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March Madness – You Can’t Win If You Don’t Play.

As the NCAA Basketball Tournament or “March Madness” gets started this year, it occurs to me that real estate, like basketball is competitive.  Top agents compete for business every day, but the stakes are even higher this time of year, right before the busy spring selling season.  The real estate industry has its own version of “March Madness.”

Agents compete for listings.  They compete for buyers.  They compete for market dominance and top of mind awareness among consumers.  It’s a competitive business.  So, how’s your game?

Consider these “winning strategies.”

Reach for new prospects.  According to the National Association of REALTORS, (NAR) 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, nearlyhalf (47%) of buyers were first time home buyers.  Among buyers who were able to estimate a length of tenure in their new home, the median was 10 years.  This spring, if you are relying on past clients for new business, you may be sitting on the bench.

Stand out from the crowd.   Online exposure is abundant, free or nearly free, and a basic consumer expectation.  And standing out as a top ranked player in your market is nearly impossible  if you rely solely on listing aggregate websites for business.  Consider this video from “The Ladders” career site.  “When Everybody Plays, Nobody Wins”Particularly in uncertain economic times, consumers rely on the expertise of  the top players.  Do they know you are a top player?  How do they know?  Are you sure?

Keep your sellers happy.  As sellers have to adjust their expectations on price and days on market, the challenge for agents is to show that they are doing everything possible to sell the home for as much as possible and as quickly as possible.  When you have to ask for a price reduction, the seller is much more likely to agree if they know you’ve done everything you can to get more for their property.  In other words, it’s the market, not you.  This is where marketing comes in.

According to a 2010 proprietary survey conducted by NCI, the number one reason sellers choose an agent is because of the way they plan to market their home to as many potential buyers as possible.  It’s also the number three reason they fire an agent or let the listing expire – lack of a marketing plan.

Have a game plan.  Start with your desired income.  Determine how many properties you will have to sell to reach that desired income based on the average sales price of homes in your area and your average commission.   Then, determine how many leads or inquiries you work per actual closed transaction (your closing ratio).  The question then becomes, how many leads do I need to result in the number of closed transactions I need to reach my income goal?  REALLY track where your leads come from and adjust your marketing and advertising for the maximum effectiveness.  For downloadable worksheets on this, go to www.realestatebookmediakit.com/income .

Start NOW.  The 2009 NAR study indicates that the typical homebuyer searched for 12 weeks.  They searched for 2 weeks before contacting an agent.  It’s mid-March.  They are searching NOW.  Are they finding YOU? Are you even in the game?

You can’t win. If you don’t play.

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Home Buyer Research Says Home Buyers Research (more than agents think)

home buyerMy office is literally littered with research.  Ask anyone who walks in.   Research studies on real estate advertising, home buyer trends, and home seller stats.  Consumer media usage.  Email marketing trends.  Social media for real estate studies.   Real Estate Book advertiser studies.  Real estate lead tracking studies.  The list goes on and on.   

It’s overwhelming at times.  But, one of our core corporate values is that we make fact-based decisions.  Recently, we partnered with Josh Gordon, an independent media consultant to track the habits of home buyers.  We then compared that data to the assumptions of real estate agents on buyer habits.  In other words, we asked buyers how they shopped for homes and agents and then asked agents how they thought buyers shopped. There were some similarities and some disconnects.

For example, generally home buyer and agents agree on the reasons that a buyer chooses a specific agent with whom to work.  Both believe that the #1 reason is trust, followed by knowledge and experience. 

However, a disconnect lies in the reasons the agent was NOT chosen to represent the buyer.  Buyers said that, in most cases, it was simply too early in the process.  Buyers today spend more time looking at neighborhoods and homes  (12 weeks in total according to the 2009 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers) and are loaded with information prior to selecting an agent to represent them. 

Where do they look for information?  They did not select a single media  for research, but used multiple sources of information to make their decisions.  Websites that feature multiple agents was chosen most often, followed by referrals from a friend or a previous relationship with the agent, and then real estate magazines.  Social media outlets were used the least followed by newspaper advertising.

One misconception agents had was that buyers relied less on these information sources after they’d chosen an agent.  However,  66% of buyers indicated that they made no change to their search habits at all.  They continued to consult all areas of information just as they had done prior to selecting an agent.  They looked through homes on multiple websites and 63% said they continued to use real estate magazines throughout their entire home search. In fact, most still consulted the same sources they had before selecting an agent.

What does this tell us?  Buyers use multiple media for their entire home search.  They research longer before engaging an agent.  They continue to seek information afterward and they choose an agent when they are ready based on what they’ve seen and to whom they’ve spoken.   This is why top agents keep their personal brand and listings in front of buyers across multiple media platforms to create top of mind awareness when the buyer is ready to act.

Stay tuned for more insights from the buyer study and from our seller study. More to come . . . .

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PRESS RELEASE – The Real Estate Book Brings Back Popular SOLD Program for December and January

i-sold-button_cropU.S. HOUSING MARKET GAINS STEAM FROM HOMES JUST SOLD!
The Real Estate Book Recognizes Success of Top Advertisers And Brings Back SOLD 2009! Program

Despite a year of economic turmoil and challenging market forces, top real estate agents continue to sell homes in 2009.  In fact, every day, 13,698 homes are sold – that’s 570 homes sold every hour daily.To boost consumer awareness and share the success of its advertisers, The Real Estate Book, the leading publisher of real estate information online and in print in North America, has kicked off the SOLD 2009 program for a second year.  SOLD 2009 not only helps home buyers and sellers find top real estate professionals in their local markets, but also helps agents and brokers show the types of homes that have sold over the past year while marketing homes currently for sale affordably and effectively.

“With so much information circulating about the economy and housing market, spreading positive news about today’s transactions is critical to sustaining the momentum building in the market,” says Scott Dixon, president of The Real Estate Book.  “Our SOLD 2009 program is designed to generate awareness and build confidence in the industry around the homes top real estate professionals are selling.  It’s another way we deliver value to our advertisers, and help them connect with active buyers and sellers right now.”

Through its SOLD 2009 program, The Real Estate Book will contribute up to 20% of the total pages published in its December 2009 and January 2010 magazines to promote the homes sold by its advertisers in 2009.  For every full page purchased, advertisers receive a second page – at no cost – to showcase properties sold in 2009. 

Last year, the inaugural year of the program, The Real Estate Book published over 6,000 pages in over 8 million magazines to promote the homes sold by advertisers in 2008.

Todd Walker, senior vice president of sales and operations at The Real Estate Book adds, “Plainly put, consumers can see that agents in The Real Estate Book and on RealEstateBook.com are experienced and actively engaged to help them find or sell a home faster and better than anyone else.”

“This is one way we can promote positive news about the industry and help our advertisers achieve continued success.  SOLD 2009 is just one part of The Real Estate Book media package that provides an affordable real estate marketing solution for any market, even on a tight budget.”

The Real Estate Book has been helping real estate professionals connect with buyers and sellers for over 30 years.  Available in print and online in over 400 markets across the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, The Real Estate Book delivers credible, proven results to its advertisers who benefit from a wealth of experience and an integrated media platform that showcases their listings in a variety of ways.  With 8 million magazines in print every 4 weeks, The Real Estate Book gets nearly 2 million unique visitors on its Web site, www.RealEstateBook.com, and features thousands of homes for sale, new home communities, and local information. 

For more information on The Real Estate Book’s SOLD 2009 program, view a video at: www.RealEstateBookMediaKit.com/SOLD.
To request a book or search online for a property to buy in your market, go to www.RealEstateBook.com or call 1-800-643-1174.

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