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Opportunities Still Exist For the Savvy Real Estate Professional

The $8,000 tax credit passed by Congress last winter to stimulate the real estate market is potentially nearing its end on November 30. While Congress and the National Association of Realtors battle over extending the credit, the looming deadline can mean opportunities for proactive real estate and mortgage professionals.

The National Association of Realtors reports that, on average, the home buying cycle takes 45-60 days. Since the deadline for the tax credit falls at the end of November, there is just enough time to seize the moment and make sure your contacts are aware of this opportunity.

So, how can a real estate professional or mortgage broker use this tax credit to increase business?

The single most important thing to do is make sure people know about it.

Take a portion of your marketing budget over the next month and let everyone in your professional circle know about the credit and the approaching deadline. Provide contact information so when it prompts them to action, they can contact you and get started.

The fastest way to reach out to your sphere of influence is through email marketing. It is a cost effective way to reach your entire list of potential clients and works especially well for time-sensitive opportunities.

This is an opportunity for real estate agents and mortgage professionals to reach out to potential customers.

Real estate agents: Review your contact list and reach out to potential clients and past clients with all the necessary information on the tax credit, and include some appropriate listings. This ensures that you have educated every contact so that those looking to buy can make an informed purchase.

Mortgage professionals: Get in front of real estate agents with the message now. Provide them with a checklist of what their buyers should have prepared, so when they find the home they want to buy, they have all of the paperwork underway and are pre-approved.

There are still potential buyers who are not aware of this tax credit.

According to Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com, the tax credit will draw about 400,000 buyers into the market this year. Though that bodes well for the industry, a recent AP article stated that some buyers are not even aware of the credit until they put an offer in on a home.

Since the tax break was important industry news, everyone involved in the real estate industry is well aware of it. For those selling their home through real estate agents, most sellers were informed of it through their listing agent. For the average person not actively involved in the real estate market however, this newsworthy item was easily missed.

Using the “Google Insight” tool to research U.S search volume for the term “first time homebuyer tax credit” reveals an interesting trend. Search volume shows the lag in the middle months(March 2009-August 2009) of the tax credit offer.

As you can see, searches regarding this topic spiked when it was first announced in early 2009. However, the search volume for the topic dropped sharply in March before it began to pick up again in July, which means people were not actively looking online for additional information during those middle months. This suggests that when the item wasn’t making news, people either weren’t thinking about it, or simply did not know about it. Either way the jump in the beginning and increase at the end suggests that media coverage offered two small windows of opportunity to learn about the credit before interest fell off.

There is a simple way to take action in the short window available.

When opportunity arises, sometimes the simple act of informing those in your sphere of influence makes all the difference.

Email marketing is easy, cost-effective, and perfect for reaching a large group of people in a short amount of time. It is the quickest way, with the least amount of effort and lead-time, to make sure that the masses know about the tax credit and the looming deadline (full disclosure, the author is a Vice President at XL Technologies, which provides email marketing services).

As the deadline approaches, taking a proactive stance will benefit your chance at success now and using email marketing to keep people informed will help build trust and maintain relationships in the long term.

The bottom line is to make sure everyone in your sphere of influence knows that that the tax credit is available and set to expire soon.

Real estate professionals have endured a bruising couple of years. There has been so much negative news about owning real estate. On the other hand, this press coverage actually moves consumers to think about real estate ownership in a positive light again.

The professional real estate community should embrace this good news, and make sure to get the word-out. It’s encouraging for the industry and can also be a smart move for the individuals who pro-actively market this government program.