Door knocking is a time tested prospecting technique in real estate. But in our current COVID-19 world, that's simply not an option anymore. Let's take a look at 11 prospecting alternatives that can be done from a safe distance away.
Door knocking is a time-tested, proactive, and effective way of putting yourself and your brand in front of clients.
Sure, it can be nerve-wracking to get in front of a total stranger’s door to present your services. And you need a thick skin to withstand all the slammed doors you will inevitably get. But door knocking has launched the careers of countless top producers and helps new real estate agents get their first transactions.
However, in our current COVID-19 pandemic reality, door knocking is not really the best idea. Not just because of the increased risk of helping COVID-19 spread even more, but canvassing could damage your brand because you could be seen as not caring about the health and well being of your potential clients.
So are there any good alternatives to door knocking you could be doing right now? Absolutely! Let’s take a look at some of them.
Call Your Sphere Of Influence
Your sphere of influence is made up of all the people you interact within your everyday life, those that know you personally, and especially those that trust you.
That includes your friends, family, neighbors, business contacts, and acquaintances that live in your real estate area of service.
These are the contacts that most likely generated your first real estate transactions.
If you’re already using a CRM, why not spend some time identifying those contacts in your sphere of influence that you haven’t reached out in a while, and give them a call?
Your call doesn’t have to be 100% about pushing your real estate services. Chat with them a bit, ask how they’re doing, and show some genuine interest.
If they have a big event going on in their lives, congratulate them, and see if you can remind them about your real estate services in an organic way.
Call For Sale By Owners (FSBOs)
Dealing with FSBOs can be challenging. Especially since they have implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) decided they don’t see any value in hiring a real estate agent.
It often feels that FSBOs outright dislike real estate agents, and choose to list on their own because they had bad experiences with them.
But don’t let that intimidate you. The vast majority of FSBOs end up hiring a real estate agent anyway, since they quickly realize selling a home on your own isn't as easy as it looks.
And that agent could very well be you if you’re willing to put the time and effort needed to master FSBO marketing.
Of course, given the current global situation, it would be best to reach out to FSBOs over the phone. When you call a FSBO, you HAVE to use tact and a light touch. Not just because of how hesitant they may be about working with a real estate agent, but also because FSBOs get called many times a day by competing real estate agents.
To stand out from the rest, you need to have a solid script, and use plenty of empathy.
If you want to learn more about marketing to FSBOs as well as an in-depth look at 4 proven scripts, check out our article on that very topic.
Contact Newly Expired Listings
Just like FSBOs, expired listings can be a gold mine if worked correctly.
Newly expired listings are a gold mine for many reasons. First of all, they are already very motivated to sell. Second, they are probably frustrated because their agent failed to sell their home quickly. This gives you an opening to go in and prove your worth. As the saying goes, "the second mouse gets the cheese."
Third, they are very easy to find. All you need to do is log into your MLS, and make a list of properties in your area of service whose contract is soon to expire.
And finally, the most likely reason homes don't sell quickly is that they weren't priced correctly. So if the home has already spent several months unsold, the homeowner will be more receptive to a price drop.
Here are a few tips to improve your success rate with expired listings:
Call soon - Just like FSBOs, newly expired listings get LOTS of calls from real estate agents. And these home sellers get tired of them VERY quickly. If you notice that a listing is soon to expire, make a note of it, and make it your life mission to be the first agent to call.
Don't aim for a listing right away - When you call an expired listing, your primary goal shouldn’t be to secure a listing right away. Not only is it very difficult, but you could also cause the homeowner to get defensive, and tell you that they already have an agent.
Instead, aim for an appointment. Invite them to a Zoom call, and offer a free consultation. If they don’t agree to it right away, get their contact information, and keep on nurturing the lead.
Get a script, polish it, and never stop improving it - Find a good expired listing script, and practice it with other agents. That way you’ll work out the kinks before you reach out to clients, and you won’t practice with your client.
Kevin Ward from YesMasters has an excellent script you can adapt for yourself here.
Don’t give up too easily - It’s easy to make the first contact, but you need to follow up. It may take 10 or more touches before you convince them to list with you.
Reach Out To Local Builders
Homebuilders and real estate agents have a symbiotic relationship. Real estate agents need new homes to be built, while home builders often need real estate agents to help them find buyers.
Homebuilders have extensive networks of contacts, know the housing market like few other professionals, and often work closely with real estate agents to sell their units.
Make it your goal to build a relationship with local builders, and work on a win-win incentive for them to work with you.
Don’t just show up asking for inventories and the highest possible commission split. Focus on relationships, not transactions. And make sure you provide something before you ask for something.
Reach Out To The Neighbors Of Any Home You're Selling
If you have a new listing, there’s a good chance the neighbors are going to get curious. Many of them could be thinking about selling their home as well.
Use the 5x5 rule. Contact the immediate 5 neighbors to the right, and the immediate 5 neighbors to the left of your listing. Invite them to the property’s virtual open house, and ask them if they are considering selling their home. You could even offer a free home evaluation over the phone or over Zoom.
And if you happen to sell your property in record time, let those neighbors know as well.
Reach Out To Landlords
Landlords are in essence real estate investors. They do after all own and manage an income-generating property. And a large portion of them is always looking for new properties to invest in.
So why not reach out to them? Make a list of rental properties in your area of service, find out who the owners are, and reach out to them.
But before calling them, be sure to have a number of properties they might be interested in.
How can you determine whether a property is likely to catch their attention? A good rule of thumb is the 2% rule. Study your local rental market, and look for properties in which monthly rent is 2% of the total sale price of the property.
If the local market is more urban and expensive, this rule can be adjusted to the 1% rule.
Once you have identified those properties, call the landlords, and let them know you can help them find their next investment property.
By building a relationship with landlords, you’ll obtain clients with the capital to continue investing in the future, and they might even refer you to some of their own tenants that might be looking to get a home of their own.
Build Relationships With Your Local Businesses
Just like you, your local businesses are struggling to adjust to our COVID 19 world. So why don’t you send some business their way?
Contact businesses that you frequent often, meet their owners and interview them. You can feature their stories on your blog (and if you don't have one, here’s how you get one started). Then, let them know about your services.
With so many businesses going out of business, many small business owners may find themselves downsizing, and will need a trustworthy agent to help them transition.
Market Your Services To Divorcees
Ok, I know what you’re thinking, “Wait... really? Isn’t that kinda questionable, or maybe even a little bit predatory?”
Not necessarily. If anything, this is a time where home sellers need your services more than ever. Selling a home is already a pretty emotionally heavy event for most people. And if you add a divorce on top of it, you can see why they would need someone emotionally detached from the situation.
During divorce proceedings, the majority of judges order the couple to sell their current property.
Over 31% of people going through a divorce will list their homes within 6 months of filing for divorce. This can be an excellent opportunity for you.
Needless to say, these are highly motivated sellers, and you could potentially gain two buyers from the transaction.
Market To Homes Inheritors
Each year, over a million Americans inherit homes. But the majority of them don't actually hold on to these properties and end up selling them instead.
Why is that? Think about it, if you suddenly inherited a home in a different state, you would have to spend the time and resources repairing it, remodeling it, and managing it. Especially if you have no intention of living in it.
This is where you have a great opportunity. Home inheritors are very motivated to sell their newly acquired homes, fast.
You could market our services to property inheritors, either directly or by means of SEO marketing.
Whenever a will is executed, a new case file is created and recorded at the county's clerk office. These case files are part of the public record, meaning that you can access case files to get all the details. Then, with a bit of research, you'll be able to find the inheritor's contact info.
Find Vacant Homes, And Reach Out To Their Owners
The US Census Bureau reports that there are around 17 million vacant homes. In fact, there may be hundreds of them in your city alone.
Many of these are owned by people that don’t really have any plans for these properties, but just haven’t gotten around to renovating them and/or putting them up for sale.
Finding vacant homes can be pretty easy. Look for signs of abandonment, neglect, or lack of activity. Drive around your area of service, make a list of all unoccupied homes you can find. Then, be proactive, and reach out to their owners.
The easiest way to find its owner is through your county's property tax records, or by looking up the property's deed in the county's recorder's office.
Look Into Tax-delinquent Properties
There is a surprising amount of homeowners that are behind their property taxes. And whenever someone fails to pay their property taxes, they get recorded in the county's tax delinquent list.
Many of these homeowners are YEARS behind their property taxes, and could potentially lose their property outright if they don't pay them soon. These individuals would be extremely motivated to sell.
Because the tax delinquent list is part of the public records, you can request a copy for yourself. Contact your county clerk, and inquire about the list.
After paying a fee, you’ll get all the information you need. Depending on your county, the list may be hard to parse through and get all the info you want. But if you're willing to put in the work, your efforts will be richly rewarded.
The current COVID 19 situation has affected every aspect of our lives. But it doesn’t mean that your work as a real estate professional has come to a halt.
By finding creative ways (as well as time tested ones) to continue prospecting and building relationships with new clients, you too will be able to thrive even in these times.
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