As online services like Zillow and Trulia disrupt the real estate business, one thing remains certain—homebuyers and sellers will always trust a human over a machine, especially if that person is chock full of knowledge and genuinely eager to help.
To succeed as a real estate agent today, you have to have the right mindset. Consumer first, commission second. Providing value to your clients is how you earn their trust. And when you earn their trust, everything else will fall into place.
So, how do you provide value? There are tons of ways, but today we're going to talk about one strategy in particular—becoming a neighborhood expert. We'll talk about the type of info you should learn about a neighborhood, as well as how you should share the information.
(Special thanks to Realtor® Julie Nelson via Inman news for her great tips, and a big shoutout to Kendyl Young and the DIGGS team for their awesome Facebook posts that are used as many of the examples in this post.)
7 Tips For Becoming A Neighborhood Expert
Before we go any further, you need to know one thing—this is a big time commitment. And it only works if you're all in. It's going to be part sitting at your desk and studying, part going out into the neighborhood and observing, experiencing, and participating. If you're up to the task, here are some tips for getting started:
1) Choose the right neighborhood. The neighborhood you choose to target should mean something to you. It should align with your lifestyle and be a place where you already spend time. Nelson says, "An area where you are already knowledgeable and that fits your lifestyle is your best bet." This way, when you start doing a deep dive and sharing all of the cool things about this area, it will be genuine.
2) Dedicate 12 hours to jumpstart this strategy. Nelson suggests putting in 12 hours right away—6 hours researching and analyzing, 6 hours looking at homes.
3) Visit every new home that goes on the market. And visit that very day, so you can take a picture to post to Facebook, Instagram, or your blog.
4) Join Nextdoor.com, neighborhood Facebook groups, and other relevant social networks. This will allow you to see what residents are talking about (or complaining about) and keep a pulse on the community.
5) Get involved! Whether it's a book club, an adult kickball league, or a monthly volunteer opportunity, find a way to truly immerse yourself and be a real part of the community. Go with the goal of building relationships and bettering the community.
6) Choose your platforms for demonstrating your expertise. Where will you post all of your newfound knowledge? Facebook is a must, and Instagram is a close second. You might also consider starting a neighborhood blog. As for offline tactics, Nelson suggests hosting as many open houses in the neighborhood as possible, and using your own signage—this way, people will start to associate your name with real estate in that neighborhood.
7) Avoid saying anything that will violate fair housing laws. Don't say "great for kids" or "perfect for a young couple" or anything that implies a preference for a certain type of resident based on age, sex, race, religion, family status, etc. Stay away from crime statistics, school ratings, and neighborhood demographics. To learn more, read our quick refresher on fair housing laws.
6 Things To Research & Share About Your Target Neighborhood
1) Cool properties in the neighborhood
Kendyl Young of DIGGS in Glendale, California, urges agents to become "propportunity specialists." Identify cool properties in your neighborhood that get you excited—they don't even have to be your own listings—and share these opportunities with your followers. DIGGS loves to share Glendale propportunities on their Facebook page, as you can see in this example:
2) Market Data
Nelson suggests running a competitive market analysis (CMA) that shows price differences for every sub-sector of the neighborhood (e.g. south of Main Street vs north of Main Street). FitSmallBusiness has a great article on how to run these reports. Below, you can see how DIGGS posts about market data on their Facebook page—just a quick overview and a link to read more.
3) Best local businesses and public spaces
Create a document with information on all of the best businesses and local spaces that you'd like to recommend to your followers. You've probably already frequented a lot of places you'll put on your list, but Angies List and Yelp and are great resources for any research you need to do.
Here are some things to research:
- Restaurants (and which restaurants have senior discounts, kids eat free days, etc.)
- Parks (and what is included at each—playground, walking trails, etc.)
- Sports leagues
- Healthcare providers
- Annual events (Festivals, parades, craft shows, fundraisers, etc.)
- Farmers’ markets
- Services (dry cleaners, lawn services, pet groomers, etc.)
Here, the DIGGS team posted about an awesome new restaurant:
Here's a great idea—create online vendor list!
4) Local government updates, news, elections
Keep your followers informed on local policies that could impact them. Kendyl Young even wrote a blog article supporting a law up for vote.
5) New housing and business developments coming to the area
For new housing developments, identify the builders in your area, meet them in person, and build relationships—this way, you'll be among the first to learn details like layouts and price ranges. To learn about new business developments, stay on top of news from your local chamber of commerce or economic development organization.
Residents (and prospective-residents) of Glendale might be interested in a post like this, which could be shared on your own Facebook page:
6) Local news stories
Read your local newspapers (the online versions count!) and share stories about your community that are meaningful to you.
Providing value to your consumers is the way to earn trust and beat the real estate tech giants. And what could be more valuable than a fountain of knowledge on the neighborhood in which they want to buy/sell a home? Choose a target neighborhood, become an expert, and share the knowledge with your followers. In today's competitive real estate market, this is a strategy that works.