“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the
product or service fits him and sells itself.”
— Peter F. Drucker: was an influential writer and management consultant
KNOW YOURSELF, KNOW YOUR CLIENTS
People like to interact with others who are like them. This basic premise is a key to successful interactions with buyers and sellers. At the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Anaheim on Sunday, real estate trainer Jackie Leavenworth walked a crowd of about 80 REALTORS® through the DISC system – a method of understanding behavior and personality – and how to use it to meet clients’ needs.
DISC identifies four major elements of personality: dominance, influence, steadiness, and compliance. Dominance is the need for control and challenge; influence, the need to interact and persuade; steadiness, the need for security and stability; and compliance, the need to follow standards and be accurate and cautious.
To start, know yourself (Leavenworth recommended taking a DISC test online), then marry your natural behavior and style to match those of your client.
Buyers and sellers give clear indications of their personality type in the way they answer open-ended questions (influencers will talk about how party-friendly their home is, while those high in the compliance aspect will list the facts about the house, for example), their voicemail message, their home decoration choices, and even level of clutter.
Shape your tactics and approaches to match those of the clients you are working with, Leavenworth advised. She suggested tactics that are effective for each personality type:
- For sellers high in dominance, lay out the process and ask how they’d like to be involved.
- For influencers, make the process fast and easy.
- For steadies, provide frequent updates about how the process is going.
- For compliers, be fact-based.
Do you need to change who you are to work with clients whose personality is very different than yours? Not necessarily, Leavenworth explained. You can learn how to adapt to provide what they need. If that won’t work for a particular client, the smartest approach might be to partner on the listing with another agent and share the commission, she said.
FREDDIE MAC HITS REO SELLING RECORD
Freddie Mac has sold a record number of single-family REO homes in the first nine months of 2011, and the homes are selling for an average of 94 percent of market value, Tracey Mooney, Freddie Mac’s vice president of single-family servicing and real estate owned properties, said in a blog post.
“Because our homes are well maintained and priced right for the local market and home buyers, most of our homes sell close to full estimated market value,” Mooney says.
Freddie Mac sold more than 80,000 REOs in the first nine months of 2011.
“We are selling more homes than we are taking in through foreclosure,” Mooney wrote in the blog post. Mooney says Freddie’s REOs are selling in about 4 months or about 120 days, on average.
Most of the REO sales are to owner-occupants. “While we have always been open to selling to investors, our strategy is to limit the concentration of investor sales in any given area,” Mooney wrote. “In addition, we do not typically consider any offers that require significant discount pricing.”
ONE THING THAT STILL CONCERNS US
There is no doubt that the housing market is stumbling to a recovery. This past week Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, predicted a 4% increase in sales next year. Last month, Celia Chen of Moody’s Analytics projected sales to increase over 20% in 2012. Any increase in transactions will be welcomed.
However, we believe there is one headwind that could jeopardize a recovery: fragile consumer confidence. Consumer sentiment, as measured by the University of Michigan, has seen modest improvement in the last few months after nose diving over the previous several months. Moving forward, any hit to consumer confidence will impact a real estate rebound.
Prices are predicted to soften through the first two quarters of 2012 before reaching modest levels of appreciation by year’s end. Falling prices will force more homeowners into a position of negative equity. Being underwater is one of the triggers that cause people to strategically default on their mortgage obligations. If this happens, there will be an increase in the number of foreclosures. This, in turn, could cause a relapse in consumer sentiment.
We believe that there will be a dramatic increase in residential real estate transactions (both existing sales and new construction sales). The only thing that may stand in the way is a loss of confidence in a housing recovery. The next six months will tell us a lot regarding this possibility.
6 LOW-COST MARKETING IDEAS TO GET NOTICED
You don’t need to break the bank to expand your marketing efforts and build connections, marketing expert Julie Ryan, e-PRO, with Strategic Thinking in Australia, told a crowd at the Marketing Without Money session during the 2011 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Anaheim. “If you have a tight budget, you tend to be more focused on making sure every single dollar works harder,” Ryan said.
Regardless of how large or small your budget is, make your marketing message stick by focusing on three core areas: Impact (offering up a message of value to clients), frequency (making contact a minimum of at least three times in three weeks to get people to remember you), and building relationships to form lasting connections, Ryan said.
She offered up some of the following low-cost marketing ideas at the session:
1. Offer congratulations: Scan the local newspaper in search of good-news stories, such as people in the community earning an award or a job promotion, and then send a note congratulating them on the feat. That pat-on-the-back recognition makes you memorable and helps you build connections with people in your market, Ryan said.
2. Provide a special touch: To give your message more impact, print out an invitation to an open house for your listing and roll it up and tie it with a ribbon. Then, place it in door hangers on neighbors’ doors, mail the rolled-up invitation in a cylinder, or even hand-deliver it.
3. Show time: Create videos showing off your listings and post them on sites like YouTube to expand your reach. Also, consider creating videos of your community that explain what it’s like to live and work there, or that answer common real estate questions, Ryan suggested.
4. Try location-based social media: Sites like Foursquare aren’t just for checking-in to local areas, but you can use them to leave tips and relevant, helpful information at every single location your customers are likely to frequent (such as local restaurants or where to find the best views in the city).
5. Be a valuable resource: Once you’ve identified something your customers are interested in, set up a Google Alert to monitor that topic so you’ll get a notification when something matching those keyword terms surfaces on the Internet. You can then pass the message along through an e-mail or quick phone call to let your client know about something they may not know about yet. It’ll help you build stronger connections with consumers, Ryan said.
6. Reach out to the community: Instead of just writing a donation check to schools or charitable groups, try offering up an award that you can present or hosting a special event with community involvement. For example, present a book award at a middle or elementary school to a student for a job well done, or hire the local elementary school band to play at your upcoming auction or as part of a special event at your office.
TIPS FOR SELLING A HOME IN THE WINTER
Traditionally, the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day can be some of the slowest time of the year for home buying due to the holidays and the often less-than-perfect weather. But that doesn’t mean sellers can’t sell during the winter months. In fact, with decreased inventories, sellers may have a better chance to standout and face a buyer pool with more urgency to settle down.
Experts offer some of the following tips for selling a home in the winter:
Stage it: Stagers can arrange furniture so that selling-points in a home don’t get overlooked, paint rooms inviting colors, and have the know-how to give a home a cozy winter feel. Display photos of the home that also show it in warmer summer months. And don’t forget to turn up the thermostat in the home so buyers are comfortable from the moment they step through the door.”If you have a vacant house in winter with the heat turned down to 50, chances are someone will make a very low offer,” Loren Keim, a real estate broker, told the Associated Press.
Price it right: “If it’s priced properly, it will sell any day of the year,” Katie Severance, a broker for RE/MAX in Upper Montclair, N.J., told the Associated Press.
Show the way: Keep sidewalks and driveways clear of snow, ice, and leaves–giving potential buyers a clear path to your listing’s front door.
Light it up: There’s less daylight in the winter months so it’s even more important to keep all the lights on as well as open blinds and drapes for natural light. Keep the home well-lit even when you’re not there so the home still looks inviting to passersby who drive by in the evenings after work.