Why acquiring real estate clients is so hard — and what to do about it
A version of this article was first published on the Gene Marks blog.
Are you in the real estate business? Then you must know how hard it is to get new clients. The industry is uber-competitive and today’s buyers and sellers are fickle. There are many realtors to choose from and loyalty isn’t what it used to be. It’s hard. But like most things in life, if it were easy then everyone would be doing it.
So here’s reality: there’s no simple answer to easily get new clients. It takes a lot of work. You need both buyers and sellers. And you’re not really a salesperson, are you? You’re a matchmaker. You’re a cajoler, an intermediary, referee, arbitrator, mediator. If you’re good, you’ll close more deals. But to sell more real estate you’ll need a continuous flow of prospects. This isn’t easy. But there is a proven methodology for doing it. It’s called nurturing.
Mirriam-Webster defines nurturing as “to further the development of…” The Cambridge dictionary lists words like “care for”, “look after” “nurse” and “tend” as synonyms for nurturing. Angela Duckworth, who famously writes about the role of “grit” in success, says that “grit comes from both nature and nurture.” It takes a lot of grit to be successful in the real estate business. Which is why it takes a lot of nurturing.
According to research in January 2022, more than 6 million houses were sold in the U.S., a decrease from the same time last year but still at significantly elevated levels when compared to past trends. The average price of newly listed homes has climbed 13.5%. And while many people say they search online, finding the right property is the biggest obstacle for 53% of buyers.
That’s a lot of people spending money on real estate and it happens every year. These are your prospects…and they need help! Finding these people is hard. But by nurturing, you can do it.
Sure, some will bump into you through an online search – every real estate agent’s portfolio has a percentage of this. But the number one source of these potential clients will be through referrals. According to the Real Estate Training Institute research shows that more than 90% of people believe that recommendations from people they know and trust are important when choosing an agent.
Referrals are all about nurturing your community. It’s done by touching them regularly. This takes time and a lot of commitment. But you can do this. You’ll do this with emails. You’ll have a Facebook page where you post updates and engage with your friends and followers. You will send direct mail pieces. You will hold online or in person meetings or events.
You will offer advice on your expertise, which is real estate. You will keep reminding people that you’re out there ready to help. You’ll commit to this because it’s worth it. Nurturing is the key to acquiring new customers. You can’t force someone to buy from you. But when it comes time for someone to buy or sell a home you want that person thinking about you first. That’s the goal of nurturing.
Since I first married back in 1991, my wife and I have purchased seven properties which include our primary and vacation homes and investments. We’ve had three brokers – and they all have the same thing in common. They were connected. And they nurtured us.
One of them, Sherri, retired soon after selling us our first house. But she stayed in touch with us and referred us to a partner in her firm, Mark, who helped us with other purchases. When we bought a vacation home on the Jersey Shore we did so through another referral to a broker there – Rene. We’ve never connected with a broker by chance or through an online search. Not that that isn’t an option. But when people buy real estate it’s always personal and they like to deal with people they know, who’ve been around for a while, who have experience and who others trust, too.
Sherri, Mark and Rene. These are brokers who have – and continue to – nurture me. I get emails from Mark and Rene. I get nudged to get a new “valuation” on my home. I get directed to their blogs or to videos where they talk about the market. I hear from them on Facebook. I get direct mail postcards and specific reach-outs when something becomes available. I get birthday greetings and congratulations when my kids graduated school. Sometimes I just get a personal call. This is hard stuff. It takes time. But it pays off. I keep coming back. I refer my friends and relatives. I’m a source of revenue for these brokers.
So here’s what I want you to do to be an expert nurturer.
Buy a customer relationship management (CRM) system and fill it with every person who you’ve ever known and then add to it anyone you meet going forward. Get trained on the marketing tools your real estate software company or software provider offers. Then use these tools to make sure that you are touching every member of your community in one way or another on a periodic basis. Maybe it’s once a year. Maybe it’s once a month. Mine your data to figure out who should be hearing from you and how often. Have an email newsletter. Educate them about real estate. Invite them to connect with you on Facebook or LinkedIn. Make sure they’re getting mailings from you throughout the year as well. Educate them. Say hello.
Do you have the time to do this? Maybe not.
So here’s the next step: complement the information with the services of a firm like Taradel – who can not only provide additional prospects from multiple trusted sources but who will then do the marketing grunt work needed to leverage and then analyze that data.
You can advertise through Taradel because they’ve figured out the real estate industry they work with major real estate organizations and thousands of agents. Taradel has over 20,000 small business users and offers just about every built-in service that an advertiser could need – audience targeting, design, fulfillment, human support, and performance reporting so that a small business can launch local advertising campaigns with “matching” direct mail, Facebook, Google, and email offers, just like the big brands do.”
Nurture these people. Do this consistently over time and you will sell more. It’s hard. But it will be worth it.