Are you tired of sifting through your client database, unsure of who to reach out to next? You know there are valuable clients in your database somewhere. But working them? That’s another story.
Many agents find themselves in this predicament. While it may feel daunting, it’s manageable if you focus on a few key actions. You just need organization and a tight plan.
Before you send another client email, text, or DM, take some time to declutter your client database and transition to a well-oiled, lead-gen machine. We’ll show you how in the following article.
In this article, you'll learn:
How to segment your leads
How to create touchpoints that profit
How to measure the effectiveness of your outreach
How to create a path to predictability
Let’s dive in.
Step 1: Segment your leads
It all starts with segmentation. By segmenting your database, you’ll be able to identify and target specific groups of people with tailored messages rather than sending the same generic message to everyone. And once you know who you’re talking to, you can craft a relevant message and engage effectively.
Leads generally fit into one of four categories: Icebox, Active Sales Pipeline, SOI/Past Clients, and New Leads.
What are Icebox leads?
Icebox leads are those in your pipeline who know about you but are not hot enough to work. They’ll likely be outside the 12-month mark when buying or selling property.
How do I identify clients in my sphere of influence (SOI)?
Clients in your sphere of influence know your name and what you do. Consider clients who actively engage with your social media posts, clients you’ve worked with in the past, or clients who have referred others to you.
What is my Active Sales Pipeline (ASP)?
If you know someone actively buying, selling, or investing within the next 12 months, they’ll fall into your Active Sales Pipeline. These clients should get your deliberate attention.
Clients within your ASP will be further classified as either “hot,” “warm,” or “cold” leads.
What are “hot” leads? Hot leads are any clients looking to buy, sell, or invest within 90 days.
What are “warm” leads? Warm leads are any clients who want to buy, sell, or invest within the next three to six months. Think about new parents who need to upgrade or recent retirees who need to downsize.
What are “cold” leads? Cold leads are clients buying, selling, or investing within the next 12 months.
Which clients count as New Leads?
Did you recently host an open house? Run a marketing campaign? Make a connection at a happy hour? Those are New Leads.
Once you’ve identified which clients in your database fit into which category, label them in your CRM for easy sorting and identification. Additionally, as a general rule, keep your Active Sales Pipeline within 100 leads at a time.
Step 2: Create touchpoints
Now that you’ve segmented your CRM, it’s time to create your touchpoints. Here’s the kicker: every one should get at least one touch (email, text, social post, etc.) from you within the next 30 days. (Yes, even your “Icebox” clients.)
Start with an action plan within your CRM. One study found you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. An action plan will ensure you’re on track and always working towards your next lead.
Review your current (and previous) efforts. Take a trip down memory lane. Can you host a happy hour like no other? Got a penchant for postcards? Think about your strengths and lean into those as you begin building your action plan.
Here’s a framework for how often you should be reaching out to your leads:
Create a “10-Day Plan” for New Leads. If you’ve ever watched a true crime show, you know the first 48 hours are crucial. It’s like that when working with New Leads, too.
A “10-Day Plan” is an intense outreach plan for — you guessed it — the first ten days. Making contact with your newest contacts fast is crucial. You need to stay top of mind and begin building a foundation with them. Doing so will build trust and help you better understand your lead’s real estate goals. Invite them to happy hour, take them to lunch, shoot them a text — whatever it takes to make that initial connection.
Step 3: Measure your effectiveness
There’s no time to waste in today’s market. Home prices, buyer and seller sentiment, and interest rates can shift on a dime. That’s why it’s so important to have milestones that can help you predict the success and strength of your database.
Write down your goals. Before you make a call, figure out what you want. Write those down. Is it more transactions? More clients in your “hot” pipeline? Your goals help you stay focused and know when to activate specific leads.
Track your progress. After 30 days of outreach, review your inputs and outputs. Were clients picking up your phone calls? Were texts going unanswered? Count them up, and use these successes and misses to create an “accuracy percentage.”
Refine your strategy. Once you know how successful your efforts were, you’ll be able to create more predictability in your pipeline. You may discover that open houses lead to more clients or that your phone scripting needs work. Tracking your efforts will give you the most transparent picture and help you pivot.
Create the path to predictability
The goal of segmenting your database, building an outreach plan, and creating an accuracy percentage is to create predictability. You can’t control the market but you can control how you react to it. The more organized and deliberate you are in your outreach, the better you can manage any wave of change within the market and build a strong moat.
Remember, real estate is typically a 90-day cycle, and consistent effort is the key to creating more favorable outcomes.
Consider these questions:
If I am to segment my database, what do the next 0-90 days look like if my accuracy percentage is 100%? How often am I 100% right?
In the next 90 days, if I did ___ transactions, am I on the path to where I want to be financially?
Keep going — and remember, Homeward is always here to help you win more business with powerful products, marketing campaigns, and client support.
The content of this blog post was inspired by a recent Homeward webinar, “Turn Your Database into a Lead Generation Powerhouse.” If you’d like to watch a recording of the webinar, click here.
Social media is a real estate agent’s best friend. Ninety-seven percent of home buyers use the internet to aid in the homebuying process, and 43% of them search for available properties before contacting a real estate agent.Eighty-two percent of Americans use at least one social media platform, meaning a strong social media presence better positions agents to become a part of homebuyers’ increasingly digital purchase process.
However, not all social platforms are created equal. An engaging real estate social media post on Facebook might languish on Instagram or TikTok. Agents don’t just need to create high-quality and engaging social media content to grow their brand and attract leads. They also need to grapple with the unwritten rules and best practices of each individual platform.
Fear not: social media for real estate agents doesn’t need to be a headache. Here are the whys, wheres, and hows to creating real estate social media posts that build brand awareness and drive in leads.
Why building a social media presence for real estate agents is a must
Agents who have invested time into cultivating a social media presence speak highly of its benefits. Fifty-two percent of agents identify social media as the tool that brings in the highest quality leads, and 60% argue that maintaining social media pages is more important than having a dedicated real estate website.
People of all ages use social media, but it’s especially popular with millennials.Eighty-eight percent of the generation use social media daily, and 79% of them use it more than once a day. Meanwhile, millennials comprise the largest homebuying cohort in the country, making social media presence a must for agents looking to appeal to increasingly tech-savvy homebuyers.
The importance of social media to the modern real estate agent can be boiled down to four major components:
1. Real estate social media posts establish credibility
You’d be leery of doing business nowadays with a company that doesn’t have a website, and consumers have begun to feel the same way about businesses without social pages. The homebuying process is a complex undertaking, and social media helps prospects see that your business is legitimate.
2. Social media posts increase visibility
More people use Facebook than platforms like Google Reviews or Yelp to discover new businesses. Additionally, 77% of real estate agents have social media pages. If you’re not on social media, prospects in your area won’t have a hard time finding an agent who is.
3. Social media posts express your brand
Even in an increasingly online world, real estate remains an incredibly personal business. Clients want to work with agents who represent their interests, exude confidence, and have a wealth of experience and expertise. Social media enables agents to differentiate themselves and show their value before ever having a conversation with a prospect.
4. Social media posts don’t cost a dime
You won’t find a more cost-effective or versatile channel for reaching your audience than social media. It’s free to create and maintain social media pages, and you can change your message and target audience with each individual post. Yes, you need to spend time planning and creating posts, but a couple of hours a week of planning is enough to craft high-performing posts.
Dozens of social media platforms exist, but you only need to build an online presence on a select few to build awareness and drum up traffic. The three best social media platforms for engaging real estate prospects are Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
How to use Facebook to engage real estate prospects
Facebook remains the most popular social media platform in the United States. In the US alone, 190 million people have a Facebook account. Younger generations are the most avid social app users in general, but Facebook has managed to build a strong Gen X and baby boomer user base as well. An impressive 35% of the platform’s users are older than 45. This makes Facebook the best social media channel for appealing to potential buyers of all ages.
Facebook’s algorithm dictates which posts your page’s followers see in their “home” view — or, as Facebook calls it, their Feed. Posts that gain likes, comments, and shares positively signal the algorithm, which in turn increases the post’s visibility amongst your followers. Imagine posting a link to a listing right now on your Facebook page. Only just over 2% of your followers would find the post in their Feed. However, once your followers start reacting to your post, the visibility percentage will slowly increase.
Ultimately, your success on Facebook and other social platforms depends upon your ability to create posts that encourage audience engagement.
Best practices for creating engaging Facebook real estate posts
The tone and messaging you use in your real estate business posts on Facebook will differ based on how you want to represent yourself to your audience. As a real estate agent, people respond positively both to your vibrant personality and your authority in the field. It’s beneficial to craft posts that reflect a playful but professional tone that broadly appeals to your prospects across demographics.
Several other factors influence whether users find a post engaging or not. The most successful Facebook posts:
Use images or videos.Research shows that images encourage users to click through to your website. Furthermore, Facebook’s own algorithm favors posts that include video, viewing the format as more engaging than both video-free posts and static images.
Stick to short, punchy copy. Any time a user logs into Facebook, a staggering 1,500 posts could appear in their Feed. Images and video help a post stick out, but long, word-heavy posts are likely to get scrolled over by fast-scrolling users. You only have a few seconds for your post to stick out to a user, so distill your message down to as few words as possible.
Go out daily. Unlike some other social platforms, one post a day on Facebook encourages better engagement than multiple posts a day. Businesses with fewer than 10,000 Facebook followers see a drop in engagement if they post 60 times a month (roughly twice a day). It’s also easier to create higher-quality posts when you’re only aiming to send one out a day.
Get boosted. Your posts on Facebook only go out to users who follow your business page — unless you want to pay to boost a post. Boosted posts can be customized to target users outside of your followers. The more you’re willing to pay, the more users will see your post. If a particular post has gained a great deal of engagement from your followers, it might be worth throwing a few dollars behind it and targeting non-followers within your market.
It pays to create imaginative and diverse types of posts on Facebook, but there are a few social media post ideas that play to Facebook’s strengths, including:
1. New listings. These are the bread and butter of your business. Highlight the most attractive features of your home in the listing and add your voice and flair to the proceedings to capture attention and foster engagement.
2. Client testimonials. It can turn users off to hear businesses talk about how great they are — so let your customers do it for you! A quote or screengrab from a positive review adds credibility to your business. And don’t forget: Facebook loves video posts. Bonus points if you manage to get the customer on video for a more personalized, authentic testimonial.
3. Advice & tips. People seek out real estate agents for a reason: you help make a complex process less stressful. Post videos, information tidbits, or blog posts describing common home buying, selling, or owning conundrums and your professional advice for overcoming them to show off your hard-earned real estate knowledge. This also positions you as a continuing resource for customers you’ve already helped in the past.
How to use image-centric Instagram to boost your brand
Facebook’s parent company Meta owns Instagram as well, which means that many of the same algorithmic rules apply when posting to the site. Engagement is still the name of the game. However, Instagram is designed as a far more visual platform than Facebook. The text in an Instagram post supports the visuals, not the other way around.
This intensely visual medium attracts a younger audience, namely millennials and Gen Z, who make up more than 70% of users. It’s the millennial audience that makes Instagram worth pursuing for real estate purposes. The generation is now the largest homebuying cohort in the US, and they make up nearly half of Instagram’s estimated 123.1 million US users.
Instagram is all about persona and aesthetics. Instagram users are invested in the people behind the accounts they frequent. A Facebook post of a listing could include an image of the house in question. On Instagram, you’re better off taking images or videos of yourself touring the house. Agents who figure out how to visually convey their brand and personality are the ones who see the greatest post engagement on the platform.
Best practices for creating engaging Instagram real estate posts
A key component to success on Instagram is the concept of influence. An Instagram influencer is someone who has built a reputation amongst users as an expert in a certain field and commands a sizable following. Many companies end up paying influencers to market their products for them because 49% of people find the recommendation of influencers more reliable than that of a business.
Real estate agents are already experts in their fields, and selling houses is already a visual experience. This enables agents to lean into the “influence” side of Instagram instead of the pure “business” side. Posts should feel more relaxed and less “business”-y than those on Facebook. Additionally, real estate agents should post images and videos that position themselves as a focal point just as much as the house they’re trying to sell.
Engaging real estate Instagram posts should also:
Include great aesthetics. Eye-catching visuals are a critical component of Instagram success. Make sure you’re taking good pictures with a quality smartphone camera and use Instagram’s default filters to achieve visually appealing results.
Focus on first-time homebuyers. Not every millennial will be a first-time home buyer, but a study by the National Association of Realtors found that 81% of younger millennial homebuyers were purchasing for the first time.
Include the phrase “link in bio.” Instagram doesn’t allow for hyperlinks in the body of posts. However, you can add a link back to your website in your bio that appears at the top of your Instagram profile. Subsequent posts can then include the phrase “link in bio” at the end of the body text to drive users back to your website. Pro tip: Instagram only lets you include on link in your bio. Use one of several “link in bio” tools to link out to your social pages, website, and any other platforms you’d like to send your users to.
Use hashtags. The symbol formerly known as the pound sign (#) allows you to categorize your posts. You could include a “#realestateadvice” hashtag in a post where you spill secrets about the homebuying process. A user browsing Instagram under the same hashtag could then find your post through the platform’s search function, thus increasing your post reach.
Embrace video. Again, Instagram and Facebook are owned by the same company. The algorithm prefers video, and 88% of users want to see more video content from brands they engage with.
Post frequently. When you crank out quality posts, your followers can’t get enough of your content. Research indicates that accounts with up to 250k followers see maximum engagement when they post at least 14 times a week, or roughly twice a day.
The 3 best types of posts to use on Instagram
Unsurprisingly, the best types of posts to use on Instagram focus on two things: quality pictures and an emphasis on YOU. These posts include:
1. Virtual tours and open houses. Don’t just include a static image of a listing. Take your camera around and show off a listing both inside and out. This allows you to highlight both the house you’re selling and your own skills as a real estate pro.
2. Wins. Successful Instagram influencers focus on results. The best result an agent can achieve for their client is a successful close. Snag pictures or videos of your clients on close days to capture their joy and show your followers that you get the job done. It never hurts to get a picture in front of the house in question or to throw yourself in the picture, either.
3. Introduction videos. There are hundreds of real estate agents Instagram users could follow — so show them what makes you unique. Quality real estate content is important but giving your followers a peek at what makes you you will help you stand out on a crowded platform and maintain interest from your followers.
How to use video to appeal to young homebuyers on TikTok
TikTok takes the increasing preference for video on social platforms and takes it to its logical extreme. You can only post videos on TikTok, though you can embed text within your videos to support them. The platform is younger than both Facebook and Instagram and also attracts a younger user base than both. Twenty-five percent of TikTok’s 78.7 million US users are between the ages of 10 and 19, which often leads to businesses dismissing the platform as a marketing resource.
This is a critical error for real estate agents, as 44.1% of TikTok users fall between the ages of 20 and 40 — the prime age range for first-time homebuyers. TikTok also grew an incredible 40.8% in 2021, and marketers who dismiss its relevance today will find themselves having to catch up in the future.
TikTok celebrates authenticity and humor over the glossiness and hyper-stylization of Instagram. People take to Instagram to show an idealized version of themselves, their lives, and their jobs. Meanwhile, TikTokers take to the platform to joke about customer interactions or admit to embarrassing mistakes they’ve made throughout their day.
Fortune favors the bold, the creative, and the comical on TikTok. Real estate agents who generate serious business on the platform understand the need to remain vibrant, unique, and friendly even while discussing drier or more serious topics.
Best practices for creating engaging TikTok real estate posts
TikTok’s algorithm is unique compared to that of Facebook. It doesn’t factor in the number of followers an account has when it comes to how many people see a post. This benefits real estate agents starting on the app, most of whom will only maintain a small following in the first several weeks or months of use.
In other words, you don’t need 10,000 followers to be seen on TikTok — you just need good, engaging content that includes:
Hashtags. Like Instagram, hashtags help categorize videos and make them searchable by the broader user base. You have to spend money on Facebook to run geographically targeted campaigns, but simply including city hashtags in TikTok will help get your videos in front of users from that area.
Individuality. People on TikTok expect something unique in a post, whether it be humor, a unique take, or mind-blowing facts. Not every post has to be gut-busting but find something that intrigues people looking to be entertained. Talk about a real estate fail you recently experienced. Talk about the craziest feature of a house you’ve sold.
Memes. TikTok allows you to embed music, audio, and even video clips from other posts in your own content. Certain clips trend from time to time. If you find a way to include these trending clips in your videos, you can piggyback off the trend and gain traffic by association.
Consistency. Post at least once a day. If people are engaging with your videos, it’s worth posting more! But posting a half dozen videos a day with little engagement is time that could be better spent doing other lead engagement activities.
A niche. Did your “5 things I wish someone told me before going into real estate” post rack up views? Consider turning it into a series that users keep coming back for.
1. Insider knowledge. Divulge your “secrets” to warn or advise fellow TikTokers on a complex topic that you can explain simply (and charismatically).
2. Day in the life. Post a funny, relatable story about something that went right (or wrong!) with a listing. These posts help soften your business persona and allow you to appear both relatable and knowledgeable in your field.
3. Local posts. Show viewers you’re a local pro — and signal to the algorithm where your target markets are. Some examples: tour a neighborhood, throw in some local real estate facts, show users a great local vista, or highlight a historic home.
Best practices for creating engaging real estate social media posts
It pays to create unique posts for each social media account that speaks to each of your unique buyer segments. However, there are a few universal tips that will help you take your social media game to the next level:
Choose the right platforms for your target audience. Identify who you intend your message to reach and who will respond best to it. For example, your comical post aimed at millennials is likely to see far more success on TikTok than on LinkedIn.
Create a social media content calendar. Yes, it will take time to plan and schedule posts, but creating a calendar will help you create a cohesive strategy for your posts well into the future. Social media management tools like Buffer and Hootsuite make content planning a breeze.
A little time investment goes a long way. You’re already busy enough maintaining client relationships and managing other social media marketing channels. Don’t sink a huge chunk of your week into cobbling together the perfect social post. Fifty-seven percent of realtors spend 1–4 hours a week on social media.
Drive visitors back to your website.Include CTAs to an appropriate landing page to drive users further down the marketing funnel and ultimately get their contact info.
The first step to creating real estate social media posts: Make a plan
With so many nuances to each social media platform, it pays to take a step back to brainstorm your plan of attack before ever typing out a single word. You want to use social media to build your brand — but what is your brand? What tone works best with your personality? What kind of posts will best represent who you are and how you can help homebuyers land their dream homes?
Social media projects users’ ideas, messages, and opinions to the world at large with the click of a button. Make sure the persona you project into cyberspace aligns with your business goals and your personal credo. From there, start mapping out the platforms and content that you know your audience is looking for and grow your business with your brilliant social media posts.
Have you ever attended a professional game for a sport you don’t watch, play, or know the rules of? If your answer is yes, you can likely relate to first-time homebuyers.
While experienced agents understand and take complex real estate terms at face value, it can feel like a whole new ballgame for someone buying their first home. Every mention of addendums, contingencies, or escrow leaves them feeling left out.
Educate your clients instead of leaving them to Google terms or learn as they go (and probably miss valuable information along the way). Here’s a list of nine essential real estate terms to teach your first-time homebuyers, so they can approach the process with the confidence of a seasoned pro.
An addendum is any additional requests your buyers have that weren’t built into the original offer, like furniture, appliances like a washer and dryer, or any built-in features like fixtures, bookcases, and desks. Typically, they’re written as additions to the sales contract and require the seller’s signature. Understanding addendums helps your buyer know exactly what they’re getting with their purchase. It also empowers them to ask for any extras they want within their contract’s format.
Real estate agents. Real estate brokers. Mortgage agents. Who really understands the difference between these different roles? You do, obviously … but your clients probably don’t. Share who does what in the purchasing process and when to separate each of these distinct roles.
For example, a real estate broker has passed the state broker’s exam, has some successful transactions on their record, and can work independently. This is different from a real estate agent (or realtor) certified through the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and from a mortgage broker who secures a funding source for the deal.
Your client is likely to get frustrated if they don’t understand these differences and will waste their time (and yours!) trying to get the answers they need from the right agent.
Appraisals are run through city inspectors to determine how much market value a home has. They’re typically done before listing the house, so sellers know how much they should list it for. However, buyers also have access to the report and the opportunity to argue it during negotiation.
Making your buyers aware of appraisal value and its power encourages them to dig deeper into the information they’re provided and determine whether or not a property is worth the price. For example, your client might discover that the homes on either side of their potential purchase have similar square footage and finishers, yet appraised for $10,000 less than their intended property. Understanding how these appraisals work and why appraisal gaps exist helps them navigate the eventual contract more confidently.
4. Cash Offer
Most first-time homebuyers don’t know that these are the magic words to get any seller’s attention. And as of July 2021, 30% of all home sales in the US were completed as cash. A cash offer means the potential buyer has a lower risk of falling through during financing and is ready to purchase ASAP, instead of dealing with contingencies, a loan, or other financing options. Knowing about cash offers could win them their first-choice home while others are still jumping through necessary hoops to find the money.
Not every buyer can afford to make a cash offer. Luckily, Homeward can help you with our Cash Offer solutions. Buyers who use our Buy with cash program allow Homeward to purchase the new house for cash. You can move in as soon as the title is ready and purchase the home back from us once your mortgage is finalized.
Our Buy before you sellsolution works similarly. Buyers who need to sell their home first to afford their next home allow Homeward to buy the new home on their behalf and move in once the title is ready. The buyers then only pay a small rental fee while waiting for their old home to sell. Once it does, they buy their new home back from us!
Contingencies are if/then conditions that allow either the buyer or seller to cancel the contract if they are not met. Not understanding how to navigate them could unintentionally cost your client their dream home. Imagine your client has found the perfect new home. It’s in a great neighborhood with a great school system. The streets are calm enough for the kids to safely ride their bikes. Everything is perfect … except for the rotting floorboards ruining the living room. An interested buyer could say, “I’ll purchase your home if you refinish the wood floors.” While this example may seem silly, contingencies ensure your clients get exactly what they want from the transaction.
It’s easy to walk into a new home without understanding what could be hiding underneath the fresh paint … until it’s too significant to ignore. Disclosures, or significant things the seller should share that may impact a potential buyer’s interest in purchasing the property, prevent this!
Though not every for-sale home will have disclosures, a buyer should take them seriously. Deaths in the home, upcoming eminent domain, and foundation issues are just a few required disclosures that might impact your first-time buyer’s willingness to put in an offer.
This term means that a mortgage lender has set up a mortgage loan account to collect monthly payments from the buyer. Multiple checkpoints (credit check, bank information, insurance, etc.) are required to get into escrow, and it’s a key stage every buyer needs to go through in the home buying process. Understanding this real estate term lets your clients know they’ve passed a significant hurdle.
8. Mortgage Insurance
Most first-time buyers know about homeowners’ insurance but making them aware of mortgage insurance can impact their decision-making and help them save money. Mortgage insurance is a surcharge that brokers add to monthly payments when a buyer cannot provide the standard 20% of their new home. The closer to that 20% they get, the more affordable the insurance is.
However, this information is a gamechanger for a client who is either financing their entire purchase or has less than the required funds. It’s vital to help them make the best decision — both for their finances and their future — and understanding is key to helping them make a confident purchase.
9. Under Contract
Many first-time homebuyers rush to celebrate when they hear this term … without understanding what it means. While going under contract means their offer was accepted, it doesn’t mean that their purchase is complete. If an offer has contingencies on either side, your buyer should see going under contract as motivation to meet them or renegotiate so the sale can be finalized. If contingencies aren’t solved, the deal is likely to fall through, and both your buyer and seller will have to start the process all over again.
Serve first-time homebuyers better with new technology
Today’s first-time homebuyers are rushing to get under contract. They’re young, tech savvy, and unafraid to explore homebuying solutions that ease the process and help them get into their first home faster and more efficiently. Buying with cash removes contingencies from offers and leads to faster closes. However, many first-time millennial and Gen Z homebuyers think this option is beyond their reach.
Thankfully, new resources help you better serve your clients and bet against the competition by playing smarter. In this case, using Homeward’s Buy with cash solution lets you help homebuyers negotiate their purchase with the confidence of a seasoned home buyer.
Be kind and rewind to 1994. Fewer than 3,000 websites are in existence. Companies don’t yet rely on the internet for the bulk of their marketing. Local businesses thrive on word of mouth, some flyers, and a sizable ad in the Yellow Pages. Almost zero of the people you do business with have a website, and almost all your purchases are local.
Fast forward to now. Any company that experienced success in 1994 but didn’t adopt a website within the last three decades would assuredly not be successful now. Customer expectations changed as the world did, and a well-designed and functional website is a badge of trust that would-be consumers seek out.
Real estate agents who resist the PropTech phenomenon may find themselves in the same predicament in the not-so-distant future. Some wariness about certain tech trends is warranted, as the PropTech sphere certainly contains its fair share of tech companies bent on disruption. However, no tool can replace the responsiveness, trust, and expertise of a good agent — a fact that both customers and PropTech companies understand.
This doesn’t mean customers will flock to real estate agents who refuse to use every means available to close deals. Upwards of 3 million licensed real estate agents operate in the United States, and more than a few of them are already using PropTech to get their clients results. You shouldn’t wait 30 years to build your website, and you shouldn’t wait until it’s too late to take full advantage of the benefits PropTech tools have to offer.
What Is PropTech?
The term PropTech encompasses every digital tool that addresses any part of the real estate market. It’s been used to describe topics as varied as:
Commercial property sales
Residential property sales
Rental property payment apps
Smart home devices
Virtual tour and live stream apps
Real estate–specific customer relationship management (CRM) platforms
When agents express apprehension toward PropTech, they usually mean a handful of specific companies that position themselves as competitors. However, blanket disapproval of PropTech is like a vegetarian declaring they don’t like food in general because they don’t eat meat. Tools that fall under the “PropTech” umbrella often deal with transactions outside of a residential real estate agent’s purview. Almost 50% of PropTech companies operate in the commercial property market, and nearly 70% of companies retain a B2B focus. Many PropTech companies that do operate in the residential space are built to make agents’ lives easier, not more stressful.
The slow adoption of digital real estate tools amongst agents can be attributed to PropTech’s slow rollout. The world started going digital during the ‘90s internet boom, and sectors like finance and retail used tech advances to revolutionize their industries. While FinTech, RetailTech, and the like took off, PropTech took longer to gain traction, despite the attractive value of American real estate.
But the slow start is over. The revenue of publicly traded PropTech companies hit $13.5 billion in a single quarter in 2021. Deals concerning PropTech tools were valued at $7.3 billion just in 2020. Agents don’t need to familiarize themselves with PropTech because it’s the next big thing. It’s the current big thing, and it’s only getting bigger.
Why agents should use PropTech
Agents may be hesitant to use digital tools, but customers are not. A reported 70% of home buyers express comfort in doing business over their computer — a number which stands to increase as younger generations enter the real estate market in droves. Any agent that wants to appeal to an increasingly tech-friendly customer base has to come to terms with the changing demographics and preferences of modern home buyers, many of whom:
Are millennials who prefer to engage in digital spaces
Are looking to close quickly in a competitive housing market
Want their real estate agents to create a more efficient ecosystem for communication and support
Real estate professionals who worry that PropTech will cut agents out of the transaction miss the point. Customers can already put their houses up for sale without an agent, but only 7% of homeowners choose to do so. They trust agents to negotiate the best deal and to use their expertise and experience to provide smooth sailing during an often-bumpy experience. Even big-name PropTech companies who have tried to cut real estate professionals out of the equation have resorted to hiring licensed agents to steer their deals.
The best PropTech tools simply enable real estate agents to become more efficient and available resources to their customers. They also allow agents to automate administrative processes and focus on tasks that require human interaction. Imagine this scenario:
A chatbot greets a prospect as they browse your website. After asking the chatbot a few questions, the customer submits their contact information. That night, a house goes up for sale in the neighborhood they want to move into. Your real estate CRM pulls the listing from the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and sends out listing alerts to your lead list. Suddenly, you’re on the phone with your new lead to set up a showing for a home that’s only been listed for a few hours.
3 helpful PropTech tools for real estate agents
PropTech companies have made tools to address just about any real estate-related challenge that faces agents. Real estate professionals can increase their value to customers and streamline their businesses with help from PropTech tools like:
Imagine your customer has found their dream home, but they need the money from the sale of their current house to afford it. However, you know that this property will get snapped up in a heartbeat. You can use the Buy before you sell service to get Homeward to buy the new house for your clients, which lets them move in once the sale is final. When their former home sells and their mortgage is finalized, your clients will buy the new house back from us.
Our Buy with cash service keys in on a particular real estate fact: cash offers are four times more likely to beat competing offers that don’t use cash. The service functions much the same as Buy before you sell. We provide the cash and buys the house, and the new homeowner repays the company once their mortgage is finalized.
These two simple selling points make Homeward an invaluable tool in any real estate agent’s toolbox. The best part: agents get to keep their full commission while staying at the center of the transaction.
Ylopo attempts to bring real estate marketing into the 21st century with its slew of comprehensive digital marketing solutions. The PropTech platform enables agents to build an aesthetically pleasing custom website with features specifically designed to entice and engage high-quality leads. It’s also a Facebook ad-generating powerhouse that connects to the MLS to produce targeted ads for specific user segments.
Website chatbots have been around for decades, but Structurely’s spin on the service is custom-tailored for those in property industries. The chatbot’s name is Aisa Holmes (a play on “AI Inside Sales Assistant), and your leads may never know she’s not a flesh-and-blood employee. Aisa fields queries from your website with uncanny accuracy and speaks conversationally with prospective leads about their wants and needs. Agents who opt into notifications from the app can follow conversations in real time and take over conversations at any point. Otherwise, Aisa’s fully capable of scheduling appointments for you herself.
Aisa can also:
Converse with multiple leads simultaneously
Nurture leads for up to 12 months or until they convert
Update a linked CRM with data gained from conversations with leads
Integrate with your existing scheduling tool
Reach out to leads across multiple channels, including email and text
Adopt PropTech today to boost your business tomorrow
There’s no arguing the value of PropTech tools for agents fielding increasingly tech-expectant clients. However, all new tech tools come with a learning curve. Some agents used to brick-and-mortar methods and processes may put off PropTech adoption simply because they don’t understand how it works.
Luckily, most PropTech companies are aware of these barriers to learning. The best PropTech on the market comes equipped with user onboarding flows or demos that ease new customers into their product and show them the value of it upfront.
Take Homeward, for example. The sign-up process is simple and intuitive. You don’t need to spend hours wrangling an unwieldy app, as the app guides you through the process. If you’d feel better speaking with a flesh-and-blood human being, Homeward offers the ability to speak with one of its experienced team members about any of your questions.
For generations, homebuyers relied on real estate agents to navigate the stressful process of purchasing a home. Customers leaned on agents to minimize their anxieties around finding a house that fit their budget and needs, making an offer, and finalizing a deal. The face-to-face nature of real estate enabled agents to build trust, showcase their expertise, and differentiate themselves through personal interactions.
But the times, they are a-changin’. Millennials comprise the fastest-growing demographic of homebuyers, and their desire for convenience over all else means they behave quite differently than preceding generations. They make 60% of their purchases online instead of in brick-and-mortar stores. They shun phone calls because they’re too time consuming, preferring instead the convenience of email communications. And they prefer to engage in digital spaces, to the point where 41% of millennials prefer to see their own doctors virtually.
These digital preferences require real estate agents to fundamentally change how they approach millennial homebuyers. They still want the personal touch of a knowledgeable agent — they just want it at their convenience. Any real estate agent looking to make a splash with millennials must adapt to their preference for using technology to maximize convenience. Luckily, you don’t need to be a tech guru to attract millennial homebuyers. Here are three easy tech tools you should use to appeal to millennial homebuyers.
SMS marketing tools help you overcome phone-dodgers
If you feel like your millennial prospects are avoiding your calls, you’re probably right. Nearly every millennial owns a cell phone, but they don’t like talking on it. And don’t waste your time leaving them an in-depth message about a great listing: most millennials don’t check their voicemails at all.
But don’t give up yet on your phone-based marketing attempts. Millennials may not love speaking on the phone, but they’re avid texters — 95% of millennials send texts daily. Their love of texting extends to their dealings with businesses, with 75% of them appreciating texts regarding upcoming appointments, reminders, and promotional deals.
Texting opens up an entire avenue of communication with millennials and sidesteps their aversion to answering calls. Texts have a phenomenal 98% open rate, ensuring that your intended audience will at least see the messages you’ve sent. SMS marketing platforms often enable you to drop specific keywords in text messages to foster further engagement. (Think “Text HOME for more details.”) Such messages average a reply rate of 45% — which isn’t too shabby when considering only 19% of people answer phone calls from numbers they don’t know.
Texts are a terrific marketing method for a number of reasons, including:
Spreading the word about a listing or open house
Sending confirmations and reminders for upcoming appointments
Asking leads if they desire more info about a property
Notifying leads of your next available appointment
A variety of SMS marketing tools exist to help agents reach out to millennials through their preferred method of communication. The key to SMS marketing success is finding an affordable platform with robust features. An excellent example is Textedly. This easy-to-use tool allows you to sign up for a 14-day free trial to discover its value before making a commitment. From there, you can choose a plan priced around how many texts you intend to send every month.
Features of Textedly include:
The ability to send out mass texts to your entire lead list
The ability to customize messages to reflect unique pricing points, locations, and house features
The ability to segment lead lists to target users with shared needs, interests, or demographics
A free 14-day trial
Plans starting at $24 a month
Scheduling tools eliminate calendar questions
Use a scheduling tool to minimize the stress of finding mutually convenient times to meet with clients. Imagine this: your SMS marketing efforts with millennials take off. Suddenly, your efforts to appeal to a convenience-obsessed generation have resulted in you being inconveniently busy.
The fact that millennials maintain hectic schedules themselves only compounds scheduling issues. Millennials know they need to move fast to land the home of their dreams, and they don’t want to spend three days texting or emailing back and forth over available appointment times.
Scheduling tools have a distinct advantage over calendars of yore: they grant clients visibility to your calendar and allow them to schedule a time that’s convenient for both you and them. These tools take the pressure off you to parse through your schedule in the heat of the moment and minimize your chances of double-booking an appointment. Yes, your cat calendar hanging above your desk is adorable, but physical calendars simply aren’t practical in a world filled with fast-moving millennials. Even agents who have migrated their traditional calendars from paper to calendar apps on their smartphones still find themselves at the mercy of their customers’ schedules.
Calendly works wonders for scheduling clients. Customers click a link to Calendly that takes them to your calendar and allows them to schedule appointments at their convenience. The app allows you to manually enter your availability day by day or to establish standing working hours for every week. Importantly, it integrates with your existing Google, Outlook, and iCloud calendars to ensure that customers can’t accidentally double-book you.
You can embed Calendly into your website to enable streamlined scheduling from both prospects and existing clients. Other helpful features of Calendly include the ability to:
Send Calendly links out in texts and emails
Automatically notify clients of appointments via email and text
Set different durations for different types of events (e.g., two hours for open houses, one hour for showings)
Include links to video conferencing platforms for virtual appointments
Start using Calendly at no charge for a basic plan
Async video tools make you a resource to your clients
Millennials love video content. The cohort came of age alongside video smartphones, YouTube, and Netflix. Their love of video extends into the realm of marketing, too: 85% of millennials admit to purchasing a product after watching related video content. A staggering 87% of marketers claim that video marketing leads to a positive return on investment.
Agents who take advantage of the millennial appetite for video content stand to differentiate themselves from the competition. Yes, you should be using video as a lead generation tool, but you should also expand your video reach beyond the realms of lead generation.
Consider asynchronous (async) video tools as a way to encourage continued engagement with your customers. Just because you captured a millennial client as a lead doesn’t mean they’ve suddenly stopped hating phone calls. Instead of going over details about a listing over the phone or trying to take time out of both of your busy schedules to meet, record a short video and let them watch it at their convenience.
Async videos are great for a number of reasons:
They add a face to proceedings. Videos enhance the personal aspect of the client-agent relationship and remind your customers that you’re more than just a voice over a phone.
They can be used as permanent resources.Record a few videos that cover the questions clients frequently ask and send them a link to the content when needed.
They can be sent to multiple clients. Need to give the same instructions or highlight a great new listing to several leads? Save yourself the hassle of calling each one individually and film a video instead.
You can create virtual home tours. No need to carve out time to have your customers view a house they wind up not liking. Film a quick run-through of a listing and send it to a lead to see whether or not they’re interested.
Loom is the most prominent of the many async video platforms available. Sign-up only takes a few minutes before you’re ready to create engaging videos. The chief benefits of Loom include the ability to:
Share your screen to show off listings or go over documents line by line for customers
Transcribe and caption videos for maximum accessibility
House content in a video library for later use
Leave comments under a video to encourage further discussion
Password-protect videos containing sensitive information
Sign up for free for a limited subscription
Upgrade your plan to access valuable features later on with the $8 a month Business plan
Invest in tech tools for millennials and beyond
The adoption of these types of tech tools enables agents to better engage millennials as the generation hits their peak home-buying years. Millennials aside, these tech tools will help your business run smoother in general and provide you with better avenues for engaging prospects and clients of all ages.
These tools are also an important long-term investment. Gen Z will age into the housing market within the next decade. They’ll have unique preferences of their own, but the future homebuyers of their generation grew up immersed in technology. Adopt tech tools to address the needs of millennials dominating the housing market in the here and now while keeping an eye on the tech-obsessed generation waiting just beyond the horizon.
You can’t have a conversation about marketing nowadays without hearing about TikTok. Some real estate agents swear up and down that it’s the next big thing in lead generation. Others say that TikTok can be a black hole for real estate agents who already fill their days with more reliable methods of attracting new clients.
So is it worth honing your TikTok chops to create new sales opportunities, or is the platform simply a digital playground for younger generations to post their viral videos? See what real estate and social media experts have to say about the merits of using the increasingly popular app to drum up real estate leads.
Goldmine: why real estate agents should use TikTok
Those unfamiliar with TikTok may know it only as a platform where people post short, funny videos. While that’s certainly part of the appeal, the platform has a growing user base and a set of unique features that makes it a perfect channel for real estate marketing efforts.
The need to target millennials makes TikTok the perfect platform to focus your marketing efforts on. 39% of millennials in the U.S. have TikTok accounts. Since TikTokers spend an average of 52 minutes a day watching videos within the app, that’s nearly an hour millennials could spend viewing your real estate content.
While TikTok’s user base skews young, older generations also enjoy the app’s short-form videos. 31.3% of TikTok users are older than 40. 78.7 million U.S. users on the platform in 2021, giving you ample marketing opportunities spanning several generations.
You build interest without spending a dime—and potentially making one
TikTok provides a free alternative to other pricy marketing avenues. Yard signs, billboards, and Chamber of Commerce memberships all cost money. Even Facebook and Instagram require payment to increase post visibility to your existing followers, let alone new prospects.
The only things you need to create TikTok videos are a decent smartphone and a bit of ingenuity. TikTok doesn’t hide any of its features behind a paywall. The visual filters and music are all included in a normal TikTok account. TikTok also doesn’t limit organic reach to get businesses to pay for ads. Videos become popular based entirely on how many people watch, like, and comment on the content. Businesses who make engaging videos on TikTok stand a better chance of a wider audience viewing their videos.
Shaun Connell, founder of Rental Property Calculator, points out that TikTok isn’t just free; it can be monetized. “While TikTok can be utilized to generate organic leads,” he says, “it can also be monetized on its own, providing your agency with a secondary revenue stream.”
Monetization isn’t automatic, with a user requiring at least 10,000 followers and 100,000 video views within the last 30 days to be eligible. Those who grow their following to achieve this standard are rewarded with monetary kickbacks based on how many views each video receives. TikTok only pays out a few cents per thousand views, so monetization won’t justify quitting your day job. However, the prospect of earning any amount of money gives ambitious agents a prize to set their sights on as they develop their TikTok brand.
You can target your audience based on their region and interests
Most real estate transactions are hyper-local to a specific city or neighborhood. Any content you create and distribute online needs to target those who live in this specific geographical location, so you don’t waste time or money. Facebook and Instagram require businesses to shell out cash for audience targeting as part of their paid ads services. TikTok uses an alternative method that’s free and flexible: hashtags.
Hashtags have been around the internet since the inception of Twitter, but they’re especially important on TikTok. That’s because TikTok’s algorithm factors hashtags into its determination as to which videos to show users. Essentially, if you engage with a video that contains certain hashtags, you’re going to see similar videos that contain the same or related hashtags.
TikTok content creators use hashtags as a free means to narrow down the geographical reach of their posts. This feature comes in handy for real estate agents looking to increase interest in a specific locale. “Through TikTok, I can use location-based hashtags to engage with my target audience without spending heavily on marketing campaigns,” says Anthony Minniti, owner of Minniti Investments. Hashtags ensure that the people using your video are potential leads. You can’t sell a listing in Austin, Texas, to a TikToker in Reykjavík, Iceland, no matter how good you are at your job.
Hashtags aren’t limited to geographical targeting. Content creators use topical hashtags to focus on users who share an interest in their area of expertise. Real estate agents include “#realestate” in their videos to share their content with those surfing the topic on TikTok. Savvy agents combine topical hashtags with geographical hashtags for maximum results. (Think “#houseflip” alongside “#tallahassee.”)
Waste of time: why TikTok may not work for real estate agents
TikTok’s free features and massive (and young!) user base appeal to real estate agents looking to use any means necessary to drum up leads. However, there are limitations to the platform that must be considered before you adopt a long-term TikTok marketing strategy.
Hard to stand out in a crowded app
New TikTok content creators often struggle to create videos that make an impact with their target audience. TikTokers crave unique content, which puts its content creators under pressure to craft consistently engaging posts. This fight to create videos that make an impact means real estate agents looking to get leads from the app must commit to posting quality videos day in and day out. Busy real estate agents may simply not have enough bandwidth to dedicate that much time to a single marketing platform.
TikTok videos are renowned for their humor, but educational content also fares well on the app—so long as it’s engaging. Ditch the more conventional tone you use on more “professional” pages like Facebook and embrace the more fun-loving side of your personality. “Have some fun with it,” says Amy Kite, owner and real estate agent at The Kite Team. “The trick is: you’re not trying to attract other realtors. You’re trying to reach people in your specific area (or with an interest in that area) who are casual users of TikTok.”
Specialization helps to differentiate your account and stand out from the rest. You don’t need to create content on every real estate topic. In fact, posting videos on real estate topics that aren’t strongly related may have the opposite effect. A TikToker who engages with your videos showcasing listings in a specific neighborhood may not find your “history of real estate in America” series particularly useful.
Consider specializing in certain subjects and video formats to build a dedicated following, including:
Real estate agents field questions on more than a few complex topics, but TikTok isn’t the place to dive too deeply into the answers. “TikTok users have notoriously short attention spans, making it difficult to deliver a compelling message in such a short format,” explains Chris Grayson, founder of InfluencerMade.com. “While there are certainly some benefits to using TikTok, I believe that there are more effective platforms for real estate marketing.”
Evidence supports Grayson’s claim. 50% of TikTokers find videos longer than 60 seconds long “stressful.” TikTok’s format makes it too easy to swipe away from a video that doesn’t immediately appear gripping, and users are looking for maximum enjoyment in the shortest time possible. After all, it’s called short-form video for a reason!
Successful TikTok creators find creative ways to shorten the length of their videos. For instance, they often minimize their voice-overs to keep the content highly visual. Luckily, real estate agents should have no issue with finding visual focal points for their TikTok videos. If you find your video requires a lengthy voice-over, save your long-form content for YouTube, a platform where users expect extended and in-depth videos.
The verdict: invest in TikTok for real estate before it’s too late
Real estate agents who have invested wholesale in TikTok for real estate advertising already see the value in establishing a presence on the app. Madison Sutton, an agent in New York City, now gains leads exclusively from TikTok after just two years on the platform. Another NYC-based agent, Cash Jordan, has doubled his customers since joining.
No single marketing platform is perfect, but it’s hard to find a better way to engage with young homebuyers than TikTok. An incredible eight new users sign up for TikTok every second, cementing the app’s status as the hottest social platform out there. While TikTok has been available in the U.S. for five years, it’s still early days for the social media platform. Develop your brand and take advantage of TikTok’s enormous popularity to advertise your business before you end up behind the real estate marketing curve.
Most real estate agents don’t need convincing when it comes to the value of using Facebook and Instagram to grow their business. You can build a business account on these platforms within minutes, enabling you to engage with the hundreds of millions of homebuyers using the platforms.
The true challenge lies in what comes next: turning your business pages into lead generation machines. Building digital ads on Facebook and Instagram is harder and less intuitive than building traditional ads. For instance, you contact an outdoor advertising company to place a billboard or a media agency to place a radio ad. However, real estate agents controlling their own Facebook and Instagram pages have to build, execute, and manage digital marketing campaigns themselves. You could hire a digital advertising agency to run ad campaigns for you, but you’ll pay a premium and lose a degree of responsiveness.
Luckily, you don’t need to become a digital real estate marketing expert or hire one to take advantage of Facebook and Instagram’s remarkable advertising capabilities. Use these three tips to build impactful Instagram and Facebook real estate ads to stand out from the crowd in 2022 and beyond.
1. Pay to boost posts to your existing followers
Facebook and Instagram allow you to boost a post to increase your post’s visibility amongst your followers. You can hand Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta a few dollars and increase your update, picture, or video post appearance frequency in your followers’ feeds.
To see the value of boosting posts, you must first understand the concept of organic reach. You may think every single one of your followers on Facebook and Instagram sees each of your general social posts. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of your followers (and occasionally their friends) see your content in their feed.
Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta restricts the organic reach of business page posts. Organic reach simply means the number of people who see the content a business page posts in their feed without paying for wider distribution. Facebook business pages achieved 100% organic reach at the time of their inception in 2007, meaning every follower saw every post. Now, that percentage hovers closer to a meager 2.5%. Only two or three followers will see your posts on Facebook and Instagram for every 100 followers you have.
The act of boosting a post increases this percentage dramatically. Even a few dollars expands your post’s reach considerably, as you can see in the image below:
The account used for this screenshot has only a little over 500 likes. This means spending $8 over the period of a single week increases visibility for a post from roughly 12 people to as many as 335 people. Visibility for this post jumps from 2.5% organic reach rate to a potential 67% paid reach rate for a bit more than a dollar a day.You can boost a post easily by following these simple steps:
Locate the post you’d like to boost on your business page
Click the “Boost post ” button
Select a call-to-action button (if any)
Determine your targeted audience
Choose the amount of time you’d like to boost the post
Type in the amount of money you’d like to spend
Not every post deserves a boost. Spend your ad money smartly and boost posts that:
Inform about an important upcoming event like an open house
Have strong ROI opportunities, such as a post about a current listing
Have already organically achieved a great deal of engagement in the form of “likes” or comments
Contain a call-to-action (CTA) that draws readers back to your website
2. Become familiar with Meta’s Ad Manager
You shouldn’t spend your social media ad budget exclusively on boosted posts. If you work the same fishing hole every day for long enough, eventually you’ll run out of fish.
That’s where Meta’s Ads Manager comes in. Ads Manager allows you to build ads and manage campaigns that reach new prospects on both Facebook and Instagram. Even a basic understanding of the Ads Manager’s essential functions will help you take your ad game to the next level. These functions include:
Choosing new or existing collateral. Ads Manager allows you to upload fresh images to create a brand-new post. Alternatively, you can choose to use a post already published on your business page and add a CTA that brings prospects directly to your website.
Custom audience targeting. Meta allows you to select an audience for your ad based on demographics, geographical location, and even interests. These ad-targeting options help narrow your focus to your users in your market with the highest likelihood of requiring your services.
Ad campaign creation. Ads bring the best return when used in conjunction with each other over long periods of time. Meta helps you build and maintain a campaign centered around your specific advertising goals, like building brand awareness or driving real estate leads.
Performance analysis. Ads Manager provides real-time data on how your ads perform once they launch. The tool keeps track of important statistics, like how many times people saw your ad (impressions), unique link clicks, and the average cost per click.
3. Embrace the art of video
Social users love videos. 88% of them want more video content from brands. This preference for video extends to social media advertising, where video ads fuel a 48% better sales rate than static ads. It also extends to Meta itself. The company’s own own algorithm boosts high-engagement content — and it’s hard to find a better engagement magnet than a good video.
Facebook and Instagram offer several ways to build ads using video, including:
Videos help highlight your unique product. Well-done video ads convey your brand and personality better than static ads. The inclusion of movement, sound, and narrative proves more engaging to prospects than a simple picture and a bit of ad copy. Much like static ads, video ads can be built and distributed to new prospects through Ads Manager. You can also boost existing video posts to build credibility with your existing followers.
Success on Meta’s social apps boils down to its algorithm. Per the company itself, Meta’s algorithm favors video ads that:
Conventional video ads work wonders, but there are other ways to take advantage of video on Facebook and Instagram. 82% of social users prefer to engage with a live video rather than a social post. Use a live video stream to introduce viewers to your team, conduct a virtual open house, or host live real estate Q & As with your followers.
A handy trick for getting the most out of live video involves boosting. Pay to boost a “virtual showing” of a new listing the week before the open house. You should target the boost at local users and set it to expire at the conclusion of the open house. This timely, targeted boosting increases the likelihood of a good turnout.
Facebook and Instagram Stories are videos or photos users post to their pages that only last 24 hours. Meta based the concept on Snapchat’s Stories feature, which may explain its popularity with younger users: 59% of millennials and 70% of Gen Z users watch Instagram stories regularly.
Facebook Stories appear above your feed as vertically-oriented rectangles with the user’s profile image.
On Instagram, Stories appear as circles above the photo grid.
Video stories must run shorter than 15 seconds in length. This makes them perfect for quick, intimate snapshots of your professional goings-on, including:
Highlighting special features of your listings
Capturing snippets of community events
Offering a sneak peek at your office culture
You can boost Stories or turn them into full-fledged ads. These paid Stories display to users as they watch other people’s Stories. Pro tip: when creating a Story you intend to also distribute as an ad, include a link back to your website as a CTA to maximize your ROI.
Then there’s Instagram Reels. The rise of rival platform TikTok resulted in Meta’s creation of the short-form video feature in 2020. A Reel video can be up to 60 seconds in length and doesn’t disappear after 24 hours like a Story. This makes them the perfect medium for building educational content for your followers. Use your authority in the real estate space to create videos that address frequently asked questions like:
Social media platforms are invaluable as a means of building awareness and driving engagement, but they shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all of your marketing efforts. Ads should send prospects to your website to drum up new leads and sell houses.
This means you must consider where your ads link customers to on your website. You need to maintain your website with the same vigilance you use to cultivate your social media presence. Don’t waste resources on paid Facebook and Instagram ads until you have your website and landing pages updated with current pictures, content, and contact info.
The stress of buying a first home drives one-third of prospective homeowners to tears. Your brilliant social media ads will build trust with those looking to ease the pain of homebuying.
Client acquisition makes or breaks a real estate agent’s business. Without customers to assist, an agent’s great home buying and selling expertise will go to waste—and more importantly, they won’t generate any revenue.
Real estate agents invest a great deal of time building their business. They use every available means to drum up traffic. They’re very quickly faced with a critical challenge:You need money to market, and you need to market to get leads. But you need leads to make money, and you need money to market…
Plenty of advertising options exist that won’t hurt your wallet. Before you sink your marketing budget into more expensive methods and platforms, you should exhaust the cheap or free lead gen options available to you. Here are three of the best ways for new and established real estate agents to drum up leads while minimizing spend.
Publish a Newsletter
Newsletters offer a simple, easy way to show off your brand and authority while creating opportunities for face-to-face interactions. Digital newsletters especially have exploded in popularity in recent years. You can send digital newsletters faster and to more targets at once than you ever could with paper newsletters.
Digital newsletters come in handy as your lead list grows. Those sent via email are of particular interest to younger homebuyers, with 60% of millennials expressing a willingness to sign up for multiple newsletters from a source they trust. The simple act of sending a copy of your newsletter to your lead list may reinvigorate leads you’d thought were dead or remind a procrastinating homeowner to give you a call.
Newsletter work especially well as a means for reaching out regularly to existing contacts. However, they can also be used to generate new leads altogether. One way to encourage prospects to sign up for your letter is to include it as a call to action in your website content. This enables you to capture valuable lead information while continuing to put your marketing material in front of them at regular intervals.
Write What You Know
Great content makes for a great newsletter. You don’t need to be a wordsmith to write attention-grabbing articles that appeal to the average homeowner. Readers also don’t want to waste their time reading articles about topics that don’t pertain to them. Stick with your area of expertise and write articles that:
Describe the state of the local housing market
Focus on hyper-local neighborhood news and community wins
Give pro tips on buying and selling homes
Share a recent testimonial
Keep It Short
Keep your newsletters brief to keep your readers focused on what’s important. Usually, a single 8.5" x 11" page front-and-back or even a large postcard format will do the trick. Aim to distribute a short monthly or even quarterly newsletter because:
Short newsletters enable higher quality articles over fewer editions
You shouldn’t dedicate a huge percentage of your lead generation time to a single method
Spacing out your publication schedule makes you less likely to over-frequent (and annoy) prospects
Use a Newsletter Template
Not comfortable with document design? Not to worry: Many sites online offer ready-to-use newsletter templates that pop. For example, Canva offers many free-to-use templates that will help bring your content to the next level.
These templates work well for both digital and traditional formats. You can convert your newsletter into a proper format and send it to your prospects as an image or attachment via email. Additionally, you can create a printable version if you prefer door-to-door distribution.
Add a Personal Touch Through Print
Digital newsletters might be the wave of the future, but don’t count out good ol’ paper newsletters. You can hand valuable content off directly to people in their homes with a printed newsletter, which makes them a terrific value. The caveat with paper newsletter: printing’s not free. However, there are several cost-effective options available to help drive down the cost. Options for printing include:
A professional printing business. This is the highest-quality but priciest option. They’re the best option for high-volume orders or for agents looking to print color- or image-heavy newsletters.
Office suppliers and parcel delivery businesses. This is a more affordable option for smaller orders. For example, Staples charges 17 cents a copy for black-and-white prints, allowing you to print 500 copies for only $85.
Your office printer. An investment in a good printer makes for a cheaper long-term option — and one that you can use for other business-related tasks.
Print may seem old-fashioned to some, but real estate remains a personal business. People want to work with people, especially for something as stressful as buying and selling a home. Printed newsletters give you a chance to meet a prospect in person and an excuse to come back to speak with them in the future. Just remember: the odds are you won’t get the chance to meet every homeowner in the flesh. Include your contact information within your newsletter to drive traffic to your website.
Engage With Your Digital Community on Facebook Neighborhoods
Face-to-face community events were once the bread and butter of a real estate agent’s marketing approach. Recent years have seen many in-person events shift to online platforms, and Facebook remains one of the best places to build community in a digital space.
The Neighborhoods feature allows existing Facebook users to locate and engage with other users who live in the same location. The Neighborhood your business joins immediately becomes a list of potential prospects who live and work close by. You should consider everyone in your Facebook Neighborhood as a potential lead just waiting to be captured.
Neighborhoods function separately from “normal” Facebook. A post in Neighborhoods doesn’t carry over to your standard Facebook feed and vice versa. Participation requires you to build a separate profile, but the extra step is worth it. Neighborhoods users can:
Simply joining your Neighborhood won’t net you prospects. You need to engage meaningfully with those in your area. For example:
Start or join a Chamber of Commerce–like group and periodically post business updates
Post surveys about the housing market and use them as a springboard for further discussion
Build posts focused on local listings
Advertise upcoming virtual and real-world business events
The content you post to Neighborhoods shouldn’t require hours of your attention daily. Repurpose your existing Facebook business posts, blog articles, or YouTube and TikTok videos to save time on content creation.
Establish Your Authority on YouTube
Never underestimate the power of a good YouTube video. YouTube still reigns supreme as the premier channel for longer, more substantial content. This makes it a perfect advertising means for real estate agents looking to build authority and trust with new prospects.
YouTube enables you to build evergreen content that engages and educates viewers while simultaneously showing off your brand and personality. You can film YouTube videos on relevant real estate topics, such as the process of buying a house before selling your own, that retain relevance for years. Any time you invest in a YouTube video will pay off through long-term returns on investment. On the other hand, filming highly time-sensitive content like a virtual walkthrough of a current listing is best left to short-form video platforms like TikTok.
The best part about YouTube, at least for real estate agents, is that it’s completely free. Once you sign up, you unlock the ability to upload unlimited videos to your channel. You’ll need to verify your account if you plan on adding videos that run longer than 15 minutes.
You also don’t need to drop significant cash to film the videos themselves. Most smartphones boast cameras of sufficient quality to film a great video. Those looking to enhance their video quality will find inexpensive phone tripods, lights, and more online. Pro tip for Apple users: Your Apple Watch doubles as a camera remote and timer.
Keep in mind the following tips when using YouTube to advertise your business:
Show Off Your Expertise
The long-form nature of YouTube videos makes the platform perfect for diving into the intricacies of real estate. Your YouTube channel should contain:
How-to videos on subjects like home sale/purchase preparations
Conversations around nuanced topics like whether or not you should look to buy or sell
Interviews with industry experts
Reviews from highly satisfied customers
Hyper-local videos on the real estate climate of specific neighborhoods
Use Your Videos in Other Marketing Materials
YouTube contains the familiar “Like and Subscribe” features of other social media platforms that help build an in-platform following. However, you can share a video from the platform on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more to reach an audience that expands beyond YouTube’s estimated 210 million American users. You can also embed videos in emails or on your website to add pizzazz to your more static marketing materials.
Include a Link to Your Website in the Video Description
Remember that even a million unique views on YouTube don’t automatically equate to a single lead. You need to provide an easy way for your viewers to jump from your video to your website. Most successful YouTube creators rely on links in the video description to send users where they need to go next.
YouTube allows you to add clickable links to the end of your actual videos, but with a catch: you need to enroll in its Partner Program first. You’ll need to accrue 4,000 watch hours and 1,000 subscribers before you’ll qualify for the Partner Program, so it’s a service you should look into once you’ve established a robust following.
Don’t Lose Your Leads
You work hard to capture your leads, so don’t let them fall by the wayside. Buying and selling homes is a time-consuming business. Your initial efforts to represent a new client may fall flat, but their minds may change as they navigate the home buying or selling process in the weeks or months that follow. Without a record of prospect names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers, you’ll have no way of staying in communication with prospects into the future.
Keep track of your leads in a way that best fits your existing budget. Agents in the early days of building their business can create a surprisingly robust lead tracker using Google Sheets. More established agents should consider investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that tracks lead information and collects valuable data and interactions as leads become clients.
No matter what method you choose, keep careful record of your prospects and the last date you reached out to them. Not every single lead is ready to buy or sell today. However, your consistent efforts to build trust with them will put you at the top of their thoughts when the time comes to make a change.
Ready to learn how to find leads buried deep within your directory? Watch this on-demand webinar hosted by Homeward Chief Real Estate Officer Brian Gubernick to discover the keys to unlocking leads in your database.
With multiple tracks, countless workshops, and hundreds of speakers, real estate conferences can be overwhelming if you don't have a plan. Here are 10 tips to help you make the most of your time at these industry events.
Don’t miss the virtual content. You'll probably face some tough choices when deciding which sessions to attend. These days, most conference tickets include access to virtual content, too. After the event, watch the recordings of any session you couldn’t attend or re-watch the ones you loved to capture every insightful moment.
Get social. Get on Twitter and LinkedIn and follow the experts and organizations you want to connect with before you get there. That way you’ll hear about every event they’re sponsoring, where they’ll be speaking, and how you can meet them in person.
Download the app. Most conferences now have their own apps. Download your conference's app before you leave home to get notifications, access venue maps, and receive important reminders — all from one screen.
Plan meetings. Don’t assume you’ll run into the people you hope to see. If there’s someone you really want to connect with during the conference, schedule a meeting with them beforehand. Invite them to dinner, plan to meet for lunch between sessions, or have an early morning get-together over coffee. Some of the best learning happens in the “unofficial sessions”.
Create a schedule. Don’t be frantic — be strategic. Think about your goals: what do you hope to get out of this conference? According to Dorie Clark, author of Standout Networking, there are two reasons to attend a session: 1. To learn something new. 2. To meet or support the person presenting.
Study the agenda in advance and add each event you want to attend to your work calendar. Be sure to include detailed location information. Choose a backup session, too. Sometimes sessions fill up and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to learn because you didn’t have a plan.
Divide and conquer. If a teammate is attending the conference with you, resist the temptation to attend the same sessions. Compare calendars (see #5 above) and decide who’ll cover what so you can be exposed to as many ideas, people, and insights as possible. You can always compare notes over drinks in the evening.
Take notes.Studies show that people who take notes by hand learn more than people who type notes on a laptop. Bonus: notebooks are also notification free, making it easier to concentrate on the session you’re attending. If you insist on taking notes on your laptop, put it in “do not disturb” mode at the beginning of each session so you can focus.
Ask questions. Raise your hand during the Q&A, attend meet-and-greet events with speakers, and wait in line to get an answer if you have to. If you can’t get your questions answered during the event, follow up on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Review the highlights. Attend "highlight" or "takeaway" sessions each day. Many conferences offer these as the last event of the day on the main stage.
Pack well and get excited! Conference days are long — wear comfy shoes and clothes. Don’t forget to carry water, snacks, business cards, a notebook, and extra pens. You're investing time and money in your attendance — being prepared helps you maximize your ROI.
Julie Youngblood, Partner Lead Manager at Homeward, hosted her first open house at the age of 16. She went to real estate school at 17 and earned her license at 19. A year later she was leading one of the most successful teams in Southern Nevada. In 2010 she opened Youngblood Coaching & Consulting to mentor agents nationwide. She is an Inman Top 25 Coach who has coached more than $3B in gross commission income. As Partner Lead Manager, Julie manages the strategy, execution, and integration of key partnerships with top brokerages.
In my role as Homeward’s Chief Real Estate Officer, I focus on keeping the real estate agent at the center of the transaction — even as residential real estate continues to evolve. Being close to industry operators is crucial to my job, so I speak to agents from across the country every single day. In 2021, demand continued to rise while inventory and mortgage rates remained low. On top of all that, it was the year of the Great Resignation, supply chain woes for new constructions, the shuttering of Zillow Offers, and the rise of power buyers.
This year was full of teachable moments. In a recent article, my friend Jeff Glover posed an important question regarding the demise of Zillow Offers: “Will you spend your time celebrating a competitor being knocked out of the race, or will you make sure you own the next race?” I’ve chosen the latter and hope you will, too. To that end, here are the top five lessons I learned from the top 100 teams in 2021.
#1. Protect your sphere of influence (SOI)
Make no mistake about it: your SOI — your closest relationships – are under attack. Other realtors and big money disruptors want to come between you and your SOI, so you need to wrap your arms around your database and own those relationships. How? Be regular and frequent in your interaction. If you’re not, those relationships are at risk. Start conversations that add value and keep those conversations going through events and other types of interactions.
Anna Kilinski of Anna K Intown in Atlanta is very purposeful about interacting with her SOI. She and her team serve as connectors and community builders. The team recently distributed 5,000 leaf bags to the neighborhoods they farm. By sponsoring events, celebrating clients on social media, and going much deeper than the occasional market recap, Anna K Intown builds trust and loyalty.
#2. Offer a menu of services
Your clients don’t want an agent. They want a consultant. Consultants ask questions, identify pain points, and then offer a menu of services to solve their client’s problem. In order to create that kind of menu, you’ll need to learn about innovative offerings that go beyond traditional buy and sell services. The most successful agents offer a variety of real estate “flavors” on their menu. When you consult a contingent client or a hesitant list-buy client, our solutions should be on your menu.
Look, Kenny Klaus of Klaus Team Real Estate Solutions even has the word “solutions” in his team’s name. Kenny says he used to sit across the table from his prospective clients and pitch them on how he was the right agent for them. Now, he explains, he sits on the same side of the table, listens to their problems, and proposes the best solution from a menu of innovative services his team has partnered with others to offer.
#3Run your business like a business
For too long, most real estate agents have run their businesses through sheer hustle and grit, but with little thought to the numbers that tell the real story. Others run more of a practice than a business. In a practice, everything depends on you, the practitioner and with little leverage or systems.
So, what do you need to do differently? You’re collecting a lot of data. Start building insight from that data. (And, if you’re not collecting it, start now.) Run P&Ls. Calculate your advertising ROI. Find your bottlenecks and eliminate them. Scale your services using software where you can. Identify skills gaps and fill them with the team members you need.
Ben Kinney became a real estate agent in 2004. But instead of building a traditional real estate team, he doubled-down on best practices borrowed from other industries. By 2018, Inman News named The Ben Kinney Team to its Innovator of the Year list. And in 2021, Kinney was included in the Swanepoel Power 200. How did he do it? Instead of thinking like a salesperson, he made a conscious decision to think like a business owner. (He eventually used these ideas to co-found PLACE.) He added a chief financial officer (CFO) to his team, tracked all lead and lag measures so he could make data-informed decisions, and turned an expense into a profit center by creating his own customer relationship management (CRM) system, which he now offers as a product.
#4 Retain your top talent
Recruiting top talent is only half the battle. Once you have great people on your team, you have to work hard to keep them. By the way, if you think your best people aren’t exploring other opportunities, you’re wrong. Remember, 2021 was the year of the Great Resignation. Contrary to popular belief, though, those people aren’t just looking for more money. Ask the folks on your team, “What is your currency?” Equity? Flexibility? Autonomy? Growth? Find out and then figure out how you can offer it to them. Your goal is long-term retention.
Ken Hirschmann of Best Life and Co. couldn't be the success he is without his lead admin. And he knew that if he didn’t create the right opportunities, she’d leave. So he took the time to get to know what motivates her and what her dreams are. Turns out she wanted to build wealth and create passive income. So he figured out how he could help her fulfill those dreams. He gave her equity in his ancillary businesses and partnered with her in a couple of real estate investment opportunities. He invested in her just as she had invested in him.
#5 Know your value prop
This is really tips #5 and #6 because you need to have two distinct value props: one for clients and one for employees. Let’s look at employees first. If you’re not sure where to start, answer the most important question your team and recruits have: What’s in it for me? Explain how you’ll help them get from where they are now to where they want to be. And describe how your approach to doing that's uniquely different from anyone else’s.
Now, let’s think about your value prop for clients. The generalist gets lost in a sea of sameness. So how will you stand out? Hint: The ability to make all of your contingent clients cash buyers by working with us can be part of your value prop. I’ve also met agents who specialize in homes that return to market after not selling the first time they were listed. Do you specialize in a certain neighborhood? In historic homes? In new construction? How do you do that differently than everyone else?
Greg Hague at 72 Sold is very clear about his client value prop: he and his team focus on selling homes within 72 hours — sometimes even before they’re listed. They do this with “front-loaded marketing”, by booking all showings back-to-back on the same day, and by enforcing an offer deadline. The result? Social proof and a sense of urgency that helps 72 Sold fulfill their ambitious promise.
If you're an agent interested in turning contingent clients into cash buyers, schedule an appointment with a Homeward Advisor here.
Brian Gubernick, Homeward’s Chief Real Estate Officer, has more than 15 years of industry experience in a variety of roles, from investor and agent, to multi-state expansion team owner and corporate executive. Brian started his real estate sales career by launching his own sales team, Homehelper Consultants (HhC) in 2007. HhC quickly became one of Keller Williams' top teams nationwide. Brian received the Keller Williams' Innovator Award in 2014 and was a runner-up for the Inman News Most Innovative Team award in 2017. That same year, Brian launched Metrix Coaching and Training, which has mentored hundreds of real estate team owners and investors. He joined Homeward in 2020.
There’s a common question amongst potential home buyers: when is the best time to buy a home? The inevitable response from most is that spring is when the inventory is at its peak, giving buyers more options, and winter is when prices are somewhat lower, allowing buyers to get a discount. While spring may seem like the ideal time of year to find your dream home, it can actually put you at a disadvantage. If everyone is like you and looking for a home in the spring, chances are, the home you want will have multiple offers, putting you in a stressful bidding war and forcing you to pay top dollar for the house.
If you have to buy a house on contingency because you’re selling a house with a mortgage and someone else puts up an all-cash offer, guess who’s going to win? Home buying contingencies aren’t as attractive as cash offers because there’s the risk your house will take a long time to sell, forcing the seller to keep their house off the market. Not a good position to be in when the market is hot.
The Balance goes so far as to pinpoint an actual date on the calendar, saying the best time to buy a house is on Christmas Day, followed next by Easter Sunday. Their logic is that no one else is looking for a home on these holidays. While this may be true, your inventory is likely rather low during these holidays, particularly the week of Christmas. Not many people want strangers traipsing through their homes during the holidays. It isn’t fun to clean, stage and leave your home any time of the year, let alone during the holidays.
The Street takes a wider view, saying the November-December time period may get you the best deal on a home because any seller willing to sell during the holidays clearly needs to sell quickly. They also say January and February are ideal, with homes costing 8.4 percent less, on average. Beyond dates on the calendar, however, they cite the fact that interest rates are a good indicator. When rates go down, you’ll likely be able to take out a larger loan and afford more house. When rates go up, it might cause other buyer’s to delay their purchase, which means you could get a deal. You may also come into some money, improve your credit score or lower your debt – signaling a good time to get a mortgage.
No matter whose advice you heed, there are ways to put yourself in an ideal position to buy a home any time of year.
Buy with Cash but Not From Your 401k
The offers that win the most bids, despite it being a hot sellers’ or buyers’ market, are all-cash offers. These offers are not backed by a home, therefore, they are not contingent on you first selling your house to pay off your mortgage. Instead, the offer is backed by pure, hard cash. No contingency required. In fact, with all-cash offers, there is no need for a lengthy mortgage approval, so no worry about whether interest rates are high or low, either. Deals without contingencies close faster and with fewer potential hiccups, plus they can often save the buyer money. Any seller offered an all-cash deal jumps for joy because it’s a cleaner more certain offer. They may also be willing to negotiate the price down in exchange for that secure offer, saving the buyer even more money.
Not everyone has liquid cash to offer a home seller. Some people decide to tap into their retirement account, such as a 401k, to purchase a home with cash. This isn’t always a good option, however. According to U.S. News & World Report, “If you withdraw funds from a 401(k) to buy your home you will trigger steep penalties and taxes.” Even if you borrow from your 401k with the intent to repay the loan, you can only borrow up to “the lesser of $50,000 or half of your vested account balance,” they say.
Although you could borrow up to $50,000 from your 401k, Michael Maresh, senior vice president at Captrust, a leading national retirement advisory firm, warns against it. “If you leave your employer, either voluntarily or involuntarily, you have to pay back the balance of your 401k loan immediately,” he says. “If you can’t, you will be taxed on that loan as it is considered a distribution. Also, if you are under the age of 59 1/2 years old, you will have to pay a 10 percent penalty on that balance. Another downside with a 401k loan is that money is actually taxed twice. When you contribute to your 401k, it is a pretax contribution, so no taxes are paid. When you get the 401k loan, that is not a taxable event. But, as you pay yourself back the principal and interest, you are paying that back after-tax, essentially paying tax on that money as you put it back into the 401k plan. When you take that money out again in retirement, you’ll get hit again with a tax. Finally, when you withdraw that money from your 401k it is out of the market, so it’s no longer earning market return.”
Use Someone Else’s Cash
Now that you know the downsides of taking a loan from your 401k, what do you do if you don’t have liquid cash and don’t want to dip into retirement accounts? One option is go to a company like Homeward that has access to funds from institutional capital providers so it can make you a strong all-cash buyer with less red tape.
The problem with the traditional buying/selling of residential real estate is that you must sell your current home to access your home equity in order to buy your new home. Most banks won’t offer you credit for your home equity until your old home is under contract with a buyer. No matter what time of year, what the interest rate, or when you really want to move, you are stuck in a pretty common dilemma. You must sell first before you buy, putting you at risk for losing any house you want because your offer is contingent upon the sale of your current home.
When you use Homeward, however, you get credit for your home equity before you sell your existing home. They value your existing home during their approval process and then give you their cash to buy your new home before you sell. Your offer is all cash with no home buying contingencies, so your bid is highly-attractive to sellers. You save money and time without having to wait on bank appraisals or approvals. You can also stay in your existing home to make improvements to your new home, eliminating the need to move twice. With this solution, the best time to buy a home is when you are ready. Want to learn more? Check out Homeward’s How It Works.