All real estate is local.  More specifically, all listings are local.  That’s why direct local marketing generates local listings. 

Yes, 90% of all buyers, according to NAR 2009 Survey of Buyers and Sellers, use the Internet to search for properties (also, 87% of all buyers used a real estate agent to search for homes)…but only 3% of sellers use the Internet to find their listing agent.  When I talk with Rainmaker real estate agents who are heavy listers, they repeat a common theme: Sellers come to them by referral.  NAR agrees.  Listing agents were referred by a friend, neighbor or relative in 40% of all listings in 2009. 

Many listings are taken because the seller used the agent previously (24%).  Other listings come through employer or relocation company referrals (5%), or visiting an open house (5%), personal contact by agent such as phone or email (5%), referrals by another real estate broker (4%), sign calls (3%), direct mail such as newsletters, flyer, postcard (3%), Internet site (3%), walk in (3%), newspaper, yellow pages, home book ad (2%), advertising specialty (1%), other (5%).

Staying in touch for years (referral marketing) is critical to capture listings.  Simply put, local sellers usually list with the broker they know.  In fact, 64% of all sellers only contact one real estate agent before they list, according to NAR’s 2009 survey.   If you are that agent, two out of three times it’s a slam dunk to get the listing.  If not, 64% of local sellers won’t even call you.   That reality is the heart of every local listing-based real estate practice. 

Where Do Your Listings Come From?

Ask yourself: Where do my listings come from?  Sellers are, of course, local, not global.  That’s why local direct marketing typically trumps global Internet marketing every time to generate local sellers and local listing referrals.  The secret to listing marketing today is to use specialized marketing that is focused on the people you know and the types of properties (highest turnover), types of sellers (mobile demographics) and types of transactions (short sales, investment) to maximize your local listings.  It’s also why social media is emerging as a referral tool for listers.

That’s not to say your online presence doesn’t reinforce your local listing marketing, it does.  Referrals use your website to check you out before they call you.  Some of your buyer prospects generated by your websites, your blog, your banner ads and your pay-per-click are also potential sellers.

Local Direct Marketing Taps Local Sellers

Yet, only direct marketing allows you to tap into a targeted sector of local sellers.  Client newsletters, just listed/just sold postcards, yard signs, listing videos embedded in locally directed e-mails, brochure box flyers, open houses, even door knocking, local community involvement and Zillow’s new “zip-code level” property ads all generate exposure for listings and reach other local sellers.  Even if an individual marketing effort or advertising does not sell a property, it still provides value to your sellers and exposure for your company or your colleagues. 

Simply put, the ideal marketing mix for listings today must be crafted to fit your local marketplace and target where most of your local sellers come from. 

If you are a lean-and-mean local real estate lister — watching your silver marketing bullets and treasuring your time — focus like a laser on local direct marketing.  Target what works best for you to generate local sellers. 

What have you noticed is working in your market to generate local listings?  Join the conversation.

Dan Richard

Emeritus at Gooder Group
Dan is the Founder of the Gooder Group and the author of a series of successful Real Estate books:

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