Typically, off-season for real estate occurs during the winter months, from November through February. Although sales are usually less consistent during this time, agents can take advantage of these slower months to prepare for the year ahead.
This off-season is bound to look quite different given the pandemic and recession. Currently, we are in a seller’s market, which will likely continue into 2021, so it’s important to understand how to promote your services in these conditions.
Historically low interest rates paired with low inventory of homes has created huge buyer demand, but many homeowners have decided to postpone selling their homes during these tumultuous economic times.
The homes that are on the market, therefore, are selling — and they’re selling quickly. Here are a few tips agents can use during slower times to hone their skills and stay successful even during the off-season.
1. Continuing education
To maintain a real estate license, agents and brokers must complete a specific amount of continuing education within a particular time frame. Depending on which state the agent is in, these requirements will be different.
The off-season is the perfect time to take a look at your state’s requirements and make sure that you are up to date. That way, you can hit the ground running in 2021. In addition to your state’s requirements, agents can also stay ahead of the curve by reading real estate books and researching housing trends on their own.
2. Build your digital presence
Building up your online presence requires some planning, and the off-season is a great time to get started. In today’s technological world, having a digital footprint is critical to any agent’s success.
Think of your website and social pages as your digital storefront — you want to attract customers with advertising, be consistent in your operations and provide quality customer service through your platforms.
On social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, consistency is king. Try creating a content calendar and scheduling your posts one to two months out so that you can “set it and forget it.” Updating your website and starting a blog or newsletter will also help you provide value to your clients. Plus, anything you post to your blog can later be shared to your social channels.
Tools like Google Ads are another powerful way to reach prospective clients, and it costs very little to get started. You can also use digital tools to employ virtual staging, which is incredibly useful now during the pandemic.
3. Connect with past clients for referrals
Once you sell a client a home, the relationship should not end there! Make sure to keep in touch with past clients because they can be the best source for referrals and repeat customers.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 41 percent of sellers who used a real estate agent found their agents through a referral by friends or family, and 26 percent used the agent they previously worked with to buy or sell a home.
To keep your relationships strong, consider sending past clients a holiday card, writing them an email on their birthday and congratulating them during major life milestones such as getting married and having children.
4. Research market trends
What types of houses are being purchased in your area? Which neighborhoods are up-and-coming? What are real estate pros predicting for the market in 2021? Make sure you are staying on top of the trends and real estate news so that you’re ahead of the curve when peak season rolls around.
For instance, the CARES Act mortgage forbearance period is slated to end. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, approximately 3.5 million homeowners are still in forbearance. Therefore, it could be safe to assume that there might be a slight uptick in mortgage defaults next year.
Agents can use this information to help clients find homes at below market rate, and they can also reach out to previous clients who might be considering downsizing due to the economic strains caused by the recession.
5. Learn how to help your clients save money
One of the most useful things agents can do during the off-season is learn how to help their clients save money, especially while we are in the midst of a recession.
If they’re legal in your state, look into homebuyer rebates, and find out if they are a fit for you as a way to offer clients some cash back during closing. You could also reassess your commission rate and see if it makes sense to lower it to attract more customers.
During the actual homebuying process, you might consider asking the seller to make certain concessions or credits toward your client’s closing costs. Once your clients have officially moved in, you can remain a resource to them by offering tips on your social platforms or website about how to quickly pay off their mortgage and save for a second home.
Most agents dread off-season, but savvy agents see it as an opportunity. Use the winter months to make a plan, build relationships and research trends that will ultimately make you useful to your clients in the long run.
Remember, there really is no such thing as “off-season” if you’re working toward building your business all year long.
Ben Mizes is the CEO of Clever Real Estate in St. Louis. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.