September is Marketing and Branding Month at Inman. That means we’re talking to the chief marketing officers at major brokerages about how the pandemic is changing their jobs and what it means for agents. We’re publishing a suite of tactical Inman Handbooks for marketing on digital portals. And we’re looking at what pages of the traditional marketing playbook still work. Join us all month long.
As we head into the last quarter of 2020 and begin planning for 2021, it’s time to think about where you can market your business to obtain the highest return for your time and money.
If you’re ready to generate new income streams for your business, tune in as we talk about five new marketing campaigns based on takeaways from the most recent Inman Connect Now. Here are a few trends and different marketing ideas you can use to reach the right people.
1. Unable to keep up your mortgage payments?
According to HousingWire, 8.8 percent of all U.S. mortgages (4.7 million loans) were in forbearance as of May 15, 2020. Even with the improvement in the employment numbers, a sizeable number of these homeowners could be facing foreclosure in mid-2021.
Tami Bonnell, the CEO of EXIT Realty, explained how agents must be ready to assist their clients who are unable to start making their house payments once their forbearance period ends.
She warned that, from a financial standpoint, one of the things she’s been hearing is that there will be zero tolerance for “strategic defaults,” where homeowners paid all the other bills and deliberately didn’t pay their mortgage.
During the recession, they were able to short sale their home and got away with an awful lot. This time, she said, the lenders aren’t going to make the same mistake again. They will be checking credit reports to see if their mortgage payment is the only thing they are avoiding.
As this Inman article reported, Gary Keller, the CEO of Keller Williams, concurred that the potential for a high number of forbearances is a “major potential pitfall” in the market. Writer Patrick Kearns wrote that, according to Keller, “if we get to the second quarter of 2021 and the number of loans in forbearance remains high, we could see homes begin moving onto the market and foreclosures increase.”
You can implement this marketing campaign by targeting homeowners who purchased their homes prior to 2012 and have not refinanced. You can purchase this data from CoreLogic’s REISource for about 10 cents per name. Whether you send a postcard or do a cold call, here’s what to say:
“Do you know someone who has been unable to make their house payments due to COVID-19 and are in forbearance? If so, they may be facing foreclosure. Contact me regarding options to avoid facing foreclosure.”
Some options to discuss include selling their home now and buying a replacement home in the same area for a lower mortgage rate or renting their home and moving into a less expensive property until they get back on their feet.
2. Need a different house?
According to a study by Redfin, about 25 percent of all homeowners intending to purchase had no change in their homebuying preferences. On the other hand, a substantial number of buyers are now seeking designated spaces for working at home and for their children to learn.
Greg McDaniel recommends a “stair-step” approach to marketing to this group. Go to your title company, and find all the people who own studio condominiums and market two-bedroom homes to them. For those with two bedrooms, market four-bedroom homes.
If someone owns a tenth of an acre, search for properties with a third of an acre; for those who own a third of an acre, search for seven-tenths of an acre; for those with seven-tenths of an acre, search for properties with an acre, etc. Here’s what to say in your print marketing campaign:
“Too few rooms for too many people at home these days? Upgrading to a bigger home may be cheaper than you realize. If you need more room, we can show you how to get it! Visit: [Provide link to your website] to learn how.”
If you’re cold calling or door knocking, here’s what to say when you’re reaching out to owners of a two-bedroom, two-bath condo — especially if they have children.
“Hi, I’m Sally Agent from ABC Real Estate. A lot of people are moving right now because they need more space to work at home or for their children due to COVID-19. The result is we’re seeing more inventory coming on the market. Given the low interest rates plus the money you would save in HOA dues, the cost of moving into a larger home may be less than you realize. Would you be interested in seeing what’s available and what the costs would be in you were to move?”
3. Ready to buy, but worried about selling your current home first?
When you use marketing campaign No. 2, some owners might be concerned about listing their property prior to purchasing a replacement property. Today, a number of so-called “fintech” companies are addressing this issue.
An excellent example is Knock’s new “Home Swap” program that enables owners to make non-contingent offers on their next home. Knock will advance qualified owners up to six months of mortgage payments on their old house plus up to $25,000 to ensure the old house is market-ready and sells for top dollar.
Here’s what to say either in your print, digital or cold-call material:
“Would you like to sell, but are worried about being stuck with two mortgage payments? Contact Sally Agent at [your contact information] to learn how to buy the home of your dreams and not worry about selling your current home first.”
4. Need down payment assistance?
An additional issue from campaign No. 2 sometimes has to do with the amount of the down payment. Because many people’s finances have been drained due to the pandemic, they may need some help with their down payment to make their next move.
This is where DownPaymentResource.com (DPR) comes in. DPR aggregates all the local, state and federal down payment programs on one site for buyers. Approximately 84 percent of the properties in the U.S. qualify for some sort of down payment assistance.
There are programs for teachers, firefighters, military, first-time and minority buyers, and more. In 2019, the average amount of down payment assistance provided to DPR clients was $13,000. (Back in June, McDaniel and I interviewed Rob Chrane, the CEO of DPR, to discuss the various types of programs available.)
5. Need to buy, sell or lease an investment property or second home?
Have you heard the term “isolation tourism”? What this references is how people are leaving the cities and getting away to quiet, less populated places where there is less risk from COVID-19. For decades, snowbirds have headed south for warmer weather in the wintertime. Today, “isolation tourism” is taking city dwellers to lakes, mountains and other second-home destinations.
According to Scott Shatford, the founder and CEO of AirDNA, there are currently 7.5 million second homes in the U.S., and 2.2 million are listed. AirDNA tracks the performance of short-term rental properties.
Shatford says people are now renting properties for four to six months to see if they are willing to leave their current lifestyle for a new one where they’re renting. In many cases, these people will end up buying and using the property as a second home when they’re not in their current residence.
Rental Beast has created a quasi-multiple listing service for rentals posted by individual owners and property managers. Rather than getting a specific percentage commission, many of these rentals offer the first month of rent as a commission to agents. Moreover, most of these rentals will never appear on the MLS.
This is a tremendous opportunity not only to connect with individual owners who may sell, but to supplement your commission income from doing leases. Furthermore, if any of your sellers need to rent out their property, this is another place where they can list their property for rent.
Are you ready to end this year with more commissions? If so, now is a great time to implement one of these five campaigns now and use it throughout the upcoming year.
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.