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The new pressures of learning the industry while trying to establish clients and pay bills make it difficult to focus on getting your first deals. From collaboration to lead generation, here are nine tactics that could put you on the right path.

1. Partner with other agents

Tanya Dzhibrailova

Tanya Dzhibrailova

Perhaps a homebuyer or homeseller isn’t your cup of tea. Or maybe their price point isn’t in your wheelhouse.

Rather than turn these prospective clients away, you should co-list or co-represent them with competitors, according to a panel of top-producing agents at Inman Connect.

“Fifty percent of something is better than 50 percent of nothing,” noted Tanya Dzhibrailova, an agent at San Francisco-based Zephyr Real Estate.

Partnering with another agent is also a way to hedge against altogether losing a prospect to a formidable competitor, said David Kramer, executive vice president at Beverly Hills, California-based Hilton & Hyland.

2. Use a publicist

For as little as $500 a month, you can tap a publicist’s long-standing relationships with journalists to help position you as the local “noted source” for all things real estate.

3. Pitch stories to reporters

Reporters are constantly hunting for story angles. Rather than merely suggest that they use you as a source, hand them scoops on a silver platter.

Are large garages or guest houses trending? Tell them.

“They’re hungry for topics,” said Andrew Greenwell, CEO of Pleasanton, California-based Venture Sotheby’s International Realty.

4. Tap vendors and investors for leads

Dzhibrailova milked business from vendors and investors she met as a property manager to “build a foundation” for her real estate business. Accountants and lawyers tend to be particularly potent sources of business, Kramer said.

5. Host lots of open houses

“Open houses are the best thing when you don’t have business,” Kramer said. You don’t have to spend any money to host them, and in addition to reeling in leads, they can help you familiarize yourself with a neighborhood and its residents.

6. Don’t turn down any deals

When you’re getting your legs, never turn a buyer or seller away. Some transactions may not translate into fat commissions. But they might send more business your way or buy pricier homes in the future.

7. Maintain connections with past clients and referral sources

Kramer says buying lunch (typically $50 per meeting) four times a week for contacts delivers about a 10 percent return on investment, much higher than the 2 percent return on investment he sees from blanketing neighborhoods with postcards.

Dzhibrailova sends market updates, just-listed cards, just-sold cards and birthday and holiday cards to past clients.

Sending former clients listing and open house notifications can also pay dividends, Kramer said.

8. Hire a real estate coach

Coaches aren’t for everyone, but Christophe Choo, an agent at Coldwell Banker Previews International, said coughing up $1,000 a month on coaching from The Mike Ferry Organization has delivered a tenfold return on investment.

“I need that little boost to get me going to the next week,” Choo said.

9. Cultivate an online presence

Paying developers to build a website that ranks high in search results is a more cost-effective and sustainable online marketing strategy than buying search engine advertisements, panelists said.

Kramer, who said he has three in-house employees constantly working on his website’s SEO (search engine optimization), said he recently won a $30 million listing through his online presence.

“That is your lifeblood going forward,” Kramer said of SEO.

Dzhibrailova said Yelp, where she ranks as one of the top five agents in her market, has had a “tremendous impact” on her business.

10. What is the biggest challenge for real estate agents?

  • Inventory: Agents have always searched for creative ways to find inventory in their markets, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed many new problems. Some advice: Look to your customer relationship management (CRM) system, check your referral network, knock on doors, hold open houses and search your phone contacts.
  • Lead generation: The newly released NAR 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report provides insights into differences and similarities across generations of homebuyers and sellers. It delves deeper into their characteristics including age, income and reasons for buying homes. This is a worthwhile read to increase your lead generation.
  • Time management: Real estate is not a 9-to-5 job, often keeping you available at the whim of your clients. Set a to-do list and schedule what you can including time to work out and keep yourself healthy. During down times, keep working on your inventory, lead generation and other tactics for your successful career.
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