As we approach the final few weeks of 2016, many real estate agents and business owners are spending time coordinating last-minute closings, sending out holiday cards and gifts to past clients, and maybe even squeezing in one or two more days of home tours and open houses.
The end of the year can also be a great time to reflect on what you learned over the past 12 months—about your business, about your customers, and about yourself.
It’s also a great time to think about what you’re going to do next year to attract new clients, sell more homes, and grow your business.
But let’s face it: the end of the year can be exhausting for a lot of agents. Thinking about what you’re going to do to build a better, stronger, and more profitable business next year isn’t always what comes to mind when you approach the final few weeks of December.
If, however, you want to get ahead of competition and thrive as a real estate agent for another 12 months and beyond, you have to be willing to put some time into putting together a strategy for the upcoming year.
One of the best low-stress ways to ease into planning for 2017 is to spend a few hours here and there over the holidays exploring resources that relate to your industry and profession.
To help lead you in the right direction, I’ve collected 15 great actionable resources that you can learn from and apply to your business in order to sell more homes in 2017.
Real Estate Trends
You can’t be an effective real estate agent without keeping up with the latest changes and trends affecting your industry. It’s the same for any type of profession—you need to understand how the market is changing, what your potential customers are looking for and in need of, and what you need to do to differentiate from the competition. As you plan for the next 12 months, here are five trends to consider:
1. The Market Will Continue to Improve. According to the New York Times, buyers purchased single-family houses at the annual rate of 654,000 in 2016, the highest rate since October 2007. In the article from the Times, titled The Housing Market Is Finally Starting to Look Healthy, journalist Neil Irwin highlights the improvements that we’ve been seeing and experiencing in the market over the past seven to eight years. The article provides some great statistics and charts that can help you better understand where the market is likely heading in 2017.
2. Drones Are Coming. Drones aren’t necessarily new to the real estate market, but they will become a lot more prevalent in 2017 due to some changes announced by the FAA earlier this year. In an article from Autelrobotics, titled The Complete Guide to Drones for Real Estate, author Andrew Hansen highlights some impressive statistics. He writes,
“Annual commercial drone sales are expected to reach 2.5 million units in 2017, an increase of more than 300 percent over 2016 estimates. Real estate is projected to be one of the largest industries to capitalize on drone technology, as experts predict it will account for 22 percent of total commercial drone use by 2020.”
As you already know, listing photos and videos are becoming an increasingly important part of connecting with potential buyers. Buyers today want as much information about a home as possible before they step foot through the door. It’s your job as a real estate agent to collect and present them with that information. This article will help you understand what you need to do to invest in drone technology as a real estate agent in 2017.
3. Buyers Still Want Big Houses. Despite the popularity of the tiny house movement in some communities around the country, buyers still want big houses. In another article from the New York Times titled, Houses Keep Getting Bigger, Even as Families Get Smaller, writer Damon Darlin shares new statistics from the Census Bureau’s annual survey of American housing. Here’s one chart from the article that shows the increase in average square footage of new homes over time:
The article includes a handful of other helpful charts and information that can help you better understand what homebuyers will be looking for in 2017.
4. More Millennials Will Buy. It’s taking them longer than other generations, but millennials want to and are starting to buy homes. To understand their challenges and reservations, it might be helpful to read through a USA Today article by Hadley Malcolm titled, To Buy or Not to Buy a Home? In the article, Malcolm presents information on student loan debt and the impact it is having on the ability for young people to buy. The availability of affordable homes is also an issue in some areas. This article is definitely worth reading if you’re at all interested in trying to sell more homes to millennials in the next year.
5. Suburbs Will Still Be Big. The final trend worth looking into is this: suburbs still matter. Surprisingly enough, a lot of millennials are looking to suburbs rather than major cities when buying their first homes. This article from Realtor.com and this article from Consumer Reports both describe why the suburbs are attractive to more and more millennials. From these articles you can also understand how to pitch suburbs in ways that will appeal to your millennial clients.
Marketing Your Real Estate Business
Online marketing is becoming increasingly important part of building a profitable real estate business. It’s not enough to have a website or simply participate on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. You have to pay to play. If marketing wasn’t a big focus for you in 2016, here are 4 areas worth investing in next year:
6. Content Marketing. Your prospective buyers aren’t just looking for their next house. Their looking for a resource that can help them make the right decision. They could search Google and land on a random article about first-time homebuyers…or they could land on your blog—which would you prefer?
Content marketing allows you to leverage yourself as an influencer and a value-provider. It can help you differentiate from other agents who are just looking to sell, sell, sell. If you’re looking to form authentic relationships with people (which we all know is more beneficial to your business in the long run), content marketing is worth investing in. To get started, read our blog post on content marketing. It’s titled, Content Marketing for Real Estate: 7 Tips for Getting Real ROI, and offers a ton of actionable tips that you can put into action within the first few weeks of the new year.
7. Video Marketing. Video marketing will also play a big role in 2017. As I mentioned earlier in this post, visual content is more important than ever. Potential buyers don’t want to go into a home tour blind—they want to have an idea of what to expect ahead of time. That’s where video marketing comes into play.
You can also use video to strengthen your personal brand, provide more value (see content marketing above), and leverage yourself as an influencer in your community. If you’re looking for video ideas to try in 2017, check out the 15 Essential Marketing Videos Every Real Estate Agent Should Create blog post from Paradym. It’s full of great ideas and examples that you can try next year.
8. Social Advertising. Participating on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is great, but if you really want to get any sort of ROI from your efforts, you have to be willing to spend some marketing dollars setting up and launching social ads. Facebook is a great place to start if you’ve never done any sort of advertising in the past on any social media sites.
To learn more about how to get started, read Facebook Ads for Real Estate: The Why and How of Getting (REAL) Leads from Carrot. It provides a great interview and offers a wide variety of examples that can help you understand how to leverage Facebook ads for your real estate business in the coming months.
9. Email Marketing. If you want to build and nurture relationships with customers and potential buyers, email is one tool you should be using. Unlike social media and blogging, email marketing offers the most direct form of communication you can get, aside from picking up the phone and calling the people on your list.
You probably send emails to customers, but have you taken the time to think about how to insert more marketing strategy into your emails? If not, check out this handy quick guide from Constant Contact titled, How to Create a Real Estate Email Marketing Strategy.
Building Relationships with Customers
In real estate, you’re nowhere without happy customers who are willing to tell their friends, family members, and coworkers about you. To be a successful agent in 2017, you can’t just sell houses—you have to build and nurture relationships with people. Here are three customer-related areas that you should focus more on in 2017:
10. Boosting Happiness. As you put your strategy in place for 2017, it’s important to reflect back on how you approached customer interactions and customer happiness over the past 12 months. Spend some time thinking about both the positive and negative experiences, and think about how to improve over the next 12 months.
If you’re looking for a few good recommendations, explore the 23 Proven Ways To Boost Customer Satisfaction blog post from When I Work. In it, you’ll find plenty of actionable tips on how to be more proactive when it comes to keeping customers happy—even long after you’ve helped them buy or sell their house.
11. Driving Word-of-Mouth. In 2017, you should also be investing more marketing dollars into delighting customers with gifts whenever you help them close on a new house. It’s one of the best and easiest ways to drive word-of-mouth advertising and customer referrals for your business. Giving gifts to clients doesn’t mean breaking the bank—there are plenty of simple ideas you can test for your business next year. For ideas, check out the 25 Brilliant Closing Gift Ideas for Homebuyers post from our blog.
12. Providing Value. I mentioned it a few times in this post already, but in order to sell more homes in 2017, you have to be willing to invest the time and energy into leveraging yourself as a valuable resource in the minds of your customers. The easiest way to do this is by developing original content that you can share on your blog, in your emails, and across your social media channels.
Resource #6 above will help you understand how to get more ROI from content marketing, but if you’re just looking for ideas about what to write about, start with the 40+ Winning Real Estate Blog Ideas for Agents article from our blog. It will give you the ideas you need in order to start developing original, memorable value for your prospective buyers.
Tools & Technology
Before diving into the New Year, you should also spend some time reading up on all the latest tools and technology that can help make you a more effective and attractive real estate agent. Here are 3 resources worth reading before January:
13. Smart Home Gadgets. Smart home gadgets were big in 2016, and they’re only going to be bigger in 2017. As a real estate agent, it’s beneficial to spend time understanding what options exist and what potential buyers might be looking for when it comes to smart home gadgets. For a quick overview on the products that currently exist in the market, read The Quick Guide to Smart Home Technology in 2016 from the HomeSpotter blog.
14. Productivity Tools. If you felt like you spent way too much time managing your business and not nearly enough time talking to prospects and closing deals, you need to invest in some tools that can help you automate tasks and become more productive. Not sure what tools are out there or where to start? Explore the 25 Best Productivity Tools for Real Estate Agents. It offers apps and tools that can help you with the following areas: Organization, Communication, Marketing, and Business Management.
15. Virtual Reality. One final technology tool that’s worth paying attention to in 2017: virtual reality. Although the technology as a whole is still in what most consider its infancy, it’s making huge strides and creating big opportunities for businesses across numerous industries—real estate included. To learn more about how virtual reality could impact the future of real estate and homebuying, read the New York Times article by Jennifer Miller titled, A New Dimension in Home Buying: Virtual Reality.
What else are you reading to prepare for the New Year? Tell us below in the comments!