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Playing the Waiting Game

Funny thing – This market. Financial indicators point to a robust real estate market ahead so why are people waiting so long to jump in? It’s an interesting question posed to me earlier this week. One of our more experienced agents said that he had been talking to lots of people who wanted to buy, but their timeline was six months to a year out. So I started to think more about this, especially how we should be adjusting our sales strategies to accommodate these buyers. First off, I think it is important to understand, or at least try to speculate, on why buyers are taking their time and what you can do about it.

1. They are playing the waiting game to see if they are still employed in 6 months.

In other words, we aren’t that serious. Stay in touch but don’t over exert yourself. A call once a week can go a long way.  Offer tidbits of information like “oh, a corner suite in your building just came on the market” or “I saw a cute little house in one of the areas you mentioned. If they ask for more details then send them along. If they want to look at it you should simply say “well the market’s been hot so this one probably will sell quickly. Have you sorted out a price range with your mortgage specialist? Because in this market you need to be 100% prepared. Do you have someone you can talk to about financing? If they haven’t done this critical step, then you need to contain the situation. Tell them to drive by the property.

2. They are afraid of a real estate market collapse and think they will be able to buy at a lower price.

Okay, fair enough, if they are buying an investment condo, but if they are buying a principal residence, then who really cares if their value goes down 5 or 10%? You can make that up easily with simple improvements and decent decorating. Historically, home prices have risen consistently. Besides do they want to continue to rent all their lives?

3. They believe that Rob Ford will repeal the Toronto Land Transfer Tax.

It’s simply not going to happen any time soon and by the time it does the house that they buy now will have increased by more that the money saved.

4. They are just being cautious and are doing their research now so that they are completely informed on what is available, what their budget can afford them, and what neighbourhood they want to live in.

Actually this is a good reason not to buy now so your best bet is to educate them quickly. Get them approved for financing and keep the lines of communication open at all times.  Once you know what their budget is you can send examples of what is available in their price range for different parts of the city.  Play detective to find out what they need to satisfy their lifestyle. If they have kids or are planning a family, schools will be important to their search. Give them homework every month. Send them to different neighbourhoods.  A word of caution; don’t get too caught up in the process.  

5. They are holding out for the dream property, or they are waiting for a deal.

“Really? You’re waiting for a deal? Here’s a deal for you, I’ll work hard to find you the best property and I will negotiate a fair price. You won’t overspend and I will look after your interests. Isn’t that a deal you can live with”? No, honestly, I’ve had this conversation with so many people.

6. They might be saving additional money or waiting for a cash gift.

While waiting for money is a valid point, it might be worthwhile to ask if they have RRSP’s. If they do, they could use that money to get into the house market now, and then use their cash gift or additional savings to pay back their savings.

Ask any good realtor and they will tell you that the best time to buy is NOW. Your job is to get serious clients excited about buying. Gauge the potential client’s motivation to make sure they are not on a giant fishing expedition (also called the Hail Mary).   If you are convinced that they will buy, then your best strategy is to keep in touch and balance your contact appropriately.


Attentionomics; The New Buzzword

At last month’s management meeting Maureen O’Neill, former TREB president, devoted a few minutes to discuss a recent real estate conference she attended in NYC.  We have all attended conferences at some point in our lives.  Some are better than others, but with any organized event my biggest hope it that I will come away with one or two choice jewels that I can incorporate into my life or, at the very least, use in one of my office meetings.  Maureen attended a marketing seminar and the lecturer used the word “attentionomics”.  This is a great portmanteau that seems particularly apropos to the society that we live in and, by the way, I have had to “ignore all” on my computer’s spell check.

We are all familiar with the Greek word economics, literally translated to mean ‘The law of the household’ and of course we recognize the word ergonomics which is simply the science of designing the workplace or other environment to fit the user. So what exactly is attentionomics and why is it so important to our industry today?

I think we can all agree that we live in a fast paced world. We are constantly bombarded with messages, images, buzzwords and brands. The marketing world is always looking for a way to capture our attention. They know that they have only a few vital seconds to make an impact on us. The message has to be loud, clear and memorable.  So, for me, the word attentionomics, as it relates to our world, means the art or science of creating marketing assets that capture the public’s attention. This is an ever increasingly difficult task.

For the next few weeks try this simple task. Save all the flyers that come to your door or through your mailbox.  Next, sort through them and keep the ones that look interesting. You have probably just eliminated 98% of your flyers.  Now, think about all the money that has been collectively wasted on those 98%. Make some notes on what you liked about the 2% that you kept. These are the benchmarks for your future flyers.  You can do the same for your competition’s websites and blogs. I am amazed at how many of my agents don’t have a handle on what their competition is doing.

There was a point in time when real estate was a sales job, but today it is less about “sales” and all about marketing. The public will make their own decision on what they want to buy, because every house has a buyer. If we want to excel, we have to be creative. We have to market ourselves. To hold onto the public’s rather short attention span, we have to reach them effectively and show them what our “value add” is.

The same goes for social media marketing. For instance, if you are a Twitter user, you probably find that things move pretty fast especially if you have a lot of people in your “stream”. It sometimes can be hard to filter out (or in) the stuff that is valuable. Just like a flyer that comes in the mail, you have one or two seconds maximum to capture a reader. If you are advertising a new property listing chances are everyone will overlook it if the twitter post says “Check out my new listing at 123 Main st. Great detached 3 bedroom for $599K” . One word…BORING. Your chances of having people click on your link will rise significantly if the post reads “Nudist’s dream home. Private backyard gets you closer to nature. Check out this private home for just $599K”.  I know I’m interested. Chances are that your Social Media followers will too.

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