Real Estate Leads

Working with a lead generation company has given me interesting insight into both real estate leads and agents. I dealt with both ends: the consumer and the agents themselves, and my job was to make them both happy. Yeah right. Easier said than done.

The consumer side is easy – real estate leads want a home value, they want information on the market, they want a real estate agent and we get them that. The real estate agents? Well that’s another story – they pretty much wanted everything under the sun when it comes to real estate leads. They wanted to be handed people ready to list their homes with them asap, with no work involved on the agent’s part. They want listings, not real estate leads.

Well, if I could provide that consistently, all the time, I’d either have a multi-million dollar company, or I’d be doing real estate full time myself. Get this through your heads agents: there is no magic service out there that will hand you listings for a low fee. Instead, these services provide you with real estate leads and it is YOUR job to turn them into clients. Got that? Real estate leads + you = clients!

YOU went to the classes, YOU studied up on sales and marketing techniques and YOU printed up all kinds of trinkets with your name and logo on them for your real estate leads. Ergo, YOU must convince your real estate leads to work with you. And if you’re not converting them, maybe you need to take a look at your own methods, rather than immediately blame the source of the real estate leads.

By now, I’ve probably heard every excuse under the sun as to why online real estate leads are bad or bogus. And that’s all it is, an excuse, a cop out to make you feel better about not being able to turn your real estate leads into listings. That being said, here are the top 5 cop-outs I’ve heard over the years about following up with real estate leads and my responses to them.

  1. I’m a new agent and no one wants to use a new agent.

Well, how do they know you’re a new agent? Did you announce it the second you spoke with your real estate leads? You don’t need to tell all your real estate leads that you’re new. If they ask, tell them, and be honest, but don’t just volunteer the information. And how to you know “no one” wants to use a new agent – sounds like a gross generalization to me. You won’t know until you get out there and try – convince your real estate leads that to be new means you’re cutting edge, the best thing out there right now, show them what an expert you’ve become, even if you’re new to the business. Just TRY to convert them. Assuming from the start your real estate leads won’t want to use you because you’re new doesn’t even give you a chance.

  1. Some real estate leads are on the Do Not Call Registry.

So? There’s no such thing as a Do Not Knock list. If your real estate leads are on the DNC Registry and you feel THAT uncomfortable risking a call, you should have your butt in the car, directions in your hand and preparing yourself mentally for your introduction once you knock at their door. And actually, as per the basic rules of the Do Not Call Registry, if a consumer on the lists makes an inquiry (which is what online real estate leads are!), you can contact them for up to 3 months after the inquiry. So you’ve got 3 months to get them on the phone, after that, there’s still always that door! Don’t use the DNC as a cop-out method with real estate leads. It’s a flimsy excuse.

  1. It’s unprofessional to go knock on someone’s door.

This is the line I usually got after suggesting stopping by the property. My thing is, who said so? Who told you it is unprofessional to go visit your real estate leads’ homes and drop off the information they requested? That is a matter of opinion and as long as your real estate leads don’t think it’s unprofessional, you’re good. And by showing initiative and going out of your way to meet your real estate leads, you may have just earned a client for life.

  1. These real estate leads are too far from my area, or it’s in a very bad part of town.

This is probably my favorite cop out, because it just sounds ridiculous to me. If your real estate leads are too far, why did you sign up for that area? Or, if you are getting some real estate leads out of your area, how far? Most of the time, agents complain about having to drive 30 minutes away. To me, 30 minutes of my time is DEFINITELY worth the fat commission check I could get. And if some real estate leads are too far, haven’t you EVER heard of a REFERRAL COMMISSION? Find an great agent in the lead’s area and send it on over. That way you’ll still get a portion of the commission AND you’ve saved 30 precious minutes of your time.

When real estate leads are in a bad part of town, it usually means it’s a very low-value home and is located in either a ghetto or backwater somewhere. It pisses me off when real estate agents say that the home isn’t worth their time. Guess what buddy? When you got your license, you gained knowledge that others don’t have, but will need at some point. You should be willing and open to share this with your real estate leads, no matter what the economic status of their home and income is. If you don’t want to help them, no one can force you, but you are a BAD agent if you’re not at least willing to find someone who will your real estate leads.

  1. If they wanted to be contacted, they would have given all their correct contact information.

This is a tough one, because on one level I do agree with this SOMEWHAT. Real estate leads who give a good name, number, address and email seems to be more approachable than real estate leads that have fake names, or fake numbers, etc. But again, this statement is really a matter of opinion. You have NO idea what’s going through the consumer’s head when they filled out their information. Maybe they’re not technologically savvy and thought if they put their phone number over the Web, everybody would get it. Maybe they mistyped something. Maybe they don’t want to be hassled daily by telemarketer calls but DO still want the information. Until you actually touch base with your real estate leads, you have no idea where their head is at. What would hurt worse, getting a phone slammed in your ear, or missing out on a $15,000 commission because you THOUGHT they didn’t need anything since they gave a wrong phone number?

  1. On a sunny afternoon in Florida, an energetic crowd gathers on the lawn of a high end luxury estate. A loud and eager banter between an auctioneer, a group of bidders and bidder assistants fills the air. For several minutes the auctioneer asks for the next highest bid and the bidders respond. Suddenly the bidders grow silent. The high bidder holds his breath in anticipation of winning the auction. The auctioneer calls for one more bid. In a loud clear voice which rolls over the audience he says, “Fair warning, last chance” the auctioneer pauses, “SOLD!” And in less than 10 minutes another multimillion dollar estate has changed owners.

Successful real estate auctions like the one above are happening all over North America and the Caribbean. Recently real estate auctions have been on the rise, the increase in popularity is partly driven by growing inventories and fading buyer confidence. Properties that were selling in weeks using traditional methods are now languishing on the market unable to attract buyers even as seller’s lower prices. Many say the real estate boom is over but savvy buyers and sellers are profiting from real estate auctions.

Real Estate Auctions Work in Up or Down Markets.

Regardless of trends or market cycles, real estate auctions provide an open and transparent process for buyers and sellers. Properly conducted real estate auctions attract ready and willing buyers and motivate them to act now.

The auction method removes the “wait and see” attitude which serves to further depress real estate values. Buyers are always concerned about overpaying. Buyers gain confidence with their purchases at real estate auctions because they can see what others are willing to pay.

When market demand is high and inventories low, real estate auctions can deliver selling prices well above what a willing seller would have accepted in a negotiated private treaty sale. In good selling climates many property owners using traditional real estate methods; negotiating with one buyer at a time, leave thousands of dollars of equity on the table. During up markets real estate auctions are the best way to establish top market price.

Evaluating Your Real Estate for Auction

Not every property or seller for that matter makes a good candidate for auction. First of all sellers must be ready to sell now and for the current market value. Also a real estate auction will not fix problems caused by a downturn in market value of your property, if you owe more than a willing buyer will pay, be prepared to come to closing with your check book.

Properties that do well in real estate auctions have a high uniqueness factor. Ask your self, “What makes my property different from most others?” Maybe you own a resort property or high end luxury home, commercial properties and land do very well at auction. Real estate auctions thrive on uniqueness. If your property is like everyone else’s, the best thing you can do is offer the most competitive price.

Most importantly sellers must be reasonable about setting a minimum bid. A seller must look at the lowest, most current comps and price below that to generate the interest and urgency necessary for a successful real estate auction. Once the auction begins and qualified bidders start competing against one another you can watch the selling price increase.

Locate a Qualified Real Estate Auctioneer

Start by checking with the National Auctioneers Association, the best real estate auctioneers belong to this organization. These real estate auctioneers are well trained and adhere to a standard of practice and a code of ethics. Many attend the annual International Auctioneers Conference where the latest techniques and innovations in the real estate auction industry are presented.

Find out if the company you are interviewing is a full time real estate auction firm. Many real estate agents are getting auction licenses yet have no experience with the auction method of marketing. Conducting a successful real estate auction is nothing like (private treaty) traditional real estate sales. Go with a real estate auction pro.

You’re probably better of with an auction house that specializes in real estate auctions. There are many qualified auctioneers who have generations of experience selling personal property; furniture, dishes, lawn equipment and the occasional rare painting. Selling real estate at auction is a complex matter that should only be attempted by full time experienced real estate auction professionals.

Commissions and fees may vary, sellers must pay all marketing expenses up front and buyers typically pay 10% of the sales price to the auctioneer of which a share goes to participating real estate agents.

Types of Real Estate Auctions

Auctions are effective because they create a seller’s market. Professionally conducted real estate auctions create urgency, a reason to buy today and competition for the property. Terms and conditions of sale are established ahead of the auction. Real estate auctions will follow one of these three approaches:

Absolute Auction

The property is sold to the highest bidder regardless of price- using this process often returns the highest sale price.

Minimum Bid Auction

Seller agrees to sell at or above a published minimum bid price – this method is useful for internet auctions.

Seller Confirmation or Reserve Auction

With a reserve auction, the seller “reserves” the right to accept or decline any bids usually within 48 hours of the auction. Reserve auctions are used when there is a lien on the property from a lender or a court ordered sale with a minimum selling price.