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Tech and Marketing 101 for New Agents

December 23 2011

Victor Lund, RE Technology CEO, brings us this crash course for new real estate agents.

Real estate is a popular second career to many Americans. NAR and local REALTOR® Associations combine with local real estate brokers to support you in learning the industry and preparing for the license exam. However, getting your license is only a foundational step to starting your career. There is much more to learn.

The local Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, is the first software that you will need to learn and master. As you are learning the MLS system, be sure to take advantage of training offered by the Association and MLS. The MLS system is the most important business tool that you will learn.

In most markets around the nation, the local Association or MLS also offers a forms product. The contracts used in real estate have been digitized to make them easy to fill out, sign, and manage electronically. There are many (check out some options in our product directory); it is important that you ask your broker which solution they suggest. These forms are very important, and represent a key element of customer representation. Practice reviewing commonly used forms with a friend or family member to gain confidence in your ability to explain them. You may also want to inquire about the electronic signature tools.

You may even want to contact the software vendor to see if they have training or will provide you with a system walk-through. You will find that they are only too happy to help.

With your real estate license in hand, a firm understanding of the MLS system, and contracts – you are ready to start hunting for that first client. What you do to market your business will evolve over time, and become your “secret sauce.” You will learn from speaking to other agents that most business in real estate comes from referrals.

Begin by announcing your new career to everyone. Updating your profile on popular social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can be effective. RE Technology has a number of articles to help you get started with social media if you are unfamiliar.

Sending letters with your new business card is also a helpful way to connect with people in your sphere of influence to announce your new career. If you want to have some high impact, you can use your brokerage or MLS CMA tool to create a complementary analysis of their property and send it along. Like forms and digital signatures, there is probably a CMA tool offered with your Association or MLS membership. Otherwise, your brokerage is likely to have a software vendor that supports this common activity. Here is a list of CMA software vendors. Feel free to reach out to any of them to learn the best way to create a CMA.

This activity will not only endear you to your sphere of influence, but it is an excellent way to practice your new trade, and learn about market conditions in the area. Active listings, distressed properties, and recently sold properties dictate market values. Be sure to drive around the neighborhoods after you have completed your research to take a look at the area. Look at the amenities around the properties – shopping, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. Take notes and take your own photos. When possible, go on a Saturday morning when homeowners are having yard sales – it is a great time to have conversations with people who live in the area to hear what they like or dislike.

Most agents begin their career as buyer’s representatives. Knowing the areas around your market place and being able to convey lifestyle and market trend stories to your clients (usually while driving around to see homes) is a key trait for you to establish. Develop a route around town that highlights community features and avoids less savory sights (but do not avoid disclosing an area’s weaknesses).

Another way to market yourself is to ask some agents if you can advertise their listing and hold an open house. Advertising open houses is expensive and time consuming - so an agent with a lot of listings may not be able to market them all. The open house will allow you to meet lots of potential homebuyers, as well as people in the neighborhood who may be considering a home sale. This will also give you an opportunity to learn about lockboxes and showing software.

Be sure to start your career off right. Build a database of everyone you meet. You can use Microsoft Outlook for this, but you would be better off with a contact management solution (CRM). It will support you with staying in touch with customers and managing your business and marketing. There are lots to choose from - check them out in our product directory.

As you begin working with customers, you will find that the Internet plays a significant role in home buying and selling. It is important that you become very familiar with websites like Listingbook, Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, Homes.com, and Homefinder. Do searches on all of these sites like you are a consumer. All of these companies have rich information on their websites about how they support real estate professionals with online marketing. Be sure to attend the webinars or call them. If you can afford some online advertising, it is a great way to get customers to reach out to you.

Other articles of interest: Top Producer IDX | Consumer 2.0: The Empowered User