RISMEDIA, April 9, 2010—Talk to real estate professionals across the country and you’ll hear a variety of war stories. These days, a challenging marketplace has made for interesting times and a bevy of tactics and strategies to garner more business. One of the bright spots, however, is the first-time home buyer.
Thanks to decreased prices, low mortgage rates and the home buyer tax credit, first-time buyers are playing a more important role in markets across the country than ever before. For brokers and agents, this not only presents a solution for the here and now but a tremendous opportunity for the long-term. Today’s first-time home buyers are tomorrow’s steady clients.
As statistics go, for many first-time home buyers, the home they purchase now is merely the first of many over the course of their lifetimes. While closing the deal today is critical, it is just as critical to maintain and foster these relationships moving forward—something we’re not doing a good job of as an industry.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 96% of consumers consider their real estate agent to be a friend at the close of a transaction, but less than 20% can recall the name of that agent 24 months after the purchase of their new home, and only 11% will use the same agent more than once.
To help sustain first-time home buyers over the course of their homeownership lifetimes, many brokers are enlisting the help of technology to automate the process at the company level, ensuring their agents are guaranteed to keep in touch, stay relevant…and be remembered.
According to Sue Meyer, president of Coldwell Banker DFW in Dallas, the first-time home buyer tax credit has had an important impact on her business. “Business really picked up toward the end of November when everyone thought the credit was ending,” says Meyer. “This has now carried through with the extension of the credit. We’re doing tax credit seminars in all of our 19 branches—agents are running with first-time buyers.”
As a real estate veteran of 25 years, however, Meyer knows that cultivating first-time home buyer business is essential to long-term success for her 800 agents. “There are so many first-time buyers out there right now…I believe they’ve surpassed 40% of our business,” she reports. “We want to keep these buyers as customers for life.”
To achieve this goal, Meyer stresses to her agents the importance of client follow-up and to make sure it happens, Meyer recently signed on with Lenexa, Kansas-based The Personal Marketing Company (TPMC). Thanks to TPMC—a company Meyer used to boost her own successful sales career 25 years ago—Meyer can now offer her agents an automated follow-up system that puts personalized information in front of clients on a regular basis.
Meyer utilizes two programs from TPMC for her agents: a postcard program and a five-year program, where, for $25, agents have four items sent to a client each year, including a letter thanking them for their purchase, a magazine and postcards. The agent’s name, of course, appears on everything. All the agent has to do is sign up their client after every closing.
“I wanted it as simple as possible for the agent,” says Meyer, “and cost effective. This process is automatic for the agent—they