Amid all the tumultuous events occurring in today’s volatile real estate market including the recent multibillion-dollar verdict in Sitzer | Burnett litigation, it’s more important than ever for agents to focus on the real estate basics that work in any market.
I recently sat down with long-time San Francisco Bay broker-owner and trainer Jerry Kidd to discuss how getting back to basics can help you maximize your productivity and profitability. Kidd has always been a source of innovative ways for agents to build their businesses. True to form, Kidd came up a several unique approaches to these old standbys that you simply can’t afford to ignore.
As we wrap up 2023, here are some new twists on some old standbys that can make your business soar in 2024.
Jerry Kidd’s top suggestion for profitability in today’s market
While lead generation is critical, where many agents fall short is in their lead conversion.
Consequently, Kidd advises, “If you get a lead, you must contact them right away. If a lead comes in at 5 o’clock at night and you’re just sitting down to dinner, by 5:05, you should be on the phone, texting them or responding to them in some way. You just can’t push them off anymore because there are so many people out there who will respond to them. If you don’t get there first, your chances of actually converting that lead later become really marginalized.”
According to the 2023 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 80 percent of the sellers only interview one agent in person that they hire. This is why you must make following up with all leads and scheduling face-to-face meetings your top priority for your business in 2024.
There’s a second reason that’s equally important. According to NAR profile, 58 percent of the buyers are living in a property they own and may need to sell. In other words, for every five buyer leads you don’t respond to, you may have missed up to three opportunities to take a listing with a homeowner who is ready to transact.
Almost no one wants to door knock
If you’re like most agents, the thought of door knocking is a non-starter. What if there was a new way to knock on 10 high-probability doors where you have an effective strategy to engage that homeowner in a conversation that could lead to a listing?
Kidd was leading a training for about 30 agents where they were discussing getting face-to-face with potential clients. When Kidd asked how many of the agents were willing to go door knocking, and no one raised their hand.
Finally, Kidd volunteered to go door knocking with any agent who was willing to door knock with him. “One brave soul raised her hand,” he said.
Kidd’s door-knocking ground rules
Kidd explained exactly how he expected this agent to prepare if she wanted him to door knock with her.
Choosing the right neighborhood
Pick a flat neighborhood with no hills, and it should also be an area where there are track homes so that we don’t have to wander up long driveways.
Pick 10 homes, and do a CMA for each one of those homes
The agent complained that was a lot of work. Kidd’s response was “Do it.”
Although Kidd allowed the agent to choose which 10 homes she wanted to door knock, a wise move would be to go to REISource or another list provider and have them generate a list of homes where the owners are age 55 or older and have owned the home for at least 15 years. The reasons?
First, according to NAR, approximately two-thirds of the homeowners in the U.S. are age 55 or older. The probability they will have to move due to changes in financial circumstances, illness, injury, death or simply wanting to be near family members is high.
Second, if the homeowner has owned the property for 15 years or more, unless they refinanced repeatedly, they should have plenty of equity, which makes it easier for them to move into their next home that, in many cases, will be smaller and easier to manage than their present property.
What to include in your CMA
In addition to the CMA that Kidd suggested, create a beautiful property report using NAR’s Real Property Resource (RPR) at no charge. Although you can use the mobile app when you meet a lead at an open house or elsewhere to provide the report on the spot, the goal here is to give the owner the written information as a way of starting a conversation.
What to say
Kidd recommends that you begin by introducing yourself including the name of the company where you work. He then follows up by asking:
“We prepared a computerized valuation of your home. Would you be interested in seeing it?”
“That’s it. You’re just trying to get a conversation started — nothing fancy,” Kidd goes on to explain. “There’s no secret sauce, there’s no magic bullet, there’s nothing that’s going to make them fall down and sign a contract. It’s not going to happen. Instead, what we wanted to get was an opportunity to talk to people.”
Rather than saying “I have a computerized valuation of your home,” a slightly different approach is to call it an “Equity Checkup,” because almost everyone cares about how much equity they have in their home. This approach not only provides the homeowner with something of value, but it also distinguishes you and your services from everyone else who is marketing using a CMA.
If you’re invited in, look for commonalities to build a connection
Kidd is a Vietnam War veteran, and the owner who invited them in had fought in the Korean War. He noticed a book the man was reading. Once he broke the ice by asking about the book, the other agent took over the conversation from there. The goal is to build a personal connection that ultimately leads to trust.
The agent only prepared eight CMAs. Five of the doors they knocked on were not at home. Two of the owners opened the door, took the CMAs and shut the door.
“One of those two women wasn’t going to take it until we told her that it had been specially prepared for her. Then she took it,” Kidd said.
Where they did have success was when they knocked on a door where the owners were an elderly couple. They invited them in, and they talked for half an hour. This wasn’t a listing appointment, but a first meeting that could possibly result in a listing. This is also why prospecting people in their 70s and 80s can dramatically improve the probability of finding a lead who is willing to transact soon.
What to do with those CMAs or equity checkups you didn’t hand out
Kidd advises that you craft a letter explaining that you were in your neighborhood and stopped by their home to drop off a written evaluation of the home’s value or equity checkup.
“If you would like a more exact valuation, get back in touch, and we’ll come out and help you out,” Kidd said. “I want you to mail those letters with the CMAS and then follow up a week later with a postcard that says, ‘Did you get the CMA [equity checkup] we sent you? Do you have any questions?’ Beyond that, that’s as far as you should go with it.”
“It’s much better to give the seller something of value instead of a flyer, postcard or potted plant,” he said.
Here’s a slightly different approach from what Kidd recommends. Craft a letter saying that you have some additional information about the property condition, environmental hazards and other information that you would like to share with them.
If they agree to the appointment, use Attom Data’s Real Estate Navigator as a resource for even more information about the property. These reports contain crime information, environmental hazards, school data, and much more.
Make sure you’re prepared with an updated CMA, and that you have the necessary documents on your iPad or laptop to list the property.
You need a CRM. Here’s an unusual but effective way to build it
If you don’t have customer relationship management (CRM) or if you have a CRM but are overwhelmed by all the contacts that you need to add, Kidd has a simple approach for managing that issue. A lot of experts suggest that you load all your contacts into your CRM at once and then segment them into different categories.
Kidd recommends a different approach. Pick 20 or 30 people who you think are your biggest fans, and enter them into the database first. Then start adding in people from your various connections from where you attended school and the past jobs you’ve held.
This allows you to send very targeted information that will resonate with the people who receive it. If you fail to segment your CRM, everyone gets the same messages.
“The result is that after a while nobody wants to read any of your messages. Segmenting is best done if you start small, add people as you meet them, and properly classify them as you go forward,” Kidd said.
Where most agents really drop the ball: They fail to nurture their leads
Most CRMs have a social media component that allows them to send out automated emails and do automated postings, Kidd recently discovered an approach that helps you work with the social media algorithms in a way that will maximize your exposure to the people you want to see your posts.
Using Facebook as an example, create a friends list of your past clients. Because very few people see your posts anyway, look at those friends’ lists, rather than your general feed, and comment on their posts.
“So now they will see you, they will see what you said, and they will come back and forth to you over time as you start to show up more regularly in their feed,” Kidd says.
Kidd also advises that when it comes to nurturing your leads, don’t ignore the power of a handwritten note.
It can be as simple as:
“Hi, this is Jerry. We haven’t talked for a long time. Let’s get together for coffee sometime. Give me a jingle. Here’s my number.”
“Be sure you use an envelope with a handwritten address and an actual stamp. This will stand out in their mailbox which is packed with junk mail bills, catalogs, magazines, etc. This gets their attention, and they will open it,” Kidd said.
In this market, you must practice and master your craft
You have put in the effort to generate the appointment. The place to practice your listing skills is not in front of a seller. Kidd goes on to ask a very important question that he asked of a room with 100 agents — not one of them could answer this question: When was the last time you sat across the table from somebody to practice discussing what you will say on your next listing appointment?
“If you’re not doing this at least once or twice a week, then you’re rusty, and you’re now practicing your craft in front of somebody who can write a contract. That’s silly,” Kidd said.
“You know, you need to do this work, you need to get an accountability partner, you need to sit down face to face with another agent and practice, practice, practice. Have them throw every objection in the book at you, have them come up with the silliest of reasons, and work on how you can properly respond to those things so that when you’re face to face with somebody, you are a polished professional.”
Are you willing to step up your game?
Knocking on 10 doors a week and targeting the 55+ group will put you in front of high-probability potential sellers in a face-to-face situation. Giving them a detailed property report or equity checkup differentiates you from the competition and allows you to begin conversations that create trust and can lead to a listing.
Because circumstances for seniors can change drastically due to their age, your property report followed up with a handwritten note makes it simple to reach out to you when they need your services the most. The bottom line is that the basics never go out of style, regardless of what the market does.
Bernice Ross, president and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateC