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— by Nancy Chu

The 7 Basics You Should Master for a Strong Real Estate Career – LEAD GENERATION

I began my real estate career September of 2006 – I joined a small team of 2 other agents and it was literally the “land of milk and honey” in our market area of Northern NJ. Roberta. My then Team Lead (now my Business Partner) used to say that she would sit at her desk and the calls from Sellers and Buyers would just roll in, faster than they could write them down. I started in the business part-time; I had meticulously squirreled away one year of mortgage payments (“…in case I didn’t sell any homes for six months to a year, we have something to fall back on…” I told my very patient husband, who simply patted my back and said, “sure, just in case, hon…”). I had spent the past seven years at a VERY steady and financially stable job at NYU School of Medicine, and I refused to give it up for FEAR of starting a new life in home sales.


Well, it was 2006 – clients were everywhere – my first client EVER found me on the official website two weeks after I started. We looked at condos, found a beautiful one, made an offer – all within 45 days. In the meantime, more clients swam up to my shores, and I welcomed them with cocktails and open arms. I WAS HOOKED! I put in my notice at NYU by early November 2006, and real estate became my full-time pursuit. AND…for 2 whole years, I enjoyed the fruits of a bullish real estate market.

I know you all see what’s coming. This story sounds familiar, right?  2009 dropped like a boulder on the chest and continued to crush my lungs for five more years – the recession was devastating but SURVIVABLE, which we did, but through just blood, sweat, and tears. Oh, how I wish I knew then what I know now. The strong runaway market had built complacency in me – I had not spent one day of my first two years in real estate doing any LEAD GENERATION!  I assume you know which of the seven basic tenants of real estate this post is about – remember I am doing a 7-week series on “everything you need to master for a strong real estate career?”

  1. Lead Generation (Today’s Post)
  2. Knowing the Inventory
  3. Follow Up (Month 2 Post)
  4. Development of Best Practices
  5. Transaction Skills Mastery
  6. Marketing my Brand
  7. Time Blocking for All of the Above (Month 1 Post)

By 2010, my business had dwindled – that was the year that I lost 50% of my deals. For example, I had a lovely young couple – both CPA’s with the same large financial firm in NYC. Three weeks into our house purchase, both of them were let go by the company in sweeping layoffs, no warning. With no end in sight to the market downturn, this family packed up and moved back to be with family in Minnesota. Deal dead, Client lost. This story, or a variation of it, played out over and over again throughout the recession. My business was functioning a bit like a sine wave – I would develop a handful of active clients, find them homes, and then work on their transactions.  At the end of 2 months, there would be some lovely paychecks, but then no money for two more months while I gathered more clients and started the cycle all over again:

The highs were satisfying, but the lows were terrifying –the lack of consistency almost pushed me out of the business – I was worried that I couldn’t live with this roller coaster or be able to sustain my energy in this vacillating environment.

This was before I took myself to the company with the red signs and started learning about real estate systems and how vital they were in the development of ANY real estate business. One of the biggest challenges I had was not understanding the concept of time blocking for LEAD GENERATION and not allowing my time to be all engulfed by transaction maintenance (you know, the whole 80/20 concept). FOR LEADS THAT YOU GENERATE TODAY, ENSURE YOU HAVE BUSINESS 60-90 DAYS FROM NOW – it really is that simple! The only way to get off the wave is to lead generate consistently every day to ensure a steady stream of clients moving through the home buying/selling process throughout the year, which means income throughout the year. And who thinks the market is seasonal and you can’t sell in winter? I would encourage you to double your lead gen efforts in the fall to ensure that you have enough clients for the winter.

If you do nothing but make one change this year in your business, creating more than one pipeline as client source is the thing to do. Honestly, most successful real estate agents do 2-3 things rather well – brief examples being:

  • Geographical Farming (touching a neighborhood consistently with cards, etc.)
  • FSBOs & Expired’s (calling warm leads who are looking to sell)
  • Circle Prospecting (calling around current and/or recently sold listings)
  • Sphere Harvest (calls, clients appreciation events, touches)
  • Internet/Social Media Advertising (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
  • Buying Leads (Lead Generation systems, Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc.)
  • Agent-to-Agent Referrals (networking and increasing your business from other Agents)

The list is not new or exciting, but let’s be honest – it is basic, and it works. There is no magic bullet for selling more houses other than FIND MORE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BUY AND SELL HOUSES. And find them all year round – don’t let anything stand in the way of the time you use to find more clients. That time is sacred, and it can get you off the Ups and Downs of a non-purposeful business plan. And the biggest lesson of all? This isn’t just something you do during a market shift – this is how you run your business always – just imagine all the business you will have…

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