1. Save/find down payment money.
Both buyers and sellers are more concerned than ever about making sure they have enough down payment money to seal the deal. In fact, many are still operating under the mistaken impression that their only options are what they were at the bottom of the market: a high-closing cost FHA loan that will allow the low down payment of 3.5 percent or a 20% down conventional loan.
You can market to these folks by helping educate them that there are many other loan programs available now, including 5% and 10% down Conventional loans, and 80/10 programs which allow those with 10% down to get a mortgage without paying PMI. Also, consider co-marketing with a reputable mortgage broker or financial planner, or offering local first-time buyers access (via social media or seminars) to content like this post, which surfaces unconventional ways they might be able to gather up the cash they need to make a down payment.
2. Pay down/off credit card debt. Financial goals like reducing or eliminating credit card debt generally fall into the top 10 resolutions set by Americans at large – and I’d take an educated guess that this goal is even more prevalent among buyers- and sellers-to-be.
If you send out a monthly client newsletter or your own resolution list includes starting a Trulia Voices blog, you can be sure to get the attention of 2013 buyers and sellers-in-the-making by posting content that supports their debt-reduction goals. Want a writing-light way to do this? How about curating and publishing your own list of credit-card debt-reducing blogs, websites, books or local resources, like non-profit credit counselors or support groups? Position yourself as the expert by adding your own strategic insights to make sure they don’t go overboard and make moves that can make it harder to qualify for a home loan, like closing out all their credit accounts or leaving everything with a zero balance.
3. Boost credit score. Remember, many of the buyers and sellers who will be looking to make a real estate move this year are coming out of the near-universal financial crises of the recession era. They might have had a past bankruptcy or foreclosure, or a job loss which interrrupted their income temporarily, causing them to make a few late payments which brought down their credit score. And generally speaking, they are highly likely to
What can you do to market directly to those who are setting the baby step resolution to boost their credit score?
- Co-market a credit score clinic with local mortgage broker, actually running credit scores, putting individualized action plans in place and briefing buyers about what sorts of local homes they can get before and after they do the recommended work
- Place locally targeted ads in social or other media, positioning yourself as a specialist in helping those who need to boost their credit scores and get financially ready to buy a home.
- Create educational articles, blog and social media posts:
- Educating your local readers and followers on what their credit score really needs to be to qualify for a home loan – many will think the minimums are higher than they truly are.
- Encouraging them to begin pulling their own reports and giving them some basic, credit-boosting action steps to follow, plus the link to the free, government-mandated reports at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Reaching out to your contact database and letting them know that you have resources for any of their friends and referrals who would like to buy but are worried about credit issues: you might be surprised at how many of your contacts will respond asking for help for themselves!
You can market to and reach these buyers by publishing ads, newsletters, blog posts and local newspaper articles about common lender foreclosure seasoning requirements, as well as common roadblocks and workarounds for buying a home after a foreclosure.
Sellers Only 5. Paint/carpet/landscape/remodel. Most sellers will wait to work on the nitpicky staging projects until after they reach out to list their homes for sale. But many who have a 6-12 month time frame for sale are very well aware of some major projects they are assuming they’ll need to do to the property, and will move forward with them in advance of contacting agents for listing presentations.
If you farm a particular neighborhood, why not offer a Pre-Listing Property Preparation Consult in your monthly newsletter, email or postcards? Include a data point about how your listings (or well-prepped/staged homes in general) sell faster and for more than average. Then offer to come in as much as a year in advance and give sellers resources and a personal consult for getting their home ready to sell, including advice about what investments they should not make and your own personal list of recommended, cost-effective vendors.
Chances are good that the agent that meets with sellers and gives sound strategic advice months in advance will have a major leg-up when it’s time to sign a listing agreement.
As real estate pros, it’s essential that we spend our spare time exploring what’s inside the mind of our prospective clients. How better to serve and satisfy their needs, as well as marketing to and for them? If you want to become a buyer or seller’s agent for life, understand their goals and Resolutions – at all times of year – and provide resources that assist them in realizing their aspirations. You’ll become a trusted advisor in multiple areas of their lives, as well as their undisputed go-to resource for all things real estate.
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