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By Kelle Sparta

RISMEDIA, Sept. 25, 2007-Let me set the scene for you. It was 1993 and the market had tanked after the intense inflation of the late ‘80s. Interest rates were at 7.5%. The average days on market was 120-180 depending on the area. There were anywhere from 30-100 houses on the market in any given price range per town. Most sellers were upside down on their houses so short sales and foreclosures were a staple of the business. (Starting to sound familiar?)

As for me, I had just moved to the area and so had no sphere of influence to draw from when I got my license two months later. And, I had very little in the way of a budget for advertising.

Not a very optimistic outlook is it? And yet, I didn’t know that. When I told my broker that I wanted to sell 24 houses my first year she said it was an aggressive goal, but not unrealistic. So that’s what I set out to do – and I accomplished my goal within the first 9 months! How did I do it?

1. Ad Calls

In the beginning, I spent as much time as I could on the up desk answering ad calls. I found that I had a real talent for connecting with the buyers on the phone. I made the connection, talked to them about what they were looking for and then got them to come into the office. I got about 30% of my business from these calls.

2. Open Houses

I took every open house I could. I talked agents in my office into having open houses just so I could sit them. Then I converted those buyers into my customers/clients. About 15% of my business came from open house buyers.

3. First Time Home Buyer Seminars

I offered these seminars on a fairly regular basis starting about 6 months into the business. Since many of the people coming to the seminars weren’t buying for a year or more, this only accounted for perhaps one or two transactions my first year, but it accounted for many more in my second and third years.

4. Cold Calling

I got one transaction from cold calling. I got it on the 8th call I made during an assignment for my new agent training class. After asking them what they were looking for, I told them I had seen their house just a couple of days before on our office caravan. I showed them the one house and sold it to them on the spot. Oddly, I hated the other nine cold calls I made so much that I never made another cold call again.

5. Networking and Being Generally Social

I talked to everyone, everywhere. When I was standing in line at the supermarket, walking in the park, shopping for clothes, getting lunch, you name it. I’d talk to anyone. I was also intensely aware of my environment, so whenever I saw someone in need of help with something, I’d offer my support. In this way I met a ton of new people all the time. And we almost always ended up talking about real estate. I got about 10% of my business from this avenue.

6. Advertising

By the end of the first year, I was doing some advertising. I took out a full page ad in my Homes Magazine alternately talking about the benefits of buyer agency or about my experience in moving and how I could relate to military buyers (I lived in a military area). I got about 20% of my business from these ads.

7. Referrals/Relocation

I made friends with the assistant at an office that was just on the outside edge of my market. She would occasionally refer clients to me who were outside of their service range. I also took any relocation referral that came in and I’d take the clients that other agents didn’t want because the deal was too small for them.

Here’s What Set Me Apart

I told the first time buyers that I was new and that we could learn the process together. I made them feel like we were part of a team working together to get their house. We could be excited about it together.

I would go anywhere within a 45 minute radius.

I learned anything I could about financing and taxes and how they affected the buyers and sellers. I could explain to a buyer exactly what the financial impact of a purchase would have on their lives.

I pointed out the positive and the negative aspects of each house so that buyers could make an informed decision.

When they were excited about a property, I gave them permission to buy.

I followed up. It seems that many of these people had spoken with other agents in the past who had just never called them back. I always called back.

I never complained that the market was terrible – it was the only market I had ever known.

Consider how you’re approaching the business right now. How’s your attitude? Are you going out and finding business or waiting for it to come to you? The next time you are tempted to complain about the state of the market, pick up the phone and call a prospect instead. You’ll be glad you did.
Kelle Sparta is the author of The Consultative Real Estate Agent – Building Relationships that Create Loyal Clients, Get More Referrals, and Increase Your Sales, as well as being a speaker, coach, and trainer specializing in the real estate industry. Kelle is the founder of Sparta Success Systems, a real estate training company that provides tools, coaching, and training to empower agents and brokers to create lives and businesses they can love.

For more information, visit her Web site at

© 2007, Kelle Sparta. Used by permission.