How do real estate agents find sellers?
As the scarcity of homes for sale continues, a seller’s agent with a few listings may be much more certain of closing deals than a buyer’s agent who has many eager buyers. We know the problem is getting listings, but solving the problem is the hardest part. Especially for new agents and buyer’s agents with little to no experience getting new listings.
Let’s start at the beginning. Just having a license does not make you a successful realtor. Years of experience are helpful, but not as much as you might think if you don’t stay up-to-date on both the wider market and your local market. You need to read and learn constantly and that includes networking. Networking alone offers dozens of possibilities, including real estate associations, hosting open houses, subscribing to real estate attorney/CPA email lists/newsletter, and social media platforms like Facebook. But before you even do that, your local market might mean specializing in the resale of single-family homes, new developments, condos, or multi-family units. To be a successful listing agent, you must be the most competent agent possible.
The best thing you can do when talking to potential prospects is to listen to their needs. Most sellers want to sell for the highest price, in the shortest time, and with the least amount of hassle. But not all. Some will be in a catastrophic financial situation that requires raising funds as soon as possible. Others need special treatment to be able to sell their current home and buy their next home. There will be many unique needs that you will only discover by listening carefully. When you talk without listening, you sound like a commission chaser instead of the trusted sales agent your customer wants.
When you speak, make sure your passion and knowledge about real estate shines bright. Tell them honestly how you can help them with the challenges they face. Let them know how it fits into the local market and the solutions you have to offer. This is an opportunity to show them a particular interest and share your current knowledge of the market.
Have a perfected elevator pitch ready to use in situations where you’re talking to people who might not even be prospects. Prepare a short, concise speech at each opportunity that clearly communicates what your company is about and what it does for customers. Don’t tell them what you’re doing. Tell them what you do for them. It helps to have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). A USP is often a slogan such as Red Bull – “You get stimulation of body and mind.” Your elevator pitch and USP should answer two basic questions: What sets you apart from the crowd? Why should they do business with you?
Open houses can be one of your best sources of registrations. Many successful and experienced agents will let you run these events because they find them cumbersome. But for the agent who needs leads, many who attend open houses are looking to move. They may be just browsing, but they’ll have to sell the house they live in before they can move to another. It’s a time when you can use your elevator pitch and follow up with a script that gets them to tell you what they’ll need to sell their home in the future. Make sure you have a very efficient way to collect their contact information electronically. Also direct them to your website to find plenty of suggestions for sellers and how to create unique marketing plans to suit their needs.
There are several general things sales agents need to do:
- Ask for references from past clients. These can be customers who bought through you or for whom you sold. Word of mouth is still the best marketing you pay nothing for. Nothing is more effective than a happy customer who knows, trusts and appreciates your work.
- Have a current, well-designed website that includes past ads you’ve sold, testimonials from past clients, and a sample current market analysis (CMA) you’ve produced.
- Everyone wants to know the current value of their home. With your target neighborhoods in mind, maintain a current, generic CMA that helps keep people up to date with their housing situation in comparison. In addition to being on your website, the CMA can send direct mailings to targeted neighborhoods, email blasts, and newsletters.
- Consider and research good lead generation software that generates, organizes, and nurtures sales leads.
- Look for For Sale by Owner and Expired Listings.
A good starting point is to show a high level of activity in your community. It’s a fantastic way to build a large network that can spread your message further in the community. These don’t need to be real estate-focused networks. While volunteering at a food bank may not be productive, participating with community councils can be just as good as neighborhood watch groups and police/fire public safety committees.
Partner with a well-established listing agent. Even if you have to give some of your first commissions for the privilege, you want to join as a silent partner to learn the intricacies of how they do a sales presentation. When you’re ready to go solo, you’ll have someone to review your first few presentations for errors or anything that was missed.
Work on marketing plans before you even have a list. This is the place to start working on your unique selling proposition. In addition to a basic four- or five-page document, you want a long list of bullet points (50 or more) to choose from when developing client-specific marketing plans.
Again, partner with a well-established listing agent to get their ideas. However, as the buyer’s agent, you already enjoy several valuable benefits. Early on, you can talk to sellers about how many eager buyers you already have. I hope you’ve maintained a good database and relationship with those previous buyers, as most of them will become sellers at some point – maybe you’re right by the time you switch from a buyer’s agent to a selling agent. This is where you want to send your first email outing, newsletter and/or direct mailings. Even follow up with past buyers who couldn’t close a deal a few years ago because they were out of the market. They may have eventually bought a first home and are now ready to sell to move up a gear.
You have also dealt with many listing agents during your career as a buyer’s agent. Create a checklist of techniques you’ve learned from sales agents that you can now incorporate into your business plan. Before you start making cold calls, have your basic marketing plan in place with multiple bullet points to meet the unique needs of the seller and your USP. Then go to as many registration appointments as possible.
Bonus Tip: offer broker price advice to prospects who are hesitant to book an appointment with you or anyone showing a slight interest in selling their home.
There are hundreds of other tips for finding ads. Please share by leaving your comments.
Additionally, our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all levels of experience with residential real estate. Please send your questions, inquiries or story ideas to [email protected].