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March Madness - You Can't Win If You Don't Play.

By Rebecca Chandler

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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