Thinking of Selling? Christmas Might Be the BEST Time to Start!

Christmas houseNobody puts their home on the market during the Holidays, right?  Who needs the disruption?  And, beside that, what potential homebuyers are out looking at this time of the year?  Lots of people think about selling in December, but they usually delay putting the house on the market until the new year.

And, that may not be the best strategy!

Zillow reports that the week between Christmas Day and New Years Eve is the busiest time for home searches on their site. More consumers look at real estate on Zillow between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 than at any other time of the year!

These are people who have a little time off from work to spend with family.  They consider their housing situation and make plans for the coming year. They start looking at what’s available, at what they  might be able to do.  That’s why home searches spike on Zillow during this important week.

You could do what most sellers do, which is to stay off the market (and miss this prime search season) until the middle of January.  Or, you could do the bold thing that might produce the best result for you:

Put your home on the market on December 26! 

Now all of those people searching will find your home.  That, coupled with a powerful Help-U-Sell Marketing program could produce lots of showings.  Co-ordinate with your Broker to hold a special Open House over New Year’s weekend  . . . and you may be looking at multiple offers on New Year’s Day.

Sometimes the best strategy is to discover what everyone else is doing and do the exact opposite.  If your competition is waiting to sell, now could be your best opportunity.  Contact your local Help-U-Sell office today and let us show you how we can deliver maximum exposure during this important marketing period.  And then, plan a big celebration for the New Year!

Eight Things You Can Do To Get A Listing TODAY!

Here is a post from 2012.  The market was a little different back then.  We still had a lot of upside down homeowners, lots of Short Sales and quite a few REOs.  Still, there’s good stuff here.  Challenge yourself!  See if you can’t get one by nightfall!

Can you get a listing today?  I’m waiting . . . can you?  Let me rephrase the question:  If you were to be hung by the neck until dead at sunset if you didn’t get a listing today, could you get one?  I thought so.  Getting a Listing is something you can DO in real estate.  You can’t force a sale, you can’t force a closing . . . but you can DO a listing.  You can get one.  It is always within your power.

And today, more than ever, a listing is precious.  Inventories are so low right now and prices are inching (and in some cases, racing) upwards.  Multiple offers abound and the person with listings is in the driver’s seat.  But listings are also hard to come by.  Many potential sellers are sitting back, noticing the upcreep in prices and thinking: ‘If I just wait a few months maybe I won’t be so upside down . . . ‘

So, what can you do TODAY to get a listing?  Here are 8 ideas:

1.  Call all of your past clients.  It’s a simple dialogue:  you need their help.  Inventory is drying up, buyers are frantic to find something.  Have they heard of anybody thinking of selling?  I would be surprised if you didn’t uncover at least 1 listing lead for every 20 calls.

2.  Call all of your fence sitting, luke warm potential sellers and heat them up!   They’re not doing themselves any favors by waiting.  The bargains are disappearing rapidly and while they’re waiting for a few percentage points gain in equity, they’re missing opportunities.  Here – use this set of graphics from Help-U-Sell University:

I love that graphic.  Unfortunately, the improving market of the past four years has made it a bit irrelevant.  Today, if you want to heat up a fence sitting seller, work on where they want to go.  Spend an hour or two showing them houses, get them excited about moving.  And if they’re moving out of state, start that referral relationship early and have the other agent help get them motivated. 

3.  Pull all the expired listings for the LAST 12 MONTHS – that’s right, a full year’s worth – and drop them a note about the improving market, the scarcity of listings and the fact that you can save them money!

4.  Choose one of your buyer clients who is hot to trot but having trouble finding a suitable home.  Working with them, isolate the one or two perfect neighborhoods for them.  Then make a flyer with their photo and some humanizing detail,  saying they’re looking for a home in that neighborhood.  If you’d like to sell, contact Help-U-Sell.  And put your ETM on the back.  Deliver it however you’d like:  snail mail, Excel’s mailbox stuffer program, slide it under the doormat . . . although if you’re trying to beat the hangman at sunset, you’d better stick to doormats.

5.  Follow Kurt Steffien’s lead:  start cultivating probate attorneys.  They are certainly interested in being heroes to their estate clients, and will see your money saving (estate preserving) offer as a way to accomplish that.  In other words:  they get it.  And if you get one and do a good job, it’s not just one listing, it could be many.  For months and years to come.  Really.

6.  Work with Tony (today that’d be Alejandro, Mike or Soren) to build a landing page on your website to capture contact info on people wanting to know what their house is worth.  (By the way:  this home value landing page already exists on your website!  AND, it generates a report instantly so that the people who request it don’t have to wait for a response)  Then create a QR Code for it.  Have flyers made with nothing more than the QR Code and the words:  ‘See How Much Your Home Is Worth Today.’  Put them all over the place.

7.  Call every FSBO in the area and ask:  ‘If I were to find a buyer who made an offer that was acceptable to you, would you pay me a commission?’  (I know, I know . . .you guys usually choke when you have to say that word, but in this case it will serve you better than ‘Low Set Fee.’).  The answer will almost always be yes, because they’ve usually made the same deal with every other Realtor in town.  Quickly calculate what, say, 3% is (let’s assume it’s $4,500), and respond: ‘So if I find a buyer who makes an acceptable offer you’ll pay me 3% which is around $4,500 dollars, right?  Let me show you what I can do for you for just $3,950*.  I mean – I’m Help-U-Sell – you get my complete full service program for less than you’d pay some agent just to find you a buyer.  For $3,950*, I’ll help you refine your pricing (if necessary), do all the marketing, get you on dozens of websites, qualify all interested buyers, help you weigh the pros and cons of every offer and calculate your net proceeds, process all the paperwork and handle the details all the way to closing.  How’s that sound?’

(*Or whatever your Set Fee is.  By the way:  Commissions, whether percentage based of set fee, are always negotiable.)

8.  Call Jack Bailey and ask him what you should do.

This is July 5. (It’s actually August 9, but the principal still holds true)   The longest day of the year was, what?  A week and a half ago?  So you’ve got a few extra hours of daylight to get it done.  Go on now:  get out there and don’t come home until you have a signed listing agreement in your sweaty little hand.

*about that graphic:  For the arithmetically impaired: If you subtract the current value from the peak value of the first home you get $75,000. That’s the amount of the drop in value, what the homeowner ‘lost’. If you do the same for the second home you get $112,500. That drop is $37,500 more than the drop on the first home. Everything else being equal, that’s $37,500 less the buyer is going to have to mortgage. Translation: quit moping about what you ‘lost!’ Get out there and buy your dream home before it becomes unaffordable again.

 

Whiney Home Sellers

I had a very interesting call with a Help-U-Sell Broker today.  She was talking about her preference for working with Buyers, which is fine.  Buyers are great.

However, the Help-U-Sell edge, our identity, is our low set fee offer to home sellers.  It’s great to love buyers but your primary marketing thrust should be to find and list sellers.  It is our LISTINGS that create the buyer leads that flow through the office.

‘What is it about the listing process you don’t like?’ I asked. ‘Is it the presentation and dealing with pricing issues or is it the followup and the communication?’

She prefaced her answer by saying, ‘Oh gee . . . this is going to sound really bad, but . . . what I really don’t like is . . . the whining!’

Sellers whine because they want a higher price or they want more or better marketing or they don’t think there’s enough activity or they don’t know what you’re doing and on and on.  It’s just what they do.

Because that’s how ordinary Realtors pre-frame the relationship.

Think about it.  In the ordinary real estate world, every company has the same tools.  Every company has the same consumer offer (6%).  There is no difference between companies beyond the color of their signs. In that world, sellers make their choice of listing agent based on personality.  The key question becomes, ‘Do I like and trust you? Are you warm, friendly and accessible.’  Being the listing agent begins to look like becoming a friend.

An there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that . . . except that it erodes your power as a business professional.  If the basis of your business relationship is personality and accessibility, people are going to be comfortable whining to you . . . which is to say they don’t really believe in what you’re doing and think if they will get better results by putting pressure on you.

Help-U-Sell is different.  We charge less and we charge differently because we have marketing and back office systems that get the job done quickly and efficiently.  While we all have wonderful personalities, that’s not what we sell on the listing consultation.  We sell our step-one, step-two systems.  A business relationship based on systems is much more business-like.

Here’s an example:

I have a financial adviser who manages my paltry retirement account.  He’s a friend and was for years before I moved my account to his firm.  He’s a delightful guy and he clearly knows his business backwards and forwards, but . . . when I went to his office for our first meeting, he quickly introduced me to his two assistants, each of whom has specific functions and then excused himself.

The message was clear:  we are a business based on systems.  We don’t make it up as we go along.  I have competent personnel who manage my accounts with my supervision.  This frees me to focus on creating more business and making sure the system works as designed.

Here’s the thing:  I still talk with my friend who happens to be my financial adviser, but I would never ask him about the details of my account.  He trained me during that first meeting that my questions can all be handled by his team, and that’s the way they do business.  (It was helpful that the assistants were knowledgeable and impressive.)

That’s how you need to behave on the Listing Consultation.  It’s not about you (although they’re going to love you).  It’s about your systems.  You’re not a loosey goosey real estate person, running around like a chicken with your head cut off, available 24/7 to handle every issue that may arise (real or imagined).

I’m suggesting that you become more business-like when you do a listing consultation.  Yes, be warm and friendly, but stay focused and on track.  Your Help-U-Sell office is a machine based on systems.  When we plug a properly priced listing into this machine it spits out successful sales and happy sellers!  Your sparkling personality is nice but it’s not what gets the job done.

So:  start having your sellers come into your professional place of business for the listing consultation.  Fine tune your consultation so that you can get through it in 30 minutes (+/-). Take a few minutes explaining the process and how things will go – and maybe create a graphic to illustrate it.  Pre-frame your listing relationship as a business relationship.  Let all of those ordinary Realtors sow personality and reap the whinies!

 

The Bullseye in Your Backyard

I’ve grumbled about this before but apparently, not loud enough. I am afraid, in the interest of being ‘techno-current,’ we’ve strayed from the core marketing strategy that made us great.

Help-U-Sell was founded on one powerful marketing principal:  geographic targeting.  As a broker, your job is to study your overall marketplace – I mean, really study (massage the numbers until they throb, to quote Dr. Dick McKenna) – to determine which specific neighborhoods are most likely to produce listings, the fuel that feeds our lead-generating fire.

There’s a lot in that statement.  Unlike our ordinary competitors who believe the answer to any marketing challenge is to add another agent, we look at hard data about the market and solve our marketing issues by going where the action is.  And we market for LISTINGS.  That’s it.  Just listings.  What about the other side of the business, what about buyers?  We love buyers.  As Don Taylor once said, “People forget, but Help-U-Sell has always been about the buyer!”  But we’ve learned that the best way to find a buyer is to get a listing and another and another.

I talk with brokers every day.  Often I hear the complaint, ‘My website isn’t working, I don’t get any buyer leads!’  My answer is always a question:  ‘how many listings do you have.’  I usually hear something less than 5.  Well Duh!! You don’t have any buyer leads because you don’t have any listings!  Real estate, whether the enlightened Help-U-Sell model or the tired old agent model, has always been an inventory business.  He who controls the inventory, controls the business.

Back to the idea I presented at the start of this post, the notion that we’ve lost our focus in favor of being technologically relevant.  With the entire Universe – especially NAR, Trulia, Zillow, et. al. – screaming that almost every single buyer starts their home search online, we have been lured into believing that we have to market online.  We spend money on AdWords and Facebook pay-per-click, and Google Display Ads; we obsess over our websites and constantly re-work them to become more attractive to search engines.

The results are almost always disappointing.  Even when leads are produced, the quality is iffy at best.  And what kind of leads are we getting from all of this online mania?  Buyer leads.  Again, we love buyer leads, but we also know how to produce them and it has nothing to do with point and click.

Meanwhile, as good Help-U-Sell brokers pour countless dollars and lots of energy into their online programs, I see them ranging all across God’s Green Earth to take a listing here and another way over there and heck – you’re an hour away from my office and in another area code, but shucks, I’ll take your listing!

Stop It!

Use your market data to pick the two or three specific neighborhoods in your Target Market that have the highest turnover rates, and then focus all of your energy in developing listing inventory there!   When a FSBO sign goes up, you know it and are in contact with them that first day.  When one of your competitors gets a listing, you immediately do 50 ‘Arounds’ so the neighbor who is also thinking of selling knows there’s an alternative to 6%.  When you get a listing in your Target Market, you regard it as a gift from the Marketing Gods and you exploit it to the max with signs, and brag cards and open houses and half a dozen other strategies.

Now, once you’ve done that, once it has begun to produce, once you’re getting at least 15% of the listings in your Target Market . . . then, you can consider online marketing.

And the  online marketing you do should be aimed at further establishing your brand.  It’s things like putting your latest Sold & Saved or Testimonial on Facebook and then paying to promote it within your target market.  It’s things like creating a well-focused landing page for a Google pay-per-click campaign aimed at FSBOs in your target market.

Yes, there is a place for the Zillow/Trulia/Realtor.com ‘buy a Zip Code’ programs.  I know of a few offices that have thrived with those additional marketing pieces.  But you know what all of them had in common?  Tons of listings.  Really.  Go onto Zillow and search for homes in Chino Hills, CA.  Patrick Wood will turn up in Spades.  Why?  Because he has a huge share of the listings in that town.  Zillow works for him – just as it works for Ken Kopcho – because he has a nice chunk of the listing business in his target market.

So, Help-U-Sell Brokers:  use the Internet.  Use it to gather as much data as possible about the individual neighborhoods in your overall marketplace.  Pick a few that have the highest turnover rates.  And then pursue the listing business in those neighborhoods with an unwavering focus.  Do it on foot, in the streets and the mailboxes.  Do it on billboards and bus benches, community sponsorships and involvement, Do it with signs. Get a listing and another and another.  And then, start thinking about how you an further establish your brand in those neighborhoods with online marketing.

Please.

 

Tips for Home Sellers

Five simple things every home seller can do to prepare themselves to sell.  These tips can make every home sale move along smoother.  Help-U-Sell Brokers, if you can use this on your website or in your marketing, just drop a message to support@helpsusell.com and we’ll get you hooked up!