If you’re an agent or broker planning for the year, considering new marketing methods and reflecting on what did and didn’t work last year, here are the top five real estate marketing trends you should pay attention to.

Now is the time when business owners start planning for the year, considering new marketing methods and reflecting on what did and did not work. While I can’t predict what the real estate market is going to do, and I can’t give you the silver bullet to get more clients this year, I can share the top five real estate marketing trends to pay attention to this year.

5 real estate marketing trends to watch in 2019

iBuyers

Back in December of 2017, Inman declared the iBuyer “person of the year.” The response from readers was skeptical, but since then, companies such as Opendoor,  Offerpad and Zillow Offers continue to roll out into new markets with backing from large institutional investors (like SoftBank).

Here in Minnesota, Opendoor has sent postcards to homeowners offering to buy their property; it has numerous ads on the radio and has already purchased quite a few homes. When traveling in Raleigh, North Carolina, I noticed several Opendoor billboards, and I have heard from friends in Phoenix that Opendoor has taken a noticeable share of the market.

The fact is that iBuyers are here to stay, so as an agent, it is important to get educated on the process so you can speak intelligently to potential sellers about their options. Just this week we had a listing appointment where the seller had already received an offer from Opendoor. We explained agency, went over current market conditions, comparable sales, typical seller concessions, days on market and estimated her net proceeds. She did decide to list with us, but there will certainly be cases where sellers will opt to go the route of the iBuyer.

Being able to explain the differences in process and impact to sellers’ bottom-line will give savvy agents an opportunity to demonstrate their value and prove they have nothing to worry about.

Lead costs will continue to increase

“Rising lead costs and competition will force agents to maximize every lead opportunity as it gets more difficult to get “leads on demand” – Jessie Beaudoin

Demand for leads has continued to rise. It has become easier than ever to setup a PPC campaign on Google, Facebook, etc. Those who don’t fully understand the process have bid up cost per click for major keywords past the level of profitability for most. As one agent fails and quits paying, another steps right in to fill that spot. Top teams have mastered lead conversion processes, however, the ROI has dwindled with so many more agents competing for the same number of sales.

From Nextdoor to Zillow, costs for agent advertising has gone up across the board. Zillow has rolled out a new iteration of its Premier Agent program called PA4, which was designed to vet leads and introduce consumers to agents via live transfer. Around the same time, it allowed agents to bid on ZIP codes, often to the point of negative ROI projections.

Overly optimistic projections led to some ZIP codes becoming oversold, which caused frustration among advertisers and lots of agent churn. Right now in our market the cost per connection with the Zillow Premier Agent program is estimated at $450, but of course there are no guarantees.

Agents who track their key performance indicators and are consistent with follow-up will continue to succeed but may see diminishing returns. Remember to never rely on one source for leads and to leverage your listings to create additional lead opportunities for you and your team. This can be achieved by using a text number and call recording hotline on your sign, such as one provided by CallAction, or even just consistently holding open houses.

Agents who focus on relationships will win

Ultimately, the agent who focuses on relationships is going to win since there are thousands of different websites where consumers can find information about homes. What consumers are looking for is a trusted advisor who can explain the process and will look out for their best interest.

It is said that everyone knows about 250 people, and that on average, someone will move every 10 years. Not everyone you know will choose you to help them buy or sell their home, but those people might know other people who are moving so a good rule of thumb is that for every 10 people in your database you should be able to get one sale.

Companies like First.io can help change those odds by highlighting who among your sphere is thinking about moving, so you can connect before your competition does. Keep in mind that there is a big difference between having a relationship with someone and dripping them with canned information that they did not sign up for. Contactually helps you scale your personalized outreach and set cadences for follow-up with each group of relationships you have.

When surveyed, agents report that 60 percent to 90 percent of their business comes from people they already know — including friends, family and past clients — yet this is typically where they spent the least amount of money. If you were to reinvest the money you’ve spent chasing leads into getting to know people better, meeting for coffee, lunch, happy hour or community events, I can guarantee you’ll see a higher return on investment.

Professional looking marketing and photography

“When a market tightens, how the buyer views a property becomes extremely important. There might only be one for the property in six months where there were 50. So the person who has taken the care to present the best pictures, remove the tenant’s car from the driveway, or demonstrate the use of the space by staging a property, will always put themselves ahead of the status quo who simply upload smart phone images. Of course this concept equally echoes through to the seller, where it is a statistically proven fact, sellers list their homes with those who can provide evidence of the ability to market those homes better than their competitors.” – Peter Schravemade

For a while, homes were selling in a day — often with multiple offers and for above list price. Agents didn’t have to worry much about marketing the property — they would just secure the listing, push it out to the MLS and collect the offers.

That isn’t going to fly in 2019.

Every new listing provides an opportunity to showcase your superior marketing skills, and it all starts with photography. I recommend using a local professional photographer and image enhancement from BoxBrownie — their image editing is extremely affordable and is guaranteed to impress your clients. You can also use 360, which have become mainstream, but be sure that whatever you’re putting out there looks professional and is a good reflection of your brand.

Response time

We’re living in a 24/7 connected society. When a consumer has a question, they expect an instant response or they will continue to search for the answer elsewhere. Zillow has recognized this and hopes to enhance the customer experience by immediately connecting them with a local agent. Even if you’re not advertising on Zillow, you can still leverage tools such as CallAction to broadcast calls to your entire team and setup auto responder that will send a text if no one is available to answer. According to NAR, calls are the No. 1 way consumers connect with agents.

Speed to lead does not guarantee success, as many agents will be quick to jump on new opportunities. Agents with systems in place to continue to provide value to consumers, nurture relationships and re-engage existing contacts will see a higher ROI.

As the real estate landscape continues to change, it is important to focus on what is working for you. Monitor your marketing investments and adapt to the changes, but don’t feel you need to do everything. Just because one agent is having success with a particular strategy doesn’t mean it is a good fit for you. Now is the time to cut unnecessary expenses and be sure to do due diligence on any marketing prior to signing a contract.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you dig deep into any of the latest trends, the bottom line is clear: As an industry, we need to keep improving the customer experience.

Brandon Doyle is a Realtor at Doyle Real Estate Team — Re/Max Results in Minneapolis and co-author of  Mindset, Methods & Metrics – Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. You can follow him on Twitter.

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