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Building Listings Inventory as a Pathway to Sales

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The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of Realtors® and Steve A. Brown, NAR’s Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.

Moderator:
Steve A. Brown
, Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR

Participants:
Bill Plattos, Executive Vice President, First Team Real Estate, Irvine, Calif.
Bob Mahoney, General Sales Manager, Sibcy Cline REALTORS®, Cincinnati, Ohio
Jason Waugh, President/CEO, BHHS Northwest Real Estate, Portland, Ore.

Steve A. Brown: The housing market has made a great comeback. Home prices have surged. But with inventory in some areas at a 13-year low, and the spring selling season looming, savvy agents understand we need to bump up inventory and find the most creative ways to get more houses on the market. We’ve invited some industry go-getters to address the topic—executives who’ve spent enough time with their own boots on the ground to have a good feel for what it takes. Bill, how are you and your agents getting hooks in the water these days?

Bill Plattos: I think it starts with being tuned in to what a seller wants and needs. Are they ready to retire? Is the family expanding? Are they ready to downsize—or relocate? You can only know that by staying in touch and maintaining a relationship. That means regular phone calls and an occasional knock on the door—maybe drop off a little gift along with some local market insights. Assuming you go out of your way to provide the best information, that kind of regular contact is what keeps you in people’s minds as the real estate person they can trust…and the person they will call when they need answers or know someone else who does.

Bob Mahoney: Face-to-face visits have distinct value—although there’s nothing wrong with using targeted technology to reach out and touch people on a regular basis. Every quarter, we send a comprehensive market analysis to more than 50,000 of our company’s past clients. We let them know about neighborhood activity, new developments, stats on how the market is changing, etc. And we look for opportunities to use social media in positive and informative ways. You never know what tidbit of information is going to push somebody into action.

Jason Waugh: There’s no question technology gets results. So do newsletters and blogs in any format. But it’s important to remember that not every contact needs to be business-related. Birthdays, anniversaries and holiday times are great reasons just to say “hi.” In fact, our company pays for three cards a year from the agent for three years after a closing. It’s another good way to keep you top of mind.

SAB: It seems to me that every agent has in his or her database a subset of what I call “raving fans”—the past clients who love you, who consider you “the best” and who wouldn’t dream of doing real estate business with anyone else. That’s the group you want to reach out to first, isn’t it?

JW: Sure, but it’s just as important to expand that base. People who took themselves out of the market earlier can be a great source of new listings. Get in touch with all the sellers you can find who cancelled, withdrew or let their listing expire two years ago or more. What happened back then? Has their situation changed? You want to get the conversation started.

BM: What you’re saying is, look backward, not just forward. Look back to the people you spoke with briefly at an open house last summer, or the guy who called in once for information. Looking back pays off when the people you met briefly six or eight months ago finally get ready to list.

BP: As managers, we try to develop marketing programs that put agents in a good place to make new contacts…photos with Santa, an Easter egg hunt, a variety of community events and fundraisers. It’s a comfortable way to build the personal relationships that may one day turn into listings.

SAB: Thanks everyone. Excellent ideas all around!

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