End of year is a great time to build prospects for upcoming year

By Jim Droz

Realtors are in the fourth quarter of what’s been another roller-coaster year for housing in many parts of the country. But this isn’t the time to sit back and assess the damages or reap the rewards of the year to date, depending on your circumstances.

The following item, written by Jim Droz, a successful Realtor who writes tips for various HouseHunt newsletters, points out the importance of the final few months of each year for real estate agents:

I was sitting in the conference room with head in hands, head pounding and a heart rate of at least 180. I had been on a binge for the past three months by overindulging in holiday merriment, relaxation and spending. My thought had been, “What the heck. Nobody buys or sells a home during the holidays. I’ll just enjoy the festive times and crank it up again after the first of the year.”

From Oct. 1 to early January, I had almost completely ignored my real estate business. Now I was paying the price for my errant behavior. It was Jan. 22 and my credit card bills had just arrived – $23,987.34. I owed Visa and MasterCard that total but didn’t have the money to pay either!

I had “cranked it up” shortly after New Years Day but the results were dismal. I made cold calls, contacted expired listings and hit For Sale by Owners. When I introduced myself to potential home sellers, there was no level of recognition. I was just another agent among thousands. This was my third year in the business but it appeared I was starting over from scratch. Where had I gone wrong? Why was every January such a train wreck?

As I sat at the table, I could see Joyce again adding to the “Sold/Listing” board. Her total was now eight listings and five pending transactions, all since Jan. 3. Out of the 52 agents in the office, Joyce was the only one who always had a great first month of the year. It was time to investigate.

“You’ve put 13 contracts on the board in the last 19 days. It’s January, for gosh sakes!” I said to Joyce. “The rest of us are just getting our engines started. What the heck are you doing?”

Joyce responded: “It’s not what I’m doing. It’s what I’ve done.”

She then asked me when the real estate market really heated up each year.

“I guess people start thinking about buying and selling homes as soon as the holidays have ended,” I replied.

“That’s right!” she said. “And who do those home sellers and buyers call when they’re ready to get active in the marketplace?”

The questions were getting harder, and I had to admit I didn’t know.

“They call the agent who has kept his or her product in front of his or her targeted consumers,” she said. “In other words, the agent who has stayed in touch with his or her clientele during the holiday season gets the call.”

Joyce said she used each late-season holiday as a base to correspond with clients in her database and targeted neighborhoods, as well as former customers and new contacts. She explained that most consumers are in great spirits during the holidays and receptive to seasonal contacts. And her holiday activities created a level of recognition that made January one of the most productive months of her year.

Her message stuck with me and made a dramatic difference for the rest of my career, with nearly 33 percent of my future annual production coming from recognition that stemmed from holiday activities. I no longer had to restart my career each January, and the transition into a new year was much smoother.

Here are some good ideas for late-year contact with current and potentially new clients:

Halloween

E-mail and/or deliver Halloween greeting cards.
Host a client-appreciation costume party.
Work with local schools to provide Halloween safety tips.
Have a neighborhood home-decorating contest.

Thanksgiving

Have pumpkin pie or turkey drawings.
E-mail and/or deliver Thanksgiving greeting cards.
Send or deliver pumpkin pie recipes or tips on turkey preparation.
Collect food items for the needy.
Volunteer at food kitchens.

Christmas

Collect toys and food items for the needy.
Deliver inexpensive gifts to targeted neighborhoods.
Sponsor Santa photo shoots, or implement a “letter to Santa” program.
E-mail or send holiday greeting cards.
Have drawings for gifts or have home-decorating contests.
Sponsor children’s coloring contests.

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