In the US, there are around 2 million active, licensed real estate agents. In 2015, 5,250,000 existing homes were sold as well as another 510,000 newly built homes. With slightly less than three houses for sale per real estate agent, it’s easy to see why the real estate business is so competitive.
Whether you’re new to the industry or are looking to grow as a real estate agent, winning more real estate listings is a must. Here’s how you can stand out in a crowded field and get more sellers to choose you.
Build Up Your Online Presence
As a modern-day real estate agent, you can’t ignore social media and the internet. It’s where people go first when they are starting to think about putting their house up for sale. You not only want to have an active, professional social media and web presence, you also want to make sure that your real estate marketing techniques are consistent across platforms.
First things first, you need to come up with a message. What is it that you want sellers to know about you as a real estate agent? You can think of this as building up your brand. What makes you unique, or what do you do to stand apart from the rest?
Coming up with a tag line or catch phrase can help you zero in on what you’re offering clients. To develop your brand identity, it helps to think about:
- Your niche. What types of homes are you interested in selling? Some agents focus on a specific area, others on a particular kind of home (such as luxury homes or condos).
- Your value. What do you offer sellers? Think about how long your average listing stays on the market. Do you sell houses quicker than most other agents? Also, consider the photography and other marketing efforts you offer sellers who list with you. Do you send out professional photographers to take pictures of their house?
- How others see you. When in doubt, it helps to ask others to describe your brand or to explain how they see you. Ideally, people will come back with descriptions such as “committed” or “knowledgeable.” Use some of that input from others to create a catchphrase or tagline for your brand.
Real Estate on Social Media
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn give you a chance to showcase your talents and past successes as a real estate agent, making sellers want to come to you. Although it might seem like a good idea to create a profile on every social media platform out there, it’s usually better to choose one or two and focus your efforts on those. Facebook and Instagram can be ideal for real estate agents because they are highly visual platforms. People love seeing photos or videos on these sites.
LinkedIn can also be an excellent platform for real estate agents, but the focus there is usually more professional. You might find sellers who are serious about listing their homes, but it’s more likely that you’ll connect with other agents on the platform.
When it comes to real estate content marketing on social media, focus on posting a mix of general but interesting real estate-related content and content that highlights your current listings. Posting a photo album of a house you have up for sale won’t only help attract buyers looking for a home in your area. It will also give potential sellers an idea of what you can do and what listing a home with you would be like.
Although you can try creating your own advice content, such as “What You Need to Do to Sell Your Home Fast,” or similar articles or videos, offering your social media followers content created by someone else works too. You can curate content and share links to blog posts and articles offering real estate advice produced by other reputable publishers (such as online magazines or newspapers).
One particularly important rule of thumb for real estate agents on social media is this: Keep your personal life out of it. Don’t share your political views, pictures of your dog or children or posts about your hobbies on your professional social media profiles. If you want to use social media for personal reasons, such as to stay in touch with friends and family, it’s better to create two separate accounts, one for business and one for private use.
Websites have evolved considerably over the past three decades. If your real estate website looks like it’s fresh out of 1997 or even 2007, no seller is going to take you seriously. It might also be difficult to reach clients if your website content and style are outdated.
These days, more people use the Internet on a mobile device. For that reason, you want to have either a mobile version your website or a site that’s responsive, meaning it adapts to whatever size screen a person is using.
There’s more to a mobile-friendly site than responsiveness, though. Mobile websites need to load quickly and contain graphics and text small screens can display without requiring the user to zoom in. It’s also best to avoid pop-ups, which are difficult to “x” out of on a mobile device and plug-ins like Flash, which phones don’t always support.
As with your social media profiles, think carefully about the sort of content you publish on your website. You want to go for the “wow” factor, so include current or past listings with great photographs and video walk-throughs. Create an About Me section so that sellers can learn who you are, what you’ve done to assist past clients and how you’ll help them sell their homes.
Also be sure to have your contact information in an easy-to-find location on the site. Make it easy for potential sellers to connect with you by including a contact form too.
Keep Your Agent Profile Up to Date
It’s free to make a profile on both Zillow and Trulia, so there’s no reason not to do it. When you create an agent profile on the sites, they automatically link your name and information to any active listings you have. You’re also able to list your website and social media profiles so that interested sellers can learn more about you. Even better, you can ask past clients to post reviews about you on your profile. Although getting people to leave a review can be difficult, obtaining high marks and praise from others will help you land more listings in the future.
Learn Your Market
Who are sellers going to want to work with: The agent who knows their neighborhood and the market inside and out or the one who hasn’t got a clue? The odds are likely that people want to work with someone who knows their stuff.
That someone can be you, with a bit of research. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. For example, an area business might be expanding, causing a significant number of new employees to move into your area. Or a local business might have moved or shut down, causing more people to want to sell their homes.
It’s also a good idea to visit as many for-sale homes in your area as possible, to get a sense of how much they’re going for and what they look like inside. That way, you have an idea of how one seller’s house compares to another.
Choose Your Target Audience
Once you’ve built up your web presence and become an expert in your market, it’s time to start finding clients. Knowing what audience to target can help you reach potential sellers either just before they’re looking for an agent or right as they begin the process of putting their home up for sale. Knowing whom you’re trying to reach can also make your adverting ideas more focused and fruitful.
There are times in people’s lives when they are more likely to consider selling their homes than others. Here are a few of those times:
- After inheriting a house. Inheriting a house might seem like a great deal. After all, you end up with a (nearly) free place to live. But, for many people who end up inheriting property, there are too many hurdles that get in the way of them moving in. For those people, selling the inheritance is the best option. One way to find recently inherited property is to search your county clerk’s office for inheritance cases. With a bit of digging, you can locate the address of newly inherited homes and start reaching out.
- After the kids move out. Once the kids have grown and moved into their own homes, mom and dad typically realize they do not need a 3,000-square-foot home or 4+ bedrooms. Search on sites like Zillow or Trulia to find houses with multiple bedrooms and a particular square footage that were purchased around 20 years ago, and you’ve likely found a few empty nesters who are ready (or almost ready) to sell.
- After a divorce. During or after a divorce, most couples sell the house they owned together, either because of a court order or to more equitably divide their assets. Although it might seem cynical, this can be a great way for a real estate agent to get a listing. In fact, you might end up not only selling the house but working with two new buyers.
- When the home is vacant. A home can be vacant for any number of reasons, but the odds are likely that at some point, the owner is going to want to unload it. You can search for and find vacant properties through your county clerk’s office then go about finding ways to contact the owners of those properties.
- When real estate tax is owed. It’s not uncommon for owners to fall behind on their property taxes. In some instances, homeowners who owe tax might be more interested in selling to escape their tax burden. You can search your town or city’s public records to find out which properties are delinquent on taxes and the names of the owners of those properties.
Go Where the Sellers Are
You’ve heard the quote “80 percent of success is showing up.” Just going where the sellers are can help you win more listings.
- Hold an open house. Typically, agents hold open houses as a way to connect with potential buyers, either of that house or another one. But open houses are also a great opportunity for you to connect with potential sellers and win listings. After all, people who are looking to buy a new house may also want to sell their current one. Be proactive when connecting with buyer and sellers at open houses. Find out if they own their homes, then ask if they’d like you to drop by to price it or make recommendations about what they can do to get it ready for market.
- Follow up on expired listings. Not every house that goes on the market sells for various reasons. It could have been priced too high, the seller might not have wanted to sell, or there might have been any number of issues with the home that kept buyers away. It can be worth your time to follow up on expired listings, to see if the seller is still interested in selling. In some cases, it might not have been the right time for the listing a few months ago, but changes in the market can mean that it is more likely to sell today.
- Connect with “For Sale By Owner” sellers. Not everyone wants to work with an agent, at least initially. But some people who are trying to sell their homes on their own and not having any luck might reconsider. It can be worth your time to call, email or mail “For Sale By Owner” sellers directly.
- Visit garage or yard sales. Sometimes, people hold yard sales because they have too much stuff. But other times, they hold a yard sale because they are planning on moving and want to unload as much stuff as possible. It never hurts to drop by a few sales and find out what people’s plans are.
Meeting Sellers and Winning the Listing
You’ve found some potential sellers. Now the next step is to win them over and convince them that you’re the agent for them. They’ve most likely done some digging on their home and have checked out your social media and online presence. Now’s the time to really wow them with an in-person pitch and meeting. These five things can help you make sure that your meeting goes smoothly and that a seller wants to work with you.
- Dress to Impress
Don’t show up to a meeting with a potential client wearing a dirty T-shirt and worn-out jeans. Look as smart and as sharp as you can. Keep in mind that how you should dress may change based on the type of seller you’re targeting. In a more upscale market, it can be worth it to break out the business suit. When in doubt, remember that it’s better to overdress than underdress.
- Be on Time
No one wants to be kept waiting, least of all someone who’s considering hiring you. If you’re late for your first meeting, the seller is likely to wonder if you’ll be late for all your meetings. And if you’re late for all your meetings, they might question how serious you are about actually selling the house. Aim for being five to 10 minutes early.
- Think of How You’ll Serve the Seller
While landing a listing will greatly help you and your business, keep in mind that you’re in a service industry and that the needs of the seller come before your own. It’s not about how big of a commission you’ll land. It’s about whether you’ll be able to sell the home in a timely fashion so that the seller can move on with his or her life.
- Have Details to Back Up What You Say
The purpose of the meeting is to convince a seller that you’re the person who will sell their home. Be ready to prove to the seller that you’ll be able to do what you say you will. Have information available for him or her, such as details on how long it usually takes to sell a house, what the average house sells for, whether it gets the listing price or not, and so one.
Sellers can easily see through bluff and bluster, so be prepared for hard, concrete facts.
- Ask Questions
One way to show the potential client that you’re there for them is to ask plenty of questions. Get the details on why they are selling, what they want to do next and what they hope to get for the house. You want to find out what matters to your sellers. Knowing that will help you sell the house.
Offer Something No One Else Does
It’s a tough world out there with lots of competition. To stand out from the crowd, you need to know your market and your sellers well. You should also offer something no one else does. That can include premium, high-quality listings photos or walk-through videos that make buyers feel like they’re in the home. To learn more about how professional photos and media can help your listings sell faster, contact Real Estate Exposures today.