to their story of why they wanted to change jobs and what they were looking for in a new one.  There were always the necessities of what people had to have, such as a certain salary or job location.

But, when it came down to it, what I found most people really wanted in their job was simply to be interested in it.  They wanted to like their jobs and not dread the 8-10 hours a day they were putting in.

In other words, most people just wanted to have a little fun in their jobs.

If you’re thinking of becoming a real estate agent, you’re probably wondering how you might like this type of role and if you’d have any fun doing it.  So here are some things you should consider regarding what being a real estate agent entails.  If you don’t think these types of activities are fun, then you probably won’t think being an agent is very fun, either.

real estate agent fun
 

1.  Love Helping People

Being a real estate agent is WAY TOO HARD if you don’t enjoy the aspect of helping people.  If you’re in it strictly for the money, you’re probably not going to put in the amount of time and effort that is required when things get tough.

For example, when a deal is headed south, when negotiations seemingly come to a stand-still, when your client unpredictably changes his mind, or when you get an “urgent” call at 10:30pm on a Saturday night, it’s often hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  But knowing that your actions will help your clients is often the motivation that will keep you going.

2.  Thrive On Pressure

When you’re dealing with customers who are spending all the money they can afford (no matter if that’s tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions), they expect you to make things happen the way that they want them to.  There’s a ton of pressure when your client expects you to sell for way more than the market will bear, when your client wants that 600K home for 500K, and when the inevitable unexpected wrench in the works pops up in the middle of the deal.

If you don’t love pressure and people relying on you, real estate is not going to be fun.

3.  Work Independently

Some people can work independently without supervision and some can’t.  There’s no right or wrong if you’re one or the other.  But you need to recognize which you are.

If you’re not fully able to get out of bed in the morning and do what you need to do with the proper priority without someone watching over you and making you do it, each day is going to be tough for you.

4.  Run A Business

Yes, you’re a real estate agent.  But, you’re also more than that.  You’re also a full-fledged business and you need to think about operations, marketing, accounting, client relations, customer follow up, goal-setting, prospecting, and a ton more.

If you are looking for a 9-5 job where you can clock in and then clock out and forget about the day, then being a real estate agent may not be very fun.

5.  Prospect For New Business

If an agent is going to fail, it’s probably because of a lack of prospecting.  The bottom line in being a real estate agent is that you need to always be hunting for your next deal.  It’s how you put food on the table.

If you’re afraid of reaching out to new people or, worse, you found this type of activity to be downright dreadful, then being a real estate agent surely is not going to be fun.

Remember that different agents to all types of different kinds of prospecting and you don’t have to love every type.  For example, I hate cold-calling people primarily because I did that for about a decade in my recruiting job.  I just don’t love that type of outreach.  However, I am all about digital and online farming and prospecting.  That’s what interests me and that’s what I’m good at.

You couldn’t pay me to pick up the phone and dial for dollars, but I love putting together facebook ads and doing webinars.  That’s the type of prospecting I do and how I get a lot of my business.  To me, that’s fun.  If you have some type of prospecting that you consider fun, then you’ll have a much better chance to succeed in this business.

How about you?  If you’re thinking of becoming a real estate agent, which of these 5 topics do you think you’d have the most fun with?  If you’re a current agent, what else do you think you need to consider for real estate to be a fun job?

 

15: [TOOLBOX] Is Working With Renters Worth A Real Estate Agent’s Time?

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If you sell homes, should you also work with renters?  And, by the same token, should you work with sellers and buyers that are in a price range well below your normal home sale price?

renters worth your time?

These are tough questions because, as a real estate agent, you have to spend your time wisely.  It’s easy to get sucked into doing lots of different things that make you little to no money.  So, if your normal home sale commission is, for example, $5000, is it a wise move to work with renters where your commission is maybe 10% of that?

There are two schools of thought regarding how to approach this:

  1. Work with everyone: you never know who might end up being a long-time client with bigger deals you can be a part of down the road
  2. Work only with your perfect client and no one else

Personally, I’ve put together a fair amount of rental deals and I’m calling it quits.  I’ve worked on enough of these to get a pretty solid understanding of the average outcome and I’ve decided to now only work with those in my target market.

Here’s why.

In my local market, the average home sale price is roughly $400,000.  That’s somewhere in the $10,000 to $12,000 commission range per deal.  The average rental deal nets me about $700.

Hmmmmm….do I want $10,000 or $700?

Now, if rentals actually took me only 7% of the time that purchases did, then maybe this would be a fair deal.  But, they don’t.  Renters still want to see 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 or more places, just like buyers.  So, although they don’t typically take as long as a buyer may take in transacting a deal, there’s still a significant amount of time wrapped up in all the things that are required to get a rental to actually come together.

For those of you that do take on renters, I’m guessing that you’re now thinking…

  • but renters could be deals down the road
  • renters could turn into buyers right now if (fill in the variable here)
  • you should help anyone and everyone all the time
  • why turn down a potential client who could refer other people to you

All these are valid points, but…

…the bottom line is that if you don’t run your real estate business, your real estate business will run you.

renter textAt this point in my business, I’m not drowning in more awesome leads than I know what to do with.  However, I am busy every day and I definitely don’t make all the “follow up” and “stay in touch” calls that I should because I am working on active deals.

So, my point is that, if I don’t have time to make the “perfect” day every day by making all the calls I should to people who can result in relationships that are worth $10,000 within the next few months, why do I have the time to work with renters who might possibly be worth a fraction of that within the same time frame.

In the same 8 hours I might spend on a rental deal, I could have had great conversations with large number of prospects and past clients that are worth more both now as well as in the long run.

Sure, it’s possible that I might lose out on a rental deal that turns in to a buyer next year when their lease is up.

But, it’s also definitely possible that the 4 leads I got from an open house last weekend at a $700,000 home are going to buy something really soon.

I’ll take my chances with the buyers.

What’s your take?  Do you work with renters?  Do you work with buyers/sellers below a certain price point that doesn’t make financial sense to  you?  Leave a comment and let us know.

13: [Toolbox] How To Create A Target Market Persona For Your Real Estate Business

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Every business has customers.  Those customers should ideally come from your target market.  The target market is important because that is the group of people that is most likely to use your services.

Does your real estate business have a target market in mind?  And, more specifically, a target persona?

Let’s talk about what these things are and why they’re important to getting more real estate leads.

What Is A Target Market?

Traditionally, a target market is defined as the group of customers that a business focuses its marketing efforts on.  Identifying a target market is the first step in understanding how, where, why, and when you’re going to market your product or service.

In real estate terms, the broadest target markets you might go after could be identified as:

  • Home buyers
  • Home sellers

real estate target market and persona

Why You Need A Target Market

Knowing who you’re going after as a client helps you stand out to that particular person.  They will notice you because you “speak to them” in your marketing.  For example, if you were a home shopper looking to buy a condo in the west side of town that cost about 900K, wouldn’t you want to work with an agent that happens to be a specialist in the luxury west side market?  If you’re like most people, you definitely would.

On the flipside, if you don’t know who you’re speaking to, then you’re actually speaking to no one.  You won’t have any parameters to work within because you’re willing to work with whomever.  And if you work with whomever shows up, you’ll take on clients who don’t get you to your goals.

For example, when was the last time you had a difficult client?  Or took on a rental when you really didn’t want to?  Or took a listing at a price that really wasn’t worth your time?  Or drove to showings that were way too far away?  If you’ve done these things, then you’re not addressing a target market that’s getting you to your goals.

Having a target market in mind will help you avoid these common real estate pitfalls.  That’s because having a target group of customers you focus on gives you boundaries to stay within.  If you know exactly who you’re going after and why they’re important to you, then you’ll know when you’ve reached the threshold of what you’re willing to do.

How To Define Your Target Market

Here are some simple ways to define who your ideal clients are:

  • buyers and/or sellers
  • location (county, city, area, neighborhood/subdivision)
  • timeframe to buy/sell (how long are you willing to nurture leads?)
  • home price range
  • age (do you identify better with a certain age range?)
  • …and there are others, which leads us into thinking about client personas

What Is A Persona?

A client persona is essentially a target market that’s taken another step further.  With a persona, we’re considering not just broad segments of people in a certain area or price range, but now we’re also taking into account very personal items such as the exact goals and behavior patterns that your “perfect” client will have.

These are important because they help us relate to customers as real human beings (not just “leads”) and allow us to best pursue each of these people in all regards to client acquisition and retention.

How To Create An Effective Persona

You can craft your target market on your own because those are your own preferences.  But, with a persona, you want to enlist the help of some of your best clients because they are the ones that will tell you what is important to them.  And sometimes the results will surprise you.

For example, I asked one of my seller clients why they used me after we had closed on a home.  He said it was my use of technology.  Now, all I’d done that he had really seen was use my iPad during my initial consultation with him.  And, from that alone, he thought I was Mr. Technology.  I didn’t think it was much of a big deal but it turned out that this was pretty important to him.  Feedback like this has helped me craft a client persona that values the use of intermediate to advanced tech skills during the buying and selling process.

To better understand what your clients value and where you can stand out in the crowded real estate agent market, do brief interviews with 5-10 of your favorite clients.  During your next “keeping in contact” call with each of them, ask them if they can do you a favor and answer these questions:

  • Why did you choose me over other agents?
  • What did you end up liking best about how I was able to help you?
  • What fears did you have before the buying/selling process and how did I help alleviate them?
  • Did you have any pre-conceived notions about working with a real estate agent?
  • What did you feel was going to be your biggest challenge in buying/selling a home?
  • (remember to keep asking “why” to really drill down to the base of their emotions and logic)

This Is Your Ideal Real Estate Client

Want to know what your perfect real estate lead looks like?  Here are the items you’re looking for:

Client Objective

  • Do you work only with buyers?
  • Do you work only with sellers?
  • Or, what is the ratio of buyers to sellers that you’d like?

Demographics

  • Education, hobbies
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income, home price range
  • Location

Goals

  • What are your perfect client’s goals?
  • And their biggest challenges?
  • How do you help them overcome problems to get to their goals?

Identification

  • Turn your perfect client into a “real person”
  • What is their name?
  • What are their most common objections?
  • How will you appeal to them so they identify with you?
  • What do you want them to say about you after the closing?

Once you’ve gone through the process of figuring out your target market and client persona, you’ll have your perfect real estate client.  You’ll have an exact understanding of who you want to target, what they need emotionally, how they rationalize their decisions, and how you can describe your services in a way that appeals to them and makes them want to work with you and you alone.

Your Target Market & Persona

What’s your target market?  Who is an example of your persona.  Leave a comment below and let us know.