Ask Brian: Can a Realtor Stand Head and Shoulders Above the Crowd?



Ask Brian is a weekly column by Real Estate Expert Brian Kline. If you have questions on real estate investing, DIY, home buying/selling, or other housing inquiries please email your questions to askbrian@realtybiznews.com.

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Question. Anonymous from Kentucky asks: Hello Brian, I’ve been a practicing realtor of more than six years. I list and market homes as well as work with buyers. I know the ropes and routinely follow the managing broker’s generic marketing plan. Of course, that means I’m getting middling and generic results. I want to move up to the next level to become a standout realtor. I’d love being able to point to extraordinary results to make clients signup for my services a lot more frequently. Do you have any ideas for me to consider?  

Answer. Hi Anonymous. I like your dramatic approach. If you want to stand head and shoulders above the Realtor® crowd, you need to provide services no one else offers. Have you thought about offering an intense 30-day marketing plan instead of the standard 90 day listing period?

You don’t want to guarantee a sale in 30 days but you can offer ending the listing contract after 30 days. That doesn’t mean all of your listings will walk away at that time. But it does mean you have to bring an “A” game to your marketing plan. When clients like what they see, they’ll most likely extend the contract even if there isn’t a signed purchase agreement in 30 days. Your tag line could be, “I will invest my time and money for 30 days and then you’re free to explore other options. How does that sound?”

This could be your niche in the market. Instead of going after every seller, you focus on specific sellers with a need to sell quickly.

  • Only go for listings you think will move in 30 days. Don’t get bogged down with 6-month listings that cost you money and have you constantly asking sellers to lower the price every month or to be open to contingencies. Who wants that when you can sell a house every week with a niche strategy?
  • Market your services to sellers in deteriorating financial situations – facing bankruptcy, foreclosure, or other personal reasons (the market is full of them).
  • Explain your strategy to price low and move fast. Limit your listings to clients that understand and agree with the strategy. You are offering something they cannot get from other realtors – this is your niche.
  • If they are apprehensive but interested, point out that they will be released from their obligation after 30 days to pursue other options. But until then, the goal is selling fast.
  • Get motivated and market the heck out of them for 30 days.

A few well-chosen 30-day listings makes a heap more sense than lots of listings not priced to sell fast. Pull out all the marketing stops. Know your location and neighborhoods. All of the ideas below might not work for you but you can pick and choose the ones that do.

  • Place bandit signs throughout the neighborhood reflecting the value to be found. Besides putting signs right in the neighborhood, also post them at major and minor intersections leading into the neighborhood.
  • Emailing blasts through your title company representative’s email list to all the Realtors within 5 miles can be very effective.
  • Involve your seller filling out postcards with marketing information. These can be sent to friends, relatives, and work associates. Include parents of their children’s friends. Anyone who has been to the house or that the seller might have talked to about the house. Neighbors included. If the seller can come up with 50 or 60 names to send post cards to there is a good chance someone familiar with the house will be interested at the low selling price.
  • Create hardcopy flyers to drop off to all those same realtors from the title company list within 5 miles. Why do this? Because repetition counts. You want the Realtors to see what a value you have in two or three ways over a week or two. They will connect mentally with your listing and they are much more likely to present it to their buyers than they are if you just put it in the MLS and maybe do one mailing or one email. Tab flyers, the kind with a telephone number listed on tear off strips at the bottom can be posted on grocery store, church, and community center bulletin boards.
  • Knock on doors. This is solid but often over looked marketing opportunity that generates interest. Make up flyers with a heading reading: “Why Rent When You Can Own.” Approach apartment dwellers nearby and other home renters. Often, a house is sold this way rather than through another agent and of course you get both sides of the commission. This can be a great way to find buyers who qualify for an FHA loan. Let them know that 2% or 3% down might get them into their own home. If they don’t buy this listing, they’re likely to call you about your future low price listings.

None of these marketing techniques is expensive. Expensive newspaper ads are obsolete but it doesn’t hurt to run free online classified ads that many newspapers have and also on craigslist.

Just to drive home the point, you need to pull out all of the marketing stops to sell a house in 30 days or less. Part of your motivation is the possibility of gaining both the listing and selling commissions.

While you are doing that, other realtors will be driving clients around from one overpriced house to another. In the meantime, that client is taking up valuable time waiting for a better deal to come along next month. In the same month, you’ll have sold 4 or 5 houses.

There are a ton of other inexpensive but effective marketing methods that other realtors have stopped using all for the sake of technology. Follow up with every realtor who shows the property by using the lockbox data. You might learn a smell is coming from the back yard that is easily fixed by putting down lime on the lawn.

Create some real excitement around an open house by putting out the word that you need to sell in 9 days. Publicize it to death. Make it clear that any offer is a welcome offer. Don’t be surprised if 100 or 150 people show up and 10 or 20 make offers. Many might be really bad offers but you now have a list of leads to follow up on that includes a best offer and multiple back up offers.

Take copious notes about what all these people say about your non-traditional approach. Fine tune your processes over six months and you could become the local king or queen of 30-day listings.

There are tons of marketing ways to rise head and shoulders above the crowd. I look forward to others sharing some of their more imaginative methods. Our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions or inquiries to askbrian@realtybiznews.com.

Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 12 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, near a national and the Pacific Ocean.