There’s no doubt we’re in a less-than-rosy phase of the property cycle. This, however, is not another doom and gloom piece: we want to talk about the silver lining.
History shows that market shifts present smart operators with huge opportunity.
During economic booms, there’s an influx of new agents. These newcomers can seem like naturals, with low days on market and high selling prices. However, when the market weakens, it becomes obvious their success was not the result of skill (good marketing, great service and expert negotiating) but luck (the strong market). Their income drops and cue exit.
As Warren Buffett said: “It’s only when the tide goes out that you discover who’s been swimming naked.”
When major shifts in the economy occur, traditional prospecting and sales methods aren’t enough. Sales scripts stop working. Persistence and consistency remain key - it’s still a numbers game, after all.
Property continued to exchange hands throughout the 1830s, the first major boom and bust on record. And during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It also continued during the GFC from 2007 to 2009. But when there are less sellers, and even less applicants, agents need to work harder to get listings. But agents have to do more, faster to keep hitting targets.
With that in mind, here are three things we think agents should be doing right now to canvass, list, and serve better, faster in a weak market.
1. Leveraging tech to connect
Using digital to find sellers
The Phil Dunphy style of canvassing (headshots on park benches and bus stops) used to be quite popular. But it’s 2020, and people see around 5,000 ads every day… so they’ve started tuning out traditional forms of advertising.
A strategic digital marketing strategy utilising the Facebook and Google Display Networks can put agents’ personal brand in front of potential sellers while they’re commuting to work, waiting in line for a coffee, or unwinding in front of the TV.
Then, tracking technology can make sure those who clicked or interacted with ads in some way see it again and again, until they enquire.
Using digital to sell houses
A motivated seller can take photographs on their smartphone and upload their property listing to the portals. (We’re not saying they’ll get the best price - just that it’s possible). So, agents need to be confident in explaining how they do more.
Your main aim is to pinpoint the buyer willing to pay the best price for a property, quickly. Even if they’re not in the market. With the right tech tools, an agent can put a five-bedroom family home in front of thousands of locals with a combined income of £90,000, who use their credit cards to shop online and are actively searching for luxury items before it appears on the portals.
They can put a fixer-upper in front of local builders, or a starter home in front of newlyweds. And you can do it for a fraction of the price of traditional marketing.
2. Tapping into data to personalise communication
In markets where you’re dealing with a substantial amount of money (like the property market), the human touch of a real person will always trump tech. The psychological importance of negotiating and buying a home is simply too great. It might sound crazy coming from a tech company, but at Rexlabs we believe in using tech to amplify what agents do—not replace it.
Tech tools and apps can take over the heavy lifting, but humans still need to connect all the dots and streamline new processes, while adding value. Here are two ways...
By categorising applicants as hot, warm or cool and filtering using keywords like ‘dog’, ‘primary school’ and ‘hot tub’, agents can set up a trigger which automatically sends an SMS or email to buyers when properties matching their requirements are listed.
These applicants receive less irrelevant properties, and more targeted opportunities of genuine interest. It’s an exchange of value for contact details, meaning higher open rates and less unsubscribes.
Calls with context
Agents can clock up hundreds of calls a day. In digging through post-its to find what John said about a property last week, they waste valuable minutes. Times that by a hundred and there’s a big problem.
Any real estate CRM worth its salt makes call logging and note-taking simple. Some even have to-do lists that surface important information like this. John wouldn’t have to repeat himself and the agent could get to the point quicker. John’s also more likely to pick up the phone next time.
3. Swim against the tide
Shift tack by adopting a blue ocean strategy
All markets are made up of two oceans: red and blue. The red ocean is the known market space; it’s cut-throat and competitive. The blue ocean represents untouched, deep waters with room to explore.
A ‘blue ocean strategy’ is usually the creation of a new, uncontested market space that makes competitors irrelevant and creates new consumer value, while decreasing costs.
Today’s agencies are hugely focussed on the sell, but there’s things you can do to reach further into your customers’ journeys and deliver more value.
You could help current buyers or sellers by providing a service that coordinates more of their move–helping them with everything from finance and conveyancing, to packing, moving and cleaning. In doing so you could create a full ‘concierge’ service.
Redefine your marketspace
Another tactic agents could employ is to offer something that sets them apart, or shifts their market. For example, an agency operating in an area bordering a university likely deals with a lot of renters. Perhaps they could build out an expertise on buying strategies and a finance function that helps long term renters with their approach to savings and finance applications? This would create additional demand for property once those renters sort out their finances so they can qualify for a loan.
All of this is to create a loyal customer base willing and able to buy the types of properties they sell, no matter what the market is doing.
There’s no denying that it’s going to be a difficult few months, but agents that play their cards right will strengthen relationships with their client base and come out the other side of this market shift stronger than ever.
*Mark Hinkins is a Sales Consultant at Rexlabs, which creates software-driven solutions to help estate agents and agencies canvass, list and sell more efficiently. Rex is its estate agent software and automation platform, and Spoke is its smart digital marketing tool. Both are now available in the UK.