The American Dream – or, rather, the currently popular notion of the American Dream – is under attack. Congress and the big banks are working hard to dismantle our industry and our way of life. Credit has become difficult for the average American to get, causing housing demand to shrivel and prices to plummet. The FDIC has used our tax dollars to buffer the losses of mortgage lenders so that often, it’s in their best interest to foreclose and sell assets for a song rather than work out a new deal with homeowners. Some speculate that many of the same mega-millionaires who engineered the fraud that led to the expansion and bursting of the housing bubble are continuing to benefit from the mess they’ve made and are slowly turning us into a nation of tenants.
That’s the dark view of our current situation. And that’s all it is: a slanted view through dark glasses. There is an appealing alternate view as well and truth probably lies somewhere in between the two.
In this climate I think it’s important to remember something that seemed to gel in yesterday’s Broker Roundtable call:
The American Dream is Home Ownership. It’s not appreciation, mortgage deduction, refi every two years and pay off your credit cards. It’s Home Ownership. People buy homes to build families and have comfortable lives, to control their lives and lifestyles. The financial aspects, while certainly a factor, are just that: one factor. Ours is still a nation where the average citizen (with the help of a possibly carnivorous bank) can own and control their own home. Our job is to help make that dream possible in any way we can. We seek out those who have a passion for this idea and dig through mounds of possible properties to help them find the ONE that most perfectly matches their dream. The REALTOR is a hero here. And make no mistake: REALTORS are fighting tooth and nail to defend the Dream. Thank you all for that. And let’s dig down and send an extra $50 or $100 to our State and National REALTOR Political Action Funds. It’s the best line of defense we have.
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Congratulate me! I own the search phrase, ‘Set Fee.’ If you type that into your Google search bar, the Set Fee Blog comes up first and in several other positions on the first page of organic results. This is what a year and a half of consistent content development on a focused topic will do. It works with blogging, with your company website (new pages, hyper-local content), with your YouTube channel, and on and on. Google functions today as a kind of collective consciousness for people everywhere. It pays attention and notices consistent, value-rich information and if it sees it regularly over a period of time, it reaches a tipping point and suddenly, the creator of the content is deemed to be the best source for the information.
Of course, that’s not at all unlike your Help-U-Sell business (you knew I’d get around to that, didn’t you). If you go out to a geographically defined population of homeowners with a clear, consistent message that they will recognize as valuable, eventually you will own that position in your geography’s collective consciousness. Each homeowner who uses your service and is delighted will sing your praises and your next customer will become that much easier to find. Eventually a tipping point will be reached and most homeowners in your target market will know your offering; and since the offering is outstanding, most will be disposed to working with you when the need arises. Twelve to eighteen months of steadfast, unwavering, hard work can have you garnering 10%, 20%, 30% marketshare in your target market and more.
Google has become an electronic version of word-of-mouth advertising. It listens to what’s being said and if it hears the same thing enough times from sources it decides are credible, it tells the world. There is no tricking Google – just as there’s not tricking the consumer. There’s not a way to make this happen other than just do it.
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How about a little double-ending action . . . that’s always been a hallmark of Help-U-Sell. Unlike your ordinary competitors who simply throw a sign in the yard, plop the listing into MLS and then wait for some other broker to wander in with a buyer, Help-U-Sell brokers have always worked to put together transactions without outside help. That’s why seller participation and consistent target marketing are so important to our program. Unfortunately, for some of us, the down market has obscured that focus on getting the job done ourselves. In an effort to find the few real buyers who are in the market, some have fallen to marketing our inventory to the industry as well as to consumers. That’s ok. But here’s a little reminder, courtesy of Kimber Regan of Help-U-Sell Hanford-Lemore in California.
Kimber has taken to ‘creating listings’ for her buyers. When she finds a real buyer, one who is ready, willing and able to buy now, she sends them off to get pre-qualified and then locates upside down properties fitting their list of wants and needs. She goes to those homeowners – who are not on the market – and offers to help them with a short sale. She’s double-ending much of her business these days with this little attitudinal gem, and you can too.
Part of the Help-U-Sell offer to buyers has always been that we will not just rely on the MLS to find their dream home. We’ll also contact non-listed homeowners who are in neighborhoods and homes that would be right for them, looking for that one or two who may sell if a good buyer showed up on the doorstep. It’s a very valuable offer today when buyers can find what’s in the MLS on their own via Zillow, Trulia or (if they’re smart and lucky) Listingbook. Thanks, Kimber for reminding us who we are and how we work.