By Jack Sternberg
While the latest numbers have existing home sales up a minimal 0.4 percent in November, we all know the reality: The real estate market is experiencing a downturn that may not have hit its bottom just yet.
The good news is people are still buying houses and they always will; it just takes more old-fashioned hard work to get the job done. Savvy Realtors can compete in the current housing climate by focusing on finding buyers and concentrating on giving them what they want. While curb appeal and staging are still necessary, here are some advanced sales tips for a profitable year.
Conduct buyer seminars. Offer to give informational (and free!) classes at your local civic or religious center, updating people on the current market conditions. You can teach them how to buy a house even if they’ve been turned down before, and give advice or referrals on how to repair credit. This will not only position you as an expert in the field, but it also gives you access to a fertile, prequalified group of potential buyers.
Solicit apartment complexes and tenant-occupied properties. While this may seem fairly obvious, it’s important that you have appropriate marketing materials targeted to this audience (e.g., showing them how and what they can own for the same payments as their rent) and a strategic approach to contacting these potential homeowners.
Buddy up with title companies. Often they’ll have deals that fall apart, and many of those deals were attempted without a Realtor involved. Gaining access to that list will yield names of interested and motivated buyers and sellers.
Solicit FSBOs. FSBOs are very often newbies in the real estate game and aren’t really sure what they need to provide potential buyers who come to look at their house. Offer FSBOs helpful documents, such as floor plans, sell sheets, etc., in return for prospects that didn’t like the FSBO’s house for whatever reason. And the FSBO may eventually call you to give you their listing if they get frustrated by long sell times, which is prevalent in this market.
Talk to agents going out of business. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there are more than 2 million registered real estate agents. NAR also estimates that between 40 percent to 80 percent of new Realtors quit the business before their first anniversary, and 90 percent by year three. Despite their struggles, many of those have built a list of interested buyers that would be worth adding to your database.
Establish your own Web site. Face the facts, it’s the 21st century. Most people do some of their research on major purchases online, and a Web site that displays your personality, not to mention your listings, is a necessity. It’s easy and inexpensive to get started (domain listings start at just $9 a year) and in this day and age having a Web site is simply a must.
Market your previous clients. This is another seemingly obvious tip that too many Realtors overlook. Your past clients are your most fertile ground for referrals, and repeat sales, but can only utilize your services again if they remember your name! Sending a regular newsletter updating past clients on your latest successes will remind them what being a Realtor is all about and let them know you are still making your clients happy.
Partner with reputable mortgage brokers. Mortgage brokers recently have had their requirements tightened by their lending partners, and probably have said “no” more times in the past few months than in the two or three prior years. Partnering with a reputable mortgage broker can offer a win-win situation. In return for access to the list of turndowns, you offer to help them in a monitored credit repair situation, which then become buyers who may possibly qualify for a loan from that same mortgage broker.
By focusing on how to find buyers, and in some instances how to help buyers help themselves, a Realtor can have a prosperous year even in a down market.
Jack Sternberg is a nationally recognized expert on real estate investment and the creator of the renowned “Buyers First Program” who’s been in the business for more than 30 years. Sternberg’s deals have totaled over $750 million and he’s been to the closing table more than 1,500 times. For more information, visit www.askjacksternberg.com.
Copyright 2008 Agent Publishing LLC