Lowe’s Supercharged Programs for Consumers Help Build Business for AgentsBy Stephanie Andre
In a climate that’s all about cutting back on expenses, nothing means more to consumers than being able to spend less. Whether it’s saving money on home improvement projects after buyers move in, or when sellers are preparing their home for market, the Lowe’s program for Realtors® helps agents pass along valuable savings to their home-selling and -buying clients. In this exclusive interview, Mark Malone, vice president of Consumer Marketing for Lowe’s, explains how the program not only puts dollars back into the pockets of consumers, but also builds client relationships for future-minded Realtors.
Stephanie Andre: Given the economic climate we’re currently in, from an overall perspective, what is Lowe’s doing to help Realtors in their business endeavors?
Mark Malone: As we all continue to forge ahead in this tough economic environment, Lowe’s is committed to supporting the real estate community in any way we can. We will continue to make enhancements to the free marketing tools provided in the Lowe’s program for Realtors. These new features, such as digital e-coupons and bilingual coupon options, will help Realtors more effectively reach their clients in a more personal way.
Lowe’s also recently added a coupon to the site to help agents involved with a foreclosed home or short sale. Whether the agent purchased the home themselves or passes the coupon on to a client, this coupon will help the owner with the renovations on their new investment. Our free Realtor programs, whether targeting the agent or their clients, are our way of showing our commitment to the real estate industry in any economic climate.
SA: How will these programs and offerings help Realtors assist their buyers and sellers?
MM: Through the Lowe’s program for Realtors, agents are able to pass on valuable discounts and information to their clients, which will, in turn, help them sell their existing home or settle into their dream home. Whether a seller or new homeowner, clients will benefit from the 10% Lowe’s discount, home improvement tips, helpful videos, monthly newsletters and more.
SA: Why are home improvement projects-whether large or small-so important toward selling a home? How does it help increase appeal for buyers?
MM: Lowe’s understands that buyers want to envision themselves and their families in a home. There are several key home improvement projects a seller can do to appeal to a buyer. The Lowe’s program for Realtors provides details of these projects, as well as a discount for purchasing the materials for the project. Visit lowes.com/homewise for more information on the projects Lowe’s and MONEY magazine recommend.
SA: With most of us on a budget, if sellers only have a few projects they can afford to take on, where will they get the most bang for their buck? What are some small projects that make a big impact with buyers?
MM: Buyers like to envision themselves in the house. This is easiest to do if any personal belongings are removed. Start by clearing out the clutter and installing closet organizers. Sellers can make closets look larger if they organize their belongings and put away personal items. A fresh, clean coat of paint always makes a huge impact-we recommend warm, neutral tones. A minor kitchen remodel can also help; for example, installing new hardware on the doors or replacing the countertops can help make an outdated kitchen look updated. All of these projects require little time, money and effort but really help your house stand out. For more information, click here.
SA: Equally important to the health of a home is maintenance-how can Realtors educate their buyers/sellers (i.e.-tips, help, etc.)?
MM: Last year, the Lowe’s program for Realtors introduced the Inside Out monthly e-newsletter. The program member can sign up to have the newsletter e-mailed to their clients on a monthly basis. The newsletter contains innovative products, home maintenance tips, as well as periodic discount offers. For more information, click here.
SA: What are some of the most important things buyers and sellers should be focusing on when it comes to home maintenance?
MM: Maintenance is extremely important for the home-after all, it is typically your largest investment. We suggest keeping a list by season, with service providers’ names and phone numbers. A few key maintenance items include: keeping your gutters clean in the fall; disconnecting any outside hoses before the first frost; changing air filters regularly and examining the weather stripping and caulk around windows and doors. For more information, click here.
SA: Energy efficiency is another key component toward the value of a home-are there some simple steps that sellers can take to make their homes more energy efficient?
MM: We have lots of ideas available at http://images.lowes.com/2008/energy/pdf/Top5WaysToSaveMoneyEnergyAndWater.pdf.
SA: What type of energy-conscious features should buyers look for in a home?
MM: There are several:
-EPA ENERGY STAR® products-appliances, lighting fixtures, windows/doors, programmable thermostat
-EPA Water Sense® products-faucets and toilets
-A high-efficiency washer and dryer
-Good insulation, including: making sure the weather-stripping is in good shape; that the home is well-caulked; that the home has the proper amount of insulation in the attic and walls; that the water heater is wrapped and insulated
-A good HVAC system
-Dimmer switches, motion sensors, and timers
See Lowe’s Energy Efficiency Survey by clicking here.
Determine Energy Efficiency opportunities in your region here.
SA: What energy-efficient features should Realtors look to add to their listing presentations?
MM: There are several features a Realtor should highlight during a listing presentation. First, does the home carry an efficiency certification? Is it an Energy Star-Certified Home? LEED-H Certified? Does it have a state program certification?
A Realtor should also highlight the cost of the home’s average utility bill, pointing out that it is X% lower than the local average. A completed home energy audit from the local utility company is also important in a listing presentation. Be sure to point out specific energy-efficient features of the home, such as: Energy Star products, like windows, appliances and lighting; a high-efficiency laundry; Water Sense products; and any other “green” products the home may include.
Sometimes the Little Things Mean the Most
Consider the projects-both big and small-that can make all the difference for your clients in their efforts to sell, or even just improve, their homes:
Projects with Payback: The best renovations allow you to make the most of your space while adding beauty and style to your life. There are plenty of easy and cost-effective ways to transform one’s home. From design techniques that turn an ordinary basement into a welcoming family room to reconfiguring a closet to accommodate many belongings, there are a number of ideas, plans and projects that Lowe’s can help your clients with.
Smart Maintenance: A little effort goes a long way when it comes to living comfortably and taking care of your home. Teach your clients how to plan and prepare for the routine maintenance a home needs, along with tackling any unexpected repairs so they can ward off any big problems before they occur. Routinely changing the furnace filters, regularly letting the steam out of the radiators and checking for leaks beneath the hot water heater will all help keep up the home’s maintenance in the long run-and save the homeowner quite a bit of money.
Saving Money: An efficient home often holds up better over time-especially the appliances-and can enhance the value of a property when it comes time to resell. Your clients will cut down on energy costs and feel better about being so environmentally conscious. Learn more about energy efficiency at lowes.com so you can take an active role in helping your clients make their homes more efficient and cost-effective.
Sometimes the most difficult part of a project is where to begin. For this, Lowe’s has you-and your clients-taken care of, providing a bevy of vehicles for you to deliver helpful home improvement information. These tools will help your clients prepare their homes for potential buyers so they see it at its best, can envision themselves in the space and believe that they got the best deal around.
Lowe’s how-to videos-Lowe’s provides complimentary how-to videos, complete with information from start to finish. These helpful videos will guide you through the most popular home improvement projects.
Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine-Lowe’s Creative Ideas is a bimonthly printed publication full of great ideas for home and garden. Lowe’s Creative Ideas contains great ways to get started on a new home or help prepare a house to be sold. Creative Ideas is a free publication, courtesy of Lowe’s. Through participation in the Lowe’s program for Realtors®, you may subscribe your clients to this publication at absolutely no cost.
Inside Out newsletter-Lowe’s professionally designed newsletter, Inside Out, offers Realtors (through the Lowe’s program for Realtors) the ability to automatically e-mail their entire client base. Each e-mail comes with monthly tips on selling, buying and moving; the ability to educate clients about innovative products and projects around the home that yield the highest return; and important home maintenance tips. The e-newsletter also offers a biannual Project Starter coupon for special savings at Lowe’s.
Are You a Lowe’s Program for REALTORS® Member?
If not, check out some of the great benefits, all at no cost. From one, central location-LowesRealtorBenefits.com-Realtors can log in with their NAR membership ID and begin managing their database of clients and free kit of customizable tools provided by Lowe’s.
Friendly to both the computer novice and tech-savvy agent, the Web-based program includes:
“Buyer” and “Seller” cards, including a “create your own card” option. Realtors can tailor the direct-mail pieces with tips and photography that resonates with their clients’ needs.
Through Lowe’s partnership with HGTV, Realtors can send out customizable e-mails inviting clients to view the latest videos from HGTV and download exclusive savings from Lowe’s.
A monthly e-newsletter-Inside Out–with helpful content and a biannual $10 off $50 project starter that Realtors can automatically send out to their entire client base. This tool helps Realtors educate their clients about innovative products and projects that yield the highest return on investment.
A six-day-a-week e-newsletter to Realtors-Daily Real Estate News. The e-newsletter offers agents the most current information on industry news, housing-trend information, business development and more.
The ability for clients to visit www.LowesCreativeIdeas.com/subscribe to sign up for a free subscription to any one of Lowe’s three custom publications, including Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine.
Automatic notification on direct mail: Realtors are notified when a direct-mail piece has been sent out on their behalf, prompting agents to contact their clients and remind them that a special offer is on its way.
Plus, coming soon…
E-coupons delivered to your client’s inbox with a Lowe’s coupon offer.
Bilingual coupon options to help you talk to your clients more effectively.
Customizable gift cards-Put your photo on a Lowe’s gift card and send as a closing gift.
Foreclosure coupons-Involved with buying or selling foreclosed properties? Lowe’s can help with special discounts and offers.
For more information, visit http://www.lowesrealtorbenefits.com/.