In a real estate market facing a severe lack of homes for sale, agents could really use a secret weapon—something to shake up the status quo of the listing and selling game…something to help them compete in a low inventory market.
“Finding homes is the No. 1 challenge in my market,” says Andrew McGranaghan, a third-year agent with Coldwell Banker Wallace and Wallace, REALTORS® in Knoxville, Tenn. “Dealing with a lack of listings, handling multiple offers and appraisal issues and everything that comes along with a severe inventory shortage is frustrating for the buyer and stressful for the seller. We have a good market with a lot of activity, but low inventory creates a major challenge.”
Coldwell Banker believes it has come up with the solution: CBx Seller Leads. Introduced in May as an extension of the brand’s CBx Technology Suite, CBx Seller Leads identifies households that are most likely to sell—before they raise their hand and reach out to an agent. According to Coldwell Banker Vice President of Product Development and Communications Zoe Horneck, the original CBx product, for years, offered the brand’s brokers and agents a way to harness big data, win listings, serve existing sellers and more easily find eager buyers. Now, Coldwell Banker has taken it to the next level, expanding the value of big data for real estate by adding proprietary algorithms and machine learning to the data in the original CBx product to fuel the entire CBx Technology Suite and give brokers and agents access to market intelligence they can’t get anywhere else.
Using Data to Predict the Future
McGranaghan was among the beta testers for CBx Seller Leads. “Coldwell Banker used big data from previous sales, publicly available demographic information and other characteristics of sellers to compile a database that identified households that might sell soon, before they actually showed an interest in selling…meaning I could be the first agent to reach them. And there are a lot of advantages to being the first agent to contact the seller.”
CBx Seller Leads lets agents know which households might soon be ready to sell, and ranks those households by how likely they are to sell. CBx Seller Leads does this through two proprietary algorithms that use machine learning and aggregate data streams from multiple sources. What’s more, agents are clued into the reasons why someone may be headed toward selling, such as an empty nest, a new job or a baby on the way.
“Not only does the program predict someone’s next move; it gives agents context to personalize their interaction with the homeowner to help seal the deal,” says Horneck. “The same data that drives our original CBx Listing Experience tool now provides a way to rate households in terms of how likely they are to list—and how soon. This allows our brokers to distribute high-value prospects to agents who can start nurturing those leads and developing them into sellers.”
The driving force behind the creation of CBx Seller Leads was agent need, something of top priority to Horneck given her background not only in digital customer experience, but also as a licensed real estate agent. While the first offering in the CBx Technology Suite was met with great enthusiasm, Coldwell Banker Real Estate continued to look for new ways to turn the raw data into valuable insights and information to meet the needs of the network.
“We continued to look for ways to make agents more productive,” says Horneck. “On top of that, we were faced with the industry issue of low inventory. We found that the old methods of generating leads were falling short. Just working your sphere of influence and using paid lead-gen services wasn’t delivering. We knew we had the ultimate currency: data. If we could project when someone was likely to move, it would help fill that listing gap for agents.”
Felicia Hengle, president of Ohio Operations for Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies, understands this firsthand. Overseeing 15 offices and 410 agents, she’s acutely aware of the challenges today’s real estate professionals are up against.
“Market conditions have been favorable for a while here, but there continues to be a shortage in seller inventory,” Hengle explains. “One of the reasons why CBx Seller Leads is so timely, and certainly a value proposition to our agents, is that it allows them to identify sellers before they raise their hands. Using predictive analytics and big data to put seller leads in the hands of agents is transformative. Plus, these leads are free. Agents will buy leads all day long, but these are actually far more qualified.”
One of Hengle’s top agents participated in the beta test for CBx Seller Leads and was blown away. A specialist in the luxury market, Anthony Colantuono was also an early adopter of the CBx Listing Experience; according to Hengle, “it’s the one thing in his arsenal that helps him get business every single time.”
The CBx Listing Experience app is used to help agents win listings with an interactive pricing component that allows for listing-specific adjustments based on the seller’s input regarding upgrades and special features of their home. “The seller can be involved with the agent in obtaining a price for their home,” says Hengle. “Then, using big data and predictive analytics, the app can help identify where the most likely buyer is going to come from, allowing the agent to better target their marketing and drive those potential buyers to the property, decreasing market time. Anthony is so impressed by the accuracy of the pricing component, that he actually goes out and teaches other agents how to use the CBx Listing Experience.”
Now, with the addition of CBx Seller Leads, the CBx Technology Suite drives even more business for agents. And the proof is in the pudding. Coldwell Banker piloted CBx Seller Leads in 16 different markets; during the pilot, leads converted at twice the industry average.
Making Marketing Matter
“Based on their online behavior, CBx Seller Leads identifies the likelihood of a potential seller turning into an active lead in a given period of time,” explains Hengle. “It might not be today or next month, but CBx Seller Leads gives you a predictive way to stay in contact with the prospect. If an agent is very listings-driven, they can really showcase their skillset, demonstrating how they market listings and what they do to get them sold.”
CBx Seller Leads goes beyond identifying potential sellers by getting granular about who they are. Prospects are grouped by profiles, allowing brokers to distribute the leads to agents who have expertise in working with particular types of sellers. “If one broker has an agent who works really well with empty nesters, for instance, the leads for that profile can be assigned to that expert agent,” explains Horneck. “The agent would then start nurturing those leads immediately, whether that be by knocking on doors, making phone calls or sending letters and postcards. We like to think of it this way: We provide all the accessories—you pick what you wear for the day.”
For McGranaghan, a program like this helps him see real ROI on his marketing efforts. “As a REALTOR®, you’re trying to figure out what will work with marketing and advertising, and this is light-years ahead of the typical throwing darts at a board. With CBx Seller Leads, you can be extremely targeted and very personalized in your marketing approach based on the information Coldwell Banker provides. You can design a letter or a call campaign based on why it’s a good time to sell and be really targeted in your messaging. It’s far more strategic than the current methods out there.”
The ability to focus his prospecting strategies gives McGranaghan an important competitive edge. “You’ll see much better results from your advertising and call campaigns,” he explains. “If I reach more sellers, but actually make fewer calls, that’s a huge win. Now I can go out and sell without spending so much time prospecting.”
The First One There, Wins
The end game, of course, is winning listings in a market environment where homes for sale are sparse, and that’s usually all about getting there first. That’s what makes CBx Seller Leads stand apart—it allows agents to not just get there first, but actually before everyone else.
“There are no triggers,” explains Horneck. “Typically, with other paid lead-gen programs, a potential seller will raise their hand by requesting an estimate on their home or refinancing. Those are triggers that would set off that lead. We don’t use triggers. We use data to find similarities with selling behavior, then use profile types to know how to market to that prospective seller.”
According to Hengle, this presents a significant competitive advantage for agents. “They’re going to be a step ahead by having already established contact with the seller before the seller even goes out to market,” she explains. “Most sellers interview only one agent and go with that agent, so if you’re the first one there, your chances are exponentially increased.”
McGranaghan agrees. “[CBx Seller Leads] allows you to establish yourself as the local expert so that when the homeowners finally come to the realization that this is the right time to downsize, for example, they think of you first. It’s so important to be the first person to reach a potential seller before they’ve shown an interest in selling. By the time they get on Zillow, it’s too late to establish yourself as the expert.”
Building Business on Many Levels
CBx Seller Leads is also a great tool for buyer’s agents looking to break into selling. A broker can send them a few seller leads to work and help them quickly get productive on the listing side of the business.
The program also serves as an important recruiting and retention tool for brokers, whether to help new licensees hit the ground running or target listing specialists on agent teams. “It’s a way for experienced agents to increase their sphere of influence, and something brokers and managers can talk about when bringing in potential recruits,” says Horneck.
Hengle concurs. “From a leadership perspective, this is a powerful recruiting and retention tool. It’s a secret weapon,” she says. “No other broker has a technology platform like this. It’s unmatched in the industry.”
Simply put, for McGranaghan, CBx Seller Leads is a game changer. “In a competitive market like this, with listings being key, you have to list to last. You control the market if you control the listings. Any tool like this that gets you in touch with sellers before other agents is a huge advantage. That, combined with the brand recognition of Coldwell Banker, helps agents win more listings, which in turn, drives buyer traffic to you from having that listing, and you can pick up multiple sales from each seller.”
At press time, Horneck was excited to start hearing feedback on the national rollout. “Feedback is really big for us. Our team can’t wait to learn from it and see how everyone is using it,” she says. “We want to optimize the tool as much as possible and continue to build out our tech suite to help our agents and brokers.”
“Ultimately, technology driven by big data and predictive analytics is vital to long-term success,” says Hengle. “At its core, real estate is still a relationship-based business, but technology now drives so much of what we do. The most successful agents use technology as a tool to propel them to success, and something like CBx Seller Leads gets them in the door—first, even—and then they can blow away prospective sellers with their know-how and expertise. If you’re a real estate company that has not embraced cutting-edge technology, you will be left behind. There’s so much data and information available to us now. Successful companies are the ones that use it to set themselves apart from the competition. With CBx Seller Leads, the cutting-edge technology is here and available to us. Embracing it is key to sustaining and growing your business.”
For more information, please visit www.coldwellbanker.com.