It is that time of year again. The time of year when the phone calls and e-mails from salespeople come pouring in. I would imagine that business is a bit slow for those who sell to Realtors, just like it is for Realtors.
They are getting a bit more aggressive and persistent. In the past few weeks I have encountered some who appear not to understand the meaning of the word "no." When I say "no," I really mean it. End of conversation. Go away now.
In my entire life I have never purchased anything because someone called me to tell me about it. It is too bad there isn’t a database someplace that lists people who never say yes to a caller. The salespeople say they are just trying to help. And, of course, the e-mails are not spam — they are newsletters and announcements that I never asked for and have to opt out of. I say go away.
Maybe cold-calling works, but it doesn’t work with me and it never will. And no, I am not missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because I refuse to be marketed to by phone.
There is one service that is being pushed extra hard this year by phone and by e-mail. The caller will call and interrupt me while I am working and ask for my help because he has all of these people in my area who want to buy homes and he is looking for one good agent to help.
I will be honest — there isn’t ever a good time to call me with a sales pitch of any kind, and I have never been known to be helpful to a telemarketer.
This should sound familiar to anyone with an active real estate license. The caller found me because I am a "top agent" in my area. What that means is I was easy to find on the Internet and there is some evidence out there that I am still in the business.
It is always a male caller, and the area code is almost always a California area code, and the caller always says he needs my help. The e-mails are about the same: They have a big problem and need my help. They have buyers in my area looking for a Realtor.
It is hard to understand why someone who is looking for a home in Minnesota is dealing with a company in California.
It is even harder to understand how they can be Internet-savvy enough to find a lead-aggregation company that is far away but they can’t find the first Realtor who comes up under many search engine searches for that area.
What really blows my mind is that someone would capture leads without having anyone to service the business, so they have to call around for help. Home purchases are down and our economy is tanking again, but we have people capturing leads and not helping them with their real estate needs.
Maybe that is why local home sales are so sluggish. There were only 234 homes sold in all of St. Paul, Minn., last month. The potential buyers are in California and have been captured and are waiting to be sold to Minnesota Realtors?
These poor consumers are uneducated and they let themselves become leads when they either wanted to just look at properties on the Internet or perhaps they really do need a home. Most have moved on by now, and the rest are likely unqualified and weak leads that would take hours to sift through.
I would much rather spend my time prospecting. I wouldn’t care about any of this if people would stop calling me and sending me spam about all of those buyers looking for "me."
A few years back I read that the lead-aggregation companies would die out. They seem to be alive and well, and as aggressive as ever. I hate the fact that they use our listings to "capture" leads and then try to sell them back to us.
They don’t seem to add any value to the homebuying process. Any consumer who cannot easily find a Realtor has a serious problem.
On the consumer end of this process, it may look like the lead aggregator works only with top agents. The consumer doesn’t know that random agents are being e-mailed and telephoned and sold leads.
There doesn’t appear to be quality control, and any agent can apparently accept leads for their area or for any area as long as they can pay for them. I wish homebuyers and sellers could hear the pitch on my end. They would never again give their e-mail address away to an aggregator.
We give our listings away and we give away valuable content to third parties so that they can mislead consumers and they can sell them to us. I have never met a homebuyer or seller who likes the idea of being sold to an agent as a lead. The third party does not seem to add value for the consumer.
There really are people in my market looking for an agent, but there are not many (and I hope it isn’t because they are all captured in California, waiting for my help). I understand my market and know my numbers.
I need to work extra hard to find the buyers who are looking for me right now. I don’t have time to work with the captured leads with pseudonyms like "Mickey Mouse" and "homebuyer 123," and I certainly don’t want to pay for the privilege of weeding them out.
I really believe I am the best agent for those serious buyers, and I need to find them before they get captured in California.