Good Drip Campaigns Can Lead to a Flood of Clients

By Jaime Westman

Drip CampaignMillions of people watched the Super Bowl in January, with many not knowing the difference between a first down and a touchdown. But the networks and advertisers couldn’t care less about the viewers’ sports knowledge. The latter was more than eager to take advantage of the opportunity – at $3 million-plus per ad – to put their companies, products or services in front of a captive audience’s eyes.

Many of these company ads didn’t introduce or discuss the quality of its product or service. They didn’t say their chips tasted better or their cars drove smoother or their beverages had superior flavor. It was mostly about humor, name recognition, glitz, shock value or creativity.

So why would giant companies spend millions of dollars on advertising without trying to establish an image of product supremacy? It’s because they understand the power of repetitive exposures, or, what we call in the real estate, the power of a drip system. Continue reading Good Drip Campaigns Can Lead to a Flood of Clients

Converting Mickey Mouse Prospects

By Jim Droz

Existing-home sales fell in June amidst contract cancellations, according to the National Association of Realtors.

NAR president Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., said home sales should be higher.

“With record high housing affordability conditions thus far in 2011, we’d normally expect to see stronger home sales,” he said. “Even with job creation below expectations, excessively tight loan standards are keeping many buyers from completing deals. Although proposals being considered in Washington could effectively put more restrictions on lending, some banking executives have hinted that credit may return to more normal, safe standards in the not-too-distant future, but the tardiness of this process is holding back the recovery.”

Existing-home sales did rise marginally in the Midwest and South, but all regions are down from the same time last year. The Midwest is now a staggering 14 percent below June 2010. The South is down 5.6 percent.

The region that has the most ground the recover is the Northeast, which fell another 5.2 percent in June and is now down 17 percent from June 2010. The West is the closest region to breaking even, down only 2.6 percent from a year ago.

“Home sales had been trending up without a tax stimulus, but a variety of issues are weighing on the market including an unusual spike in contract cancellations in the past month,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “The underlying reason for elevated cancellations is unclear, but with problems including tight credit and low appraisals, 16 percent of NAR members report a sales contract was cancelled in June, up from 4 percent in May, which stands out in contrast with the pattern over the past year.”

Builder confidence is up, however, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

“The improvement in builder confidence in July is a positive sign that the outlook perhaps isn’t quite as bleak as was feared in June,” said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a home builder from Reno, Nev. “While builders continue to confront serious challenges with regard to competition from foreclosed properties that are priced below replacement cost, inaccurate appraisals of new homes, and a very restrictive lending environment for new home construction, select markets are showing gradual improvement as consumers begin to take advantage of very favorable buying conditions.”

Going hand in hand with builder confidence, nationwide housing starts rose 14.6 percent in June, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

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Bruce LaMaster on Lead Response Time

By Jaime Westman

Real estate agent Bruce LaMaster knows the importance of quick responses in today’s fast-paced world. The owner of LaMaster and Company in Folsom, whose office covers about 15 cities in Northern California, has a protocol to follow when a lead is received.

“The team member assigned to that territory will check our database to determine if the lead is new or a returning lead that has been assigned to a team member,” said LaMaster, a member of HouseHunt’s Hall of Fame. “If it’s a new lead, we attempt to call within the first 15 minutes, but no longer than an hour after the lead comes in. Regardless of the outcome of the call – answered, not answered or bad number – everyone gets an e-mail immediately, in addition to being set up on our MLS search system and our 28 touch action plan.”
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If an agent is unavailable when a lead arrives, LaMaster said another team member is alerted and a prompt response is made.

“Being on the road is really of no consequence since cell phones, laptops and mobile hot spots know no boundaries,” he said. “I can follow up a lead, check the database and set up the MLS and action plan and usually never leave the highway.” Continue reading Bruce LaMaster on Lead Response Time

Make Sure the Home Listing Price is Right from the Start

By Jim Droz

Converting Mickey Mouse Leadsa>Even though you’ll never sell a house to Mickey Mouse or Fred Flintstone, you’ve likely received e-mails from these guys in the past. Maybe you’ve even heard from George Jetson, Dudley Do-Right or Yogi Bear as well.

Unless it’s Halloween, these people obviously don’t exist, but real people did type in those names when looking at your real estate site. And since they’re looking, chances are they’re thinking about buying a house. But is it a good lead or a bad one? Since you don’t know at first, you have to treat it like the former unless you get a bounce-back or other error message immediately after responding.

If any portion of the lead has what appears to be valid information, it needs to be worked. If it’s a good e-mail address, a personal e-mail from you should say something like this:

“I got your request for homes and I respect your desire to remain anonymous and not speak to me yet, so I’m setting you up to receive listings in your area and when you’re ready to talk we can customize the search to your exact needs. … Even if you’re not looking to buy for a year or two or need help with credit issues, I’d be glad to help any way I can. I’ll stay in touch via e-mail as long as you want to keep getting information. Thanks for visiting my site. Feel free to e-mail or call me anytime.”

If humor seems like an appropriate ice-breaker, perhaps your response could start with

“Hey Fred, Wilma here. Don’t forget to pick up 10 pounds of brontosaurus for our burgers tonight;” or maybe, “Hey Yogi, don’t forget we need hot dogs for our picnic this weekend.”

Then you can get into the nitty-gritty of your message. Continue reading Make Sure the Home Listing Price is Right from the Start

Agents in the Business of Thinking Long Term Will Have the Best Careers

By Jim Droz

Get a job! Say what? Most real estate agents would be offended if someone yelled that sentiment at them. But the statement is true because when you pursue a career in real estate, you’re not getting a job, you’re opening a business. And to prosper, you must think along those lines.

The dictionary defines employee as “a person employed by another for wages or salary.” Employees work scheduled hours and perform tasks determined by others. They have limited responsibility and their ability to prosper is in the hands of others.

These are difficult times in the real estate industry, but agents still can control the important things by thinking like a business owner and treating the profession as a career. When things slow down it’s time to invest a greater percentage of your time and income back into the business. If other agents pull back or pull out of the industry altogether, that’s a greater opportunity for you to increase your market share.

In every market atmosphere there are going to be people who have to sell and others who want to buy. Because the number of existing buyers, hopefully for the time being, is shrinking, you need to get a greater percentage of those who are still in the marketplace. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, but following this blueprint is a good place to start. As a business owner, you must: Continue reading Agents in the Business of Thinking Long Term Will Have the Best Careers

Fast Responses are the Quickest Way to Closing More Transactions

By Jim Droz

Add first responder to the tasks required of successful real estate agents. Relax. There’s no need to rush out and get CPR training or learn the Heimlich maneuver. You just have to have a quick trigger finger when it comes to responding to leads.

A recent study by a company called Lead Response Management broke down response times into hours and minutes with surprising results. Agents who respond to leads within five minutes have a 93% chance for follow-up success, with the figure plummeting to 3% for someone who waited half an hour. Even the difference between five and 10 minutes was significant, with the success rate dropping from 93% to 23% during that five-minute span.

The reason an agent’s chance of making contact with a lead is better in the first five minutes is because the potential client is thinking about real estate and likely still on the computer searching for homes. This means they’re in a good frame of mind for a contact and likely have the time to respond to your message or answer the phone. Continue reading Fast Responses are the Quickest Way to Closing More Transactions

Clients Need to Know that Pricing it Right from the Start is Best Way to Go

By Jim Droz

The price isn’t always right with real estate clients these days. Home values have taken a hit the past few years, and people who want to sell their homes are often surprised by the difference in the price they want and what they can realistically expect. Some are even angry, and objections get raised.

Getting sellers to realize that their home isn’t worth what they expected is one of the trickier jobs agents have had to deal with since the housing bubble burst. And while it’s getting better in some cases, it can still be a volatile situation.

“The sellers are becoming more aware of what to list their particular homes for, so the list price to sale price is much better than it used to be,” said Leslie Woods-Hulse, an agent in northern Virginia. “Also, the appraisers, who have gone through some pretty stiff scrutinizing to do their jobs, are appraising the properties at for what they’re really worth in today’s market. But it still can be a touchy subject and needs to be handled with tact.”

Here are four examples of pricing situations and responses that might work best: Continue reading Clients Need to Know that Pricing it Right from the Start is Best Way to Go

Sales Goals Are a Must but Only Work if You Believe They Can Be Accomplished

By Jim Droz

People with careers in sales often sell themselves short by not getting all they can out of their potential and abilities. It’s easy to get frustrated, particularly in real estate these days, but there are four task combinations that must be combined to build a successful life and career: motivation/need, belief/confidence, destination/goal and plan/direction.

Motivations and needs must exist beyond a simple desire. Just wanting something is rarely motivation enough. Our minds know the difference between a need and a desire. This knowledge causes us to think and act accordingly. Instead of merely setting goals based on what it is you want, base them on what you absolutely must have.

Belief and confidence are rooted in your subconscious. If we don’t believe success is an option, that absence of confidence saps the energy needed to perform productive activities. A fear of failure restricts our actions and limits our accomplishments. And, of course, to make things more complicated, the only way to eliminate a fear of failure is through achievement. So it’s a Catch 22 situation. There are hundreds of self-help books available, but the only way to become a believer is to experience success.

Destinations and goals work separately but move us in the same direction. Goals allow us to measure progress, and, when they’re reached, reward us for the effort. But if we set our goals too low, we tend to underachieve. If we set our goals too high, our spirit is crushed and we stop believing in our abilities. The key is to set goals that are ambitious yet attainable. To do so, take these steps: Continue reading Sales Goals Are a Must but Only Work if You Believe They Can Be Accomplished

Good Agent Service is a Process That’s Constantly Evolving

By Jim Droz

shutterstock_29902456(1)The Internet and the ability to access information on a variety of topics have made some jobs obsolete. But even though buyers are more educated in today’s housing market because of a slew of online sources, a real estate agent can’t be taken entirely out of the process. And never should be.

There’s no substitute for feet-on-the-ground knowledge, and that’s what only a good agent can provide. He or she knows the ins and outs of the community regarding home values, trends, schools, recreation, ordinances and employment opportunities. Some of the information consumers glean from certain websites is incomplete, and therefore inaccurate. It’s up to you to set them straight. But don’t disregard the research they’ve done. Embrace it, because it shows they’re savvy and committed to buying. Continue reading Good Agent Service is a Process That’s Constantly Evolving

Handling Client Concerns Takes Step-by-Step Practice

By Jim Droz

Going to law school isn’t a requirement for getting a real estate license, but agents must sometimes feel like they’re in a courtroom because of all of the objections flying around during transactions.

Potential bumps in the road and objections from clients are of particular concern, however, because of the personal relationship that is developing. Easing client fears, treating them as equals and having informative discussions are crucial to the best outcome for all involved. A top professional knows how to ease client concerns and how to encourage a buyer or seller to take action in a direction that is in his or her best interest. This doesn’t just happen naturally, of course, so preparation is paramount.

Remember, you’re dealing with emotions and finances, both potential tinderboxes. So it’s important to have a few guidelines. Here are five steps that will help:

Listen to the objection.

Validate it. If it makes sense, let it stand; if not, respond appropriately.

Empathize by telling them you understand how they feel because you’ve run into the situation on numerous occasions.

Explain to them how going in another direction might be in their best interest.

Seek affirmation by asking if they understand your reasoning and if they agree.
Here’s an example you’ve likely experienced recently: Your client wants to price his or her home $20,000 over comparable properties so there’s room to negotiate. Here’s how you can put the five steps into practice in this scenario:

Continue reading Handling Client Concerns Takes Step-by-Step Practice