Over the past two months, Darlene E. Jamison, the leader of the RE/MAX affiliate Jamison, sends more texts and makes more calls. She and her husband, Kevin, “plant the seeds” by asking previous clients to consider them for future moves and trying to find new ones as the housing market changes.
“It’s been so crowded all summer that you didn’t have to go through that,” said Jamieson, who works throughout the Philadelphia area. “They were coming left and right, buyers and sellers.”
Home buying and selling usually slows down this time of year as the holidays approach. But a year ago, Mortgage interest rates About 3% kept buyer demand higher than normal. Not only is seasonality back on the market, but so is it Home sales are slower than usual.
Earlier this year and last year, real estate agents didn’t have to look far to find buyers willing to take advantage of Low interest rate And sellers who wanted to take advantage of the competition between buyers helped them Home prices are going up. Now, with fewer buyers and sellers in the marketplace, agents are relying on both new, time-tested methods and new ways to reach people.
Jamieson said using social media to find clients has become standard for real estate agents, but it’s limiting. Messaging works, she said, and calling too is always a good bet, “especially if you haven’t spoken to someone in a while, because you never know who knows who’s looking.”
Agents make a lot of calls and meet with previous clients. They host holiday parties and food drives. Some send cards that look like handwritten messages but have been crafted by a robot to save time.
“I can tell you the phone is not ringing like it used to,” said Philadelphia agent Maria Quattrone, founder and CEO of Maria Quattrone & Associates and owner of RE/MAX @ HOME.
“This is the market it should be,” she said. People who have to buy or sell for one reason or another are still active. Perhaps you are expecting a family of twins and need more space. Perhaps the mother died and left a house that needs to be sold. Acceptance of a dream job may mean relocation.
“We have to talk to more people to find people to call,” said Quattron, whose team of about 20 makes calls every day.
“And fewer people answer the phones,” she said. “Fewer people want to do anything.”
Real estate agents know that the market fluctuates. For years, Quatron said, so many buyers were looking for homes that agents didn’t need to be as skilled at finding clients. Over her two decades in the industry, she said, she knows what it means to “really work” in business.
“You have to work harder,” she said, “and you have to work differently.”
This year, Mark Silver, a real estate agent and consultant with Compass Real Estate in Philadelphia, began sending out a new type of card to past and prospective clients. The letters appear to be handwritten. But even though Silver coined the words, a robot in Arizona wrote them.
At a facility outside of Phoenix, 175 Handwrytten-owned robots can type up to 1,000 notes per day using human handwriting estimations. The robots jagged the edges of paragraphs, bent lines of text, and made repeated letters in a note look a little different. For an additional fee, customers can have the robots write in their specified handwriting.
The idea is to catch people’s attention and show up in the junk pile. People are more likely to look at handwritten mail. Handwrytten says recipients tend not to think twice about the actual writing.
Handwrytten’s customers include “everything from piano tuners and solar panel installers to brokers and large retailers,” said David Wachs, CEO. He said real estate professionals are some of the company’s largest client bases, with about 33,000 clients nationwide. A few hundred work in the Philadelphia area.
A handful of companies around the country offer similar services.
A new feature by Handwrytten allows agents to circle an area on a map and capture all addresses in the area. Agents can filter by home value or how long someone has lived in their home.
Mark Baker, who became a real estate agent in February and works for Keller Williams Newtown, learned in a company training program the importance of following up with potential clients and writing notes.
“My handwriting is terrible to be honest. I can barely read it when I write it.” I was looking for a way to automate that. … I don’t have much time to write handwritten notes. So Handwrytten does it for me.”
Baker’s first customer cited his Handwrytten note as one of the reasons the seller reached out to him. Notes are more expensive than postcards—he pays about $4 each—so Baker uses them strategically.
New systems come with a learning curve. The first time he used Silver Handwrytten’s desk, Silver said, he had trouble loading a spreadsheet and accidentally sent the same card three times to the same address list, “ruining the whole handwritten idea.”
But he believes in the product as a way to stay on customers’ radar for future sales and potentially find new customers. He can customize messages on cards for celebrations such as birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. He cares about announcements of birth, college, and other life events and looks for opportunities to reach them.
“You can’t just sit back and let things land on your lap,” Silver said. If customers focus on the right activities, he said, “there is plenty of land to help people and serve people at a high level.”
Quattron holds workshops periodically for First time home buyerswho learn how to navigate the home buying process, and Quattrone gives their name to potential clients.
She also records educational and promotional videos for consumers, investors and fellow agents that she posts on social media. She broadcasts live on Facebook and has a podcast.
“People want to know who you are,” she said. “They want to know what you do.”
Silver email stock analysis reports to homeowners to celebrate the anniversary of their purchase. The reports include a market profile, trends he sees, and homes that have sold or failed to sell in the area. He invites recipients to make an appointment to speak with him.
Silver has been a music teacher for 16 years, checking in periodically with his network of parents and students. He sets up coffee dates to reconnect with previous clients and meet new people.
He recently threw a party for 45 former and prospective clients by painting and carving food and pumpkins. A photographer took family photos for the holiday cards.
Handing out a small holiday gift with a personal note to new customers is a popular tactic, Silver said. Something useful, like an oven mitt or turkey baster, will give. A note will show that he is grateful for their business and ask them to spread the word about his services.
Over recent weekend, Keller Williams’ Baker distributed about 150 brown paper bags to homes, seeking donations for his office’s Thanksgiving food drive. If families filled the bags, someone from the office would take them.
In addition to helping the community, “having a name is really what it does,” he said.
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