Born and raised on the outskirts of Vancouver, BC I got into real estate in 2004. After a year I decided to purchase a real estate franchise with 2 partners and was the Managing Broker. I took on the responsibility of marketing for the brokerage and after 1 year, we were in the top 10% of all franchisees (+650) and dominating our local market. After 5 years we closed our franchise (Top 10 of all franchisees at the time) and re-established ourselves as New Options Realty in 2010.
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Realtor Must Haves!
A recent NAR survey found 70% of buyers and sellers check the internet prior to making “real-life” connection to a Realtor.
Once a person is viewing a website, the next challenging is to keep their eyes on the page. A well-designed page is free from “Click Here” banners and other “sales” gimmicks. A page likely to generate real estate leads is professional, understated, informative, and conveys an understanding of the needs of sellers in the area. As per the NAR, the About Me, the About the Area, and the homepage most influence prospective clients, therefore they need to reflect the personality and the knowledge of the Realtor. The About the Area section needs to include information only a local would know as well as some information about current trends in the housing market. This will convey the expertise of the Realtor as well as the level of investment the real estate agent has in the community.
A common practice for seller agents is to provide complimentary comparative market analysis (CMA) for sellers. The key for successful implementation of this strategy to generate viable Realtor leads is to use a form, which balances the need of the Realtor to get the information to make future contact with the prospective seller with the prospective seller’s need for privacy. Most people are wary about disclosing too much information due to concerns about receiving unsolicited emails and the possibility of identity theft. The knowledgeable Realtor creates a web form to register for the CMA with some fields left as optional. Research from the NAR indicates people are more likely to complete a form with some optional fields as compared to forms where all fields are required. It is essential to provide a detailed privacy statement clearly stating how the information is going to be used.
That said a form is useless in real estate lead generation unless it requires information for the real estate professional to determine the viability of the lead and the contact details for the person requesting the CMA. There are services available online that design forms to assist in generating Realtor leads, including real time emails so the agent can contact the potential seller in as close to real time as possible. In order to maximize the potential for a lead to turn into a client, the NAR recommends a real time response via the means the contact made initially. This caution is especially relevant concerning phone calls; a person who sends an email tends to view a phone call as intrusive unless it is requested. Additionally, the Realtor needs to be aware of the stipulations of the Do Not Call list and the potential for substantial fines.
Stay up-to-date on local market conditions. With so many sellers sitting on the sidelines due to poor conditions in the housing market and the continuous drop in residential home values, a monthly newsletter discussing the local market conditions is a means of conveying to prospective sellers positive news that might persuade them to list their homes. There are many areas in the country less affected by the downturn in the housing market, yet sellers hear the reports from mainstream news outlets and assume their local housing market follows the national trends. A newsletter addressing the market trends in the area, written in a manner accessible to readers, is an effective means of persuading sellers on the sidelines to place their property into the market. Once again, a well-designed form to register for the newsletter is a crucial element of this two-pronged strategy to generate Realtor leads.
An easy to understand presentation of the local trends in home values in a blog on the website of a Realtor, which requires a form for registration, is a great source of Real estate leads for prospective sellers. Prospective sellers are able to read and learn of data suggesting a recovery in home values and start to consider listing their home. A blog not only acts as a real estate lead generator by compiling potential seller contact information , but also the real estate agent can start starting a conversation with readers. This assists the Realtor in building a relationship and in the establishment of a reputation as a local expert in local real estate. Prompt replies to the comments of readers are necessary for this strategy to be effective and the replies need to address the concerns presented by the reader in the comments. For the busy Realtor, an in-office or virtual assist might be employed in order to provide as close to real time responses as possible.
Cultivating a working relationship with local home renovation contractors and stagers is a terrific means of generating leads for prospective Realtor leads for prospective sellers in the community. Many people will contact a local contractor to make repairs prior to listing a home for sale, thus they are able to recommend the services of a listing agent and are able to give a real estate professional tips about homeowners looking to contract with a seller’s agent. Cooperative advertising with the contractor provides a symbiotic means for generating leads for both the Realtor and the trades-person.
Home stagers are interior design professionals hired to prepare a home to appeal prospective buyers. Many people who become frustrated trying to sell their home on their own will employ a home stager. By collaborating with a reputable home stager, a Realtor gains access to homeowners in the “For Sale by Owner” category who are motivated to sell their homes as evidenced by their investment of money to make their homes appeal to buyers. Once again, cooperative advertising on each others website is mutually beneficial for both the stager and the real estate agent.
A great means of cultivating Realtor leads is to host online seminars for sellers to educate them about preparing the home for selling, the importance of setting a realistic listing price, issues related concessions, and the conditions in the local market. Many software programs facilitate online meetings with features such as two-way voice chat, power point presentations, and the ability to poll participants. Webinars are another means of establishing a relationship with potential sellers and enhancing the reputation of the seller. Most of the online meeting software programs require participants to register for the meeting in order to receive a code by email for signing into the meeting, thus generating a list of potential Realtor leads.
Another less formal means of conducting a webinar is by utilizing social media. A webinar can be held on Twitter by using a designated hash tag at a specified time. Participants can be notified on the website of the agent, through email, on the blog of the Realtor or in the newsletter of the Realtor. The trick to using Twitter is to be able to convey concepts competently in less than 140 characters. For those not familiar with composing tweets, there are services available online to write a tweet script. The use of tweet scheduler service is not advised because the success of this strategy relies upon real time responses to participant tweets. A similar webinar technique can be used with Facebook.
A web crawler, also called a spider or bot, is an automated specialized computer program used to search the internet for content matching pre-defined parameters. A Realtor competent in web programming can make use of the many open-source web crawlers to gather data (scrape) from FBSO websites. It is essential to establish specific, tight parameters for web crawling programs so the information returned is not so overwhelming to render the data useless. Some examples of parameters include address, zip code, keywords related to “For Sale by Owner,” length of time on the market and the listing price. The information collected by web crawlers can be used to create a database of potential property to contact for listing services. This is particularly helpful to property owners who have had their homes on the market for greater than 120 days. For Realtors unfamiliar with web programming, there are services that develop web crawlers at an affordable price.
It is best to contact real estate leads generated by web crawlers by either email or direct mail. This is a much less intrusive means of contact as compared to telephone calls and avoids potential issues with the Do Not Call List. In the email, be sure to offer respectful suggestions about how to improve the likelihood of the home selling in a reasonable time-frame.
For sellers who own distressed properties, a Realtor can provide access and education about marketing the home in the residential real estate investment market. This market is rapidly growing due to the unprecedented decline in home prices. For sellers who have homes that do not meet FHA guidelines for lending, this is a great option since many investors are cash buyers. To enhance Realtor leads using this method, establish an “investor’s corner” on the website of the real estate professional and inform sellers of distressed properties their homes will be featured listings in this section of the site.
A recent survey by the NAR discovered many Realtors experience a great deal of difficultly using pay-per-lead services. Some of the issues include:
· The high cost of referrals fees;
· The pay-per-lead services provide disconnected phone numbers;
· The pay-per lead services provide information for sellers who are not motivated to list or sell their homes;
· The pay-per-lead services often provide contact information for people only interested in free services;
· The Realtor might receive the same lead from multiple pay-per lead providers;
· The pay-per-lead services sell the same lead to multiple Realtors;
· The leads provided are dated and unusable;
· The leads provide little meaningful information about the prospective seller, for example the lead might provide the location of a lead within a broad radius as opposed the supplying the name of a particular neighborhood.
Best Practices for Real Estate Lead Generation
Given the propensity for both buyers and sellers to use the internet as their foray into the real estate market, the World Wide Web is a treasure chest of Realtor leads for the agent who possesses sophisticated knowledge of internet marketing strategies. The NAR offers the following as best practices for generating leads on the internet:
1. Respond to queries though the same means they were transmitted.
2. Do not call the prospective client unless specifically asked to do so to avoid appearing intrusive or violating the Do Not Call list.
3. Include an email signature and information box on all electronic communication as this serves as an electronic business card.
4. Respond as quickly as possible to correspondence as internet users have become accustomed to receiving information in real time.
5. Avoid inundating contacts with unsolicited information in order to be prevented from being blacklisted as a spammer.