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How to Open the Door to New Clients

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RISMEDIA, Nov. 3, 2007-In a market where interest rates are low, supply is high, and buyers are few and far between, real estate professionals need to find creative ways to catch new buyers who often come with unlimited referral potential. Home buyer seminars are an excellent way to increase business while getting your name out in the crowd.

Your role as the real estate professional is to educate consumers about the people involved in the home buying process – the buyer’s agent, seller’s agent, mortgage lender, appraiser, and home inspector. Your goal is to get the consumer to recognize and appreciate your knowledge in the real estate field. Your expertise could be the deciding factor when buyers decide what agent to work with.

Basic Structure of the Seminar: Introduce everyone’s roles in the buying process. Your seminar should also touch on the process of shopping for a home, making an offer and counter-offer, and introducing the financial obligations of the home buying process.

Successful buyer seminars need to be well planned and executed. Your thought process should begin weeks ahead of time with the following items in mind:

- Location and date: Some say that you shouldn’t have the seminar at your real estate office – it is too intimidating for the potential client. A community meeting room such as a local bank or library should work just fine and it provides a non-pressuring learning environment.
- Agenda: It is a good idea to include relevant speakers at the event – a mortgage lender, home inspector, and/or home warranty sales representative to go over their role in the transaction. You and your speakers should be prepared to answer common questions that buyers ask – Why should I hire you? How can you save me money? Why should I use your lender or inspector? Don’t forget to allow time at the beginning to welcome your guests and to introduce the speakers. Also, hold time at the end for questions.

A well thought-out agenda should include the following points:

- Introducing yourself, your speakers and their roles and credentials in the real estate process.
- Preparing the buyer for what to expect in the home buying process.
- Choosing a mortgage lender. Understanding the current mortgage market and the pre-approval process. Calculating how much house they can afford and understanding how the sale of a current home will factor into the process.
- Viewing properties that meet the buyers’ criteria and price point using the Internet.
- Determining the true market value of the home.
- Preparing an offer, the negotiating process and the counter offer.
- Understanding the contract, disclosures and agreements.
- The home inspection and appraisal processes.
- Home warranty benefits.
- The closing table – the title company’s role and procedures.
- Sponsor: Can someone help you with the costs of the seminar? Mortgage companies, inspectors and moving companies are all possible sponsors
- Refreshments: Be sure to have drinks and light snacks available. Hire a caterer if needed.
- Advertising: Buyers will not come to the seminar if you have not advertised it well. One good way to get your name out in the community is to increase your PR activities. Submit articles or write a column for the local newspaper, offer to take questions on a local radio show, volunteer your time for a charity. Send a press release via e-mail to all local news print, radio and media outlets. If your name is recognizable, buyers will come to the seminar.

Be sure to send invitations to your prospects via mail and e-mail; pin flyers up at local grocery stores; advertise on your Web site. Send invites to an apartment building in the area. Many of these renters could be in the thought process to buy a new home. Be sure to have them RSVP, so you can get a count ahead of time.

Qualifying Buyers: To help you determine the “hot” leads vs. the “warm” or “cold” leads from the seminar, it is a good idea to have the attendee fill out a survey at check-in time to help you separate the leads. Some questions on the survey should include:

- Are you working with a salesperson or broker? If yes, whom?
- Do you rent or own your current home? If you rent, when does your lease end?
- Do you plan to get out of your lease early?
- Have you been looking for a home? If so, how long? How do you find listings?
- How much of a down payment do you have?
- Do you have a budget for monthly payments?
- Do you have a current home to sell? Is it listed?
- What is your price range? Are you pre-approved with a lender?
- If we find the right property for you, are you prepared to make a decision now?
- How can I reach you? What times are you free to view properties?
- How would you like me to communicate with you? Please provide your e-mail address, cell phone and home phone.

Follow-up: Your seminar won’t be successful unless you follow-up with these prospects. Create a follow-up plan and stick to it. It will pay off. Send thank you letters to the attendees and speakers. Call each attendee for feedback on the seminar and ask follow-up questions from the survey that they filled out.

Start planning your next seminar!

For more information, visit http://www.hwahomewarranty.com/.

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