Marketing is one of the most important things a real estate investor can do to grow his business. It is also one of the areas that is easiest to make multiple mistakes. From failing to properly plan, failure to track your results and even worse, failure to control spending; marketing is fraught perils that beginning investors and long time investors alike must be aware and prepared to avoid.
There are 3 main areas of marketing to concentrate on when seeking to grow sales and revenues. The first is education, the second is planning and the third is tracking for adjustments and success. All three are important for investors to watch as they seek to grow sales and revenues and more importantly, build a business model that is sustainable through any real estate cycle.
Educating yourself as a real estate investor and marketer is absolutely paramount if you are going to have success and grow your business. There is simply no excuse for not understanding the basics of each as they both are extremely important for the longevity and ability to stay relevant and profitable. Here a few examples of places to become educated on good marketing techniques for real estate investors.
1. Local Library – There may not be a better place to become educated on real estate marketing than the local library. Break the topic down into two subjects and you can have the basics down inside of a week. Under the real estate section there are multiple titles that explain the basics of real estate investing from beginner levels to expert levels. In addition, many of these books will give a basic outline of some simple marketing techniques and tools to get you started. When you combine that knowledge with a good Marketing 101 book from the library, you can quickly pick up the basic outline of why marketing must be done and how properly set up a marketing plan. The best part about an education from the library is the cost – practically free!
2. Real Estate Investment Clubs – Often times, these clubs are referred to in the industry as REIA’s. Associations of local real estate investors who come together several times a month to discuss topics relevant to real estate investing. These are great sources for so many things related to real estate investing, including marketing ideas and plans. By attending and immersing yourself into these groups, it is easy to develop friendships, partnerships and even mentors who can answer questions and provide guidance. By paying attention to what the top performers are doing in the field and how they are marketing their businesses, you can pick up ideas and integrate those ideas into your marketing plan. It is called modeling and it is one of the best ways to educate yourself on what is working in a particular real estate market. The biggest upside to becoming educated at a REIA is that you are surrounding yourself with the type of people that are going to be vital to your future success. The costs are usually very affordable and you can often avoid mistakes made by other investors before you.
3. Go it Alone – There probably does not need to be a tremendous amount of discussion under this heading. It speaks for itself and generally goes against all advice I could ever give any business person, especially a real estate investor. As far as education is concerned, it is an approach that many investors choose to take and often at a tremendous cost. Going it alone means deciding to jump into the deep end of the pool with both feet and learning as you go. Trial and error can be good and can sometimes lead to good results, but often after many hours and many ups and downs. Strictly looking at costs, many investors have experienced huge losses in the areas of marketing to learn what works in their particular market and often are a little behind the actual trends due to not properly learning to track and adjust.
My suggestion when it comes to education to use all the resources available including those that come with little to no costs. When you are becoming educated on how to set up a proper marketing plan complete with tracking and adjusting, then I would make sure I was a part of a local real estate investors association so that I am always up to date with the latest marketing techniques.
When I talk about planning and marketing, I mean to process of laying out the actual strategies you are going to use to market your business, the time frame you are going to use those strategies, the way you are going to track those results and the possible adjustments you are going to make as your results come in on your plan. One of the biggest mistakes that we see today in the real estate marketing world is not a complete failure to plan, but a failure to lay the full plan out from beginning to end. That being said, here are a few tips to properly develop a plan.
1. Know what you are currently doing and what results you are currently achieving. Even if the answer is that you are doing nothing, you can not work on where you are going if you do not know where you currently are starting from. You should be able to pinpoint today any marketing you are doing and the cost of that marketing as well as any results you are seeing.
2. Know what results you are looking for before you begin. So once you know where you are starting from, the next question is were are you going? Lay out concrete results you want to achieve and be specific. One of the glaring mistakes in this area is not being specific enough. You cannot track abstract goals. Your goals must be specific and detailed so that you can verify if you are achieving them. An example would be a specific number of new leads you want to bring in from each marketing source.
3. Give yourself set time frames to test your marketing. This is definitely the second biggest problem for real estate marketers and most marketers in general. Marketing plans must be given time to take shape and develop. Most real estate marketers are developing marketing plans which are call to action in nature. They are asking their target audience to take a particular action so that they can capture that action and develop a new lead. An example would be to “Call Today to Sell Your House Quick!”. This is a call to action marketing phrase. Often times, there will need to be multiple impressions of that message before the action is followed. Failing to plan a specific amount of time such as 60 days or 90 days, leads to a marketer stopping his action before his target audience responds. If you allow your plan to last longer and stick with all of your marketing pieces and techniques longer, you give yourself a greater chance for success in the long run. It allows for you to see over a longer period of time the results you are getting and that provides a clearer picture of what works and what does not work. DO NOT quit marketing after a couple of weeks simply because your phone is not ringing off the hook. Set your time period on the front end and then let your marketing plan work.
4. Failing to get input from other experts can be costly. If you have access to other real estate investors, I would definitely get their input on your marketing plan before implementation. If they are able to give you advice and direction it can often times help you to figure out the best route to take or at least if you are on track for success. If you have taken your time and all the steps necessary so far to put together a quality plan, then take advice from other experts, but do not be persuaded to change everything. Simply let others take a quick look for feedback, but be prepared to move forward with your plan and any adjustments they think would make a difference.
Tracking means having a way to actually follow and measure all of the marketing activities you are doing and the number of results each gets you. Here are some examples of the things that real estate marketers need to track for every marketing action they take.
1. What are the total number of leads generated per marketing technique tracked daily, weekly and monthly.
2. How many of those leads turned into qualified prospects daily, weekly and monthly. (qualified prospect means you were willing to invest more time to develop the lead)
3. The number of offers made to purchase property daily, weekly and monthly.
4. The ratios of offers made to where the original lead came from.
I am going to insert a quick note here to make sure everyone understands exactly how to track. It is not enough to simply know how many calls you are getting or how many leads are generated or how many offers or deals are being done. When you actually purchase an investment property, you MUST know where that lead came from at the very beginning. Tracking ratios is extremely important to this. It is important to be able to track and measure not only the leads but the quality of those leads. You can have one lead generator that gives you a majority of your leads and another that gives you a majority of your transactions. It should be obvious that you would want to spend more time and resources with the marketing technique giving your more transactions unless you are in the business to simply feel busy and not necessarily to earn a living!
5. What is the cost per lead generated, per marketing technique daily, weekly and monthly.
6. What is the average income generated from each transaction generated by each marketing technique daily, weekly and monthly.
When you are able to track your business in this way, it makes it much easier to make adjustments as you go and it definitely gives a clearer picture of how well you are spending marketing dollars. Often times, as legendary basketball coach John Wooden would say “we mistake activity for productivity” The entire reason for developing and implementing a proper marketing plan is so that we can determine what works, what does not work and what changes we need to make so that we are spending the fewest dollars possible for the greatest impact and result. If we fail to implement any part of this type of marketing plan, then whatever success we achieve cannot be measured against any activities and therefore cannot be duplicated.
I am a big proponent of education and immersion as the best learning tools available and I believe that when it comes to marketing, it is simply too easy to learn the proper way to plan and track. When you have the basics down and solid plan to follow, success will follow.
The present real estate market is acting just as it should on the heels of the greatest real estate boom in the last 40 years. There is a long way to fall to get back to “normal”. This falling back into a normal market, coupled with the contraction of the sub-prime mortgage market has the real estate consumer, and many homeowners in a state of fear. The various media continue to depict a very grim picture of the markets in general without distinguishing between the national market and local markets, such as the Arizona real estate market, with factors unique in the ways of population growth and investor activity. I have seen numerous articles referring to the sub-prime debacle as a global crisis. That may be taking it just a bit too far.
The truth is, there is no geopolitical significance to recent events in the U.S. real estate market and the sub-prime crisis. To rise to a level of significance, an event — economic, political, or military — must result in a decisive change in the international system, or at least, a fundamental change in the behavior of a nation. The Japanese banking crisis of the early 1990s was a geopolitically significant event. Japan, the second-largest economy in the world, changed its behavior in important ways, leaving room for China to move into the niche Japan had previously owned as the world’s export dynamo. On the other hand, the dot-com meltdown was not geopolitically significant. The U.S. economy had been expanding for about nine years, a remarkably long time, and was due for a recession. Inefficiencies had become rampant in the system, nowhere more so than in the dot-com bubble. That sector was demolished and life went on.
In contrast to real estate holdings, the dot-com companies often consisted of no real property, no real chattel, and in many cases very little intellectual property. It really was a bubble. There was virtually, (pun intended), no substance to many of the companies unsuspecting investors were dumping money into as those stocks rallied and later collapsed. There was nothing left of those companies in the aftermath because there was nothing to them when they were raising money through their publicly offered stocks. So, just like when you blew bubbles as a little kid, when the bubble popped, there was absolutely nothing left. Not so with real estate, which by definition, is real property. There is no real estate bubble! Real estate ownership in the United States continues to be coveted the world over and local markets will thrive with the Arizona Real Estate market leading the way, as the country’s leader in percent population growth, through the year 2030.
As for the sub-prime “crisis”, we have to take a look at the bigger picture of the national real estate market. To begin with, remember that mortgage delinquency problems affect only people with outstanding loans, and more than one out of three homeowners own their properties debt-free. Of those who have mortgages, approximately 20% are sub-prime. 14.5% of those are delinquent. Sub-prime loans in default make up only about 2.9% of the entire mortgage market. Now, consider that only 2/3 of homeowners have a mortgage, and the total percentage of homeowners in default on their sub-prime loans stands at around 1.9%. The remaining two-thirds of all homeowners with active mortgage prime loans that are 30 days past due or more constitute just 2.6% of all loans nationwide. In other words, among mortgages made to borrowers with good credit at application, 97.4% are continuing to be paid on time.
As for the record jumps in new foreclosure filings, again, you’ve got to look closely at the hard data. In 34 states, the rate of new foreclosures actually decreased. In most other states, the increases were minor — except in the California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona real estate markets. These increases were attributable in part to investors walking away from condos, second homes, and rental houses they bought during the boom years.
Doug Duncan, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, says that without the foreclosure spikes in those states, “we would have seen a nationwide drop in the rate of foreclosure filings.” In Nevada, for instance, non-owner-occupied (investor) loans accounted for 32% of all serious delinquencies and new foreclosure actions. In Florida, the investor share of serious delinquencies was 25%; in Arizona, 26%; and in California, 21%. That compares with a rate of 13% for the rest of the country. This makes for some great buys for the savvy Arizona real estate investor in the area of short sales, foreclosures, and wholesale properties.
Bottom line: Those nasty foreclosure and delinquency rates you’re hearing about are for real. But they’re highly concentrated among loan types, local and regional economies, and investors who got their foot caught in the door at the end of the “boom” and are just walking away from those poorly performing properties. Most of those investors still have homes to live in, maybe more than one.
In the wake of the boom years, we now have a high inventory of homes on the market, Investors and speculators who quickly bought up homes dumped them just as quickly back on the market in hopes of a fast return. The frenzy of investors purchasing homes put pressure on inventories and drove prices up, further increasing investor activity. Then, as if all at once, many of those investors put their properties on the market, creating an imbalance in the reverse direction. With so many homes on the market, prices began to stall and then fell. Prices will continue to fall until demand chews up excess inventories.
With investors no longer a big part of housing demand, primary homeowners are slowly chipping away at the existing inventory. The Las Vegas housing market will rebound in March 2008, according to the largest and most respected appraisal firm locally. The main contributing factor to the sooner than later rebound of this southwestern city is a growing population and thriving local economy.
Arizona and Nevada are expected to lead the country in percentage population growth for the next 20-25 years. The population of Arizona is expected to approximately double during that time so we can expect a strong housing demand going forward. Normal inventory levels for Phoenix real estate are about 6-8 months. Current inventory is about 10-12 months. So, we are not far above “normal” inventories in Phoenix. There are, however, outlying cities in this large metropolis that have inventories in excess of 1 year. Queen Creek real estate inventory is the worst with approximately a 2-3 year surplus of homes on the market, mostly due to the large percentage of new homes purchased by investors and then quickly flipped back onto the resale market. Surprise and Peoria real estate markets have a 1-2 year inventory for largely the same reason. We are already seeing some Scottsdale real estate and Paradise Valley real estate prices increase in value. Billions of dollars are being poured into the local economy in the way of commercial development from the downtown area to Northeast Phoenix and Scottsdale.
The demand for Arizona homes will remain strong in years ahead as new populations create the need. The demand for housing across our great nation will remain strong as this next generation of young debutantes steps onto the home buying stage. Interest rates are still at historic lows and the lending institutions will continue to offer creative financing options. Sure, some hedge funds lost the air in their tires, but financing sub-prime loans is a high stakes game for the super rich and is not of geopolitical significance. They will find other ways to lend their billions for huge profits in the wake of this sub-prime debacle. Let’s not be gripped in the fear created by reports from all media types trying to “make news”. Let’s face it, the real numbers are not that bloody exciting. Ask yourself, is this an Arizona real estate crisis, or the perfect time to buy an affordable Arizona home? Proper timing and negotiating techniques make all the difference in the current Arizona real estate market. When choosing an Arizona realtor, trust the expertise and experience of Equity Alliance Properties.
For up to date Arizona real estate market research, contact Robert Hand at 480.206.8133 or go to [http://www.equityallianceproperties.com]
I attended Wichita State University from 1979 through 1983 majoring in Chemistry. Enlisted the U.S. Navy in June of 1983, specializing in intelligence gathering and dissemination and tactical operations. Served onboard the U.S.S. W.S. Sims FF-1059 through April of 1987 working in Electronics Warfare in the Combat Information Center. Attended the University of the State of New York, majoring in Electronics Technologies while on Active duty. After 4 years of active duty, continued service for 2 more years in the U.S. Naval Reserves through June of 1989.
With an interest in real estate since I was just a young lad, I decided to get my real estate license in 1995, prompted by the allure of investment opportunities in this fast growing city I had found myself surrounded in. For years I helped others invest in their dream homes or make smart gains in the properties they bought and sold. I also helped my colleagues who came to this country to work from overseas find a home for their families.
Do you know what the most powerful real estate marketing tool is? Here’s a hint. You see it every time you look in the mirror. That’s right, it’s you. As a knowledgeable real estate agent, you are your most powerful tool for real estate marketing.
Real Estate Marketing Tools Exposed
A lot of companies clamor about the “power” of their real estate marketing tools, as if you simply have to turn them on and let them boost your business. This is practically what some companies claim. Do I exaggerate? Only a little. I can think of one such product off the top of my head (name withheld of course), and the pitch goes something like this: “Our revolutionary software will launch your real estate business into the stratosphere.”
The stratosphere? Wow, that sounds fantastic. But you’ll notice there’s a critical ingredient missing from the above statement. You! You’re the most powerful real estate marketing tool you own, whether you realize it or not. So the stratosphere claim would be more truthful if it added the words “will help you” … as written below:
“Our revolutionary software will help you launch your real estate business into the stratosphere.”
That’s more accurate, because now the advertising claim includes you. And you are by far the most important part of the equation.
You Are Your Best Marketing Tool
The point I’m making is simply this. If you shop for a real estate marketing tool to take your business to the next level, you are going to be disappointed. Real estate marketing starts with great services and big ideas. The “tools” are just a way to communicate those services and ideas to your audience.
Top 5 Real Estate Marketing Tools
You are your best tool for real estate marketing. We’ve covered that one. So what are some other top tools? Here are four more tools successful real estate marketers usually have in common.
1. You – Which we’ve covered already.
2. Persistence – Repetition is a big part of real estate marketing. You try a certain strategy, see how it works, modify it as needed, repeat it again, etc. This requires patience and persistence. Make sure you have these things before you try any form of marketing.
3. Imagination – Without imagination, you have no hope but to copy the marketing programs of other real estate agents. Mimicry will only get you so far, especially if you’re copying a marketing strategy that’s already being used in your area. Only imagination can help you find the next big idea in real estate marketing. And only big ideas can produce big results.
4. Adaptability – Methods of communication change constantly. The Internet has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. For example, look at the current rise of real estate blogs we are witnessing. As the communication landscape changes, you must be able to change with it. You must be able to adapt to new mediums and methods. So make sure adaptability is part of your real estate marketing toolkit.
5. Enthusiasm – Whether you realize it or not, communicating with potential clients (and current clients) is a big part of your marketing program. When you communicate with professionalism and enthusiasm, your message becomes contagious. People will help you spread your message without even being asked.
What do all of these real estate marketing tools have in common? For one thing, you can’t buy them in a store or online. You’re either born with them, or you work hard to acquire them along the way. But the good news is, you have the most powerful marketing tool already … you have yourself. Everything else can be learned.
Marketing books, software, websites, ads and the like can help you grow your business. There’s no doubt about that. But they are only a medium between you and your audience. These things can move your marketing program along, but the program itself has to start with you.
Real estate agents often ask me, what’s the best marketing tool for real estate? In fact, if I had a dollar for each time I heard this question, I would be on vacation right now!
So what are the best marketing tools for real estate? Well, I’m always quick to say that you are your best real estate marketing tool. Yes, you … the real estate agent reading this article. I’ve gone so far as to write an article about the most powerful real estate marketing tool, which is the agent behind the marketing.
So that automatically gets into the top-ten list of marketing tools for real estate. But what are the other nine? Here’s my list.
1. A Real Estate Website
Each day in your market area, hundreds (possibly thousands) of home buyers and sellers turn to the Internet for real estate information. Having a real estate website is the first step to connecting with this ideal audience. Thus, the website is a core marketing tool for real estate in the modern age.
2. A Web “Presence”
What’s the difference between a web presence and a website? Plenty. A website is a grain of sand on a long beach, with little hope of standing out in any significant way. But a web presence increases the chance people will find you online. A web presence includes such things as the real estate website, online press releases, real estate blogging and other online ventures. your chances of be. In an age where so many people use the Internet for real estate research, a strong web presence is a necessary marketing tool for real estate success.
3. A Real Estate Blog
In my opinion, real estate blogs can be one of the most effective marketing tools for real estate agents. Especially when they’re used properly. When you publish quality content to a real estate blog on a regular basis, you are increasing your web presence (mentioned above). You’re also positioning yourself as an authority in your area. These are just a few of the reasons a blog makes a good marketing tool for real estate success.
4. Real Estate Postcards
“Postcards,” you say, “aren’t those a little outdated?” Not at all. The postcard marketing strategies used by a lot of real estate agents are indeed outdated, but the medium itself can still bring great rewards. Real estate postcards have been a reliable marketing tool for real estate agents for decades. They can still be highly effective, especially when integrated with some of the other marketing channels on this page.
5. Home-Buying Seminars
I frequently recommend home-buying seminars as a marketing tool for real estate agents. No other real estate marketing technique can produce a room full of potential clients, eager to hear what you have to say. Sure, there are plenty of logistics involved, but the rewards usually outweigh the effort. Home buying seminars are most effective as a real estate marketing tool when conducted in collaboration (i.e., a real estate agent teaming up with a home inspector, mortgage professional, etc.
6. Client Referrals
It’s no secret that client referrals lead to a lot of business in the real estate industry. So in this regard, referrals are a powerful marketing tool for real estate agents. But some agents forget that the process leading up to a good referral begins on Day 1 of the working relationship. Take good care of your clients from first contact to closing day, and you’ll tap into one of the most powerful marketing tools for real estate — the client referral.
7. A Big Idea
This is a real estate marketing tool you can’t buy in stores, which is partly why it’s so effective. Big ideas are everywhere, but it’s almost impossible for me to list them for you. Once a big idea has been used in a certain market area, it can never be repeated with equal success. When you can come up with something that gets people in you’re area “buzzing” and spreading the word, you’ve tapped into another powerful marketing tool for real estate success. You’ve harnessed a big idea!
8. A Modern Outlook
The Internet has forever changed real estate research, as well as the real estate transactions themselves. So it’s important for real estate agents to adopt a modern way of thinking about their business. Start with what consumers are doing today, how they’re using the Internet, etc. Work backwards from there? How can you use that to your advantage? Keep a modern outlook toward real estate, and you’ll acquire yet another marketing tool for real estate success.
9. The Website Listed Below
Currently, there’s only one place online where agents can go to learn about direct mail marketing, online marketing, blogs and other topics on the subject. That website is listed below, and it offers dozens of free articles on the topics mentioned above.
10. Behold, the Real Estate Professional
As we discussed at the beginning of this article, you are your most powerful marketing tool for real estate success. None of the other items on this list can be effective without your energy, focus, compassion, intelligence and enthusiasm. So the next time a software or web marketing company says, “We have the most effective marketing tool for real estate business” … you can say, “No you don’t. I do!”