How to change your messaging in unprecedented times
As real estate investors, we often need to remember to be people first, and deal with the emotional struggles a family might be facing. That has never been more apparent than during the pandemic. For your business to survive the pandemic, not just grow, remember how you are able to add value to a family that might need to sell because they literally need the money due to job loss during COVID-19.
The marketing strategy that you as a real estate investor should incorporate in these tough times requires asking these questions:
- How can you add value to someone who is in need of service?
- What problem can you solve for the property owner?
- How can you ease some of their stress during this time of being shut in?
- How can you get to the closing table while everyone is working from home?
- And ultimately, how can you make a difference in the life of the people you are contacting?
I personally market consistently to probate leads. My message has had to change with the pandemic — I am still able to close deals, but my approach to sellers is softer and with more compassion, not only is the family dealing with the death of a loved one, but every family I have worked with has been hit emotionally by COVID-19 either through job loss, threat of losing their home, or a family member that is struggling to overcome COVID-19. Times are changing for real estate investors, and those investors who are out solely for the “deal” will be left in the dust. People have been through a lot with the pandemic, and sellers, buyers and investors have all been affected one way or another.
Referrals, however, have been a lifeline for our business. When you can solve the family problem of selling a property in a pandemic, with courts closed, title companies working from home, having patience to close a deal goes a long way. I personally have had families thank me for the extra time and effort I gave them to get to the closing table.
Be more than the money, be more than the investment. People are worried, scared and stressed, and the last thing any property owner looking to sell needs is someone literally taking them for a ride with assignment of contracts, no intent of closing, and not having the funding in place to close the deal.
Earlier this year, from my probate marketing I bought an investment property in a prime area that I love. I ended up getting a great deal, worked tediously with the seller through a shut down court system (for the probate part), title companies that were working from home, and inspectors that had limited availability due to the pandemic. It took about seven weeks longer to close the deal than it normally would, but the great thing is that with my constant interaction and contact with the seller, we formed a friendship that transcended buying real estate! I got to know his family and how he had to pivot his business as well.
Fast forward into the New Year—an address showed up on my probate list that was literally across from this seller’ s house. Now what I didn’t mention is that when the seller could not meet me at the house (it was vacant, and he lived about an hour away) he had introduced me to his neighbor who had an extra key to the house. I recognized the street, and the address seemed familiar, so after some research, I was able to determine that this indeed was the same neighbor, and it was her husband that passed away.
I had to pivot my marketing. Can you imagine if I had just sent one of my “hey I want to buy your house” cards?) I do use my name on my marketing materials, and I treated her like any other name on my list. So, what did I do instead? I wrote her a personal letter, acknowledging her husband’s death, and giving her my condolences on her loss. I also let her know that since she had shown up on my list, I knew that she would be inundated with other investors’ postcards, letters, etc., and that if she should want to sell the property, I wanted to “distinguish” myself from the other investors, so rather than just putting it out there that I am interested in buying her house, I let her know that she could use me a resource, should she have questions about selling the home. The outcome of this pivot in my marketing is unknown at the time of this writing but compassionate approach is never a wrong choice. Real estate investors do look for the next opportunity, and the pandemic is providing some of the opportunities.
Real estate investors that have the ability to incorporate a compassionate marketing message and spend the additional time in getting to the closing tables with families in stressful situations, will have the opportunity for further business in the form of a referral if they remember to treat the seller with understanding in the wake of these unprecedented times.
Nancy Wallace-Laabs is a licensed real estate broker in the state of Texas. She has more than 15 years of real estate investing experience, owns several rental properties, and was a property manager for more than 12 years in the North DFW area. Nancy has been a featured speaker both locally and nationally on helping people grow their IRA’s being secured by real estate, and developed an online course so people can learn how to take control of their financial futures and build their retirement savings through the acquisition of real estate or becoming a private money lender.