Tap the overlooked niches in your market for more listings…No prospecting needed!
It all started with one dismal day of prospecting — cold-calling to be specific. I had been on the phone all day, soldiering through one rejection after another. But hey, it’s all a numbers game, right?
I was the cold-calling king, so I kept dialing. Finally, I lucked out, or so I thought... and set up an appointment with a FSBO for that very evening.
The FSBO house was even on my way home! Everything was falling into place: I’d swing by, meet the owner, sign a contract, and be early for dinner. That appointment was proving me right once again. It IS a numbers game, and I was winning.
I approached the door, walking on a cloud. The day’s hard work was about to pay off. Then, the door opened, and reality struck!
The owner had NO intention of working with me. The listing was going to his nephew, who’d just gotten his license. This kid didn’t have a clue what he was doing. The FSBO owner was a different story. He thought he was an expert because he had "done some research." He knew it all already.
As you might imagine, I was pretty steamed! This was my reward for a hard day of prospecting? This was NOT the story I’d gotten on our phone call. It turns out, he just wanted to use me, a sort of "second opinion," for him and his nephew. His lack of respect disgusted me. He capped it all off by flatly refusing to pay a penny over 3% to any buyers I brought by.
I walked out of there, and before I picked up my fork at dinner, I resolved to change the way I did business. After tucking my kids in, I sat down with a fresh pot of coffee and a notepad.
I wrote out a huge list of different ways I could get listings without ANY prospecting.
Let’s be honest — there were a lot of wild and crazy ideas on that notepad! After a good night’s sleep, I re-read my list. Some of the things I had written were pretty embarrassing. Some were awesome. In reviewing it, I even came up with a few more ideas.
I’ve listed the best ideas I came up with for you below. They fall into two categories: Ideas that turned out to be winners I’m still using to this day, and ideas I have yet to implement, but suspect have a good chance of being successful.
You may agree with (or already implement) some or all of the 17 listing opportunities I’ve identified here, but I can’t guarantee it. You may feel some of them are ridiculous, or too much work. Some of these approaches may not be "your style."
Either way, it's up to YOU to determine what will and will not work for you. You must take these ideas “from seed to fruit" in your business. Nobody can do that for you.
What I can do is make this guarantee: When you take a step back from chasing business, from cold-calling and prospecting, to re-frame your perspective, you will ALWAYS reap the benefits.
Think of a late-night TV commercial asking, “Are you having trouble sleeping?” At best, they can only assume you are because it's late! Imagine how much more effective their marketing would be if they could specifically target ONLY people who had already searched for sleep remedies, or visited a specialist about their sleeping troubles?
Marketing for real estate leads works the same way! The more focused and fine-tuned your targeting is, the more effective it will be. So let’s get to those ideas, shall we?
Idea #1: Go back in the MLS and find Old Expireds other agents missed.
This is one of the least-contested niches you'll come across. While everyone is chasing new Expired leads right, left, and center, old Expireds are a much less prospected group of sellers. Very few agents are interested in them.
And you know what means for you? Motivated sellers looking for the right Realtor.
Start looking for homes that were listed 3 to 6 months ago, and go as far back as 4 or 5 years to find old Expireds who might be ready to get back on the market and finally sell their home with the help of a Realtor.
Market conditions have likely improved since these homeowners last tried to list, and they're more likely to get their asking price.
Want to learn how to be the old Expireds expert in your area? Check out this training guide: Old Expired Training: These leads are Waiting For You.
Idea #2: Create a unique marketing proposition specifically targeting Expireds.
Expired listings are a staple of real estate. To win these leads that every agent seems to be going after, you have to stop trying to win them over by bashing the last agent.
Do NOT go in with the typical, “Your home was priced too high,” either. That just annoys owners. You are the agent. Getting the home sold is your job. So give them a reason to want to work with you.
Here are a few ways you can market yourself to Expireds in a unique way:
- Put together a case study portfolio highlighting specific instances where you were able to sell a home another agent couldn’t. Explain why. Tell the story!
- Offer a comprehensive marketing analysis. Show the owners what you would do to sell their home without demanding a drop in price. Lay out the avenues your company uses to market listings.
- Review the home, property, location, and surrounding area for unique features you can bring to focus. Look for anything big or small that would catch a buyer’s interest, from a pool to a school, even an amazing sunset view.
- Offer a Pre-Listing Review. Think a basic Free Home Valuation, only more in-depth. Walk through the house, thinking like an inspector. Note the condition of rooms, and make a short report highlighting improvements that would make the home more attractive to buyers.
Here is a blog post with a few more marketing tactics that you can use to attract Expired listings: Which of These Expired Marketing Strategies Work For You? Also, check out how one of our Smart agents used a unique marketing proposition to win a $7+ million listing in this case study: This Winning Combination Scored Jeff a $7.4 Million Listing.
Idea #3: Build a testimonial package to use with Expireds.
Why testimonials? Simple. They have the power to make or break a deal. They are the reassurance that goes the extra mile in affirming everything you say and promise to an owner.
Agents with 10 or more reviews see a 300% increase in listings over agents with no reviews.
And according to Placester.com, 85% of all consumers use reviews to decide on purchases. People trust peer recommendations six times more than a traditional ad. These are the difference makers.
But, for your testimonials to be effective, they have to be high quality. If they’re not, your clients could easily doubt you.
Let your best testimonials seal the deal for you by adding them into your listing presentation, both at the beginning and at the end. This will win over anyone who is somewhat hesitant about listing with you, especially homeowners who have had poor experiences in the past.
Here are more reasons you need to have a testimonial package for your business: The Importance of Real Estate Testimonials. Don’t have any testimonials yet? We show you how to collect them in this blog post: 7 Giveaway and Contest Ideas To Collect Testimonials.
Idea #4: Write a book on “Tactics to Sell Any Home Fast” for Expireds.
Instead of handing leads a business card, why not give them a helpful book you’ve authored? A book is more impressive than a business card, and people won’t toss it in the garbage.
You’re probably thinking “But I’m not a writer, and isn’t that an expensive, time-consuming venture?
Well, it is, but with our MyBooks membership, you can get your own personalized books for much less than you'd pay to hire a ghostwriter or publish a book on your own. Find out more at the link above, and check out one of our customer testimonials here: Sean Has Secured Solid Leads With His Books.
Idea #5: Build a marketing package that delivers an instant benefit to FSBOs.
FSBOs are another “low-hanging fruit” opportunity. Statistically, over 90% of FSBOs ultimately turn to an agent to sell their homes.
But, if you go in beating them over the head with stats, you'll just start a fight. Instead, find ways to help.
The #1 disadvantage owners selling FSBO have is inadequate marketing. As Realtors, you and I both know how crucial good marketing is to attracting the right buyers.
Why not offer a basic “starter” package for FSBO sellers? Offer to take professional-level pictures of the home, and give them no strings attached. Just tell the FSBO you're offering a "free sample" of what you can do to sell their home, and if they like what they see, they can consider listing with you. If not, you were happy to help them out and would love any referrals they have in the future.
Want to sweeten the pot? Have an assistant or freelancer give your pictures a once over with Photoshop or a similar image-enhancing tool. You’ll score HUGE brownie points, while positioning yourself to have an edge when they decide to list!
Speaking of photography, you should make a big deal about that with ALL homeowners. It’s very inexpensive to have a little touch-up done, and the payback from better pictures is a proven outcome.
We have a comprehensive training guide giving you all the secrets that you need to get FSBOs to list with you. Check it out here: Definitive Guide To Mastering FSBOs.
Idea #6: Write a book on “How to Sell Your Home” for FSBOs.
A MyBooks membership gives you license to 14 real estate titles, including 2 options specifically targeted toward FSBOs.
These books give you credibility and help you stand out. They let sellers know what you’re going to do to sell their homes as opposed to other agents who sometimes leave them in the dark.
See how this agent is using books to land FSBO clients: David Converts FSBOs With Books and Tough Love.
Idea #7: Reach out to owners with delinquent property taxes.
Homeowners with past-due property taxes are often forced to sell their homes. They don’t have much of an option than to get their homes sold fast. This leaves them quite vulnerable to investors who will easily take advantage of them.
Find owners falling behind on payments, and reach out to them. These owners need your help getting the home sold for a fair market price.
Step in, help them get their home sold, and get a great listing at the same time. Be their saving grace. Ease their anxiety by giving them a free guide or handbook that lays out their options.
To find owners with delinquent reach out to local attorneys, lawyers, and finance officers. We also have more tips on how to find and win owners with delinquent property taxes.
Idea #8: Contact people who recently inherited a home.
Here’s why you should consider targeting inherited homes:
- There are a lot of leads. (We found over 2,000 leads in our local market.)
- The owners are motivated to sell — so they can get their hands on the money!
- 67% of inherited homes have the mortgage paid off. The people who have inherited the property are often eager to sell. They do not want to continue to pay property taxes on a home they don’t live in. So, when you come around offering to help, the odds are good they’ll be open to listing with you.
Inherited homes take a bit more effort. It will take time to find inherited homes. More work could mean less competition for you. Most agents want quick listings so they won’t take their time to search for these listings.
Idea #9: Develop a gentle approach to win listings resulting from divorce.
Government statistics show that 1,200,000 couples get divorced every year. Those numbers prove that this is by no means a small niche, even though it does go unnoticed. These couples need help and usually have to sell.
A whopping 61 percent of all divorcees end up listing their homes for sale. That’s 732,000 homes that go up on the market each year.
So if 61 percent of them sell, that’s a big piece of the pie. Just an example, an area with a population of 50,000 people will have about 108 divorcees list their home each year.
There is very little competition for this niche, and you could list a lot of houses.
BUT — yes there’s a but — be gentle with these leads. Sure, they are looking to sell, but remember, they are going through a difficult time. Most divorces are messy, even the ones that end mutually.
Don’t focus on selling with divorce home leads. Instead, focus on helping them navigate this difficult period in their lives. Remember, they've already said goodbye to a life partner, and now, they are about to say goodbye to a house they’ve called home for years.
Idea #10: Explore ways to reach the owners of vacant homes directly.
Vacant homes are often still utilized as rental or lease income. You may also be in a market with a high concentration of 2nd homes or vacation home, more so if you live up in the mountains or near the beach.
Basically, a vacant home doesn’t necessarily mean it’s empty, but rather that it is not the homeowner’s primary residence.
Agents working vacant homes typically find one good listing experience begets more. Retirees ready to move a few rental houses, landlords of multiple properties, even lease holders wind up having “another one I’d like to sell, if this goes well.” Sometimes, the listing you get isn’t even the property you contacted them about, but another place entirely!
Vacant leads are less likely to make snap decisions or rush into selling. Patience pays off in this niche.
I once heard back from one owner 13 months after a rental contract ended. He wanted to know if I would still be interested in listing the house!
So make sure any links and contact info you include is good for the long term.
Tailor your marketing according to conditions in the local market. Had a brutal winter? The mountain retreat may have become a snow-shoveling burden! Bad hurricane year? You can bet Florida beach houses will be for sale! Even landlords get sick of the hassle of renting and throw in the towel.
Be creative in your outreach to these types of owners. Look for a “pain” they are facing, and offer a solution.
Psychological studies have shown that fear of pain outweighs the hope of benefit. Want to galvanize people into action? Speak to their pain, offer a solution, and watch the results! The same rule applies when working with vacant home leads.
Idea #11: Find abandoned homes and talk to the owners about cashing out.
In the case of abandoned homes, the name says it all. Many times, when you contact the owners, you’ll hear a hesitation as you jog their memories.
It may be hard to believe, but rich people are busy, too, and the house they are no longer using may not be top of mind. Most of them are eager to cash in the abandoned home they have been sitting on!
Find abandoned home owners, sell yourself to them, and make yourself some sweet commission!
Idea #12: Become the “Luxury Homes Expert” for a high-end listing pipeline.
Gated communities, rich people’s exclusive parties, mixers, and social ladders are all unnecessary pieces of the high-end home listing puzzle.
Blast right through those intimidating walls by speaking to the one thing that matters most to rich homeowners: Money!
Ok, well there IS a little more to it. Money, time, and trust are all fairly equal motivators of action and interaction.
Build yourself up into a position of authority in their neighborhood. Take a long-term look at developing rapport in the community.
Quick tip on communication: the older generation (who tend to be the owners of luxury homes) read mail at the highest rate of ANY demographic in the country.
Want to grab their attention? Send them a letter. Ask if they know the true value of their home in today’s market.
Share an example where you helped an owner sell for more than the competition. Explain how, and show them what special things you did to market and sell the home.
Be specific. Details carry authority, and trust me, these folks are sharp. They’ll see right through cheesy gimmicks, so don’t even try.
Another excellent way to bring value is to include a list of preferred vendors for homeowner needs. Time and trust play into authority. Recommending various businesses or tradespeople saves them time searching, Further buttressing your position as a knowledgeable authority in the area.
We have an awesome blog post showing you how to navigate the luxury homes market: Approach Luxury Real Estate Differently. Want to see how other Realtors are doing it? Read this case study: Liza Got 5 High-End Listings Using The Books.
Idea #13: Become the “Golf Homes Expert” for listings on the links.
When marketed correctly, the average golf course listing sells 10-20% above local market values. Cultivate buyers that are looking to move into a golf course home. Market to the owners there.
Golf-front homes sell closer to 35% over local averages.
Don’t know how to find people interested in buying a home on a golf course? Owners already living in a golf community looking to upgrade are an excellent source of leads. So start there.
It will take some legwork on your part, but if you have a golf course community in your market, invest some time in learning the niche. Your expertise will pay off in listings!
Ever heard of Willie Sutton? He was a specialist in illegal bank withdrawals. By 1950, he made the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, having stolen roughly $2 million. Legend has it when asked why he robbed so many banks, his ready answer was: “Because that’s where the money is!”
So why take the time and trouble to become an authority in luxury and golf neighborhoods? Because that, my friend, is where the money is!
Idea #14: Use postcards to “farm” specific areas with high churn rates.
What about farming? Yep, it made the list too. Only in a little different variation from the norm. Real estate farming is one of the best ways to generate more leads. Farming involves specializing heavily in a small number of geographical regions.
One old fashioned, but effective, method to practice farming is by using postcards. You can easily target your marketing efforts to specific cities, towns, and neighborhoods through the use of postcards.
Postcards will bring you business by helping you build connections. As long as you have a good design and put in a catchy message, you'll get very good results.
Postcards are a tangible item. When you hand one to a prospect, they'll read it and pass it along to another. These work well because they are direct and to the point. Prospects are thus able to make a quick and educated decision.
Don’t just haul a few reams of postcards down to the Post Office, and hope for the best!
Do some digging here, and geek out on market stats in your area first. Then, target neighborhoods with the highest rate of churn.
Check out more ways you can use direct marketing to find more listings: The ONLY Direct Mail Marketing Guide You’ll Ever Need.
Idea #15: Test an “I Have a Buyer for Your Home” letter to different niches.
One of the most effective “hooks” of real estate sales and marketing is the “I Have a Buyer” opening. Nevertheless, in the same vein of caution as postcard mailings, apply it with consideration.
That’s no excuse not to use it, though. Test it out on a few of the specific niches we’ve covered here.
For instance, vacant owners may respond favorably toward interest in their off-market homes. FSBO owners will also jump at the promise of an interested buyer. But in their case, you’d better have a buyer, or you’ve just obliterated any chance you had at winning their listing in the future.
If you DO choose to use this hook, remember:
- Be upfront about your buyer and your intentions.
- Let the owner know you are previewing homes for your prospective buyer.
- You’ll be taking photos and making a presentation of many options.
- They can either lump all their eggs in one basket, hoping this buyer will like their home, or you can deploy your marketing tactics to promote their home to the entire market, and attract multiple buyers when they list with you instead.
If you do NOT have a buyer, take the approach of a good agent who wants to preview off-market options in order to be as informed as possible for your clients.
This way, you set up yourself to pivot from a “preview” appointment into a listing presentation from the outset.
Idea #16: Team up with small builders to sell their new construction homes.
It’s always worth considering ANY avenue that takes you away from the beaten path. Find and show these leads the benefits of working with an agent.
This niche is huge and will continue to grow. An increase in new home construction is predicted to happen in 2019. This is partly because there aren’t enough homes for everyone who wants to buy them.
Since buyers are looking for a property and a construction company, they don’t think a Realtor is a necessary part of the equation. They think the deal on the land is manageable without a “home expert," and the construction rep has their best interests at heart while negotiating the deal. Show them just how wrong they are.
We show you more on the Ins and Outs of Working With New Construction Leads.
Idea #17: Look into helping community banks sell their REOs.
Another overlooked niche is the REOs (Real Estate Owned). Try to get some REO listings from banks and asset management companies. A REO is a property owned by mortgage lenders after owners have defaulted on their loans and the lender couldn’t sell the house at a foreclosure auction.
There are several ways to find bank-owned properties:
- MLS: Most lenders list their REO properties on a Multiple Listing Service (MLS), so you can easily find REO listings in your area.
- Bank websites: Some banks have a dedicated department that sell REOs, and sections of their websites are dedicated to their listings.
- Zillow lists foreclosure listings for free. You can find foreclosure properties by using search filters on Zillow’s search and maps page.
Bonus Idea: Get advertisers on board to share/pay all the marketing costs!
You’ve read about lots of wonderful marketing tactics for your business. But business is slow, and you wonder where the money to cover the marketing costs will come from.
Let me let you in on a little secret not many people know, a way to get other people to pay for your marketing.
Did you know that you can sell advertising inside your marketing materials? That means books, newsletters, email campaigns, etc.
The benefit here is mutual. You get advertisers to cover your marketing costs, and the advertisers get easy exposure to all of the leads who receive your marketing materials.
Let’s take the books for example. When you’re setting up your books, you can request to add advertising pages at the end. We explain the process in more detail here: Get The Books To Pay For Themselves.
Making These Strategies Work for You
One thing I’ve learned in 17+ years of selling real estate is that the more focused you are, the more effective your marketing can be. You’ve got to find a niche.
Then, do something different. That alone will help you win listings because YOUR actions capture the owners’ attention. Now, I’m not talking about cheesy gimmicks, but real unique differences.
The niches I've talked about in this post are by NO means every listing opportunity out there.
You’ve got to find new places to look, and new ways to look at the old places. It’s the only way to stand out from the crowd. Do that, and you will get more listings.
What do YOU think? Did I miss YOUR favorite listings niche?
Did you have a face palm moment reading the list? See something right under your nose you’ve been missing? It’s OK. I kick myself over some of the missed opportunities I’ve had over the years! BUT, after you finish groaning, take action!
Ben Franklin summed it up nicely in his autobiography: “Never confuse Motion with Action.”
So whether this was a huge eye opener for you, or just an affirmation of something you’ve already discovered, what matters is the action you take going forward.
I’d love to hear about some ideas YOU are going to put into action for your business! Drop a comment below, and share what YOUR “next step” will be!
Until next time, be smart, and work smarter!
Joe Nickelson is a real estate professional dedicated to helping home buyers and sellers achieve their dreams of owning property, and helping real estate agents stop using the sometimes-vicious tactics that weigh on their consciences. He believes that the Smart Agents books will, quite literally, change people’s lives for the better. Check out his full bio here!