Real estate market behavior is notoriously hard to predict.
Prices rise and fall based on external factors that are outside the control of real estate agents, property owners, and eager buyers.
A few years ago, Fannie Mae predicted that 2019 would see high interest rates and slow sales, which would gradually increase as consumers adjusted to the high rates.
While they were right about Q1, they were wrong about the rest of the year: Mortgage rates dropped, reaching a three-year low in September 2019.
Forecasts were so wrong that the Washington Post called the drop in mortgage rates a “free fall with no end in sight.”
And while we've been experiencing some shifts, especially here in the Bay Area (and you can read more about how to promote your listings to our local audience here), this isn’t an article about market behavior.
It’s about the real estate marketing and advertising strategies that can help you win in your region, meet your sales goals, and beat the competition.
Real Estate Business Strategy 101
Before we get too deep into real estate marketing and advertising, let’s brush up on the basics.
What is strategy?
Simply put, strategy is the set of choices you make about what success looks like, what it means to win, where you will play, and what kind of operational support you need to get there.
You can’t do everything with a business.
If you devote your time to commercial real estate and strive to be the game in town when it comes to commercial, you probably shouldn't get caught up in residential, and vice versa.
On the other hand, many realtors are content doing a little bit of both residential and commercial.
Having a strategy means you don't just take whatever opportunity comes your way. It means you plan ahead, you know both the supply and demand in your market, and you see the positioning of your competitors so that you can position your business in a sweet spot where you have an edge on the competition, and there is sufficient consumer demand.
5 of the Best Real Estate Advertising Strategies
Once you have your overall business strategy in place, you can create a real estate advertising strategy that aligns with the decisions the rest of your business is making, and that rolls up to the same goals.
1. Niche Segment
The market today is increasingly niche.
Buyers and sellers are both looking for agents who can meet their specific needs, but most real estate agencies are generic, relying on friendly faces and trusted brand names. A niche strategy will lead you to focus on a market segment that is underserved or overlooked by other companies.
For example, single women may be hesitant to trust real estate agents out of fear that they are being taken advantage of.
An agency focusing on this segment would focus on building trust and serving the unique needs of single women, perhaps in part by hiring more female agents, using more female faces in Facebook ad creatives, and by equipping customers with additional information about the real estate process, so they feel comfortable and confident with your agency.
Another niche would be military service members and their families. Service members relocate every two to three years for their jobs. This means that they are often buying and selling houses and looking for agents who understand the needs of their community, which includes frequent deployments where a husband or wife might be overseas for up to a year at a time.
Ad tip: Advertising for a niche market will focus on the unique needs and cultures of that market, and will often look unappealing to different market segments. Color schemes, fonts, models, and even ad placements would likely be drastically different for a military niche market than for a single female market.
Another strategy is to differentiate your real estate agency through meticulous, top-of-the-line service.
Often, this is what customers expect at the high end of the market, where margins allow more time and effort to be spent on each transaction. But even at the middle-end of the market, there are ways to create a white-glove service that will differentiate you from other agencies.
It might mean taking clients out for dinner for your first meeting while you explain to them your methods and the ins and outs of the local market. Or including a custom Starbucks order every time you go house hunting together.
Ad tip: With white-glove service, advertising should showcase the specifics that you offer. You are seeking clients who want that extra touch on every interaction with your agency, and your ads should differentiate your company from other agencies.
3. Service Leader
While some clients are just looking to buy or sell property, many would take advantage of additional services if offered.
Recently I was looking for a home in Nashville and interviewed eight or so realtors before finding the one who ultimately helped me make the purchase.
Because this was an investment property, I was planning to use a property management firm after the purchase to help me find tenants and care for the house.
The agency I chose offers property management services and guarantees that the realtor you work with will also be your single point of contact if you use them for property management down the road.
This additional service set them apart from the other agencies I talked with and helped me decide which agency to hire. Property management isn’t the only add-on service you could include.
Other agents I have worked within the Seattle area offer things like annual sprinkler servicing and other small maintenance packages that make them a value add beyond being great realtors.
Plus, their excellent service keeps them in front of my mind (their client), and as a result, I have recommended them to multiple acquaintances.
Ad tip: Unless there is a strong demand for your additional services, you may not want to lead with them in your ads, but you should reference them, maybe in a motto or company slogan.
4. Tech Leader
Small agencies often rely on word of mouth and a lot of legwork to sell homes.
But with the technology that is available and affordable today, even part-time realtors can leverage tech to set their business apart.
Let's start with video tours of homes: Recently, I had a rental home on the market in Seattle and was contacted by an interested couple who lived in another state and were actually on vacation in Hawaii when they found my listing on a social media platform.
We chatted via messenger, then set up a video call during which I gave them a tour of the house. They signed the lease without ever stepping foot through the door. And I'm not the only one to use this simple technology.
Realtors across the US have told me that video tours are becoming increasingly popular, even for homebuyers. But video tours are only one aspect of using technology to market your real estate business.
Companies like Zillow offer 3D technologies that create a more immersive experience for remote clients. And it is now easy to purchase a home online, completing all but the final documents with digital signatures (I bought my last two properties using digital signatures, and the buyers went fully digital as well).
Basic technologies like these are par for the course.
Still, there is ample opportunity for your real estate agency to become the tech leader in your area, bundling apps, messaging platforms, and cutting edge tools to set your services apart.
Ad Tip: If your strategy is to be the tech leader, don’t just communicate that you have great tools, make sure that you show how the tools meet consumer needs better than less tech-forward agencies.
5. Network Leader
While the previous strategies were focused on clients, a Network Leader strategy focuses a real estate company on being the best for agents.
Companies like Starbucks and Southwest Airlines include aspects of this strategy into their business model by focusing on empowering their employees and providing them with industry-leading benefits.
As a real estate company, you are only as good as your agents, and by providing the best services for your agents, you can attract the best talent and equip them to succeed.
This may mean providing top-of-the-line platforms to work from, corporate marketing they can build on to launch their personal brands, nationwide networking (helping your agents hand off clients to other in-network agents across regions/state lines), best in class marketing collateral, or any number of other ways you can make your agents the best in the business.
Ad Tip: You can use this strategy to recruit agents, in which case, focus on how you're the best agency for them. But if this is market-facing, tweak your messaging to show how having the most engaged, equipped agents is best for clients.
Best Real Estate Advertising Strategies: Concluding Thoughts
A good strategy is what will help your company ride out the downs in the real estate market, and take advantage of the ups.
It will set you apart from competitors, and help you focus your business on what is really important, while letting go of opportunities that don’t help you achieve your goals.
To successfully advertise your real estate business and set yourself apart from your competition, remember that:
Every real estate business needs to have a strategy
A good strategy will differentiate you from competitors and appeal to consumer demand
When creating ads and messaging for your agency, your ad strategy should flow from and be consistent with your overall business strategy
This article first appeared at Hearst Bay