(This article is an 8-minute read)
THREE THINGS YOU'LL GET FROM THIS ARTICLE
1. A four-step strategy for building trust with home sellers
2. A list of free digital tools you can use to make it work
3. How to avoid tyre-kickers who just want a free market appraisal
Seventeen years after I bought my house, I bumped into Jonathan, the real estate agent who sold it to me. He offered a classic, basic lesson in how to build trust with home sellers. He was doing an open house, suited up by the front door, handing out flyers and talking to people. When he saw me, he said, “Hey, Rob, how are you?”
This is seventeen years after we last met! We chatted about the house, the neighbourhood, my family, the market … all the usual stuff. I was impressed by his ability to remember me, as well as his knowledge about my neighbourhood. I trust Jonathan. But you should be worried about him. Jonathan is your competition for my business when I come to sell my house.
Currently, trying to establish and build trust with home sellers is tricky. You can do it the way Jonathan did, by working in the one suburb for several decades, remembering all of your clients’ names and checking in with them regularly. Of course, that was a lot easier to do when neighbourhoods were smaller, and communities more connected.
You can letterbox drop every home in the neighbourhood, offering a free valuation. But that costs time, money and effort. Many of the people who take you up on the offer are probably tyre-kickers anyway. And just because you give an honest valuation doesn’t mean they’ll believe you or accept it.
There is another way. It’s a four step process that can be measured and tweaked to work for you. And rather than just matching more experienced agents, it will give you a competitive advantage over them.
No-one ever just woke up one morning and thought, “I might sell my house today, I’ll go see a real estate agent”. The whole process a seller goes through before they walk into your agency is fraught with emotion, indecision, stress and confusion. And that’s when they’re not rushed.
You can find and help those people, if you know who they are.
So your first step is figuring out who your sellers are. Of course, in reality they are a wide range of people. But you can know from your own experience and a bit of empathy that you can target your marketing at sellers who are at a particular stage in their life. For example, families with teenage children. Or empty nesters. Or tree changers.
Whatever group you decide to talk to, it should reflect a group who are selling homes in your area. If you live in nappy valley, it may be a bit too niche to target empty nesters. But families with teenagers might be a lucrative market.
The second step is to think about what might motivate their decision to sell. Selling a house is rarely an end in itself. People sell to get capital, or to change their life situation. If you create some content—either a blog post, or videos, or whatever—that talks about their problem, rather than about selling their house or house prices, you are establishing a connection with a potential client.
Your goal for this type of content is just to offer helpful information—not to lock in a seller.
So useful content for families with teenagers might involve comparing the cost and benefit of renovating versus selling and getting a bigger property.
But don’t create any content yet. There are a couple more steps in the process.
Nowadays people who are at the ‘awareness’ stage of a buyer’s journey educate themselves by Googling stuff and asking friends. There are plenty of tools available to you to help you work out what those people might be searching for on Google. You can use those tools to come up with content that will answer their questions.
One of the easiest is to open up Google and type “renovating versus selling” into the search box, then scroll right down to the bottom of the results page. You will see a list of ‘Related searches’ there. These are generally the search queries people used next, after their initial search. Each of these related search keywords can be the subject of a short video or blog post.
This is the step where you start to plan content. You should create a page on your website which is all about that first, main keyword—let’s say, for this example, that it’s ‘renovate versus selling’. If you don’t know how to optimise that page for search engines, get a content agency to help you.
Then also plan and create content around those related search topics. Each one of those should link back to that first, main page in some way.
Then use your social media accounts to promote those blog posts. Put up a link to them on your Facebook page. Send them out in an email newsletter to your lead list. Over time you will build up an audience of people who know, like and trust what you have to say.
Everyone is different. Everyone will take different amounts of time to move from being aware they need to sell their house, through to auction day. You can’t assume that just because someone is looking at your content, they are ready to sell right away.
So put some content on your site that they might be interested in, and gate it. It might be a general ‘state of the market’ report. Or a list of the top and bottom prices in the area broken down by season.
On every piece of content you create, add a call-to-action pointing people towards that gated content. In order to get it, ask for their name and email address so you can send it to them, and stay in touch.
Don’t immediately spam that list with offers of free appraisals or anything. They haven’t told you they want to sell—just that they’re curious. But by gathering their names and email addresses, you can keep sending them helpful general content until such a time as they ask for something more.
The four steps to build trust with home sellers are:
* Choose a group of ‘ideal’ sellers to address
* Plan helpful content around what might be motivating them to sell
* Use free digital tools like Google to work out what they’re looking for
* Build a hub-and-spoke content strategy to give them your helpful content, and make sure you capture their details when you do.