I have been so busy these past couple of weeks tying up a couple of rentals that I worried I’d been neglecting my sale. However, I know my seller is getting antsy as July — and vacations with their consequent disappearance of buyers to the beach — looms. So I decided to set up an open house for this weekend, and to make it a big one.
Now I have to digress for a minute and tell you that the deal du jour in my area — downtown — actually happened as the result of a mistake. An agent accidentally typed the wrong price on a listing and the result of the underpricing was a fierce bidding war and a terrific final price. Crazy, huh? Well, that’s what this market is like.
My seller and I are happy with our pricing — we’ve seen offers that we like — but prospective buyers have not gone to contract so I am now looking for someone with a lot of desire and no problems getting financing. After careful consideration, it seemed like the best strategy was to stop paying attention to marketing directly to the customer — MLS listings and advertising and such — and to start paying attention to marketing directly to other brokers.
So I went in to the office this afternoon with the goal of sending my open house flier to the 50 agents in New York who would be most likely to have my customer, and to send it to them in such a way that they’d be most likely to read it. (We have a service that sends out e-mail fliers in bulk, so I figured the broker population as a whole would be covered.)
The superstars were easy, because they are names that I hear over and over again in the course of my business. But after e-mailing those top four giants I was stuck. Who, I wondered, are the other 46 people I should market to? So I started in on the firms that have offices near my listing, figuring they’d be the most likely to be seen as specialists in the area.
There are two firms that seemed obvious — Sotheby’s and Brown Harris Stevens — since they both have perfectly located offices. I decided to get my flier to five agents per firm, and I spent some time scouring the lists of agents per office to try and figure out who might at least recognize my name and open my e-mail.
Then I ran a list of all the properties that had sold in my area in the past 90 days. That gave me 30 hits represented by about two dozen brokers. I had already caught a few of them, but the ones I hadn’t each got an e-mail.
By now, my eyes were starting to bleed. I am a big fan of personalization, so each person was getting their own specific e-mail that would connect better if they opened it. But what if they didn’t open it? I felt like this project was probably a gigantic waste of time, and my back hurt. I reminded myself that I had vowed to stay in the office until this task was done — no dessert till you’ve finished your homework — but sending out 50 e-mails is, um, repetitive and boring. Seriously, repetitive. (In the middle I started to cheat and copy and paste the same copy over and over again, which made me feel awful. But it was either that or stop early, and "nifty 40" just sounds terrible.)
Finally, after a lot of stretching and about eight breaks for snacks, I had sent an e-mail to every broker with a recent closed deal in my area. So I went back a little further in time, staying closer in geography — who had sold nine months ago, but down the block?
Of course, the more I was plagued by backache, I was plagued by doubt. I was reaching heavy-hitting seller’s brokers, but were they the ones who were going to be working with my buyer? Had I really remembered to cross out "Scott" and write in "Anna" when sending an e-mail to Anna? Did I actually attach the flier on e-mail 48?
Finally, I pinged a couple of brokers who had seen the apartment before with very interested clients, and for good measure — number 51 — a blogger who doesn’t work the area but who I know is very buyer-oriented.
The whole job took four hours. I’m sure if I’d already had a clean list and had sent out one e-mail to the 50 names it would have taken an eighth of that time. But would one standard e-mail have been as successful as a note to Matt reminding him he’s seen the apartment before and one to Susan reminding her she liked the cabinets? I’ll never know, because I’m sure as heck not going back and doing it the other way.
Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."
What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.