The real estate market here has been slow, like other areas, but recently I've been busy with very good prospects that it appears are actually going to buy real estate. I attribute this to the internet, totally. The increase in internet business is astounding when I think back to just four years ago when I was lucky to get 3-4 deals a year through internet marketing.
If this year continues to follow the present trend, 90% of my business will have come from the internet. This is a combination of Google search and referrals from agents met over the internet. Google search results are fueled by blogs, a photo site and information pages regarding neighborhoods.
The actual conversion from lead to closing has been a systematic response and follow-up set-up. IDX and email have been the core of the response and followup, but lately buyers have been calling in with personal requests that are descriptive enough to manually go into the MLS and set up the home-search program and automatic notifier -- then using Google Docs for task management purposes.
The point is that this process is inexpensive. Now I'm trying Homegain and still the cost of doing business is being decreased significantly from 4 years ago. No more print ads, no more billboards, no more postage costs, no more office expense -- I've moved my office to my home and Blackberry. I have also let the assistant go because the system doesn't actually require another person at this point. I have agents I can feed leads to who have their system in place.
In a slow market I decided to cut everything to the bone, squeeze as much as I can out of the existing demand here,and it appears I've been forced to create a model that can be used in good times as well -- so the slowdown has had the positive effect of getting lean and mean.
The difference in overhead is truly amazing, especially when I consider that the cuts backs have not negatively affected quality. I've actually only had three slow months so far -being forced to respond may be the best thing that has happened to me. So much money has been wasted on marketing efforts that don't produce results, I could kick myself for not seeing this during the good times. The lesson: Minimize expenses to what produces results during good markets and bad markets -- stay lean and nimble.
As an afterthought, it might be the Fed's signal that the latest cut will most likely be the last for quite awhile precipitating the increased activity among homebuyers.