There is a lot of recent chatter among real estate agents in Rhode Island, stating that their real estate business has picked up.
“I noticed an increase in activity at the beginning of this year. I believe the increase is due to pent-up demand from clients who have been watching the market for several years. The low home prices, low interest rates, and the hint of a market turnaround have increased consumer confidence,” says Lauren Swanson of RE/MAX Professionals in East Greenwich.
Like many real estate agents, Lauren, who has been practicing real estate for almost 10 years, gets most of her real estate leads from referrals, past clients and current listings. Yet, what other sources are real estate agents getting business from these days? The majority of buyers and sellers today are researching real estate information online. Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com are 3 of the most popular sites. Many agents purchase options and advertising that capture buyers/sellers who are visiting these sites.
Frank Denette, an agent with RE/MAX Five Star in Warwick, got his license within the past 2 years.
“Open Houses have been a great source for me, as well as activity from my current listings. Yet, I have done some online advertising through Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com. Both Trulia and Zillow have shown some good results, but I haven’t really been that successful in capturing leads from Realtor.com,” states Denette.
Another source of leads, specifically for RE/MAX Agents, is LeadStreet. LeadStreet is a free service that captures leads from http://www.remax.com and sends them directly to RE/MAX agents via their mobile device/email. There are approximately 2,684,396 unique monthly users of http://www.remax.com and 4,340 leads captured, each day, thru LeadStreet.
For Gina and Tom Howarth, of RE/MAX 1st Choice in Cranston, LeadStreet has definitely been a great asset to their real estate business.
“This year we have closed 12 transactions so far, and two of them came from Leadstreet. Both were HOT leads that we immediately accepted. “Steve and Sue” wanted to start looking IMMEDIATELY. They were relocating from Florida, and we could only go out once or twice a month when they were both in town. Plus, they had no idea what they really wanted, weren’t familiar with the styles of New England homes, and so it took almost three months to narrow it down. Nevertheless, we stuck by them and closed in April of 2012. They are thrilled with their new house and have promised to refer us,” explains Gina.
“Joe and Jane” another buyer that came thru LeadStreet, knew exactly what they wanted, but weren’t ready to start looking right away. We set up a search on MLS and followed up closely with emails and phone calls. Ultimately, they got an accepted offer on a house they loved and closed in May,” concluded Tom. Gina and Tom go on to explain that most of these internet leads are more challenging because they are not ‘warmed up’ as with an ordinary referral.
“We have to work harder, establish a personal connection and show the value of working with us, but the results are definitely worthwhile and we love this service. We have earned over ten thousand dollars on these two transactions and needless to say, we NEVER turn down a lead on Leadstreet,” states Gina and Tom.
Denette agrees with the Howarths that most of the ‘leads’ that have come in thru Leadstreet are not “warmed up” and not quite ready to buy. However, he adds them to his distribution list and stays in touch with them regularly to build a relationship, so when they are ready to buy, he will be top of mind.
Jodi Hedrick, of RE/MAX River’s Edge in Barrington, who has also been successful at capturing business through LeadStreet, adds, “As soon as a lead comes through my phone, I act upon it immediately. Many times the client is interested in seeing a particular property that I am not the listing agent and, therefore, I explain the importance of having an agent work strictly for them, on their behalf. A quick response and showing them your value definitely helps build a connection between you and the client.”
There are leads, however, that come thru LeadStreet that seem effortless. Amy Hoag, of RE/MAX Professionals in Newport, shares the story of a lead that turned into a sale in 2010.
”The lead was a first time homebuyer that had found a property she liked.. The lead was sent to me and we arranged a showing. After viewing it twice, she made an offer. We negotiated a price that was acceptable to both parties. She did her financing through the mortgage rep in our office. It was less than 90 days from the time of our first communication to her closing. It’s the only Leadstreet lead I’ve closed so far, but it was by far one of my easiest,” explains Amy.
The general consensus is that the majority of agents are capturing their business thru referrals and past clients. Yet, online advertising and other sources are shown to be effective and therefore, should definitely be explored. For RE/MAX Agents, it seems advantageous to respond to all Leads through LeadStreet and use this service to its maximum potential – especially because it doesn’t cost anything! Even one closing a year is worth the effort of investing time and money into these online options and can make a huge difference in income.
Where are you getting YOUR real estate business from?