Here, Inman columnist Bernice Ross looks back at 2021, rounding up the best tips, strategies and scripts that you’ll need to generate more leads, ramp up your business and hit the ground running in the new year.

Now that 2021 is winding down, it’s time to revisit some of the most important things we learned this year. (And there were certainly a lot!)

Here, I’ve narrowed it down to 12 main takeaways from columns I penned in over the past 11 months, including surprising statistics, innovative marketing strategies, pithy comments from the Inman community — plus two classic commission defense scripts that never go out of style. 

1. Why you need to follow up on buyer leads — immediately

How many buyer leads did you fail to follow up on in 2021? Divide that number by two. That’s how many listing leads you missed in 2021 by not following up on all your buyer leads.

According to the NAR 2021 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends, 51 percent of all buyers owned their previous home. For baby boomers, those numbers range between 65 to 86 percent.

Consequently, if you want to take more listings in 2022, start following up immediately on every one of your buyer leads. At least 51 percent are living in a house they own.

This is especially important because 82 percent of the time, the first agent who meets with the seller face to face when they’re ready to transact gets the listing, according to the NAR 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

2. The script that kills the Zillow objection

Ever since Zillow invented the Zestimate in 2006, agents have struggled to overcome the objection, “But Zillow says my house is worth more!”

With Zillow exiting the iBuyer business because its algorithm is unable to accurately predict future selling prices, Kimberly Doseth came up with a script that kills the Zillow objection once and for all:

“If Zillow’s Zestimate did not work for Zillow, then it’s not going to work for you.”

Use this script whenever a client references Zillow’s Zestimates in the future.

3. The marketing message you need to leverage a red-hot listing

Glennda Baker of Glennda Baker & Associates in Atlanta created a powerful way for listing agents to leverage a red-hot listing long after it has sold. When Baker received 38 offers on one of her listings, she contacted the neighbors living near her listing. Here’s the marketing message she used.

“We had 38 offers on our listing, and we have one new homeowner. Those 37 other buyers are still looking to buy in your neighborhood, and only one agent knows what every buyer looking in your neighborhood is willing to pay, and that’s me.”

You can use this marketing message for postcards, circle prospecting, cold-calling, door-knocking, social media, YouTube and other video platforms.

4. How to generate 10-20 buyer leads before your listing hits the market

Jimmy Mackin, the CEO of Curaytor, recommended marketing at every stage of the listing cycle. Because everyone likes getting inside information, here’s how Mackin capitalizes on this in his email marketing campaigns:

Subject line: “I’m about to meet a potential seller.”

Body: I’m not certain if this is right for you, but I’m about to meet a potential seller this afternoon at 2 p.m. Properties like this are currently selling in several days with multiple offers.

Call to action: If you’re in the market, I can add you to my VIP list. The moment I can share the information with you, I will. (This may be the moment you hit the “Send” button to upload the listing to your local MLS.) If you’re interested, let me know.

Next, take the responses you received to your listing appointment. If you have already lined up 10 to 20 buyers who have expressed an interest in seeing the property, the listing should be yours!

5. The just-sold email campaign, reimagined

Another email campaign that worked well in 2021 for Curaytor’s clients is to “market your marketing.” For example:

Subject line: 35,230 people viewed the home at 123 Main Street.

Body (Use storytelling to describe what happened): The home was listed for 12 days, it had 23 offers and is under contract with an all-cash offer for $28,325 over asking price. It sold for 8 percent higher than other comparable homes in the area.

Mackin explained that the delta between what your average listing sold price versus the average sales prices of comparable homes in the same area is your value proposition.

The next three tips can be used to help you improve your SEO, generate leads from the social media, and create videos for your email or other digital marketing campaigns.

6. What buyers want — even more than videos

It comes as no surprise that buyers place photos, detailed property information, virtual tours, plus comparable and pending sales information as their most-wanted features.

What is surprising, however, is that according to NAR, 67 percent of buyers wanted floor plans (No. 3 on the list below.) Even more surprising, interactive maps were ranked more highly than videos (52 percent versus 47 percent).

Thus, if you haven’t done so already, plan on providing floor plans and interactive maps on all your listings in 2022.

7. Where to look for what’s most searched on Google

Here’s how to easily find this information. Check out the first page of the Google search (“Your city” real estate for sale). For example, when I searched “Austin real estate for sale,” Google generated a list of highly searched terms on the first page of its results.

These included:

  1. Is it worth buying a house in Austin?
  2. Is Austin real estate overpriced?
  3. What is the best area to live in Austin?
  4. Is Austin, Texas, expensive?
  5. Austin real estate market.
  6. Homes for sale by owner Austin, Texas.
  7. Homes under $100,000 in Austin, Texas.
  8. Foreclosures Austin, Texas.
  9. South Austin homes for sale.
  10. Austin, Texas.

This is the most current list of what’s receiving the greatest number of searches on Google for your market area. Use these topics to produce blog posts, videos and social media posts.

8. ‘Top 5 Lists’ and how to generate them

Long before videos became commonplace, “Top Five” lists ranked highly on Google search. They rank even higher if the “Top Five List” is posted as a YouTube video. Customize the five categories below by changing “area” to the name of your town or local market area.

  • The top five things you need to know about moving to your area.
  • The top five things to do for fun in your area.
  • The top five places for (pizza, burgers, dessert, etc.) in your area.
  • The top five pros (and cons) about living in your area.
  • The top five things you didn’t know about living in your area.

A simple way to generate top five lists is to ask your clients what they love, hate or have found to be fun about living in your area.

Once you shoot your video, post it on social media and any other digital marketing channels you use. You can also load it into Otter.ai, a transcription service that offers 10 hours of free transcription per month. Use the transcription as the basis for additional blog and/or social media posts as well.

9. How to avoid the risks of waived contingency inspections

One of the thorniest issues when you’re in superheated market is having buyers waive all inspection contingencies. This is an issue for both the listing and selling agent.

The reason? If there’s a serious problem that wasn’t disclosed or didn’t turn up until after closing, this is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Here’s how to avoid it:

  • Encourage the sellers to have their property inspected prior to listing it.
  • Have the sellers complete the disclosure documentation prior to listing the property. Be sure you share both the disclosure statement and the inspection report with the buyer’s agent when they first show the property or with the first counteroffer on the property.

10. The best self-care advice you need in 2022

Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s the lack of self-care that is selfish. According to Stephanie Lanier, Lanier Property Group, it’s critical that agents be proactive about their self-care. It’s important they understand:

When to hit the brakes before hitting the wall. If you’re waiting until you hit the wall, it’s much harder to put the pieces back together. What’s selfish is to keep running into the wall and creating a wreck or disaster that everybody else has to keep putting back together.  

Finally, two classic commission scripts that have withstood the test of time and that you will undoubtedly use throughout 2022.

11. How to really answer the commission question

Here’s what you should do when you get asked, “How much commission do you charge?”

Agent: What matters most to you, the amount of the commission you pay or how much you will net when you close?

If they reply by saying, “How much we will net when we close,” here’s what to say:

Agent: Let me show you how our 18-point Unique Marketing Plan helps you achieve the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time.

12. The one word you should never use when it comes to commissions

In regards to commissions, never use the word “discount” again!

This technique works for agents who can position themselves as “premium agents” rather than “discount agents.” Back up this contention a “Premium Marketing Plan” that outlines the services you and your company provide that differentiate you from the competition.

Here’s what to say when a seller mentions one of these companies that charge a flat rate or minimal fee.

Agent: Seller, I only work with sellers who want to achieve the maximum net price for their property using the services described on my Premium Marketing Plan. If you would prefer to work with a limited services agent who does not provide this level of service, I would be happy to give you a referral.

Although everyone loves a discount, no one wants “limited service.” For 2022, never use the words “discount” and “commission” in the same conversation again.

Again, the most important step you can take in 2022 to do more business is to schedule a face-to-face appointment immediately with every lead you generate. This also includes staying in regular face-to-face contact with past clients and those in your referral database.

Remember, 73 percent of the buyers and 82 percent of the sellers do business with the first agent who meets with them face to face. Make sure that agent is you!

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.

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