Editor’s Note: The Playbook is an RISMedia weekly segment centering on what brokers and agents are doing to ensure they not only survive but thrive in these challenging times. Industry professionals explain the strategies they’re employing and unique ideas they’ve formulated. Tune in every Thursday for another addition to the series.
In a market with a finite amount of sales slated for the year, it stands to reason that the agents who will win this year—and any year for that matter—are the ones who not only stand out from the competition, but also live “rent-free” in the minds of consumers.
Most in the industry have heard that it’s time for agents to return to the basics ad nauseam. For agents who have only been in the industry for a short time—less than five years—that phrase may carry a different meaning, especially for agents who entered the industry during the pandemic.
To that end, RISMedia spoke with two newer REALTORS® who thrived in 2022 and were recognized as 2023 RISMedia Real Estate Newsmakers in the Achievers category for insight into which fundamental tactics they have found most valuable in today’s market.
Tangible outreach efforts
For @properties broker and agent team leader Anam Hargey, the “basics” of cold-calling and door-knocking are among the tactics she and her team have been implementing this year. However, she admits that there has been a slight learning curve for some coming out of a vastly different market cycle.
“In the market that we were kind of born in, the leads just came to us,” says Hargey. “Now, you have to do many things and make sure the service you’re providing is excellent.”
Entering the real estate industry toward the end of 2020, Hargey hit the ground running just as the pandemic-induced housing market started to boom. Not long after she started as an agent, she launched her five-broker team in her second year in the industry, hitting significant success by closing over $20 million in sales combined in 2022.
Hargey admits that the recent market changes have caused concern among her team.
“Most of our team have been in real estate for two years or less, so we are all newbies and have never seen any other market,” she says. “It’s definitely something that makes us nervous, but, you know, that’s what we’re learning to navigate through.”
While she acknowledges that gaining leads in 2021 and part of 2022 was easier than today, Hargey notes that she and her team have embraced tried-and-true tactics in 2023 while putting their spin on some of the basics.
Specifically, they’ve been using door-knocking to introduce themselves to homeowners in their markets while leaving people with a memorable and valuable keepsake.
“We made these little gift bags with a coupon in it for an attorney or inspection,” Hargey says. “When many (agents) are door-knocking, they’re usually just passing out flyers or saying something. We’re actually giving someone something, and it’s got treats. The stress ball tells our target group that we offer stress-free transactions.”
Hargey and her team spent nearly $3,000 making 1,000 baskets that they bring with them when they go door-knocking on the weekends. She says they hit between 100 and 200 homes during that time.
Offering coupons to folks provides the most significant return on investment, according to Hargey, who states that providing homeowners with a tangible and non-committal offering at their door helps to lessen the chances of getting a door slammed in their faces.
The residual benefit is that the coupons feed leads to her vendors and partners, who then provide referrals to clients in return.
The investment has proven to be worthwhile, according to Hargey, who says she was able to gain and close on several transactions, including two homes that sold for $425,000 and $325,000, respectively.
While many agents and brokers are harping on getting back to basics, Texas-based agent Chase Duran with Ebby Halliday believes there’s no need to return to the basics if you never stopped using them.
With slightly more than two years of experience in real estate, the 25-year-old agent had an impressive 2022 despite headwinds in the second half. That’s primarily due to him selling $13.5 million in volume in the first half of the year.
While grit and hustle were among the factors he attributed to his success last year, Duran tells RISMedia that embracing the basics significantly contributed to his performance.
“My business is based on the basics with a little bit of hustle and personal relationships,” he says. “I think a lot of agents in 2021 left the basics because it was so easy to sell a house in 2021. If you had a listing, you had a gold mine, and you had 100 offers on your property if it was a suitable property; yeah, you didn’t do the things that you should have done because you didn’t have to do them.”
He says a lot of that has changed in the new market cycle, but he has kept up with the practices that helped him win in the upmarket. That includes utilizing open houses, which he said were paramount to his business strategy when he started his career.
“I was doing three to four open houses a weekend, and I just knew I needed to get in front of as many people as possible and get as many contacts as possible, and it started snowballing from there,” he says.
As he started building relationships at these open houses, Duran adds that he kept an open mind to any and every opportunity that he could get to transact, including helping renters lease apartments.
Duran says nothing has changed in his tactics this year, noting that he continues doing the same amount of open houses and networking that he did early on. He also continues to farm his market areas for new listings.
“You want to be a specialist in your neighborhoods, and you need to be specializing in that neighborhood, constantly sending out mailers and reaching out to your sphere,” he says. “I know this sounds crazy, but there’s a lot of real estate agents that just don’t like to talk and go out and socialize, but you’ve got to get out and do things and meet as many people as possible.”
Providing a memorable client experience is mission critical in today’s market as agents look to build lifelong—or career-long—connections with clients. It allows agents to set themselves up as trustworthy and knowledgeable experts in the field that consumers will continue working with and referring people to.
That is something that Duran tries to exude as he works with consumers. Keeping service top of mind, he strives to offer every consumer “white-glove concierge service.”
He admits that educating buyers on the new realities of today’s market has become more pertinent to his business and client communication.
“My communication is the No. 1 most important part of my business,” he explains. “I can’t tell you how many clients have left their former agents or have come to me and said, ‘we used you because of your communication.’”
Despite being newer to the industry, Duran stresses the importance and benefits of responding to consumers in a timely manner. Admittedly, he says he’s had clients come to him from other agents claiming that his responsiveness was primarily why they gave him their business.
“If they need anything, whether it’s real estate-related or not, I’m there,” Duran says. “It’s just as simple as that, to be honest with you.”
Aside from making himself available whenever clients need him, Duran says he takes his service to new heights when working with clients by ensuring they can have his undivided attention throughout the transaction.
To that end, Duran indicates that he hired a driver that can take him and his clients to showings, which he says allows him to sit with clients and interact with them in real-time.
“Believe it or not, when you’re driving behind or in front of your clients from showing to showing, you don’t get to hear their responses and what they feel about that property,” he says.
- Get creative with your outreach and give consumers something memorable to take home.
- Tried-and-true tactics still work in today’s market; find the ones that best serve your business.
- Collaborate with local partnerships to drum up leads and referrals for each other.
- If you don’t respond to consumers in a timely manner, another agent will.
- Providing top-level customer service will continue to reel in business.