Real Estate Data Can Enhance Direct Mail And Improve Response Rates

direct mail real estateDirect mail may seem old fashioned, but when you add the new advantages available with real estate data, it’s smart to pull this strategy out of the marketing toolbox.

Sure, today it seems like all you ever hear about is social media. Even the President of the United States is enamored by his Twitter account.

The reasons are obvious. For one, it’s free. Secondly, it’s fast. All you need to do is post something and your messages instantly get served to the public on a platter of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.

All those factors make social media seductive.

But is it the only effective way to reach people?

And what about its many flaws?

Don’t ignore direct mail. Most experienced real estate professionals know this medium can be super-effective for reaching the right prospects – both buyers and sellers.

What’s happens is that many people get lured into the ease of social media. But there are lots of holes in your marketing plans if you just depend on social media.

First of all, many of your prospects are not reachable through social media. They don’t follow you on Facebook. In fact, tons of people don’t even bother with Facebook. Or if they had an account, they got tired of it and never go there anymore.

Same with Twitter or Instagram.

Not only that, for the people who do use social media, the deluge of posts and information is absolutely overwhelming. It’s not a stream of information that is coming at web users today, it’s a deluge. A digital tsunami.

The information passes by an internet user so fast, experts say you have only THREE seconds to catch their attention.

Click rates on ads and posts are brutally low. A 1% click rate on ads or links is considered good.

Real estate data can create an enticing offer

Now, take the time-tested value of direct mail.

A recent study by Epsilon researchers found 98% of people check their mail daily. Talk about high touch. Just about everybody you mail to is going to see your message. You can target whoever you like, whatever neighborhood you want and how often you like (unless they request you don’t, which is unlikely).

There are no spam folders. No one is pushing your post down. People have to touch their mail and many actually enjoy doing so.

According to experts, the open rate for a mail piece is about 45%. That sure beats the web any day. And like anything, that open rate depends on the message on the envelope or post card.

Sounds great, but like any marketing campaign, how you do make it effective? How do you compete with all those other pieces of direct mail? How do you compete with other real estate agents doing the same thing?

Experts will tell you – the key to direct mail marketing is not telling people who you are, how long you’ve been an agent in the market, or how many homes you’ve sold. That’s all important, but it’s not the catalyst that will compel a consumer to act.

You need an offer. A way that will generate a response. An offer that answers questions. Solves problems.

With today’s advancements in “Big Data” technology, one of the best offers you can provide is a sampling of valuable, hyper-local real estate data. Data and statistics focused on a consumer’s particular neighborhood.

The first one’s a no-brainer.

Offer consumers a Home Value Estimator tool. You know the technology that made Zillow so popular? Guess what? Now local brokers and agents can offer the same feature on their websites.

Everybody wonders: “What is my home currently worth?”

Offering a way to answer this question is powerful.

Secondly, with a real estate data feed you can also offer to answer these related questions:

“How is my neighborhood trending as far as home sales? Are homes selling in my area? Is it flat?”

“What’s the current trend for home prices in my neighborhood? Are they increasing? Is it time for me to sell? Is it time for me to buy?”

A broker or agent can now easily acquire this information by just partnering with a real estate data provider such as Home Junction. These data providers have access to enormous databases of local information – tax rolls, boundaries, home sales, demographics, cost of living indices, crime statistics, etc. etc.

Use that information to make your direct mail pieces more effective. Give people a reason to visit your website, sign up for your newsletter or call you. Tailor the message for each particular neighborhood or demographic you are targeting.

Sure, in the past thirty years we’ve entered a new age of communication with emails, text messages and social media.

But don’t ignore a means of communication that has been around for centuries. People still read the mail. Their mailboxes are waiting for your offer. Make it a good one. Offer them valuable real estate data and information about their most precious possession.

Here are some tips and resources on direct mail marketing for real estate professionals.

Real Estate Data Is One Simple Hyper-Local Tool To Create A Successful Seminar

real estate seminarAs a broker or agent if you ever considered offering a home buying or selling seminar, we recommend you include one critical element – local real estate data.

Sure, with all our Androids, iPads and Tweets society today is knee-deep in a high-tech world.

But most real estate professionals know the high-touch benefits of speaking to people directly. A live presentation can yield tremendous benefits in leads, referrals and brand awareness.

Here are some reasons why:

– People still want to get out of the house. This gives them an excuse and when you talk about a subject as important as investing in a property, a compelling reason to attend is certainly obvious.

– Real estate, finance, contract law and other aspects of buying or selling a home are complicated. People still grow up in a classroom setting and still believe in the power of listening to a speaker in order to truly understand what they are discussing. And they need a way to ask questions comfortably.

– In this high-tech world of viruses and fake news, making decisions is surprisingly more difficult than ever. It’s not easy to trust everyone you meet on the web or what they say. People still want to be able to evaluate people face-to-face.

All those reasons sound legitimate, a broker or agent might say, just as the sweat beads up on their forehead.

But geez. How do I meet the expectations of people today?

There are actually some easy solutions.

For one, the best formula for organizing a successful seminar is to take any idea of a sales pitch and pitch it out the window. Ironically, the less you make your seminar sound like a sales presentation, the more likely you are to generate sales from it.

To do that, you must have a program that educates people, holds their attention, and is flexible enough to answer individual questions.

So you need material. Really solid material. Material that is geared locally, for the people sitting in front of you, and not some canned speech developed by a corporation 1,000 miles away.

The best way to do that is to have a real estate data feed in your toolbox. Nowadays, with big data technology offered by companies such as Home Junction, an agent can tap into a gigantic storehouse of neighborhood data.

They can embed an API into their website that gives them instant access to a vast and current database of local property sales, trends in home prices, school data, local demographics, crime data, cost of living indices, boundaries, local businesses and much more.

More than enough information to fill any hour-long seminar.

It gets even better.  Here’s where you can create your “wow” factor.

With this big data technology, an agent or broker has the ability to go granular, so they can address the needs of John Doe on Maple Street and Jane Spain on Oak Terrace.

For example, start the seminar with some visuals on local market conditions for the county.

Show trend lines in charts for Recent Home Sales. Show some individual sales and how much the homes sold for per square foot.

Here comes the wow factor.

Ask a member of the audience where they live. Then go into the database and pull up the real estate data for just their neighborhood. Not the county, which is too big to be truly relevant. Not even the zip code, where market conditions can vary.

But the neighborhood. Their neighborhood.

Think how impressed that person in the audience will be to learn what is taking place next door to them.

Think about how ALL those people will be eager to go home, visit your website, and pull up the real estate data in their neighborhoods that is relevant to them.

Also be sure to round out the presentation.

Invite a colleague with a real estate specialty to speak as well. Perhaps an attorney, or a loan officer or a home inspector.

Provide plenty of visuals. But don’t provide a ton of PowerPoint slides with too much text. People don’t want someone to read to them, they want someone to talk to them. Get out from behind a podium and work the crowd.

And be sure to provide plenty of time for questions and answers. That’s a big reason why people are there – to get answers in person to their specific needs. Answers they can’t always find in the jumbled and screwed up digital universe.

Put all this together and you have one powerful seminar that is simple to put together.

Many people don’t like to speak in public. One of the big obstacles is trying to figure out what to say.

With today’s technology, you don’t need to write a prize-winning speech on local real estate.

Your extensive, hyper-local real estate data feed, will supply you with most of the talking points you’ll ever need.

 

 

Why New Technology Won’t Replace Agents But Agents Must Embrace New Technology To Survive

agent neighborhood dataHere we go again. Every once in a while, talk surfaces about technology replacing the need for real estate brokers and agents.

Look at Expedia and travel agents people say. Or look at Uber and taxi drivers.

Now that Zillow introduced their “Instant Offer” service where investors will offer to buy a home quickly, another round of articles have surfaced about the fate of real estate professionals.

Here’s the crux of the issue. There’s a big difference between booking a $10 ride downtown or a $199 airfare compared to the purchase of a $475,000 home. A humungous difference.

And Zillow’s “Instant Offer?” We all know how investors act. They buy low and sell high. How many sellers are going to accept their low offers? We will have to see.

But if you look at the latest statistics in 2016, about 95% of home sales involved the use of a licensed real estate professional. That percentage has actually increased over the years.

The one big flaw is trying to turn homes sales into commodity sales is that homes are far from anything resembling a commodity.

Just about every home is different. Every street is different. Every neighborhood is different. That’s just on the seller’s side.

When it comes to the buyer’s side, every home buyer is different. They are at different stages in their lives – first time home buyers or retirement home buyers. That are different stages in their family makeup. They are at different stages in their financial situation.

Agents can tailor real estate data for each client

The great thing about humans is that they are not made with cookie cutters. We all have different preferences and tastes. One home buyer might love to golf and would never think about sitting on a yoga mat. Another home buyer needs to sit on a yoga mat three times a week and thinks a birdie is that creature in the bird bath in the backyard.

Every market is different. Some are hot, some are not. Some have numerous amenities, others don’t.
This argument about tech replacing agents is going to continue for decades.

One key strategy brokers and agents can use to squash this talk is not to scoff at technology but embrace it.

Sure, Mr. or Mrs. Real Estate Agent may still rely on wearing out the tires driving buyers to look at homes or scuffing up the shoes walking people through open houses.

But the savvy agents will also be immersed in the latest technology that makes them a better agent and resource for the worried home buyer and home seller. That might include drones and virtual reality videos.

And take real estate data for example. Sure, with the web, home buyers can search all over the place for neighborhood information. They can look up crime statistics, school information, and demographics. Or they can turn to national websites.

But, how great would it be if the local broker and agent already had that information available on their website?

Because here’s a fly in the Internet ointment. There is soooo much information pouring out of the web these days, that it’s difficult to tell what’s credible and what is not.

The beauty of the Internet is that it’s an open source of information. Anybody can post relevant content. The bane of the Internet is that it’s an open source of information. Anybody can post content and pretend it’s reliable.

Look at all the fake news out there. How many articles have you seen with the fake headline about how “Oprah did this” or “Obama did that.” Fake. Fake. Fake.

People don’t have time for fake.

If you as a real estate professional, gather up all the relevant information a homeowner might need, then you take away the need for a buyer to conduct their own searches (along with the frustration).

With data providers such as Home Junction, a local broker or agent can literally provide everything a consumer needs:
– Recent Home Sales
– Trends in Home Prices
– School Information
– Crime Statistics
– Demographic Information
– Local Businesses within a certain radius
– Boundaries
– Transportation hubs
– And more…

In essence, a broker or agent can make it seem like when a consumer visits their office, they are also visiting a gigantic data warehouse of hyper-local information.

(However, instead of having banks and banks of high-end servers in a room, an agent would simply load a simple real estate data API with a few lines of code onto on their website. Home Junction would actually gather and manage all that data on their website. It doesn’t get any better than that).

Agents and brokers can also embrace the latest geo-spatial technology.

Present maps on their website showing property listings from MLS integrated into a neighborhood database.

Location is still critical in real estate.

Show where the schools are located compared to properties in question. Show the golf courses and the yoga studios as well.

Here’s the big flaw in all this talk about the end of the real estate professional.

Buying a home, especially in today’s market where prices are booming, is still a big, scary decision. In fact, there is so much real estate content out there that it becomes overwhelming at times.

Consumers are still going to need to hold the hand of a dependable real estate broker and agent.

The smart agent or broker will have their other hand on their smartphone or laptop, ready to access a wealth of high-tech services such as real estate data feeds that they can provide with confidence and credibility.

Real Estate Brokers And Agents Now Have The Power To Offer Home Value Estimator Tools To Their Followers

home value estimator toolA home value estimator is a powerful tool to generate leads and now local brokers and agents have the ability to add this appealing feature to their own website, just like the mega-real estate sites.

It’s no secret that a very large real estate website we won’t mention has literally put itself on the map by offering consumers a home value estimator widget.  Consumers were immediately drawn to the site by this online feature that let them check estimates on the value of their property. And their neighbors’ property.

The great advantage about today’s data technology, is that an agent or broker doesn’t need a million dollars to do the same thing.

They can now also answer that old-age question on every homeowner’s mind: “What is my home worth?”

In fact, the whole process of adding a home value estimator is now relatively easy and inexpensive.

Data providers such as Home Junction have the ability to provide the same technology for brokers and agents (and frankly any business).

And wow, what a powerful lead generation tool.

What an effective traffic-generating tool!

What an incredible branding tool!

Let’s face it, everybody loves to check the value of their home. Not just once, but on a regular basis. It’s human nature.

Especially if the market is strong and prices are going up. Looking at Recent Home Sale trends and watching the value of your home increasing is like some invisible entity putting money into your pocket. For consumers, that’s downright thrilling.

As a broker or agent, you are going to want to have this in your marketing toolbox.

The simple way to add your own Home Value Estimator

Here’s how the Automated Valuation Model from Home Junction works.

Simply install the Home Value Estimator widget onto your website by adding a few pieces of code.

Place the “Home Value” address bar right on the home page of your website, or another page. (Go to www.roywheeler.com to see an example of effective placement).

The consumer enters in their address.

The home value algorithm kicks into gear.

Relevant data points are generated from a variety of sources – public record data such as tax rolls, MLS data, previous home sales in the area, etc.

The API create a page with the following results:

– Details about the property – number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.

– “Predicted Market Value.” This is the estimate created by Home Junction’s proprietary formula. Remember, it’s only an estimate and be sure to educate your prospects that the result will be a broad estimation of their home’s value.

– Confidence Range. This is a disclaimer in a way, letting the user know that the number provided is part of a wider range of values. So, to be clear to the user, a confidence range of 6%, plus or minus, is also stated along with a dollar amount. Included is a pricing range, showing the Low and High amount. Again, this tool is to inform consumers that this instant estimate is a rough overview of the potential value of their home.

As you know, there are so many variables that go into the pricing of a home, such as the condition of the house, floor plans, local market changes, etc.. It really is impossible to price a home exactly without an actual visit by an agent or appraiser.

This tool is only meant as a beginning point. More importantly, it’s a catalyst that prepares this visitor to start a dialogue with an agent and ask for a more detailed comparative market analysis.

– Request “Professional CMA.” There it is. The lead generation tool. The money-maker. Consumers who are interested in truly obtaining an estimate of what their home is worth will click here. That makes them highly qualified. A very valuable lead. Your own lead, not one you need to buy from someone else.

– Comparison charts. Also included are charts that show a comparison range based on certain criteria. Those factors are Size, Price, Price Per Square Foot and Age of the property.

For example, the user’s home may be only 15 years old, while the average home in the marketplace is 60 years old. That indicates this home is newer than 87% of the other homes in the area.

Or take the size. This home in particular may be 2,500 square feet while the average home is only 1,800. Therefore, the owner sees their property is larger than 81% of other homes in the market.

Another comparison factor may be price. According to the Home Value Estimator, the Predicted Market Value of this home may be in the top 22% of the market compared to others.

Same goes with Price Per Square Foot. The chart will show if the average price per square foot for this particular home is higher or lower than others.

Further down the page, an agent can show another widget which feeds in Recent Sales in the Area. A homeowner can then look and see what that home down the street sold for and when.

Answer the question “What is my home worth?”

Think of the power of ALL that data surrounding a person’s most valuable possession. These tools give a homeowner an incredible, multi-faceted snapshot of their property.

All of those charts provide an array of powerful data that gives a homeowner an overview of their property’s value. That’s a feature EVERY homeowner will appreciate.

It’s certainly a feature that can be promoted over and over again in email blasts, mailings and social media. Combine it with other insightful real estate data tools and charts.

A promotion might read like this: “Dear Consumers: Our Recent Home Sales chart shows that prices in your neighborhood have increased this past quarter. Get a free estimate of what your home may currently be worth by clicking here.”

Talk about a magnet. Who wouldn’t want to see how much their home has appreciated?

After a consumer reviews all this data, it could just be the tipping point that tells them, “Now is the time to sell.”

When that happens, that visitor turns from an Internet surfer into a hot, qualified lead. A very strong potential for a listing.

A home value estimator is a powerful lead generation tool. As we said, it helped to build a multi-million dollar real estate website from scratch.

This widget is not only useful for creating leads for real estate companies, but can also be offered to the public by banks, mortgage companies, investor services and other businesses.

Providing a Home Value Estimator on your website levels the playing field.

You will now have the capability to generate your own leads without paying for them, draw people to your own website and build up your own brand.

That’s not a guesstimate. It’s a fact.