Every market shift can present new business opportunities, says Nancy Shear, ABR®, a broker-associate at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Winter Park, Fla. Economic volatility caused by the COVID-19 pandemic poses plenty of uncertainties for the housing market, and some real estate professionals are ramping up their training to protect their businesses. Shear, a REALTOR® with more than 20 years of experience who also teaches continuing education courses like the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) Designation Course, is exploring new business streams amid the pandemic by expanding her outreach to first-time homebuyers, those looking to move to the suburbs, and investors searching for foreclosure bargains or rental properties.
If you’re doing the same, the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) offers several opportunities to help you infiltrate new niches. As part of the National Association of REALTORS®’ Right Tools, Right Now program, REBAC, in conjunction with the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD), has released several toolkits that cover a variety of topics, including marketing and improving generational and investor relationships. Here are three ways buyer’s agents are casting a wider net.
Earn a Designation
REBAC offers the Accredited Buyer’s Representative designation for those seeking to better reach and serve homebuyers. You can earn the ABR® by completing a two-day designation course and one approved elective course, many of which are offered online from CRD at a 30% discount through Aug. 31. After earning the designation, you can market yourself as an ABR® designee, showing clients that you’ve undergone extra training and have specific expertise. The designation also gives real estate professionals access to an exclusive database of ABR® designees nationwide and a private Facebook group where you can swap referrals and tips.
To gain access to some of the content, REBAC is temporarily offering the Buyer Representation Toolkit for free (a $9.95 value) as part of the Right Tools, Right Now initiative. The downloadable toolkit teases some of the content you’ll receive in the ABR® course, such as buyer checklists that include a needs assessment worksheet and tips on adding value for customers. “Having access to the tools from REBAC and ABR® is so critical right now,” says Maurice Taylor, ABR®, a broker at Coldwell Banker RPM Group in North Little Rock, Ark., and an ABR® instructor. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a buyer’s market or seller’s market; agents need to have the tools to market to buyers and help them understand the need to have the expertise of a buyer’s agent by their side.”
Explore Emerging Niches
While you earn the designation, you also may discover new customer pipelines through ABR® elective courses. “This is the time to hone your skills and create niches for yourself that can create new avenues of business,” Taylor says.
One ABR® elective course, “Buyers By Generation”, delves into the different buying patterns of age groups and how to market to each. REBAC also is offering the Buyers by Generation Toolkit for free (a $9.95 value) for a limited time. Learn how to frame your buyer conversations to appeal to different demographics. The toolkit includes such items as a checklist for conducting millennial buyer consultations and communication dos and don’ts for different generations. First-time buyers could be key to a housing recovery and are essential for a sustainable housing market, Taylor says. Record-low mortgage rates are enticing many to move.
Other ABR® elective courses, like At Home With Diversity®, are timely given the current social climate. The course provides participants a tool to build diversity outreach into their business plans and serve growing market niches. “There are a lot of misunderstandings when it comes to race relationships in this country, and this is a great course that teaches agents about diversity,” Taylor says.
Taylor also points to elective courses on assisting investors as another potential growth opportunity. He’s already noticing an uptick of investors in his market who are shopping for properties to turn into rentals. Shear also sees investors who are increasingly looking for agents with foreclosure expertise to hunt for deals in this economic downturn. REBAC also is offering a free downloadable Real Estate Investing Toolkit (a $9.95 value), which includes checklists and worksheets on how to build wealth through real estate investments and better serve investors.
Expand Your Marketing
Marketing is key to growing your customer database. REBAC offers an elective course, “Marketing Strategy & Lead Generation,” highlighting new strategies to promote yourself and your business. Social media and digital advertising also are growing, and the Social Media for REALTORS® series walks you through leveraging various platforms for business, content strategies, and maximizing business pages.
Shear plans to launch a digital national advertising campaign on social media and other websites to increase her customer pipeline, particularly among millennials, first-time buyers, and those who want to relocate from urban areas to the suburbs. She’s offering a sweepstakes in which one homebuyer will win a prepaid mortgage for up to a year—a value of $15,000. She learned of the idea from another agent, Nao Rouhana, a broker with Keller Williams Realty in Quincy, Mass., who attributed such a sweepstakes to $6 million in sales and 192 new customer leads. Shear is hoping to repeat Rouhana’s success. She teamed up with five sponsors, including a home inspection and title agency, for the campaign.REBAC members swap ideas to find new marketing hooks, too. REBAC also offers ABR® designees access to several Consumer One-Sheets that can be customized for marketing, such as step-by-step handouts for buyers on getting their financing ready or preparing for closing. “Every penny I’ve ever spent on education has always come back to me tenfold,” Shear says. “Success meets preparedness. I’ve learned to be constantly reading, learning, and talking to my peers to learn the trends and to stay ahead.”