Focus on the fundamentals before spring

February 9, 2018

The shopping season is right around the corner, and even the most experienced real estate professionals can brush up on their skills before the big rush. After all, with so many buyers about to flood the market once again, any advantage agents can grab will likely go a long way toward their business goals in the months ahead.

Perhaps the most important thing for agents to remember as they prep their marketing efforts for the big spring rush is that they're not selling themselves, but rather the services they can provide thanks to their years of experience, according to the Forbes Real Estate Council. For this reason, it's important for agents to create a brand for themselves revolving around their expertise - particularly in their local markets - and highlight why their services can present value to buyers and sellers during the busiest times of the year.

Connecting with clients
While many people come into the real estate sales process with some preconceived notions about how easy it may be to have a bid accepted or get a house sold, it's vital for agents  to spin certain misconceptions positively. For instance, if would-be buyers are is seemingly dead set on a homes they may not be able to afford or that are likely to attract multiple bids, agents can tell them about other available options that might meet their expectations.

Likewise, it's also important for agents to always keep in mind that while they're probably juggling a lot of clients at this time of year, every sale is vital to the buyers and sellers involved. Therefore, a little more effort to "be human" and take care with every client is the best way to create positive word of mouth.

Reaching everyone
For most agents at this time of year, the goal is to just cast as wide a net as possible and appeal to anyone who's trying to get into the market, either on the buying or selling sides, according to RISMedia. With that in mind, getting a refresher on what makes digital and other marketing - both online and in the real world - resonate with would-be clients is a good call.

Probably the most important aspect of marketing as a real estate agent is to highlight authenticity, and it can be done in a number of ways. For instance, it might not be smart to highlight only how many years agents have spent in the area or how many sales they've helped facilitate in their careers. Instead, showing off real stories from past clients or what those agents have done as members of the community (helping with charitable events, sponsoring softball teams, etc.) could help draw people's attention in addition to eye-catching, well-designed mailers and social media ads.

The ability to spread the word about an agent's efforts in the community should probably go beyond simply establishing their bona fides in the field, and extend to their impact on their cities or towns.

Planning ahead
While it may seem like homes sell themselves in today's market - especially given the number of buyers versus available properties - it's still important for agents to have long-term strategies for how they will initially connect with prospective clients, according to The Balance. That strategizing means having a marketing plan in place well in advance of the spring sales season, as well as a way in which they can connect with all the clients that might be available to them.

That effort might include attempts to reach a specific niche within a local market, but regardless of how agents target prospective clients, it's vital that they have a plan to handle any amount of interest, even if agents can't comfortably take on more buyers at that time.

Along similar lines, agents' ability to predict future income and business expenses is vital to their ongoing success. That may be especially true because, while spring and summer activity is probably going to be extremely hot once again this year, the industry is still likely to go through the same seasonal ups and downs as always, and it's critical to be prepared for any eventuality.

Studying up
One of the keys to agents' success when helping clients buy or sell a home is an intimate knowledge of their local markets, and that expertise needs to be fueled with the latest industry data, according to Investopedia. Even over the autumn and winter, the ways in which homes are priced - and other aspects of affordability - have likely shifted a lot, and what might have been a normal sales price around this time last year probably isn't going to be available now.

In addition, due to the way tax laws have been altered starting in 2018, it's also important for agents to be able to advise their clients about the ways these changes could affect them and their plans to buy or sell this year.

One critical change as a result of the new tax rules is that homeowners likely will not be able to write off their state and local taxes in the same way they used to, meaning that those looking to buy in states with high tax rates (California, New York, Massachusetts, etc.) could end up paying more than they might have otherwise expected. But if they know about the issue in advance, that can help them prepare for their home purchases more effectively.

Finally, agents will need to know about plenty of tertiary aspects when talking to clients. These points include local school rankings and other quality-of-life factors that many would-be buyers who are just moving to a region will want to know.

While no agents can be expected to know everything about their local markets, having answers to some of the most common questions is a must. And if there's anything an agent is asked but doesn't know for sure, it's important to say, "Let me get back to you about that."

Generally speaking, the more agents can do to establish themselves in advance as local experts while still coming off as engaged, valuable members of their broader communities, the more likely they will be to have success this spring and summer.