I use Google trends a lot when writing. And one of these “relevant trends” comes up whenever I search for real estate as a search term. It used to be contingent and contingency. Now it is “what does contingent mean in real estate”.
A contingency is a limitation on a home sale or home purchase provided a condition or two are met. It used to be that Contingencies were something that get offhand mentions, except in a few deal cases. For example, where a buyer has to sell their current home before buying a new one. Or where a seller has to go with a higher offer.
Yet one of the most important contingency types nowadays is the appraisal contingency. Why? Because almost half of buyers buying now are bidding on homes sight-unseen. The appraisal contingency tells the seller, a buyer is going to withdraw the offer if the home’s value or features online do not match up to real life.
The point is; understanding what’s going on in the market with regards to your sellers’ and buyers’ state of mind might just be the difference between a drought in new leads and a well-rounded real estate lead gen strategy.
My deduction is that whether as a home seller or buyer, the ability to cover your tail seems to be critical right now. If as a real estate agent, you are not offering checks and balances to the fears in your prospects’ minds, you would justifiably have a hard time attracting new leads.
So, what can you do as a top producer to get your mojo back on?
Not Much Anyway… But don’t wait it out
Buyers are still searching for homes (many of them moving downtown) and home prices have risen fairly.
But Data from the Federal reserves bank of St. Louis shows that months’ supply of homes for sale has been plunging down since 2019.
It looks like an incredible amount of homeowners believe in timing the market.
Now the majority are in wait-and-see mode. Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor believes “This is not a normal year when it comes to the housing market. There are very real obstacles to selling. Buyers and sellers need to go into the process with an open mind and with the unexpected in mind.”
Kristina Morales, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home services thinks there might be opportunity for sellers who make the move now. She says in a LifeHacker interview, “While many sellers may be holding off until things become ‘normal’ again, I think there is a real opportunity for those sellers who need to sell now”
Even though sellers are now returning to the market, the majority of sellers are motivated sellers and the pre-existing problem of low inventory still lingers on. Here are some takeaways from Realtor.com’s housing market recovery index:
This is a selfish one – but real estate investors are banking on deaths and divorces at a greater rate now.
So what should you do?
Not much actually. But don’t just fold your hands.
Figure out ways to farm motivated leads in your market without appearing obnoxious e.g
- Geo-targeted ads to folks planning a move, using Google ads.
- Geo-targeted cold calls to folks planning a move, using Redx Geoleads.
- Retargeted ads on Facebook and/or Google to folks visiting select resource pages on your website.
- Buy high quality leads.
Remember, if you are not investing in lead generation for your business, other businesses are.
Create reassurance with content… Few people are providing it.
Jeannie Walters, Certified Customer Experience Professional says:
“Today, customer anxiety levels are higher anyway. Plus, your customers are likely carrying extra concerns:
- Safety and wellbeing
- Disrupted routines of everyday life”
Just as business owners need leads, customers want reassurance. But providing reassurance goes past a “message from the CEO”. You want to be consistent and
1. Be relatable: share your own stories.
2. Provide a degree of warmth and empathy in your emails, social media posts and web content
3. Create more timely and highly relevant content.
Real estate influencer, Bill Gassett of RE/MAX Executive Realty says,
“While many facets of the real estate business have changed due to Covid-19, my lead generation techniques have not. One of the staples of generating business has been my blog and it continues to be. Providing consumer friendly knowledge on a regular basis has provided the opportunity to be out in front. When you are providing consistent helpful information and market it, you become the local expert.”
Walters suggests “gathering and brainstorming questions sellers have during this period”. For example, a roundup of questions homeowners have about moving.
Create a sort of Covid 19 FAQs for sellers in your market. Make it easy to access this information. This page is probably going to rank high on Google since it ticks the box on relevancy.
Create something not too fancy like real estate broker Kate Watson’s page or design an email newsletter series exploring these questions.
You can also update past guides and pillar content to reflect new changes like this updated guide to condo real estate financing that does this mildly.
Hard to trust the stats… put up real “before and after” pictures
Homes are being shown and closed via private tours, virtual showings and sight-unseen purchases but most sellers are still skeptical. As the saying goes, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.
Homes moving fast in your market and above listing price? Good. Show us some proof.
It’s not bogus to say that stats in many markets are exaggerated. But the stats aren’t going to move the needle anyway. We are still social creatures, moved to take action by validation from other people.
In a survey by G/O Digital, an overwhelming 80 percent of people said they’d be more likely to purchase if they saw positive user reviews on a company’s Facebook page. Home sellers would be more inclined to sell if you provide more positive social proof from sellers on your social pages. Amp up:
- Pictures of closings and “in contract” deals
- Reviews and testimonials on your website, Google and Facebook page.
- Unique “before and after the sale” stories
- Shout outs to new and past customers
- Pictures and clips of your “new normal” – how do you handle showings, drive by closings…?
Stay consistent with top-of-funnel leads
This might be overkill but a hard sales truth is that it takes an average of 8 touches from lead to meeting.
This is where lead nurturing comes into play. You wouldn’t call or reach out to someone with just one ad and expect massive conversions. Even if you’re Ogilvy, it’s not going to happen. Figure out a multi-channel way to reach customers.
A simple multichannel strategy for real estate might be:
- Buy high-quality real estate leads
- Qualify – offer some great promise on a landing page
- Reach out and create a nurture sequence – a mix of value and selling
- Cold-call these prospects
- Reach out and retarget via Facebook ads.
50% of multi-channel marketers say they usually or always hit their financial targets.
Double down on video
There is a huge opportunity, especially with video marketing at this time and new technology adoption is creating more branding opportunities.
- By the end of 2020, the average person will watch 100 minutes of video content per day
- 6 in 10 social media users expect their Youtube usage to increase
A lot of businesses are slashing marketing budgets. According to a recent study, 76% of companies planned to slash their advertising budgets for 2020.
According to Realestatebees’ recent large scale survey of real estate agents, about 12.5% of agents reduced their marketing budget to less than 25%, 21.4% of agents reduced their marketing budget to 25-50%, 12.5% of agents reduced their marketing budget to 50-75%, about 50% of agents didn’t adjust their marketing budget at all, and about 3% of agents increased their marketing budget to up to 50%.
But, the fact that many businesses have turned to video conferencing apps like Zoom over real facetime shows that the current situation is a great time to leverage video marketing for your business.
So what’s the takeaway from all these?
As a realtor or investor, it isn’t a random guess that your sales pipeline had gone or has gone soft at least for a while since the start of the pandemic, you probably lost a couple of deals and had meetings and visits cancelled at the last minute. And if so, here are three ways you would or have addressed the situation:
- Keep filling your pipeline with new leads (buyer/renter leads).
- Figure out innovative ways to reach sellers (and reposition expectations).
- Proactively nurture old prospects and customers (and spend little effort, money and time on new leads).
Yet, whichever strategy you run with if you’re not making it easier for sellers to get on a call or showing them how drive-by closings work and giving them information on contingencies, provisions (local and state) and other protective measures you’ve employed to support their interests. If you’re not actively supporting their goal(s) without gimmicks or sleazy sales tactics, you’re going to hurt your business.
Disclaimer: This is a guest contribution from Agnes A Gaddis. Agnes is a freelance blogger and writer from Absecon, New Jersey. She writes in-depth SEO content for real estate B2B businesses. She’s a lover of mystery novels and heist movies. Follow her on Twitter @AlanaGaddis.