A panel of members of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors discussed their lead-generation strategies and the challenges they face in their business at a recent meeting in Mountain View.
The panel included Diyar Essaid from Coldwell Banker, Michael Galli from Alain Pinel Realtors, Beth Tomkins from Sereno Group and David Kim from Intero Real Estate Service.
According to panelists, due to the shortage of inventory, the housing market has become highly competitive for agents and homebuyers. With mortgage interest rates inching upward, many buyers see the window of opportunity for homeownership but face a short supply of homes for sale and competition from all-cash buyers and investors.
The panelists practice lead generation in many ways, from open houses to door knocking, direct mailing and print and Internet advertising.
They advised other agents to find a niche in which they are comfortable.
Galli said he spends a great deal on print advertising, which generates referrals indirectly. This type of marketing takes time, effort and money to administer, but it works for him, he added.
The greatest challenge for Tomkins is balancing business with family. Although many enter the real estate field because they want more flexibility time-wise, a highly competitive market can be a big challenge for agents with young children. Her advice to those with growing families is to make sure that they are organized and maintain a schedule.
Kim said the emotional drama of real estate could be a challenge for agents. He noted that due to the limited inventory, buyers get very stressed and frustrated when other buyers, particularly those presenting all-cash offers, win out every time they place a bid on a house.
A major challenge facing agents is managing buyer expectations, Essaid said. She noted that some buyers don’t take rejection well and will either bow out of the market or make the wrong move.
Essaid added that she first educates her clients about the market, preparing buyers by showing them homes for approximately six to eight weeks. They discuss the houses – what they like and don’t like, and review the disclosures. During this time, they will see which homes sell and for what price, learning more about the market and preparing for when they decide to jump in. It also increases the trust level between her and the clients, Essaid said.
“Trust is paramount,” she emphasized.
Galli said agents should be honest with their clients and “tell them like it is.” He also indicated that it’s important for agents to “get up to speed” with technology, because high-tech tools enable efficiency. The file-hosting system Dropbox, for example, facilitates business when synced to a smartphone or a computer.
Tomkins advised agents to get to know one another, because they will one day be sitting across from each other at the negotiating table.
“There is strength in knowing each other,” she said.
Galli summarized the panel’s definition of success as “having happy clients and a balanced life.” Kim added that it’s important to “be happy and do the best you can.”