This January, while antiquing in upstate Vermont, I happened to make friends with a new real estate investor named Isabelle. Both of us had been looking over the same Tiffany lamp, and she mentioned how she thought it was a nice piece to dress up a home for a showing. Oh no, I told her. Never decorate a house with expensive pieces that might be damaged by the lookers. We started talking, and soon I was giving her other tidbits of advice based on my 20-year career as a professional real estate investor.
The main thing she wanted to know was how to find potential home sellers. Her budding investing career had gotten off to a rocky start because she made the rookie mistake of buying too high off the MLS. She wanted to know how to find off-market properties that she could put some elbow grease into and raise her potential ROI. So, we went across the street for coffee and maple doughnuts at a sugar shack to chat more about it. She was such a nice lady, and I was happy to let her pick my brain for a few hours.
How to Find Potential Home Sellers With Advertising
Homeowners become motivated to sell when their lives are in transition or they are going through an “ugly” situation. Those who are getting divorced, are moving quickly for a new job, or have mounting bills they can’t get ahead of, all have good reasons to sell their houses. But, to get a good deal that has a lot of upside to it, you need to be able to reach these potential home sellers before they go through the time and expense of putting the property on the market. Lead generation for real estate investing opportunities through advertising can be challenging, but not impossible. I told Isabelle about all the advertising strategies I’d tried before that had been the most successful—and one that delivers the most ROI. Of course, I don’t mind sharing them again here.
If you have marketing experience, you may already know how to start your own advertising campaign and where to publish it. Billboards, local TV commercials, direct mail, radio ads are all good channels for acquiring motivated seller leads. The challenge with these paid advertising channels, however, is that it takes time—and lots of money—to build your brand awareness. If you are a new real estate investor, your pocketbook may not be able to support the efforts.
If you don’t have the marketing experience, time, or money to spare, you can start out small— with word-of-mouth advertising. Word-of-mouth advertising has the added benefit of being free and available to anyone in their spare time, which can be a big help to a fledgling real estate investing business. The key ways to build your real estate investing business through word-of-mouth advertising include:
- Develop a good reputation within your community. You might consider joining some local real estate investment clubs or doing volunteer work to broaden your network. You never know, your new friends just may have the perfect deal lined up for you.
- Try to attract the attention of earned media, such as being featured in the local news or reviewed by bloggers. This will spread the word about your business through a trusted and familiar source.
- Leverage social media as much as possible. You can make a page on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or on Instagram. Once you’ve established your pages, link them to other local businesses so that you may exchange browsing traffic. For added visibility, list your social media pages on your business card and at the bottom of communications, such as in your email signature.
- Make sure the selling process is convenient, beneficial, and pleasant, so sellers will recommend you to their friends. Then, encourage satisfied clients to leave reviews on online rating websites. Not only will you get personal recommendations this way, but your positive reputation will also stand out when they Google you before calling.
All of these word-of-mouth strategies are helpful and can generate leads on potential home sellers, and I still use them all. Whether or not they turn into an actual deal, though, can be a toss of the coin. But, I’ve found an even better source for leads. In fact, the homes that have generated the best returns for me all started out as qualified leads from this single effort.
Getting Home Seller Leads Without All the Footwork
As I told Isabelle, I used to spend considerable time working up my advertising plans and carefully implementing them. Some advertising generated leads but often the potential home sellers were just ‘feeling me out’ or they hadn’t gotten serious about selling yet. I quickly realized that I needed qualified leads.
That’s when I started doing a cost-benefit analysis about becoming an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee—and the numbers made sense to me. Now, I pool my advertising dollars with other regional HomeVestors® franchisees and, together, we leverage the nationally-known and trusted “We Buy Ugly Houses®” brand to gain direct access to qualified leads from distressed homeowners. It’s a tried-and-true advertising strategy that has helped franchisees like me buy over 100,000 houses since 1996.
Get stronger qualified leads—and potential ROI— by calling HomeVestors today.
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