By Stephanie Andre
RISMEDIA, March 18, 2011—By now, most in the real estate community have realized that things may never be the same as they were during the boom and that the key these days is getting back to what works…and for many agents that means staying in front of their past, present and future clients. That said, making sure you stay connected is no easy task. It takes time, energy and, at times, a considerable amount of capital.
Realizing this need, Texas-based Frogpond, a provider of communications solutions for agents, last year launched the Housing Trends eNewsletter (HTEN), a monthly e-newsletter agents can e-mail to their clients and prospects to easily provide factual information that will affect their housing decisions.
The eNewsletter is filled with local and national real estate sales and price activity provided by MLSs and the National Association of REALTORS®, U.S. Census Bureau key market indicators, consumer videos, blogs, a real estate glossary, mortgage rates and calculators, consumer articles and REALTOR.com local community reports. The eNewsletter, delivered monthly, can be shared via e-mail, your website, blog, e-mail signature and social media sites…all at no cost to the agent.
What It’s All About
With more than 33,000 agents currently signed up for their clients to receive the eNewsletter, it seems to be hitting on all the right points. What’s more, the National Association of REALTORS® selected the eNewsletter as one of its tech tools for its 2010 Right Tools, Right Now initiative, and many organizations, including Keller Williams International, Texas Association of REALTORS®, Miami Association of REALTORS®, Houston Association of REALTORS®, CRMLS (CA), SoCalMLS, MREDLLC (Chicago area MLS) and REALTOR.com are offering it as well.
“The eNewsletter offers us, as agents, such an easy way to stay in touch with our clients,” says Susan Kaczorek, an associate broker with RE/MAX CSI Realtors in Pittsburgh. “It’s effortless communication. As agents, we’re always looking for a way to connect with our clients. You’re getting that name recognition each month, which is vital.”
For Nancy Kowalik, the eNewsletter’s topical and on-point information has been most important for her clientele.
“Everybody wants to know what’s going on in the real estate market these days; it’s obviously a hot topic whether you’re ready to buy and/or sell, or not,” explains Kowalik, an agent with Century 21 Hughes-Riggs Realty-Mull in Mullica Hill, New Jersey. “When people hear the word ‘trends,’ they immediately want to learn more.”
Atlantic City, New Jersey-based Ginger O’Neill agrees. “There’s great information offered each month,” says O’Neill, an agent with Argus Real Estate. “My clients know what to look for and what to expect. As a buyer, it’s easy to look at it and view the housing trends in the local market to compare homes and pricing.”
San Antonio, Texas’ Enoch Elliott knows this firsthand. He saw the eNewsletter and was looking for an agent to send him monthly updates of it so he can make the best housing decision possible.
“I’m blown away by the ability to be able to access the breadth of data provided by Housing Trends eNewsletter,” says Enoch.
What’s more, for Kowalik the eNewsletter’s also been a conversation starter for some clients who might not otherwise want to pick up the phone and call right away.
“I have had some past clients who are afraid to talk to me or anyone, really,” she explains. “They are worried they are wasting my time asking for advice or are just embarrassed by a situation they are in. The eNewsletter offers them the opportunity to learn more about our local market and also opens the door more easily for us to talk when they are ready. They’ll say, ‘I saw this or that in your eNewsletter’; it’s a conversation starter.”
Social Media Savvy
Besides the monthly, customized e-mail that is sent to the agents’ clients on their behalf, the information is also easily shareable via social media and the agents’ websites through a personalized URL that each agent receives. For example, it would read, http://xxxxxxx.HousingTrendseNewsletter.com.
For Kowalik, the personalized URL is great because “I use Facebook and Twitter a lot so I can incorporate the information there as well,” she says. “I use a dashboard that updates both social networking sites at the same time so I am able to send out this information with the click of one button.”
Kaczorek, too, couples the eNewsletter with her social media efforts. “Everything changes so much these days,” she says. “I’m using social media; I’m texting. The phone has become kind of old school, so to speak, so you really have to be networking online.” Offering the eNewsletter information this way is just one more way to stay in front of people.
Through postings on Facebook and e-mail, Kowalik says she’s received some great comments on the eNewsletter, which means two things: it’s providing great information and people remember her for it. “They are commenting on the good information they’re reading,” she says. “It’s a starting point for conversation, which is great, and it offers them an easy way to get back in touch with me.
“It’s a non-threatening way to talk with me without putting a face on it,” she adds. “There are a number of people in my neighborhood that are underwater on their mortgages. They need to downsize and are embarrassed. They’ll say on Facebook, ‘I loved your newsletter. By the way, my sister is moving to the area and is looking for a smaller house. Can you help?’” It breaks down the barriers and allows a conversation about housing to begin.
Kaczorek has had similar experiences. “I’ve had lots of great comments,” she says. “People tell me that they watch the housing inventory through my newsletter. What’s been great for me has been how well received I’ve been by my past clients. They’ll say, ‘Glad to hear from you. I’m looking to buy a rental property.’ Before this, they might not have contacted me at all.
“By using the eNewsletter, I’m staying out there. It’s effortless and makes me look very professional, which is exactly where I want to be.”
For more information, visit www.hten.com.
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