I can’t say it any more clearly than that. And I’m only echoing what Jack Bailey said in his video interview a couple of days ago.
We’re going to have a Spring Selling Season this year, but — thanks to the Tax Credit and a number of other factors — it’s going to come early. To be in the game you’ve got to have listings and the time to get them is RIGHT NOW!
The new Tax Credit program requires buyers to be under contract to purchase by April 30 and for the transaction to close by June 30.* If average time on market for a listing in your area is 90 days, then these properties will probably go under contract in January. That’s just a couple of weeks away.
Many of us have cut back on nearly everything. It’s OK: the tough market of ’08 and ’09 dictated some serious changes. But since the Fall, the market has been stirring — and it’s not just first timers attracted by the $8,000 Tax Credit that came to an end in November (though they became a much bigger factor than ever before). Now it seems everybody — even sellers with equity — are starting to dip their toes in the market again, intrigued by the possibility of moving up for less. It’s time to give the market engine a little gas: kick it into gear with some marketing.
Certainly, the place to start is with past customers and clients. They need to know about the new Tax Credit program and you can probably let them know inexpensively: through phone calls and personal notes.
Obviously, it’s time to really put some energy into your FSBO and Expired campaigns. Again, this does not have to be expensive.
The place to spend a little money is in targeted marketing. Start by breaking your marketplace down to the smallest geographical areas you can — usually that’s Carrier Routes, and you can use Melissa Data to get the numbers. Look at each small segment: where is the turnover the greatest? Go one step further: which Carrier Routes include homes appropriate for first time buyers? Listings in these areas may produce two parties motivated by the Tax Credit: the first time buyer and the move up seller.
Now choose an approach. Like Jack Bailey, I’m a believer in post cards. They are relatively inexpensive and deliver the message even when they are not carefully read. If you choose this method, don’t shoot your entire budget on the first mailing. Hold some funds in reserve so that you can go back to the same households with another mailing in 3 – 4 weeks and another after that.
And remember: you can do target marketing even without spending money on marketing pieces. You can spend time and energy instead. You can pick up the phone and make targeted calls — ordinary brokers call them ‘cold calls’ — into the areas where you want your listings to be. Trust me: the first one you make will be the hardest and by the time you complete call number 3 it will be easy.
And, oh by the way: if the phone is not exactly your thing, there’s nothing wrong with going door to door handing out a flyer with information about the Tax Credit on one side and information about you on the other!
Bottom line: this is not the December to take off and be reflective. I know: that’s what we real estate folk usually do. This year, let’s leave that up to our competitors. This year, let’s get busy like never before. Let’s get our signs out in the marketplace so we’re ready for the big kick-off in January. This is going to be the Super Bowl of real estate.
*Qualified members of the military, foreign service and intelligence communities receive a one year extension on the April/June deadlines. Go HERE to learn more.