A Realty Times reader writes:
"I'm a new agent in the Dallas, Texas area. My question is how does a new independent agent get his name out there to get listings? I've been involved for about a month.
Realty Times responds:
The short answer is to build a database, so you can use contact software to maintain a relationship with people you know and meet online. Frequent and steady contact lets them know you take your business seriously and you want them as your clients, which is flattering to anyone.
The long answer is much more complex:
- How do you want to work?
- Who is an appropriate prospect?
- What is an appropriate method of contacting this person?
- How can you get your value as an agent across to that person?
The first thing to do is to focus on acquiring clients, rather than listings. Here are some ways to focus your business:
- Decide what kind of business you want to build.
A common mistake many agents make, especially in a big city like Dallas, is spreading yourself too thin. You've already stated that you want listings, so let's start there. Ask yourself if there is a way to narrow your search for clients with listings. Most agents accomplish this by choosing a neighborhood to farm such as the area where they live, or by specializing in a certain type of home such as new homes in master-planned communities or older homes of historical interest, or condos and townhomes. Is there an area or type of home that interests you? This way you can become known as the expert.
Don't be afraid that you will miss business by not becoming a general agent. You have to keep your time, advertising costs and other limiting factors in mind. If you are going to farm a neighborhood, hanging fliers, mailers and knocking on doors and introducing yourself is a good way to start. You will find your contacts will take you around the city without having to go to the expense of farming the entire city.
- Appropriate contacts are everyone you meet.
Appropriate contacts are people you want to do business with, but have an open mind as to where you can develop these potential customers. While many agents start with family and friends, don't stop there. Remember that people like your dry cleaner, barber, fitness trainer and others you have daily contact with have already met you. It is a lot easier to do business with people who know and like you.
Include groups of people in your database you don't see often, like former school chums, club and church members, sports acquaintances, business networking coffee groups, and neighbors. You'll be surprised how many people you know.
Ask each person for their contact information, especially email, and tell them you want to send them some information about what you're doing and that you hope to help them one day with a move. The worst that can happen is they say no, and the best is that they give you the information that one day leads to a sale.
- Ask permission to contact prospects.
They appreciate it. Ask the people you know and meet how they prefer to be contacted -- by email, business phone, cell phone, and if it would be all right for you to keep them posted about the marketplace. You can do this with email newsletters, postcards, phone calls, and other means.
Your efforts will be appreciated. There isn't a renter who isn't wondering if now is the time to buy. You can keep renters informed about new building projects in their neighborhood, or good deals in affordable properties, and how prices are changing from month to month. People are interested in opportunities, so that's what you want to keep in front of them. So you mix in a few buyers while you're trying to get listings... it's all business.
Most of your contacts, however, will be homeowners. There isn't a homeowner who isn't interested in how well their home is doing compared to the open market. Even if they have no immediate plans to sell, they enjoy knowing that their home is worth X amount more than what they paid. They also enjoy knowing local market conditions that affect the value of homes. Who knows? You might send them a piece of information that encourages them to make a move.
Even though you don't have a lot of experience, you can make yourself sound more expert by paying attention to what is happening locally -- all by reading the local paper and staying in touch with your local chamber of commerce or visitor's bureau to find out what's happening. Your local association should also have meetings and special information for their members so you will know if big deals such as new housing developments are happening or a new company is transferring employees to town.
Realty Times has a wonderful, customizable newsletter for you to email or snail-mail to your prospects. In addition, you can become a Market Conditions Reporter. Like a local weatherman, you report on housing conditions in your area. You can link these reports, as well as your newsletter, to your personal website, and send them out as alerts to your prospects, as well as get exposure on Realty Times. One Denver customer, Realtor Judith Clausen , reported that she has had three clients that came directly from her Market Conditions Reports. Even experienced agents like Judith want to get new clients, so you aren't alone.
- You have value even if you are new to the industry.
Don't worry about being new to the industry -- there is plenty of support for new agents if you know where to look for it. Don't be afraid to quote your local association or MLS when it has homebuying statistics or news to report. Attend association meetings and listen to what the guest appraisers, developers, and city planners have to say. Join a networking group. Keep building your online skills.
Your previous career and school experiences can be valuable to homebuyers and sellers. Use it! If you have ever rented a home, bought a home, worked with numbers, managed or worked with people, decorated a room, bought a boat, scaled up or down in residence, you have valuable insights for your prospects.
You have powers of observation. Listen carefully when people talk, and you'll soon hear those tell-tale signs that they might be considering a change. Drive your neighborhood, and note which houses are looking improved. You'll get a feel for which neighbors to chat up -- is the one putting up a new roof thinking of selling?
People appreciate enthusiasm and are inclined to give new people a chance. If you don't have the answer, say so, but you can immediately follow up by saying you know where to get it.
Get help if you need it. Trail or offer to help a top producer with an open house, so you can watch a pro in action. Don't be afraid to partner with another agent on a listing until you learn the ropes. Take advantage of every training session your broker or association provides. Hire a coach, like one of the fine Realty Times' columnists on Agent News.
Don't lose hope. Getting your name out there is the hardest part, and if you follow these suggestions, coupled with a willingness to serve your clients' needs, you'll soon have enough business to keep you busy.