Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Row of new residential houses in suburban neighborhood

It Happened on My Street

A Guest Blog by Brian Fox, Benutech, Inc.

It happened on my street… and I would not be surprised if you have seen it occur on yours. A for sale sign goes in the ground… and presto –  soon after, more for sale signs start popping up. It’s an interesting phenomenon, but it seems to hold true in markets from coast to coast. For those reasons, you hear top real estate coaches in the industry advise their students to, “Find areas where homes are selling and market into those areas!” It works. It’s a big informational edge that increases agents marketing success rates.

So let’s take a moment and look at this turnover rate idea a bit closer. Here’s what happened on my street: no properties had been listed on my street for more than a year. Then a property went on the MLS market in June of 2015. By October, two more homes on my street went on to MLS priced similarly. All of them closed by January 2016, so in back to back months (March and April of 2016) two more homeowners on my street decided to list their properties for sale. Coincidence?

Maybe… But that’s five homes for sale on my street in the past year, when there were none listed the previous 12 months.  Not only that, but within my subdivision, there is not another street that has had more than two homes listed or sold within the same time period of time. Heck, I have even entertained the thought of selling my home at the prices homes are selling at on my street! The sign posts have even got me thinking.

So in my opinion, along with the opinions of those high profile real estate coaches, it’s true… when folks seedominator June3 sign posts in the ground it gets them thinking… “If I could get that much for my home, I would sell”. Or, “If that home can sell for that price, and it’s smaller than mine, then mine could sell for much more…”  So the bottom line:  Home sales in a community seem to get the selling ball rolling!  For a real estate agent, that’s a very good thing.

The only problem with turnover rate though is tracking it. There has not been an easy way to locate high rates of turnover in communities. Even if your title company or an assistant that you employ was willing to help you crunch the numbers to find the higher turnover rate areas… it’s time consuming.

That’s the reason we added the Tract Utility tool to Benutech, Inc.’s ReboGateway product.This tool instantly groups homes together by FIVE different property groupings, and displays the groups from highest turnover or sales rate to lowest rate in seconds. That’s SECONDS, not days!  Not only is Tract Utility providing quick, targeted results, but it’s also grouping homes in groups small enough for agents to easily identify and utilize.  Tract Utility breaks geographic areas down from Census Tracts to all the way to the housing tracts that homes are built into.  What’s the most popular grouping? It’s been the “Postal Carrier Route” grouping, which is the same group of homes that the US Postal Service uses when delivering ‘Every Door Direct Mailings’ (EDDM).  EDDM is the least expensive way to deliver mail, which cuts the price of mailing down to 1/3 the price of a postage stamp per door.

So as a real estate agent, where should you start? Right here:  Successful farming is created by repetitive listing inventory 2actions in the farm area. You can’t plant a seed (Mailer #1) and expect to reap large results in farming. It’s not enough care, not enough action to create a successful farm.  Successful farms are created with regular, repetitive contact at properties in your farm.  In crop farming the repetitive actions would be water and nutrients.  In real estate, its repetitive actions of mailers, door knocks, phone calls and the delivery of valuable useful information to homeowners that creates large crops of buyers and sellers. That’s why we love working with and partnering up with our friends from ProspectsPLUS.com. We provide the data and they provide the branding tools such as the impressive Market Dominator. It’s the perfect way to brand yourself in a farm area, and make yourself a known entity and celebrity to the homeowners, by showing you care about them and the community.

But now let’s talk about technology and farming. Farms can be created in any geographic area… but farming in all geographic areas are NOT the same. Not even close. You could choose to farm in the dry, rocky soil of the desert… and if you use tons of water, shade, and constant care, you may be able to create a successful farm.  But if you are smart, and chose an area of soft, fertile soil, a mild climate, in an area with lots of available water… wouldn’t you have a much better chance of creating a highly successful farm? Of course!  The place you choose to begin your farming is a very important decision. The correctly chosen area will result in more successful farms that are much easier to create. So select the area that is right for you and your farming.

So don’t just choose an area to farm that is closest to where you live or work – it may be dry, rocky soil in the desert… (and so 1990’s style of real estate farming).  Instead, you’ll want to crunch the numbers to find the community that has a perfect combination of…

  • Lack of solid presence of any one agent
  • high turnover rate
  • Solid sales prices
  • High homeowner saturation (as opposed to a large renter population)

This way, when you are ready to start investing in your geo farm, you know that you’ve got a market segment that has the highest potential for success.  You can do this on your own with the help of your title company and spreadsheets or acquire access to www.rebogateway.com and use the Tract Utility to find fertile farming areas in your neighborhood. Use that valuable information to identify the top postal carrier routes, or top housing tracts with the highest turnover rates nearest you.  Then begin your farming in these hand-picked farm areas using direct response tools such as the Market Dominator, Listing Inventory Series, or Neighborhood Update postcards from ProspectsPLUS.com, and a smart strategy of follow up via canvassing, door hangers, and phone calls, and you’ll be on track to build a successful farm that will continue to reward you with listings and referrals for years to come.

Join us for this week’s webinar “How to Pick the Perfect Geo Farm”, Thursday at 1pm Eastern. Register here.  

register now 5

Interested in finding out of if the Tract Utility tools and ReboGateway is right for you? Call the ReboGateway support team today at 866-887-0206 or email them today to set up a one on one demonstration at sales@benutech.com.

Interested in learning more about the ProspectsPLUS.com tools such as the Market Dominator to earn a 20% market share in the geo farm of your choice? Contact our team today at 866-405-3638 or visit us online at www.prospectsplus.com.

Real Estate Agent Success

Insights from the Front Line with Ramona Williams

By Julie Escobar

When it comes to knowing EXACTLY what real estate professionals, and specifically our ProspectsPLUS!
customers want and need to grow their businesses in today’s market, I knew that there was one person who would be perfect to interview. My closest friend and always one of the smartest people in the room, our Director of Business Development, Ramona Williams.  With both an MBA and more thirty years of experience working with real estate agents and brokers, she’s the go-to resource for insights and ideas.

Here’s what we learned:

Q:  You are on the phones with customers every day, where do you think agents are needing the most help in terms of marketing their businesses and their listings?

A:  Consistency – hands down. That’s honestly where most agent’s marketing breaks down.  One and done listing inventory snapshotmarketing doesn’t work, never has and never will.  Secondly, what hurts agents is having no strategy at all.  That’s not a new problem of course. That’s historically where agents fail to grow their businesses, and why so many don’t make it.  Unfortunately, the majority of agents try lots of little things, including whatever the “shiny new idea” is in the office at the moment and never commit to anything consistently.  The result is they end up all over the place in terms of the message they are sending out into their market, and they’ll actually spend considerably more money trying every new thing that comes along than they would if they just put a solid, strategic plan of tested direct marketing that works in place and stuck to it.  Consistently sending branded, direct response marketing every 21-45 days to a sphere and farm is still the best means of driving results in our industry.

Q:  We’re seeing a huge rise in agents using EDDM® as a means to strategically market for less – what is your take on that and what advice do you have for others eager to do the same?

A:  I think Every Door Direct Mail® is a terrific way for agents to cover a large geographic area because of the Dominator April 16lower postage costs.  It makes it really affordable for agents to get back to those basics like working a geographic farm.  What I really like about seeing agents return to geo-farming is that it helps them focus their marketing efforts. For a long while we saw agents just chasing the next deal. They’d follow internet leads wherever they took them – sometimes driving hours to take a listing.  EDDM helps them to find a geographic market area that makes sense for them and literally get in every door. When used consistently, it creates a much more predictive business and income model than constantly chasing new business.  Here’s what else I can tell you – the great agents get that. They know that it’s not only OK to be in control of their marketing and business, it’s a must if you want to create a consistently growing business with commissions and referrals you can count on.  I think so much of the time you see agents who look at the business of real estate as risky to start with or unpredictable because it’s commission based.  So their mindset is that their business is supposed to be all over the place, or unpredictable as well.  Savvy agents know that real estate is a business and can be a very lucrative one if they treat is like it is and work a plan.

Q:  What product do you see the most demand for in today’s market?

A:  I’d say in most areas of the country inventory is still historically low, so agents are looking for any vehicle that can help them get listings.  So we’re seeing a lot of EDDM, Just Listed postcards and Just Sold postcardsjl js cards (which are great for pulling double duty – marketing the listing and the agent), our Market Dominator, Listing Inventory cards, FSBO and Expired tools, and our Neighborhood Update/Free Offer cards. The last take a little more work to input the listing data, but it’s what consumers want to see, and they make direct response offers, so they work.  Again, it’s getting back to taking control of your marketing.

We are also seeing an uptick in agents struggling with pricing listings correctly and that’s where your eBook 21 Ways to Get Your Listing Priced Right the First Time (Despite the Seller’s Objections) is a terrific tool that’s really affordable and filled with the kind of objection handlers agents need today.

Q:  You and I go way back in this business – we won’t say how far!  How do you think the market has changed and what do you think agents can do to best get in front of those changes and be competitive?

A:  You know, surprisingly, it really hasn’t changed all that much.  Our business is and always be cyclical.  What is different, of course, are the amount of technology options agents have and how many different organizations are selling to them.  Many of which are amazing and game-changing solutions for agents, no doubt. It does, however, make it really easy for agents to take their eye off the ball and look for that “magic pill” that will skyrocket them to success.  While that’s understandably tempting, the keys to being the top in your field is the stay focused, build inventory, price listing right, have a strategic plan, and find areas you really enjoy working and stay the course.

Q:  Excellent advice! You work with top producers and high volume teams quite a bit as our Director of Business Development.  What are some factors from a marketing perspective do you think they deploy that allow them to continuously rise to the top?

A:  Much like we just talked about, top teams and top agents don’t roll the dice with their results. They build their businesses exponentially by putting systems in place so things don’t fall through the cracks and understand and implement the power of consistent marketing.  In other words, they don’t wait and they don’t shy away from marketing at high levels.  They prioritize immediate lead generation, but they also have systems that allow them to build their brand and their businesses long term.  They are also typically service-minded professionals.  They take excellent care of their customer base, and communicate effectively and often with their sphere and farm.  That’s smart business.

Q:  Awesome. Any last words of wisdom for the readers?

A:  Well I guess I would say that this is truly a great industry where people can make an excellent, lucrative living that is relatively affordable to get into with a strong return on investment.  I would tell them to be strategic, consistent and be mindful of who you model yourself after.  You and I have both seen, countless times, agents who have been in this business 3, 4, 5 – even 10 years or more in this industry and have never put a sphere of influence database together.  While some may do all right at that, it makes you really wonder where COULD their business be if they had put that basic but so important piece in place? That’s a lot of missed opportunity and money left on the table.  I’d challenge agents to not do the same.  Get back to the basics.  Have a plan. Use strategic, consistent marketing (both in terms of timing and branding) to build your inventory, price them right, follow up, and take care of your book of business and your farm.

As always, you’re a tremendous source of advice for today’s professionals. What’s great for our customers to know is that you’ve done such an amazing job of both training and managing our support and marketing teams that they have incredible skills and insights as well and are wonderfully adept at helping agents and brokers figure out the best plans for them, and helping them strategically implement those plans every day.  Kudos to you for that!  Thanks for sharing!

If you’d like to connect with a member of Ramona’s team, you can call them at 866-405-3638 or email us at pmc@prospectsplus.com.  They are eager to help make your job – and your life a whole lot easier!

Getting the Inside Scoop to See If EDDM is Right for YOU and Your Business

By Julie Escobar

Wow.  We’ve had a lot of calls recently about this powerful (and affordable) service now provided by the U.S. Postal Service.  It allows you to literally get in EVERY DOOR in a geographic area for as low as 18.3 cents in postage per piece.  But there are a LOT of questions out there – and a lot of folks unsure about which way to go in terms of getting their message in the right hands to help brand themselves in a market.  So I put on my fact-finding hat so that I could give you guys the inside skinny on some things you need to know about this service to determine if it is really right for you.

Fact #1:  According to direct marketing statistics, businesses which get the majority of their clients from within a 3 mile radius of their office are:  REALTORS®, mortgage brokers, insurance agents, dentists, chiropractors…(the list goes on – but did you catch that first one?) Love that!

Fact #2:   This is the most cost-effective means to deliver your message to an ENTIRE market area.  As a SATURATION mailing tool – you can literally send up to 5,000 pieces each day (to be delivered to EVERY SINGLE mailbox on your chosen carrier route) still pay no more than 18.3 cents in postage per piece.

Fact #3:  There is no postage permit necessary – only the required indicia which is fairly small needs to be placed on your mailing piece.  (We’ve got that for you- no worries!)

Fact #4 – You don’t need a mailing list.  This is a biggie!  One of the toughest components that agents find in building their book of business is developing their LIST.  While it IS one of the best practices you can ever do to build long-term referrals and keep your customers and clients calling YOU back for the duration of your career – it is a stumbling block for many.  So while you’re waiting to get your list together (go ahead and hire a broke college kid to start data entry today – they need the money and you need a database!) – the EDDM™ system is the perfect way to start branding yourself and discover NEW PROSPECTS to put into your sphere!

Fact #5:  You can send standard mail flats, irregular parcels, periodicals, and bound printed flats.  But – your
Dominator April 16mailing piece cannot be more than 15′ long, 12′ high and .75′ thick.

Fact #6:  The common mailing pieces for EDDM™ used by REALTORS® are newsletters, open house postcards, just listed postcards, just sold postcards, introduction/neighborhood specialist announcements or workshop invitations (first time home buying seminars, short sale seminars, workshops for seniors, renters. buy workshops, etc.)

Fact #7:  You can select whether or not you want your mailing delivered to P.O. Boxes and Farm mail routes!

Fact #8:  Your mailing will saturate every consumer within your carrier route AND  it can also include delivery to businesses.  However – you CANNOT just send to businesses.

Fact #9:  When choosing your carrier routes – remember to choose WISELY.  With this system – you must mail to EVERY home on the carrier route.  So it’s important to look at the market you want to saturate and budget accordingly.  If your route has 1,000 homes in it – then you’ll need to provide mailings for every home.  The average carrier route has about 250-500 homes in it.  When using the carrier route selection tool from USPS – we always recommend ‘de-selecting all’ first – when you get to that screen so it doesn’t pull up every route in your zip code (that can be a little intimidating!)  Then, based on YOUR budget, you can choose the carrier routes in your market with the number of homes you can comfortably afford to send to repeatedly.

Fact #10:  To piggyback on #9, while this is a much more affordable mailing option for most agents, contentremember this is still direct marketing.  So if you can only afford to (or care to) send a mailing ONCE to an area – then it will more than likely not glean you the results you are looking for.  Keep that 3-7-27 rule in mind.  It takes 3 impressions for someone to recognize your name, 7 impressions to put your name with your business and 27 to become a ‘top of mind’ brand name in someone’s head.  So better to mail to 300 people ten times for example than to send one mailing of 3,000 if you want to build that awareness and trust.

Fact #11:  You’ll need to include a form (PS Form 3587) with your mailing that identifies the carrier routes, number of homes in the route, etc.  It’s a government form so – while it’s a little mind-boggling – it’s not too bad!  (And with our service we’ll even fill it out for you so no worries!)

Fact #12:  Your mailers have to be bundled and banded in groups of 100 and include a “facing slip” on each bundle.  So that’s not a lot of fun – but again – we do that for you if you like.  Besides – you’ve got to think about those delivery folks!  Can you image if you gave them one giant stack?  Yikes!

Fact #13:  If your best target market is actually in other cities or states, you can use Priority Mail® to ship your Every Door Direct Mail mailings to the Post Office in that area.  How cool is that?  This is especially helpful if you are working with vacation properties or investors.

Fact #14:  You have OPTIONS.  Whether you’re an all-hands-on-deck kind of person and want to do everything yourself or whether you just want to choose your mailing piece, pick your routes and have the rest all done for you – we’ve got a solution that works for you, your market and your budget.  Learn more about how Every Door Direct Mail – just click here!

Fact #15:  You don’t have to do it BY YOURSELF.  The truth is, this is an exciting and affordable opportunity to saturate a market with your message but there are variables, budgets and geographic areas to consider.  Sometimes (all right – most of the time) it’s good to have another person to help walk you through the process.  Our EDDM specialists have the experience and knowledge to do just that – just give them a call at 866.405.3638.  They’re happy to help. 

Hope that helps!  Happy marketing!

A Guest Post from Our Friends at ReboGateway

Brian Fox, VP Business Development, Benutech, Inc.

We live in a world today where we know where we are going before we even get there – and life is easier and better because of it.  The best restaurants, stores, and shops can be located online, reviewed on various sites such as Yelp, viewed on a map, and if we want we can even see the front of the location using a street view before we arrive.  In other words, there are very few mysteries in area of direction in today’s world… we can very easily know before we go and for the most part, it’s how we roll.

Yet for some odd reason, this know before you go mentality has not been used in real estate as often as it should.  Most Realtors, seem to market into geographic areas or to family and friends… as in the people closest to where they live, or closest to where they work.   It’s random, it’s best known as the “shotgun approach” to marketing, and it’s like heading to a new spot in your city without reviews, maps, or direction. It was how it was done in the 1980’s but why so today?

Real estate coaches throughout the U.S. seem to be on board with the know before you go mentality.   Seems every coach I have ever read or heard, is focused on finding areas that are selling (areas of 7% turnover rate or higher per year), and then coach their students to market into those areas for better marketing results.  Turnover rates or other “reasons to sell” such as divorce, mortgage default, or empty-nester status are all available… and easily accessible.  So why in 2016 should we market from Front St., to Market St., between Main St. and South St. when we could be marketing to owners that have reasons to sell their property?

To illustrate this point, let’s take a quick look at the wonderful city of McKinney, TX.  It happens to be the city that CNN Money named in 2014 First Place for “Best Places to live in the U.S.”  The U.S. Census Bureau also named it the fastest growing city from 2000 – 2003 and again in 2006.  The Realtors in McKinney obviously have a lot of selling points for their fine city and the sellers in McKinney should be in a good position to profit from these accolades if they choose to sell.

But let’s use data to take a closer look at the city… There are 15,187 rooftops in McKinney, most of which are single family residences.  For most Realtors, it’s not possible to market to all 15,187 of those residences.  There are just too many rooftops in McKinney, not enough funds in the marketing budget, and not enough time to accomplish marketing to each of those residences once per month.  So rather than marketing to all residences, or just the residences nearest you… can we find the needles in the McKinney haystack?  In other words, can we find the folks that have a higher probability of selling their homes in McKinney this year or next?  The answer is: Yes.

Homes in McKinney traditionally sell at rate of about 3.3% per year.  In the most recent couple of years, homes have been selling at better than 10% per year with the added popularity of McKinney. But newly sold homes rarely go back on the market and sell in the upcoming few years… so today, how do we find the most probable sellers for 2016 & 2017 in McKinney? The same way you use your phone to find the best lunch spot in McKinney.  You leverage information to know, before you go.

All Realtors can think back to listings they have taken and sold in the past and why they were able to acquire them.   A homeowner filed for divorce, and then they listed and sold their home to make an equitable split.  A mortgage default occurred at a property, you got the listing.  An owner passed away, then you got the listing.  Preceding most sales is a “life event” of some sort… and the life event may simply be the increasing age of the homeowner that then leads to their property selling.

Most life events are available to the general public.  Divorce, eviction, probate, bankruptcy, and mortgage or Real-Estate-Life-Event-Postcardstax default filings are all made public by courts.  When matched to owned property, it creates a database of homeowners that are much more likely to sell in coming years than their neighbors.  When homeowners decide to go FSBO, or have an Estate Sale to sell personal belongings prior to a move – they post the information online to drive traffic to the event.  Again, knowing these addresses provides a timing advantage to the Realtors that find them and market to them.

Let’s now get back to McKinney.  We have already discussed that there are 15,187 rooftops in the McKinney haystack.  A closer look at available information on “life events” in McKinney reveals the following:  There are 87 homeowners that have filed for divorce in the past 12 months that have not yet sold their homes. These folks may be going from 2 incomes to 1, and may need to sell.  They may have more equity in their property than money in the bank.  Either of those reasons could lead to the equity being liquidated by property sale in order to facilitate a fair split between the owners.  Statistically, 22.1% of couples that file for divorce sell their homes in the first 12 months after filing.  A good Realtor is going to be an important piece of that puzzle.

Also in McKinney, there are 32 homes with mortgage default filings in the past 6 months. Better than 50% of these will result in property sale within 12 months. Eight homeowners have filed bankruptcy in the past 6 months. Fourteen homes are trying to “For Sale by Owner”, but have not yet sold. Seven homes are in Probate.  There are also 1,498 homes with approved “Senior (Property) Tax Exemptions”.  Of those, 570 of them also have 4 bedrooms or more (large homes). These are your classic “Empty-Nesters”, and they sell property for many reasons.  The home may be too big for them now, the stairs are no longer a good idea, they may soon need an elderly care facility, or their passing may facilitate the home sale.

In each of these situations, it has been statistically proven that when these types of events occur, the properties associated to them sell more frequently.  There is no way of knowing that these events are occurring by looking at the street address or by staring at the outside of the home.  Life event data has to be matched to owned property, and when that match occurs, the results are eye opening.

ReboGateway, a product by Benutech, Inc., identifies and matches these types of life events and more to owned property.  ReboGateway allows Realtors to quickly identify probable sellers by “life events” so that they can be smarter about whom they market to and when to market to them.

So the next time you are in McKinney, TX or in your hometown, don’t just stop at any lunch spot. Use select data to know before you go.   In case you were wondering, in a state known for its barbecue, the best BBQ in McKinney, TX is Hutchin’s BBQ and Grill. It is ranked the 2nd best restaurant in the city and 356 reviews say it’s a “must go” as the “Best BBQ in North Texas”.  Similarly, the next time you choose to make yourself known to homeowners with your focus on acquiring new listings… find the addresses that are more likely to sell, and market consistently to those addresses.  The correct select data matched to a consistent marketing plan is how it should be done today and in doing so; Once again, life is easier and better because of it.

To learn more about using Life Event trigger data from ReboGateway to market in your area, watch our webinar on demand at blog.prospectsplus.com/rebogateway-prospectsplus-webinar-on-demand/.

If you’d like to learn more about how Brian and his team are helping real estate pros across North America use technology and systems to grow their businesses more efficiently and effectively, join us April 7th  at 1pm Eastern for a powerful new webinar – Everything You Wanted to Know About Every Door Direct Mail!