Active Rain March 29, 2011

Starting From Scratch


I got a phone call from a fellow independent broker-owner yesterday asking how one would transition into being a listing agent when they were not focused on that part of the business before. Good question, and it is one that has been asked before by Brian Rugg when he relocated to a new state. 

I have “started from scratch” twice. I was first licensed in Rochester, NY where I was new in town and had no sphere of influence. Years later, after I met my wife, I relocated back home to Westchester, where I had not lived since high school. In both cases, I started with zero listings and no sales. 

Here is what I would do if starting from scratch in a new area:

  1. Expired listings. I prospected anyone in my entire county who came off the market unsold. Back in the day I would drop off brochures, knock on doors and call on the phone. Today I am more direct mailer oriented, with a piece that drives traffic to a web page specifically for people who expired unsold. 
  2. For Sale by Owner. I view FSBOs as open listings who want to sell and haven’t chosen an agent yet. Some are hardcore anti-agent, but most in my area will cooperate if you have a buyer or are not hitting them over the head about how dumb it is to go FSBO. Even if you don’t have a client in mind, just get a look at the house for potential buyers. I have gotten many a call back from people who appreciated that I wasn’t a hard sell. 
  3. Distress/Short Sale. This is especially for people who know their way around short sales and distressed properties. In my state defaults are public record. Most of them get contacted by out of state investors who harvest county clerks nationwide. They are more likely to work with someone who is licensed, local and whose hand they can shake. If you are unfamiliar with this niche, consider working for a broker who can help you. 
  4. BLOG. Write hyper local on subdivisions, restaurants, and community events. POST PHOTOS with some brief commentary on local beauty. You don’t need to be Hemingway or Faulkner. And at the end of the post, put a link to your IDX so that the post has a real-estate related call to action and that people know you sell real estate. Blogs are also an online resume and pre-listing package for anyone who googles you. 
Not every area has every niche I write of. Do what you can with what you have. In any event, when speaking with a new prospect leverage your past accolades and track record. It doesn’t matter if you sold houses on the buyer side or in another state, you know how to sell real estate
For Maya, I got some rest last night and gave it some thought: If I were you and transitioning into taking more listings, I would send a personal letter to my entire book of past business and let them know you are now taking listings, and have an awesome, 21st-century marketing plan if they want to sell their home. And if they aren’t selling now, you love referrals!