There’s always something to howl about

Want More Showings and Quicker Offers? The “Secret” Source of Buyers.

In a recent comment on his own post: Are you closing on the wrong objectives? The most insidious form of sales call reluctance is proudly racking up empty “accomplishments.”  Greg Swann, the author, said this:  “we devote a lot of effort … to closing on the buyer and on the buyer’s agent. Salespeople need something to say, so we go to great lengths to get them to say what we want said.”  That’s a very good point, as far as it goes – which is not far enough.

A couple of days ago, in a post by Glenn Kelman comparing days on market to listing activity level the discussion led, as it should, to actual offers in comparison to days on market.  I wrote a comment that in our local market, “If you go more than two weeks without an offer, you’ve done something wrong… which, generally speaking, means you’ve priced it poorly.”  Again, true as far as it goes – which is not far enough.

Agents don’t realize who their target market is or, if they do, agents don’t act on that knowledge.  Who sells a home?  The buyer?  No.  The buyers’ agent.  According to the latest statistics from NAR, when asked where they found the home they eventually purchased, the number one answer is: agent.  Think about that for a second: the primary referral source for the actual buyer who purchases your listing is the buyers’ agent.  Do you think maybe they merit a little of our marketing focus? Duh…

I co-host our weekly Brokers’ Open Caravan.  I have a few minor responsibilities: inject a little humor, keep the energy in the room up, and a weekly “Marketing Minute” presentation.  But my primary job as MC is to keep the highlight on the Listing Agents who are there to pitch their property.  Most agents, God bless ’em, get up to the front of the room, drop their head down into their notes and, in their best impression of a sleep aid, recite the Agents’ Manifesto of Facts: “This beautiful home has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and 1400 square feet.  It’s offered at…”  Shoot me now!  Good Grief Myrtle, I already have that info right here in fr0nt of me!  I can read…  What the agent should have have done is realized the golden marketing opportunity facing them.  What they should have done is remember to answer these two simple questions:

  1. What’s Something Interesting About This Property?  Tell the other agents something about the property that we don’t already know:  sellers’ motivation, unique aspect of the property, a humerous anecdote, something to remember!  I’m an agent in your audience and I hear about ten homes a day.  Give me a hook.  Give me a reason to remember your home when I meet with my client tomorrow.
  2. Who is the Perfect Buyer for This Home?  Describe the buyer in enough detail that even I, a donut stuffed, coffee dependent, escrow-in-trouble distracted agent, might recognize them.  Force me to run through my mental rolodex.

I know this will come as a surprise to many of you… but some real estate agents are lazy.  If you do their work for them, your listing will see more showings.  What do you think Greg means when he says: “…salespeople need something to say…”  He means you’ve got to put the words in their mouth and give them a reason – hell, even tell ’em which buyer – to show your listing.

There are only a few true channels for marketing your listing: Signs, Flyers, Single Sites, the MLS and Brokers’ Opens.  The sign?  It has only two purposes: sell the home and sell people on you as a listing agent.  (Vast majority fail at both! Want to know more?  You’re reading the #1 source – just search Custom Signs).  Flyers and Single Sites?  Designed toward the buyer; designed to make the house “sticky” and create an emotional response in the buyer.  This is important because the internet ranks #2 in finding the actual home a buyer eventually purchases; yard sign is (a distant) #3.  But what about the #1 source?  What about the buyers’ agent?  The MLS and the Brokers’ Open are your venues, but are you using them?  Are you creating a memorable image of a home and a buyer that will stick inside of an agent’s mind?

Good marketing makes use of more than one tool to reach an audience.  Great marketing realizes that there may be more than one audience and dedicates marketing channels to each of them.  Next time you put together a marketing campaign for a listing, realize that your biggest and most influential target audience is other real estate agents!  Act accordingly.


9 Comments so far

  1. Don Reedy August 25th, 2010 9:17 am


    First. It truly is the buyers agent who sees the gem on the rough, the house that is priced right, and the home that is unique in a way the buyer will not only appreciate, but ultimately act upon. When you list a home and price is correctly, the phone rings off the hook from buyers agents, all of whom are watching the market and neighborhood, and understand immediately that you have listed a home they can sell.

    Second, a couple of years ago I suggested that in a caravan presentation NO WRITTEN MATERIALS be allowed, and my point to the organizer was precisely what you indicate. It makes my blood boil when I’m investing my time listening to the poorest example of salesmanship possible, i.e. reading what is in fact in front of me, without adding some juice.

    You’ve let the secret out of the bag here.

  2. Matt Mathews August 25th, 2010 12:27 pm

    Excellent post Sean!

    As a Exclusive Buyer/Investor agent, it amazes me, when I try and network with listing agents, just how many think of me as the bad guy enemy. I always tell them that If it’s not win-win, It’s not worth doing. That statement however, doesn’t seem to make a difference in their overall attitude. Which is: Put a sign in the yard and hope for the best! Bottom line is: If you want to sell that house right now, Call Me! Before you list it on the MLS and put a sign in the yard!

  3. Anonymous August 25th, 2010 3:18 pm

    Twitter Trackbacks…

  4. Jb August 25th, 2010 3:32 pm

    A real estate agent lazy…really?? In all seriousness i agree with just about everything you said, however commission plays a major part also. My partner and I do only short sales and we control the negotiations. We have tried different ways to publish the commission but the only way tat seems to work is 3% and somebody, you or the buyer needs to pay part of the negotiation fees. 3% instead of 2.5% and we pay the fees seems not to work. I’m not sure if every MLS is like this but in ours you can search by commission offered… do I need to say anymore?

  5. Sean Purcell August 25th, 2010 3:42 pm

    Jb, that’s pretty sad… even by real estate standards. Out here in our market, if you offer 2% or less you’re probably not going to get a lot of showings, but I don’t know of any agents who search by commission. Worse yet, the agents in your market will take 3% or nothing? They won’t show it to their clients? Are you in a buyers’ market? We certainly don’t have that freedom here.

    You raise a separate, interesting question though. Why do you expect the buyer to pay the negotiator’s fee? In fact, why are negotiators involved at all?

  6. Teri Lussier August 25th, 2010 6:10 pm

    >Describe the buyer in enough detail that even I, a donut stuffed, coffee dependent, escrow-in-trouble distracted agent, might recognize them. Force me to run through my mental rolodex.

    I’m missing something obvious? I would love to do this, but, I was taught to never describe the buyer, only the home. Too many fair housing violations if you say things like “kids”, “family”, “empty-nester”. So can you give me an example of what you are talking about? Seriously Sean, I haven’t quite been able to figure out how to do this.

  7. Sean Purcell August 25th, 2010 6:32 pm


    I’m not an attorney… I don’t even play one on TV, so don’t hold my examples as necessarily compliant to the incredible array of insulting laws we must follow.

    “This home has the space for large trucks or heavy machinery, making it perfect for that contractor client looking to move up.”

    “This home has the efficiency and cache so desired by your client who is busy moving up the professional ladder and isn’t home that often… but when they are they want to entertain to impress.”

    “If you’ve ever had a client pre-occupied with privacy, you know how hard it is to find that just-so home. But you’ve found it here.”

    “When attention to detail matters: architect, attorney, doctor, engineer – these clients look for a certain level of quality in their new home…”

    You get the idea…

  8. Wayne Long August 26th, 2010 5:47 am

    Awesome post!! You are right …. agents need a reason to remember your property and they need to know something that sets the property apart from the rest in their mind.

    Thanks for reminding me…..

  9. Kaiholo Hale August 26th, 2010 1:36 pm

    Insightful article, Sean. Sometimes we get too caught up with the little details that we fail to see the big picture. Kudos.