With the winter months comes an anticipated slowdown in residential real estate transactions as both buyers and sellers prepare for the holiday season. However, once the new year is in full swing, sellers will be looking to put their homes on the market, so be prepared! As a real estate agent, this time of the year may not look good on the books, but it’s an all-important time to gear up for a busy spring.
You might think it’s the perfect time to save marketing dollars and to take a breather, but then you will be like all the other real estate professionals taking a break. Stand out among the crowd and use the wintertime to generate new leads and nurture the ones you worked so hard to build throughout the year.
Nurture Your Current Leads
Time doesn’t slow down for leads just because the rest of the world does. Many real estate agents assume that they don’t need to keep up with their leads because they’re probably busy with family, taking trips or otherwise need a break themselves. Don’t be fooled. This is actually the perfect time to engage leads in your pipeline and in the most personal ways. And you’ll likely be the only agent actively out and about in front of them!
Basically, continue what you’ve been doing the whole year but with a holiday twist. Create e-newsletters that you send out every two weeks to your email list with useful holiday- and house-focused information. Some ideas for newsletters:
- End-of-Year Neighborhood Market Reports – How did home sales do and what can you project they will do for the coming winter or year? Throw in a couple examples of how you helped clients.
- Open House Announcements – Let your list know that homes are on the market and that you are still working hard to get the word out.
- Just Sold – A featured home reminds your list that things haven’t slowed down in your Make it fun and say something to the effect that the home sellers have something special to celebrate this holiday season.
- Local Holiday Events Calendar – Show your community involvement and spirit by curating a nice and simple list of your city and neighborhood’s holiday activities. They’ll be grateful you took the time to share it and will remember your recommendations fondly.
- Upcoming Market Information – Everyone appreciates a heads up when it comes to information they can use, so give them something to chew on as they think about selling their home. A couple things to share:
- The Federal Reserve will likely hold back on its stimulus program at the beginning of the year, pushing mortgage rates up. For your buyer leads, this is great motivation to consider finding their new home before rates go up.
- According to a recent study by Redfin between 2011 and 2013, home sales during the winter months (December 21 to March 21) were off the market one week sooner than the rest of the year, on average. The weather and region were not even factors.
- Tips to Prepare a Home for Sale – You just might tip that small fraction of home owners on your list to sell by giving them useful tips to prepare their home for the spring – or at least look out for them. Advice also establishes you as an expert and a trusted resource so when they’re ready, they will come!
Keep on Marketing
It may be tempting to save dollars on marketing during the holiday season, but this could be the best time to invest in it. By the time everyone else is getting back into the game, you’ll have had two months of generating and cultivating leads over the competition and will be ahead come March and April. The key is to be first and in front as much as you can, and that includes downtimes.
In lieu of your normal postcards, send out a simple holiday card with your team’s photo dressed in holiday garb. Make sure you have your name or firm’s name prominently printed on the front so it can be seen by house guests perusing your recipients’ holiday card collection.
If you ever thought about diving into search engine marketing like Google pay-per-click ads, then try it over the holidays. You can generate more leads for less when the competition is not as high. Studies have shown that real estate searches from both buyers and sellers remain relatively flat compared to the rest of the year.
Keep the ringer on and your finger to the dial. People with an immediate need to sell or buy will need someone to assist them, and it should be you! They’ll be glad you stuck around and are available to help when they needed it the most. Proactively, this is a great time to continue to follow-up on our leads and to generate new ones by phone. People will be more at ease and more likely to take your call and chat with you for a few minutes when things aren’t as hectic.
Get in the Holiday Spirit
Everyone responds best to gestures of goodwill and charity during the holidays. It’s a great time to tone down the sales pitch and focus, genuinely, on being an active part of the community. Holding events that bring people together and that serve a greater purpose can do wonders for your brand and just feels good to do. Some ideas:
- Open House Holiday Open House – Show guests what you are capable of accomplishing for them as an example. Prepare a spread that includes delicious holiday treats. Decorate the interior and even the exterior to showcase the potential of the home and to warm it up a bit.
- Food, Clothing or Gift Drive – This would be a great addition to an open house and encourage more people to stop by who may not have otherwise thought to do so. Find a charity you support who needs food and clothing. Make sure they publicize that you are hosting the drive on all of their marketing channels as well. Ideally, you’ll want to have this the first or, latest, second week of December in order to account for holiday parties and vacations.
- Sponsor an Event – Schools, charities and neighborhood groups like to hold events this time of year. By providing support, and not just cash, you have a great opportunity to get your name in front of more people tied to a local cause or community and actually meet them in person.
Don’t Forget Your Clients
According to the National Association of REALTORS 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:
- Seventy-two percent of recent sellers contacted only one agent before finding the right agent they worked with to sell their home
- Thirty-two percent of sellers recommended their agent three or more times since selling their home.
The numbers don’t lie. When it comes to generating leads, you need look no further than your own client base. Being the most social time of the year, your clients will no doubt be catching up with friends and kin and dishing on their amazing real estate agent. Be sure to remind them of the wonderful service you provided by giving them a memorable gift. A nice bottle of wine with a nice, handwritten note; a holiday bouquet or potted plant (which will be prominently displayed for guests to see and comment on); or a nice photo of the family in front of their home when they closed are all nice sentiments that show effort and attention.
What’s even better than giving a gift? Giving it in person! Dropping by their home, preferably during the second week of December, will give them a wonderful surprise and continue that all-important face time and conversation that leads to leads. A simple offer to help with anything they need and to let you know if anyone needs your help, especially during the slow winter months, can go a long way toward opening up the path of leads to follow.
When things slow down, that’s your signal to ramp up. If you take anything away, make sure that you are first and in front as much as possible. It will take some discipline and work to finish out the year, but when spring comes, you’ll be so glad you did.