Let’s face it, 2009 has been a tough year for almost everyone in the real estate industry. When times are tough and negative news floods the media, it can be hard to stay positive. Today’s column looks at seven reasons to give thanks, no matter how tough your market is.

1. Marketing no longer requires big bucks
While the pace of technological change can be frustrating, technology changes have dramatically cut the cost of marketing. To obtain a foothold in a new market 10 years ago, you had to door-knock, spend thousands of dollars on print marketing, and regularly hold open houses.

Let’s face it, 2009 has been a tough year for almost everyone in the real estate industry. When times are tough and negative news floods the media, it can be hard to stay positive. Today’s column looks at seven reasons to give thanks, no matter how tough your market is.

1. Marketing no longer requires big bucks
While the pace of technological change can be frustrating, technology changes have dramatically cut the cost of marketing. To obtain a foothold in a new market 10 years ago, you had to door-knock, spend thousands of dollars on print marketing, and regularly hold open houses.

Today, the Web allows you to market your listings and your services in numerous places. In fact, according to Alexa.com, Facebook alone accounts for approximately 24 percent of all Web traffic. Instead of paying your local paper $50 for a puny three-line ad, you can now post your listings on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and many other high-traffic sites at no charge. Granted, it takes time and effort, but it costs next to nothing.

2. Consumers actually want to talk to you
If you have ever had a door slammed in your face when you were door-knocking or had someone hang up on you when you were cold-calling, you have firsthand experience about how many people react to unsolicited calls from Realtors. The great news about blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is that the people on those sites are eager to be in conversation with you, provided that you share mutual interests outside of real estate.

The process is similar to getting to know a new neighbor. You don’t bombard them with marketing messages. Instead, you get to know them gradually over time. The goal is to make a friend now and do a deal later.

3. New technologies send "sign and ad" leads directly to you
The old "floor duty" or "up agent" system, where one agent took all incoming "sign and ad" calls, was a huge source of frustration to many agents. You could spend thousands of dollars marketing to get the phone to ring and have the "up agent" blow the call. In fact, the statistics from 10 years ago showed that in most offices, 90 percent of the calls were lost because the person taking the call couldn’t get the caller’s phone number.

Today, you can use an 800-number call capture system or the new SMS (i.e., text messaging) systems that send those leads directly to your cell phone. In fact, a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that if you respond in five minutes, the conversion rate is more than double that if you wait to respond in 30 minutes. …CONTINUED

4. Referral-database building the easy way
Until recently there was no easy way to contact high school and college friends, past business associates, or past clients with whom you hadn’t kept in touch. LinkedIn now does that heavy lifting for you. Once you complete your profile, including where and when you attended school and worked, LinkedIn notifies you about other people who were at those places when you were. You can also use services such as Zabasearch.com and Intellius.com to track down contact information about past associations as well.

5. Blogging just got a whole lot easier
Three years ago, anyone who blogged probably had to be a decent writer to have any success. A hot trend for 2010 is vlogs (video blogs). For less than $300, you can obtain a high-definition (HD) video camera that takes great videos.

Instead of figuring out what to write, you can interview your local mortgage broker about what’s happening in the market, the football coach about the upcoming game, or anyone else who has something interesting to say to the people in your market area.

In addition, new software from Adobe allows Google to convert the voice track of your video or podcast into searchable text. This improves your Web ranking on Google and other search engines.

6. Multiple offers, plus some limited signs of life in the luxury market
Some of the hardest-hit markets, including those in California and Florida, are reporting less than one or two months of inventory in the first-time buyer market. The result is limited inventory that is leading to multiple offers. Also, there are a few lenders slowly testing the waters in the luxury market. It’s still hard to get financing, but at least there’s a tiny trickle in this area.

7. Your market is not just local, it’s global
International buyers and sellers inhabit virtually every part of the U.S. Current research shows that international buyers have a 50 percent closing ratio as compared to about 35 percent for domestic buyers. Agents who work with international buyers also make approximately 50 percent more as compared to those who work with domestic buyers only.

If you would like to add to this list, please take a moment to share your thoughts with our readers about what you’re grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.

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