One of my very good friends, who was an extremely busy short sale listing agent at the height of the recession, was stewing because his short sale was taking what he felt to be an inordinate amount of time. He has closed lots of short sales, and his theory was that this particular deal shouldn’t take very long to get approved because there are now fewer short sales than there were back in 2010. Since the banks are working fewer short sales, they should be moving more quickly.
My friend’s theory is a good one, but the truth is that the same kinds of issues and problems that arose in 2010 continue to plague the distressed property market. Inefficient or poorly-trained employees at the lending institutions and long wait times are lingering issues that have not changed despite the fact that our nation is now experiencing economic growth. With less short sales overall, fewer loss mitigation employees are required. So, it stands to reason that time frames remain about the same.
Are You Working a Deal that Will Not Close?
Often times, when real estate agents do not have a lot of active prospects, they become extremely focused on the ones that they have—even if those folks are not ready, willing, or able to get to the closing table in the near future. For example, I’ve seen agents show fifty or more properties to a single investor in hopes that the investor will become enamored of just one—when the truth is that the investor is looking for a specific return on investment that is unrealistic in the current market. I’ve also seen agents attempt to hold together a transaction that is barely salvageable—a short sale on a $100,000 property with four mortgages, a bankruptcy, and a $6000 HOA lien.
Generally, it is the lack of leads that causes agents to grasp at deals that may never close. Consider this: if you have ten deals in the pipeline and one deal falls through, you still have 90% of your business. While sensitive to your clients’ needs, you are probably not too concerned about where your next dollar is coming from. You are not worried; you have only lost 10% of your business. However, if you have two deals in the pipeline, and one transaction falls through, you have lost 50% of your business. Your income is cut in half. You are not thriving. Instead, you are struggling to stay afloat.
The truth is that while it takes a certain expertise to work the distressed property market, a real estate professional needs to recognize that their chief role is that of lead generator. A significant period of time each and every day needs to be devoted to lead generation if you are to continue to be successful despite any changes to the market or the economy.
10 Tips for Successful Real Estate Lead Generation in Any Market
In order to be able to let go of those transactions or clients that are teetering on the brink, it’s a good idea to spend a little bit of time each and every day on lead generation. Here are 10 Tips for Successful Real Estate Lead Generation that work in any market—not just a distressed one.
- Network, Make New Friends, and Keep the Old. Attend local and regional networking events. Socialize with friends. Make a concerted effort to get face-to-face with as many new and old friends as you possibly can. While it’s generally not a good idea to over-promote, when you are interacting with others, you create top-of-mind awareness—even if you are only at a block party or little league game.
- Stay Disciplined and Work Your Plan. Develop a daily, weekly, and monthly plan and stick to it. Don’t just try an activity once and then complain that it isn’t generating leads. Consistently work the same plan for days, weeks, and months. It’s the follow up, the consistency that will command attention.
- Develop a Brand. Make sure that your online persona, your website, and your print material all create a cohesive message about what you have to offer. First impressions matter. Whether you meet someone on the street or they find you online, you want them to get a favorable impression of you and your real estate services.
- Provide Items of Value. One of the most effective ways to generate a lead is by offering an item of value. Whether it’s an e-book outlining the first time home buyer’s experience or a free comparative market analysis, when you offer a free item of value, it’s easy to capture a lead and follow up.
- Follow Up. Developing a consistent follow-up plan is the key to generating a lead. Some leads will convert into buyers or sellers right away, and others may convert in six months or a year. The only way to maintain top-of-mind awareness is to follow up. Not to mention that if you have spent so much time and effort on generating leads, it would be foolish to let them slip through your fingers.
- Create a Strong Online Presence. Over 90% of home buyers and home sellers begin their search on the Internet. So, that’s where you want to be. It’s not enough just to have a website. You need to create a strong online presence through social media, video, and blogs.
- Use Video. Visitors who view videos stay on a site an average of two minutes longer than visitors that don’t. That’s probably why they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” When you employ video in your online marketing strategies, you create traction.
- Be a Supreme Multi-tasker. It’s not enough just to send out a direct mail newsletter monthly. You’ve got to do more. Develop a marketing calendar that includes both online and offline activities. Reach out to your social network and stay top of mind. Don’t wallow in a messy deal. Do multiple activities each and every day in order to get the word out that you are the real estate professional of choice.
- Ask for reviews, testimonials, and referrals. Online review sites are all the rage. That’s how people decide which shoes to buy or what plumber to hire. Don’t be afraid to ask current and past clients to review your services online. You’d be surprised at the number of leads you can get from individuals that saw positive feedback about you online.
- Be a Local Expert. You can’t be all things to all people. It’s nearly impossible to be at the top of the search engines for the search terms ‘Los Angeles Homes for Sale’ or ‘New York Real Estate Agent.’ Statistics show that it is far easier to get on page one of the search engines when you focus on the smaller communities or neighborhoods within the city. Also, individuals searching for a local specialist are generally further along in their search and an easier lead to convert to a closing. So, why not start there?
The key to success in real estate is to always work your plan. You’ve got to be continuously generating leads each and every day—no matter the market, no matter your niche. It’s the agent’s responsibility to change and adapt as the market changes. While distressed properties may be on the decline, if you work your plan you will continue to generate leads no matter the market, no matter your area of expertise.