Homebuyers, renters and investors choose brokers based on three basic qualifications: relationship, client service and knowledge. Successful brokers build strong personal trust with their clients and streamline their operations to deliver fast, responsive service. The third factor — market intelligence and insights — can distinguish you from your competitors and establish you as a leader in your community and the industry.
Research, quite simply, is using data and direct customer feedback to inform decision-making and facilitate sales. A few smart strategies, as well as the right technology, can give real estate brokers immediate access to detailed data about homes, neighborhoods and regions.
Research Neighborhoods and Trends
Having a big picture view of the real estate market is critical. Read industry media, local publications (print and online) and follow blogs to gain insights into hot and upcoming areas, corporate moves that will impact buying trends, and demographic shifts. If you manage a team, make trend-tracking and reporting part of your regular meetings and assign specific research and learning projects to individual brokers.
In addition to using comprehensive tools that reveal easy-to-digest data about properties and homeowners, successful brokers have found other creative ways to gather and use data to close deals. For example, Rick Albert, a Broker Associate with LAMERICA Real Estate and an investor in Los Angeles, uses Facebook groups as a source of information about neighborhoods, crime rates and school quality. Rebekah Carr of Sweet Bay Design in North Carolina has built a strong relationship with the Homebuilders Association in her area. Staying close to individual developers can give you a competitive edge on new construction projects.
Get Closer to Buyers
You can use social media not only to get insights into neighborhoods but also to build stronger relationships with potential prospects.
To generate new leads, many brokers use a combination of old and new media. They contact previous clients, post on social media sites and visit local businesses to speak to their owners. Statistics can only tell you so much about a community. But beware of one-off anecdotes and opinions. Reliable research involves sample sizes of more than a few people. If you start recognizing patterns in what people are telling you, dig a little deeper.
Share Your Results
Statistics and neighborhood trends don't help anyone if they just sit on your screen. Data visualization (creating simple charts and graphics that appeal to the viewer's eye) can be a powerful way to engage a reader on a website, in an email or on social media.
Don't limit yourself to data related simply to home prices and mortgage rates. For example, if a school system is ranked highly by a national survey or if a company is building its new headquarters in your town or city, spread the news in your communications and marketing.
Above all, humanize your data. If you are reporting statistics or trends, make the story come alive by letting readers and viewers know how the information will affect them (e.g., "Now may be a great time to buy!"). Translate numbers into real customer value, and you'll build your credibility as a knowledgeable — and human-centric — real estate broker. That human impact will have a bigger long-term impact on your business than anything else.