Brad Inman tells this great story about the challenge he had in selling his parents’ home and trying to find the right local agent.
Who knows more about every new brokerage model and unique marketing strategy that a top producer has come up with, or knows everybody in the real estate brokerage world like Brad?
But in the end, it all came down to his dad telling him to look at the magnet on the refrigerator that had the name of the guy who “sells all the homes in the neighborhood.”
Now that is the definition of dominating a neighborhood. It probably took that agent decades to become the top producer and go-to guy in his area. I can only imagine the number of business cards he handed out at cocktail parties, how many open houses he hosted, the tens of thousands of postcards he must have mailed and the hundreds of doors he likely knocked on.
That was how the best real estate businesses were built for nearly a century. For many people, they are still being built that way.
Digital Marketing Opportunity
But today, there is another way to build that same kind of business. Because it involves leveraging technology and social media, many younger agents are adopting this approach, but many older, established, top-producing agents are turning to digital marketing as well.
I believe the opportunity to go closer to home, go hyperlocal and become the neighborhood expert is one of the best ways to build a long-term business in real estate.
Where Do You Start?
The good news is it doesn’t take as long as it used to, to become the agent everyone in the neighborhood thinks of as “their” agent. The tough news is that you actually have to become an expert about your neighborhood. And that is still going to take time and effort.
Here are some key steps agents must take to lay claim to being the neighborhood expert:
1. Work where you live: The best neighborhood to own is the one where you live. This and the immediate surrounding neighborhoods should be your target and your primary focus and territories.
2. Know your market numbers inside and out: You need to be the numbers junkie of your neighborhood. Run your multiple listing services reports and/or your brokerage reports every month so you know everything that’s going on. Know your demographics, accumulate as much public data as you can and then start to collect and document as much primary data as you can(what you gather from actually talking to your neighbors and keeping track of this information). The better you know your neighbors and your neighborhood, the greater your expertise will be over time, and that’s why people will seek you out.
3. Become socially active and helpful but never, ever sales-y: Join Next Door and your neighborhood Facebook page and community website forum, if you have one. If not, start one. Always be helpful and informative in answering questions, and never be self-promotional. If you sell or appear to be sales-oriented, you will turn people off. Be a resource, someone people can ask for advice.
4. Share 10 times more than you ever take: The concept here is to be a giver. You need to tell yourself that if you don’t ask, you will receive. Now that may sound like a contradiction, but that’s the magic of social media as a lead-generation vehicle. If you push online, you push people away. Instead, provide details about a class-action settlement for faulty roofs, share stories about how to mitigate a pest problem that reoccurs in the summer, or answer questions people have about buying a home before theirs sells. People will look to you for advice, and eventually, for their business.
5. Visit every home that you can: The four most important words a buyer or seller will ever hear are, “I know that house,” when they call to ask you about representing them. You have to know literally every house in your neighborhood. Visit every home, whether it is on a broker’s or office tour, an open house, a FSBO (for sale by owner) or a neighborhood party. And take notes—the details you can remember about each floor plan, the home’s unique and standout features, any major drawbacks, the lot or yard and even how much sunlight it does or doesn’t get because of the position of the home and the trees surrounding it, can make you the expert with the extra edge.
Dominating a neighborhood does take time. It can take years. But in today’s digital marketing world, mostly because of social media channels and how focused your marketing can be, it will only be years and not decades because you are not relying on postcards and the U.S. Postal Service to drip your way into people’s memories.
Don’t get me wrong; every agent still wants to be the one whose magnet is on the refrigerator inside everyone’s home. But that’s a pretty expensive way to build a business—and most homes today have stainless steel refrigerators, and those magnets, well, they don’t stick. But you better believe the owners of those homes have Facebook.