RISMEDIA, April 18, 2007-Every type of seller-be it the resident homeowner, the investor or the second-home owner-has unique issues. Within each group there are different market segments based on price, geography, ethnic background, age, new construction versus resale buyers, etc. So how do agents improve their skill level in working with sellers?
An agents' responsibility is comprised of much more than the simplistic activities of completing forms, placing a sign in a yard, taking a picture, and submitting the information to the MLS database. According to Tom Mitchell, senior vice president of the Seller Agency Council the agents function as a trusted counselor in what is most likely the most significant financial transaction most of their clients will ever complete. The Accredited Seller Representative (ASR) course teaches agents their responsibility in the process and how to facilitate a smooth process flow, minimize the stress that the seller will feel, anticipate trouble spots, deliver all of the services required, be attentive to detail, negotiate on the seller's behalf and put the seller's best interests first.
Opportunities to prospect are literally present everywhere says Mitchell, whether it's meeting people at the school PTA meeting, Rotary or church, being on the board of the neighborhood homeowners association, volunteering for local charities and/or civic organizations or establishing a monthly or biweekly networking breakfast club with business people from other industries to share leads. This kind of consistent networking, informing others that you are an experienced agent does produce leads. A softer approach is to ask these acquaintances if they know of anyone else who is looking to buy or sell a home locally or in another market (outgoing referral). Asking for referrals is always an important part of prospecting, as is consistent follow-up with past clients.
These everyday opportunities to prospect abound, yet too many agents could be successfully accused of being undercover agents. No one knows that they are real estate professionals, despite the fact that there are many casual meetings and conversations every day that can be turned into opportunities to prospect. Here is a sampling of some of the basic prospecting opportunities and sources:
The Captive Audience – Standing in lines at service businesses provides a captive audience of those individuals who are around you. The agent's business card is the simplest and cheapest form of marketing. Agents should pass out at least 20 business cards a week. In return, ask for a prospect's business card. Business etiquette requires that you ask for permission to contact them to discuss their real estate needs and to determine the best time and place for such calls.
Direct Mail – "Just Listed" or "Just Sold" notifications cards can be mailed to neighboring residents. Although it is not required by law in many states, a disclaimer may be included stating that if the home is already listed this is not an attempt to solicit their listing or interfere with the listing contract.
Free Reports – Agents can utilize a "free report offer" to drive phone calls. Ensure that the free report has value. Sellers alike are looking for ways in which to save time and money in the home selling process. Because society today worries about the technology of caller ID, when advertising a "free report offer," it is very useful to have a toll-free 800 number that will capture their phone number even if they have Caller ID block or anonymous caller identification. This allows you to follow up while staying in compliance with the National Do Not Call Registry.
Builders – Agents will find that many builders will work with real estate associates to market new construction, particularly in small developments which do not support an on-site sales staff or in tight markets like the one we are experiencing today. Agents working with builder clients need to have an understanding of their pricing limitations, some knowledge of new construction, and how to work with buyers' associates on a registration basis.
Corporate Prospecting – Many agents that have left a previous profession have the opportunity to return to their former colleagues to market their new skills. They may also be able to work with human resources directors of those companies to offer real estate services as an employee benefit, including seminars, newsletters, etc.
Clubs and Affiliations – An agent's life outside of real estate offers many prospecting opportunities, including professional, athletic, school, civic, neighborhood, church/synagogue and charitable organizations. These clubs and associations are another opportunity for you to provide real estate services, including seminars, newsletters, etc. as a means of meeting potential sellers.
The Sphere of Influence – This broad term refers to all of the friends, family and other individuals with whom you are acquainted and who should be in your prospecting database. Remember, there are always potential sellers within your sphere of influence. Reminding friends and family that you can assist them or others they know with their real estate needs should be part of an agent's prospecting strategy; don't just assume this business will come automatically.
Networking Leads Exchange Groups – It may be beneficial to form or join a group of a dozen or so business people from various industries for the purpose of sharing leads for prospective customers, broadening your reach to people you might not otherwise encounter. These groups are all around you but don't hesitate to begin one on your own.
Door to Door Prospecting and Door Hangers – In today's security-conscious environment, this approach is much less effective than in the past, and also is not appropriate for certain types of prospects. Having said the, there may still be markets in which it can work, particularly if the calls are made to homeowners near a house which you have listed.
These and many more tactics are covered in the Accredited Seller Representative (ASR) designation course – guidance that cover "back basic" tips to advanced "grow your market share" strategies.