In real estate, I’m often reminded of the saying, “The only constant in life is change,” because one thing is certain about our industry — we are always in a state of change. I don’t say that in a bad way, either. Change is good. It provides opportunities, encourages growth and prompts us to become more skilled and agile.
While Realtor.com’s Monthly Housing Trends Report has touted historically low inventory, and we’ve certainly seen evidence of that across the country, agents may not be looking out for a trend showing more listings coming to market — and sooner than they think. If you look at pre-pandemic stats, we’ve always seen a bump in inventory starting in February that hits a peak in May.
The past two years were very different, of course, for many reasons. However, with interest going up, and all signs are showing that we are transitioning from a pandemic to an endemic, this should result in more listings coming to market again this time of year.
Record-high agent levels
January’s National Association of Realtors monthly membership report marked a milestone of 1,527,792 members, up 5.31 percent from January 2021.
That’s a record number of agents and a whole lot of competition.
What does this coming inventory mean for you?
It means there’s no time to waste when it comes to marketing and branding yourself as the agent to call in your area if someone so much as blinks in the direction of a real estate question or need. Get proactive about connecting more consistently and make a promise to yourself about prospecting today so that when we do see an increase in listing inventory, you can get your fair share of it.
Connect more consistently
Start with personal calls and handwritten notes to your sphere of influence
This includes friends, family, referrals, past clients and past customers. When business came to an almost grinding halt in the early days of the pandemic, agents shared with us that personally reaching out to their sphere was, hands down, one of the best things they did for both their business and their mindset. Not only did it generate business and referrals, but it also felt good to connect and, in some cases, reconnect with people and come from a place of service.
Don’t get overwhelmed
Take your list and break it into manageable numbers. For most agents we talked to that meant a call and a follow-up card to somewhere between five and 10 contacts per week. If you prefer to “warm the call,” reverse it and first send a card then follow up with a call.
Add a Smile Stop
Pick five people a month and drop by their home with a small token of appreciation. Some call these pop-bys — we call them Smile Stops because they are an opportunity to create a smile-worthy memorable moment. For some agents, this has not only garnered them more business, but they’ve had a blast putting them together and seeing the reaction on the faces of their past clients.
Engage using consistent email and social media campaigns
Now is the time to become one with your CRM. Or get a CRM. Better still, do both. Without a system to manage your communication, you are leaving it to chance that your email marketing box gets checked every month. At the very least, send a monthly newsletter or monthly market update. Most real estate-specific CRMs have these features as done-for-you campaigns.
Consider a social sharing feature
The CRM company we partner with has a plugin that allows you to choose what news and magazine channels you wish to push out. You can create your own schedule for how and when content gets posted to your social platforms. You don’t have to even think about it. Many of these plug-ins have lead capture forms for more engagement and lead opportunities. The more you put systems in place and automate, the fewer things will fall through the cracks.
Don’t discount direct mail
What’s old is new again and if you are not showing up in people’s mailboxes (the ones at the end of their driveway) then you are leaving business, branding and money on the table.
Yes, it does cost money to do direct mail marketing. If you don’t yet have the budget to do that, I get it. I don’t suggest you spend money on farming until you can do so consistently. One-and-done does NOT work for direct mail. In other words, it’s better to send 10 times to 100 people than to send 1,000 pieces once.
Be thoughtful in what you send. Make sure every piece is branded to you, has your name, face and contact information, and has a trackable call to action. Take people to a landing page, for example, or ask them to call you to get a free Neighborhood Market Report (fancy term for a CMA) or a checklist or some item of value so that you can directly link your marketing to your inquiries.
Become a group guru
In today’s world, almost every community worth its salt has a corresponding community Facebook group. Join it. Then, be of service as much and as often as possible.
Do not be Joe or Jill Real Estate in the group. Be you in the group. Be the person that helps and responds and is a resource. This is like digital farming. It’s free and probably some of the best 15 minutes or so a day you can spend, believe it or not.
It’s an easy way for you to get your face and name in front of the people in the communities you serve. Does someone need a plumber? Give them a number. Food truck coming for Friday night? Sponsor the fries. Someone’s dog is missing? See how you can help. For every six to 10 times you help, you can share a local real estate nugget, tip or item of value — not open houses and listings, but advice or market updates.
Promise to prospect
Prospecting will be the lifeblood of your business until you’ve reached that point where you’ve got so many referrals coming in every month that you don’t need to do it. The funny thing is that most agents who have reached that point still do prospect, especially in this market.
Why? Because if you don’t keep reaching out, connecting, adding new people to your sphere and farm, then you won’t stay top of mind. If you don’t stay top of mind, then people won’t know that you are there to serve them in their real estate needs and they won’t call you. You know the stories of agents who are upset that a friend or colleague or parent from their kid’s soccer team didn’t use them as an agent? That’s not on the buyer or seller; that’s on the agent.
How often you need to prospect depends on where you are in your career, how much income you need to bring in and how quickly, and how masterful you want to be at your profession.
Need NOW business?
That means making phone calls first. They are faster and more affordable than anything else. Make calls three to five days a week, for at least an hour a day, calling people specifically about real estate.
Here’s a list of ideas of who to call daily:
- Five For Sale by Owners
- Five Expireds
- Five For Rent by Owners
- Five past clients
- Company “orphans”
- Neighbors around a new listing (even if it’s not yours)
- Neighbors before your open house to invite them to stop by with questions
- Vendors for referrals
For some of you, committing that much time to calls seems like too big a bite. If so, start by committing to talking with one potential buyer and one potential seller each day. Two calls, every day.
The more calls you make, the better you’ll become at it. You’ll be building your skills while nurturing relationships. Call to connect with people and see how you can help them, not “take” from them. Many agents were taught to, “Call until you take a listing.” That even sounds aggressive, right?
You’re starting off a relationship poised to take something from them. Think about the psychology that can come through on that call that might turn people off.
Instead, when you are making calls, come from a place of service. Let people know what’s happening in the industry and what that may mean for their investment. Make sure they know that you are a resource.
Ask about how they are, what they need and if they have questions. Let that conversation unfold. Communicating advocacy, answers and resources is what a service professional does. Calling to “take” a listing is what an old-school salesperson does.
Serve. It will serve you well.
Lastly, door knock with items of value. That might be a certificate for a neighborhood market report, home seller’s guide, home buyer’s guide, moving checklist, list of trusted resources, etc. The point is to be out in the communities that you service and regularly introducing yourself.
The definition of self-promotion is to get people to know you, trust you and like you to the point where when they think real estate, they think you. That’s your goal in a world where competition is increasing daily and inventory is still in such short supply.
Go have fun with it and if this scares you a little bit, that’s all right. That means you are moving outside comfort zones, and that’s when all the good stuff happens, remember?
Don’t think about it in terms of, “I’ve got to do this forever.” Commit to 30 days. Watch your business grow. Watch your skills improve. Then commit to 30 more.
Darryl Davis is a speaker, coach and the bestselling author of How to Become a Power Agent in Real Estate, as well as the CEO of Darryl Davis Seminars. He currently hosts weekly free webinars to help agents navigate market change and design careers worth smiling about. Learn more at www.DarrylSpeaks.com/Online-Training. Connect with him on Facebook or YouTube.