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2010-04-22 22:02:06

Don't Ignore Half of Your Possible Customers

CNN reported last September that 1.4 million Americans had already taken advantage of the first time home buyers tax credit. It is reasonable to conclude that number now exceeds 2 million. With the tax credit being an engine for that many sales and as the date for the expiration of the program rapidly approaches many concerned agents are asking, “Now, what?”
Separately, the California Association of Realtors® reports that 50% of all transactions in the state last year were REO or foreclosures (distressed properties).
Are you getting your fair share of those transactions? Maybe you’re one of the many who find the entire subject of distressed properties distasteful? Perhaps a fresh frame of reference might help overcome that reluctance.
Someone else’s dilemma is another’s profit opportunity
I received a call from our production department last week, in which it was reported that a client was having a panic attack because she had received a lead that was identified as coming from her ‘foreclosure’ page. “I don’t deal in that segment of the market” the client yelled; “I deal in ‘investments!”
Now, we’re getting somewhere: putting ‘Foreclosures’ and ‘investments’ in the same sentence! There are some tremendous buys out there in all price ranges. Even wealthy people have financial setbacks, too, and that puts some high end properties out there at prices that will never be seen again; not to mention the well publicized foreclosure issue with everyone else. Distressed properties truly are an equal opportunity field.
Some agents chide the banks need to improve as a reason for not participating
Last week I was reading an online newsletter when I came across this entry: “Most of my buyers have elected to not even view short sales. The banks need to get their act together first!”
I guess the idea that patience and persistence might be necessary to achieve a huge cost savings is an alien idea to this agent. I could not resist posting back: “With respect, you need to adjust your buyer’s outlook on this. After all, if 50% of sales are REO and Short Sales, refusing to look at them wipes out 50% of your chances to sell a home!” Short sales can be frustrating but when they work, they’re home runs. It’s not just the banks, people, who ‘need to get their acts together.’
Willie Sutton
In the 1920’s an infamous bank robber named Willie Sutton went on a bank-robbing binge in Massachusetts that remains notorious to this day. Like all such violent robbers, he was eventually apprehended. At his trial, a reporter yelled out a question: “Willie, why do you rob banks?” Willie smiled and responded “I rob banks because that’s where the money is!”
My question is a simple one: “What is it going to take for agents who are barely wringing an income out of the business today to recognize that distressed properties, and the process of buying and selling them, are with us for the next few years, at least? When are these agents going to have their ‘Willie Sutton’ moment and realize that distressed properties are “where the money is?”
What can happen when an agent wakes up to the opportunity?
Rick and Joyce Tietz are agents with Altera in Antioch and Brentwood, California. In addition to becoming Internet realtors, they concentrate on distressed properties. Thousands of agents refuse to accept distressed properties as an important part of their planning. Thousands of agents refuse to “tolerate” the bureaucracy of banks and governmental agencies, choosing to self righteously tell the world that “the banks need to get their acts together, first!” What about Rick and Joyce Tietz?
They’ll tell you that “The combination of proper Internet marketing and proper targeting of distressed properties has tripled our business in two years!”
Do you think they might be on to something, here?
The Tietz’ are not alone
Scores of agents now use their websites to target distressed properties (foreclosures, short sales, bank owned) as a result many of them are receiving great leads that have nothing to do with distressed properties: buyers are looking for good deals, not any particular type of property.
Once a prospective buyer tells the agent what they really want, it is the agents’ job to matchup inventory with what that visitor requested, and it makes no difference if it comes from regular MLS, from a foreclosed properties list, from a bank’s REO department, or from a little birdie: people are looking for value!
In addition to value, consumers want service and good advice
It is vital to remember this. So many agents receive a lead and don’t respond in person, leaving the job to some auto-responder email. So many agents don’t bother to read what it is that the visitor tells them they want, the agent just sticks them on an MLS drip email system and – what? — waits for an epiphany? You’ve got to contact them personally as soon as you get their inquiry or they leave you and go to someone who will contact them personally and promptly.
We tell our clients this: “your visitor will never be more ready to develop a rapport with you than in the moments after signing in to your site. When you call within minutes, you are well on the way to cementing a permanent relationship with that prospect.”
IDX, MLS, dumping leads into more computerized folderol won’t sell a single house. Computers do not sell houses; agents sell houses. Why is it that agents (for the most part) don’t understand that the most important quality in response to an inquiry is speed? Studies tells us that fully 81% of the time, an Internet buyer will stick with the agent they chose to inquire to if that agent responds timely and efficiently to their inquiries. NAR also tells us that 50% of Internet leads are never followed up upon.
Tell me again; how can any agent who refuses to properly follow up a real inquiry blame anyone but themselves for not succeeding?
Strangely enough, it happens daily.
What can you do to replace the first time buyers’ credits as a key part of your marketing plan?
It might be a good idea to target distressed property buyers and to do it online. It might be a good idea to remember that speed in response is of the essence. You might think I have beaten that premise to death in these columns but just last week I received an email from Laura Weaver of Palatine, IL, in response to a column.
Laura simply sent me an email showing me what she had requested of a broker and the response she received, in evident resignation. It is as follows: “My clients looked at your listing at 123 S. Smith yesterday and asked if we could get a breakdown of electric and gas bills for the past 12 months. Do you or your clients have this available?”
Here was the response she received:
“We can get the info but it may take a day or 2.  Terry is out of town till Thurs.”
Think: A prospect is asking for the last few details to properly frame or even to place an offer on a specific property RIGHT NOW and the broker can’t get the information back for two or more days? What century are we in? Interested buyers are to be coddled, to be answered, to be treated as if they are important and so are their questions.
Unfortunately, this kind of lackadaisical handling of prospects is all too common in the industry: many agents had it really good for a long time and many still haven’t realized that the same old way isn’t cutting it anymore. Clients must be answered immediately, leads must be treasured, opportunities must be taken, new markets must be aggressively pursued. If you want to spend the summer selling homes instead of having no one to call on, try going after distressed property buyers.
Don’t turn up your nose at distressed property specializations. Don’t turn up your nose at any market segment that is accounting for 50% of sales. Be like Willie Sutton: Go to where the money is!
If you’d like information about marketing to distressed property buyers online and  how  the Professionally Managed Lead Site gives you the most effective internet prospecting system yet devised more cheaply and more effectively than you can do it yourself, click here  and we’ll be happy to provide more information for you at no cost or obligation.  
About the Author: Mike Parker ( specializes in online marketing services for Realtors® and real estate professionals. Get a copy of “Real Leads™--How to get them and how to Sell Houses Online” It will be sent to you free and no one will call you. To request a free review of your website to determine if it is set up properly to be effective click here and it will be evaluated free.

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