Tips & Advice on Realtor Tools, Lead Generation & Real Estate Systems

Tips & Advice on Realtor Tools, Lead Generation & Real Estate Systems
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Just Listed! Just Sold! An Alternative Method

Just Listed! Just Sold!

By Markelle Harden

Bring Postcard Advertising Out of the Dark Ages

Let’s take the concept of ‘Just Listed’ and ‘Just Sold’ and bring it up to speed with current marketing trends that work, and can leave you with a much better image among the recipients.

I once attended a ‘By Referral Only’ seminar, and Joe Stumpf described a scenario for his audience that described the Dark Ages of Postcard advertising: “Your neighbor is a car salesman. You keep getting these slick, glossy postcards in the mail, with his photo, and a photo of a car he just sold. It says ‘I can sell you one too!’ “ Upon receiving one of these postcards per month, are you going to call him to buy a new Lexus? What a great analogy for how SILLY Realtor advertising can get. Don’t feel bad if you’ve done this or currently do it, EVERYONE has. And who sells it to us? Why, the postcard design and printing companies! These companies DO NOT know how to get a listing appointment, present a CMA to a seller, or get them to sign on the dotted line for a listing agreement. The only know how to take your credit card information and print what you tell them to, ‘because everyone else is doing it’. Are you listening? You can still be successful if you don’t do it the way everyone else is. And for less money!

Scenario #1: Just Listed Open House Postcard, custom designed as an invitation or hand delivered. Realtors send mail pieces to neighboring homes of a listing to reinforce name/brand recognition. Why not try to meet these people in person? Most Open Houses are full of nosy neighbors anyway, why don’t you invite them? If they received an invitation, they won’t be as embarrassed when they come over to check out the color scheme/furniture placement for their own curiosity! Once they identify themselves as a neighbor, you can smile and say ‘Did you get my invitation?’. Better yet, maybe you already met them because you hand delivered the invitation a week prior, and this is your second meeting! A second meeting certainly entitles you to ask some important questions: “Are you planning on selling or buying a home in the future? Do you know anyone else in the neighborhood who is selling? Would you like to be notified every time a home is listed or sold in your neighborhood? Sign up here!” This method would be a fabulous way for a new team member or agent you are mentoring to spend their time. Open houses can be profitable, if planned for and the right tools are utilized.

Scenario #2: Introduce your Sellers to the neighborhood. Maybe it’s not a very tight-knit community and your sellers don’t talk with a lot of people, and it’s not a great location for an Open House. Send the neighboring owners a personalized letter about your sellers (with their permission of course). Example:

“Bob and Barbara HomeSeller recently learned of a job opportunity in Texas, and they are going to try and sell their home before making a move. They would like your help! If you have a friend, co-worker or family member who is looking for a home, would you mind telling them about this home? I’ve enclosed some brochures for your convenience. If they would like to tour the home or learn more about financing options, please tell them I would be happy to help. Thank you for your time!”

*This scenario is delicate; you don’t want to share too much personal information about your seller, and you want them to initial the letter to keep a record that they were aware it was sent. NEVER highlight a distress situation to a neighbor in a letter, even if your seller is OK with it. Just because it’s true does not mean you have to be the broadcaster. A nice alternative could be ‘John and Susie have a limited amount of time to successfully sell their home, and we are asking for your help!’. Again, it is all-circumstantial and you’ll have to use common courtesy and common sense, but it can be done, and it’s much more personal. This approach takes you from a ‘salesperson’ to a ‘helper’. Much more favorable in a consumer’s eyes!

Scenario # 3 You’re the Buyers Agent who would like to list property in that neighborhood that your Buyers just moved into. Invite the neighbors to a ‘Meet the New Neighbor!’ party, hosted by Yours Truly! It would not cost much to supply some snacks and beverages, and since you’re the host, you’ll get to meet everyone and chat with them! This event would need some thought and coordination; but it’s a ‘twofer’ as they say – a closing gift for your Buyers and a networking event with neighbors. Once you’ve held the party, put everyone who was invited on a ‘Market Watch’ newsletter campaign to keep in touch.

The possibilities are endless! Most of these ideas were obtained from a By Referral Only Main Event, so I would like to give credit where credit is due! Real Estate coaches and mentors can help you think outside the box. If they recommend the traditional ‘Just Listed, Just Sold’ cards, please picture that car salesman postcard mentioned above, and RUN as fast as you can in the opposite direction of that coach!

Markelle Harden is the owner of a Real Estate Virtual Assistant Company, servicing Realtors nationwide. Her company helps Realtors implement non-hype strategies that yield referrals and cash flow. For more information visit

Monday, January 4, 2010

LISTING TOOLS: If it’s FREE, Do You Use It?

Realtors have so many FREE tools at their fingertips, I’m amazed at how little they utilize. I suspect that everyone is a little wiser with their expenses at the end of 2009, so here is a quick lesson on utilizing these tools to impress your clients. You can capture your seller at the listing appointment with all the bells and whistles, but at 4-6 weeks into the listing, you’d better have something to show them! What if the average days on market in their area is 90+ days? Are you going to hold open houses every weekend? Invest in costly, unproductive print ads? We hope not!

Online Flyer Services You could use just one of these, or all of them. However, if you’re going to use more than one, you’ll need to keep the log in information organized so you can update price changes manually (or let your virtual assistant handle that!). Here are our favorite top 3: Vflyer, Postlets, and Vflyer has an attractive pdf version that is easily printed, great for placing inside the home. Postlets has great syndication, and if your sellers are saavy, this one can send their listing to the most popular sites out there for hit tracking: Zillow & Trulia. Both Vflyer and Postlets provide HTML code for enhanced Craigs List postings. We’ll assume you’re already using Craigs List…if not, please start! Regularly! SawItOnline has incredible syndication as well, to sites such as and HGTV’s We don’t recommend SawItOnline for HTML Craigs List posts; the ad is not as attractive as Vflyer or Postlets (sorry SawItOnline, we do love your product otherwise!).

Viewing Statistics and Hit Tracking Did you know that you don’t need an enhanced subscription to Trulia to see how many views your listing has received? You only need a free account, then claim the listing as your own via the MLS #. Hits are tracked weekly, and you can easily provide your seller with this information.

Craigs List Views? You can now track hits by signing up for a FREE account at It’s so simple, and reports are easy to read. Does your MLS provide a hit tracker? Have you asked your Broker if there is a way to track hits on your corporate site? Prudential, Coldwell Banker, and Allen Tate can provide this information for you. If your company does, feel free to share in your comments and let the rest of us know!

Local Realtor Tours, Networking Events Does your local association or office have listing tours? If so, don’t make the mistake of putting your listing on the tour when it’s brand new, especially if it’s overpriced or not in the best condition. Wait for 2-3 weeks, and the sellers will be more willing to accept the feedback of ‘Price Reduction’ or ‘New Carpet’ or ‘Needs Painted’. Most sellers think their home is perfect, until 3-4 weeks pass and not a soul has entered or made an offer.

Facebook and Twitter Yes, the old social networking. Everyone is catching the fever, but are you posting your listings for everyone to see, especially if your client is a friend or a follower? Postlets, Vflyer and Trulia allow you to post your listing easily to Facebook and Twitter. What if someone knows someone else who is looking for that GORGEOUS blue carpet, on that super busy street? Wink wink!

You now have FIVE sources of FREE exposure for your listing. If you look at those five ideas and think ‘None of those are going to sell the listing’, you’re probably right. Good old fashioned price, location, and condition will sell the home. But don’t sellers want more from you today? After all, they are putting their faith in you that you are going to carry them through a huge transition, upgrade, or crisis intervention, depending on the situation. They deserve to know, on a weekly basis, that you are doing SOMETHING for them. If they trust you with the marketing, they are more likely to trust you with the price reduction, negotiation, and closing.

Stay tuned…our next post will give you some tips on using these FREE tools to really impress your sellers on a regular, consistent basis to build their confidence in you.

You could always hire A Virtual Genie to get it done for you…but we don’t mind sharing! Hopefully you’ll get busy enough using our ideas, that you’ll actually need us someday, while your listing inventory passes into double digits, and you really need a vacation…

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How Tech Savvy is Your Lead Generation System?

Realtors need leads, and lots of them, to run a successful Real Estate Business. Working leads takes time though, and many Realtors struggle once they start getting a high volume of calls or inquiries. Do you harness the power of technology to capture these leads? Or does that one phone call get lost in the shuffle? Do you have a database that keeps all of these leads organized and automatically contacts them on a regular basis, without you having to do anything? No problem, we’ve found the answer!

Lead generation and prospect capture are two tools that every Realtor should be utilizing. To that end, we would like to offer up the following synopsis of some tools, as well as our thoughts on the systems. We looked at three services: ProQuest, by RealtyStar; DriveBuy Technologies; and Michael Anderson’s Automated Prospecting software. We compared them according to the service they offer, cost (both initial and ongoing), tech “savviness,” type of data captured, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) compatibility (i.e.: Top Producer or Microsoft Outlook), and added our own two cents’ worth. We’ve posted this information in a summary format, but if you are interested in learning more about any of these systems and how they can help grow your business please contact us to discuss it.

After you’ve reviewed these tools and their capability for lead generation and capture, we would love to help you implement one to turn your business around. The surest way to get more closings – more leads!

Proquest, by RealtyStar, available at, offers a recorded information line for listings with a unique 800 number for each listing. There is a one time fee of $297, with ongoing fees as follows: $29.95/Month and $0.189/Min up to 1500, $0.149/Min after 1500. There is no consumer website associated with the product. Data is captured via ANI (kind of like a sophisticated caller ID) which captures 100% of numbers, even unlisted or those who used *67 before dialing. Information is delivered to the agent via text, email, fax or web display. It is not noted on the site whether a long term contract is required. The pros of this service are that it is a tried and true approach, the offer a 6-month money-back guarantee, and the ongoing monthly fees are affordable. The biggest con is that it is moderately expensive at initial outlay.

Drive Buy Technologies, available at, offers a unique code provided for each listing that buyers can text to request additional information. Within 10 seconds, a text message is returned containing information about the listing and including Smart Links to a website with additional information and pictures. There is no initial set up fee and ongoing monthly fees are $8/Month per code and $9 per sign/rider. Web information is presented to the consumer via Smart Links in text message. The consumer’s cell number is captured, and while I’m unsure of how it is stored, I did receive a phone call within several minutes of texting for the demo. The system is compatible with both Top Producer and Outlook. There is no long term contract, you pay month to month and only for active codes. I did the demo text on the website and received a text back immediately with Smart Links. I was also texted by the salesperson within a few minutes, and called within an hour. I was impressed by the quick response and knowledgeable suggestions. I was also provided with references, both on the web and with numbers to call to verify how the service works. The pros of this service are that it is very affordable, it is tech savvy for today’s mobile users, codes are reusable (switch from listing to listing like a lockbox) and can be branded, i.e.: HOME123, PAM789, etc. Cons are that the only data captured is cell number, not name or email. Standard text messaging rates apply for the consumer using the service.

Automated Prospecting Services, available at, offers a software package which enables users to build their own website with unlimited pages. A sophisticated system of auto-responders is then designed to allow the user to stay in “hands-off” contact with the lead. The initial cost is $997 (although the website is currently offering $500 discount for first 100 orders. There are no monthly fees, but if you want the software update subscription it is $99/year. The website is completely controlled by the user, so consumers see exactly what you want them to see. Data capture forms are also designed by you and therefore any data you wish to have is attainable. APS offers a CRM system inherent in the software. The biggest pro of this service is that it offers a complete package, including web site, data capture, automatic responders, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Cons include the fact that it requires an expensive initial outlay and it does not appear to be tailored specifically to Real Estate.

DriveBuy Technologies and ProQuest by RealtyStar are both very user friendly and won’t break your budget. DriveBuy Technologies, with its instant gratification in the form of text messaging and Smart Phone compatibility meets the needs and desires of today’s buyers, but limits the data capture for you, the agent. This is where your personal touch comes in, follow up and get that additional info – it gives you a reason to call! You need to then introduce them to your automatic MLS property search tool that will automatically email properties that meet their needs. The recorded 800 number information line by ProQuest provides excellent data capture opportunities, but is less likely to leave trace information behind on the consumer’s side; they have to rely on their memories after listening to the message. But again, golden opportunity for the Realtor: you can leave a message about your automated property finder service on the recording to peak their interest in signing up for property email alerts.

Automated Prospecting Systems by Michael Anderson is a much bulkier package, and a bigger financial outlay, but provides a highly sophisticated system for someone wanting an “all-in-one” package deal. We encourage you to visit their web site or contact us for additional information if you are ready for a sophisticated package.

A Virtual Genie has experience in building successful Real Estate Systems designed to enhance your business in prospecting, staying in touch with current clients during transactions and listings, and post-closing follow up. Visit our web site to learn more about our team and remember: Your Wish is Our Command!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Text Capture: The New Generation of Lead Generation

Call Capture is a GREAT tool, and it will bring leads. However, if you are on a REAL push to capture every possible lead, then you've got to embrace technology as it advances. Now you have the power to send information about your listing or service via text message. How does this work? Visit Text Capture Hotline for more information, but here are a few general facts:

  • Text capture works just like call capture, except the prospect will text the number you have posted for more info, and an auto-generated text message will send them more info on the property/service.
  • Advantage: You now have a cell phone number, and you know this person prefers text messages. You can contact them to get their general 'wants' on a home, and every time you run across one in the marketplace, you could text them. If they are a seller, you could text them tips for selling their home. When they ask you to stop texting you, just call them back and tell them you'd love to meet with them face to face so you can learn more about their needs and remove them from your text campaign. Bold? Yes!
  • You now have access to a cell phone number, a much more effective way to reach potential clients than a home phone that rings and rings and rings...does anyone even stay at home anymore?

Utilizing a Virtual Assistant to set up these lead capture systems is a smart investment in the future of your business. Contact A Virtual Genie for more information on using a Real Estate Virtual Assistant to increase your prospects on a regular basis.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Call Capture for Listings: The Script

Call Capture is not a sure bet to great leads. It takes skill, strategy, and dedication. This Blog is dedicated to those who have never used the technology before for their listings, or to those who have used it, but failed to yield the response to justify the expense or time.

The service is only valuable if the provider is reliable and technologically advanced. I welcome the suggestion of other companies, but in this case I only have one to recommend: . You could start capturing leads for as little as $35 a month, and increase your options within the service as your lead generation increases. This provider is highly recommended by ByReferralOnly - a leader in Realtor lead generation strategies.

The Script
What, exactly, do you record? A monotone description of the property features they are calling on? NO! If you don't think you have a great phone voice, this is where your assistant or virtual assistant can help out. Don't risk losing a lead because the voice they are listening to is stumbling, nervous, or flat. The script should make your prospect want to take a next step - a step that is given in the call. You also don't want to make the mistake of letting the call capture service record the message for you. Although they say they are trained; you need to stay on top of price changes, and change the recording if it is not working the way you want it to.

For example, you have listed a great home - you know that once people are inside, they will fall in love, but the outside doesn't have great curb appeal. Then FORGET specific details in your recording. You want to entice them to learn more, to see more. If you give it all away on the recording (or in your flyer box outside the home), you give them no reason whatsoever to contact you for an appointment. You must use this to your advantage in the script:

'Hi! Thank you for calling xyz Realty info line on the property located at 123 Main Street. I will tell you about this property in a moment, but first, grab a pen to take some helpful notes for your home search. At xyz Realty, we have a FREE automated home finder service that will email listings directly to your inbox each time a new home is listed that matches your wish list. For more information on signing up for this FREE homefinder service, please have your pen ready at the end of this recording. Now back to the home you called about: 123 Main Street is a lovely 3 Bedroom plus Den home located on a quiet interior street. The floorplan is light and bright, with decorative windows and archways through-out. The kitchen was updated with maple cabinetry, newer appliances, and upgraded flooring. The Dining Room is open to the Family Room, perfect for entertaining. Upstairs you will find all three spacious bedrooms, plus a bonus room that is perfect for a den or office. You won't believe the size of the Master closet and Bath! Outside you will fall in love with the private, gated swimming pool and expansive decking. Shade trees are lined perfectly along the edge of the lot. Priced at $xxxxxx, it is a great value. To learn more about this home and to schedule a showing, please call agent xyz at 000-000-0000. To learn more about our automatic homefinder email service, and receive email updates with homes that match your wishlist for FREE, please log onto That's spelled x y z r e a l t y dot c o m. You can also leave a message in our general mailbox and we will return your call within the hour. Leave us your email address, and we can sign you up for this great service. Thank you for calling our information line, and we wish you the best of luck in your search for a dream home."

Note two things:

First: I offered a valuable service to them that had nothing to do with the home they were calling about. You must do this in case the home is not what they are looking for. Maybe they want 4 true bedrooms, and they don't want a pool. Your info line should always give them something else to be interested in, to help them find a home.

Second: I didn't give too many details about the home (no square footage, no specific flooring references), and I saved the price for LAST. If you give the price away up front, they will hang up if it's not in their price range. While you will still have their number to call them back, giving them ammunition to hang up during the first few seconds gives them the power to say 'We're not interested' when you call them. Are sign callers ever really interested in the house when they're calling on the sign? 9 times out of ten, these folks need help finding a home, and driving around is not the best use of their time. They need a Buyers Agent!

Tips for Getting the Number 'Out There'
So the house is tucked back in the community, and virtually no one is going to call the number attached to the sign. What do you do now? Now you post this toll free info line to every online ad possible, following the same directions as above: Don't give ALL the information away in the ad. Why in the world would they want to call the number if you've given them every last detail? Your job as the sellers agent to promote interest, not just give information. YOU are in charge of how the information is given about the home, so use that to your advantage!

Concern about 'fast paced information'
What about the 'McBuyer' who wants information NOW? There are services that will send a text message to a prospect if they enter their mobile phone number to receive a text message. Stay tuned for our next Blog...Text Messaging Services will be discussed.

For More information on Virtual Assistance for Realtors, please visit us online at