We all know real estate is not the low-effort path to immense riches much of the general public believes. That’s especially true in today’s market, where high interest rates, rising prices and low inventory are conspiring to create market gridlock.
Days on Market are climbing nationwide, from a low of 43 in May to 50 in October. In some regions, it’s significantly worse: Our team has seen Days on Market rise from 75 to 103. High cost of living, including sky-high rental rates, makes saving for a down payment so out of reach for many prospective homebuyers that Zillow and Rocket are both trialing a program to allow buyers to put just 1 percent down.
All this boils down to agents closing contracts less frequently than we’d like. Making sure we do everything we can to move as many listings as possible could spell the difference between a team of agents with a solid income and a team that slowly falls apart as agents drop out in search of a more lucrative career.
When they aren’t pursuing open houses for ready-to-buy leads, many agents spend a lot of time mining for potential business. The agent scrounging for prospects may not realize that frequently, the best leads are in their database already. The question then becomes how best to nurture those leads so more of them convert to sales.
Frequency is key
It’s vital to have a plan in place. Know in advance how frequently you will contact your leads, what method of communication you will use and what information you hope to give and receive in those conversations.
Above all, don’t forget the most important truth about leads: They aren’t just numbers. They are people. The real estate business is, above all, a relationship business; stay in touch with people.
Some new agents begin to worry about contacting leads. People are busier than ever before. With work, shopping, paying bills, taking care of kids, household chores and other day-to-day tasks taking up the vast majority of available time, agents fret that too much contact will annoy their leads. That’s a reasonable concern and one which is valid if you’re calling them every day.
However, don’t let your concern for respecting your leads’ time lull you into rarely, if ever, contacting them. My team has seen that regular contact, with communication that is beneficial to the lead, is received well and furthers our relationship with them.
As a general rule, no contact in your database should go more than 30 days without some form of communication. It doesn’t have to be a phone call. Email or texting works as well. “Hot” leads should be contacted weekly. Make a follow-up schedule and stick to it. Block out time on your calendar to make it happen.
Contact with intent
Just as getting the frequency of contacts right is important, it’s perhaps more important to have a solid communication plan. Calling without a good roadmap of how the call should be conducted could do more harm than good: Someone who gets called every week with “Are you ready to sell that house yet?” is not going to take very long to become irritated with the agent.
Think about ways to make that call useful to the lead. Educate them on an aspect of the buying or selling process. Give them news that’s relevant to their situation; if they’re an on-the-fence buyer and you know interest rates are on the rise, tell them.
You don’t need to script the whole call, and in fact, it’s best if you don’t to make sure it doesn’t sound like you’re reading a script. Have a general idea of what you want to speak about, and make sure you’re knowledgeable about that topic.
In short, provide value. Be curious. Find out more about the lead; what pain points are they experiencing in their current home that you could help alleviate with their next purchase?
If they say they want a house with a fence, find out why. Do they have a dog or children? Can you help fine-tune what they’re looking for by combining your experience with their stated needs?
Calling a lead once per month with good information that’s relevant to their situation will quickly become a liability if you forget what you told them last month and tell them the same thing again. If you have a large lead database, making this mistake is surprisingly easy to do.
This is why, if you aren’t already using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, you should acquire one as soon as possible, then use it to its fullest potential.
CRMs are not just good for maintaining lists of contact information. They’re a valuable repository of every bit of important information you gather on your leads, including what you’ve discussed in previous conversations.
When you speak with a lead, take notes and use them the next time you call. If you can call a lead and say “Last time you were at the kids’ game, and I know things are hectic for you, but I wanted to be sure you saw the news that interest rates are going up,” it will be more effective. The lead will know you listened to what they had to say and remembered it.
Especially today, with artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT coming into common use for communications of all kinds, it might be tempting to automate this process. But it’s important not to over-automate it. It’s important to have that genuine human touch. At the end of the day, that’s the value we provide as real estate agents.
Read the room
Sometimes, despite your best efforts to be helpful and empathetic, a potential client will find your outreach irritating. Be ready to change your tactics if this should happen. If someone is very busy and sounds annoyed every time you call, perhaps try texting or emailing them. The Hollywood stereotype of the pushy salesperson should not be the impression you leave with your leads.
This is why CRMs are so important. By logging all of your interactions with your leads, you can begin to establish patterns of their reactions to your communications. Perhaps one lead only responds well to emails while another doesn’t become receptive unless you first discuss his favorite team. The contact logs can help you discover these clues as to how to approach each lead as an individual person, not only keeping you from irritating potential clients but helping you build better relationships with them instead.
In turbulent real estate markets such as the one we’re experiencing now, leads can be your lifeline. The right approach can keep your business viable while positioning you well to take advantage of future market improvements. Make sure you’re planning and executing a good lead nurturing strategy.
Marcus Larrea is the co-founder and team lead of Palm Paradise Real Estate based in Fort Myers, Florida. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.