Winter is coming…
While you’re (probably) not going to be facing an ever growing army of the undead with glowing blue eyes and ice swords, your pipeline will start to dry up. Your phone will ring less.
Before you start sharpening your sword and hunting for dragon glass, check out our list of 18 ways smart realtors thrive in the winter. Along with our own hard won strategies, we have tips and advice from: Century 21 top 1% agent Kim Wirtz (survived 26 winters as an agent), The Agency Calabasas Managing Partner Emil Hartoonian (survived 12 winters as an agent), and last but certainly not least, Boston Realtor Collin Bray (survived 16 winters as an agent).
Okay, enough Game of Thrones jokes and shoutouts to our friends. Time to get serious.
Here’s what you need to do to make this winter your best ever:
1. Load Your Car With These Cold Weather Supplies & Tools
The Boy Scouts got this one right. It’s tough to imagine a situation you can get yourself in that can’t be made better by being prepared.
Depending on where you live, being prepared for winter weather conditions might just save your life along with your deal.
Here are a few must haves for your trunk this winter:
- A Snow Shovel
- Window Ice Scraper
- Pocket Hand Warmers (to offer to underdressed clients)
- Waterproof Boots/Galoshes
- Lock De-Icer (hand sanitizer can work in a pinch also)
- An extra set of gloves
- An extra warm scarf
- An extra parka
- Road Flares
- An Doormat to Use for Vacant Listings
- A small broom
- Plastic Booties
- A Water Resistant Case for Your iPad.
- A Water Resistant Case for Your Cell Phone
2. Work on Your Relationships With Top Listing Agents
Psst. Hey. First year Buyer’s Agents. I know you’re freaking out a little about being able to eat this winter, so here’s a tip that will help you literally get your foot in the door.
Start and nurture relationships with busy listing agents and teams in your farm area.
While you might think this isn’t a big deal, remember that many listings are going to be occupied, and that super successful listing agent with the S Class might not always be up for trekking out into the snow for one showing…
That said, if you’re the super friendly guy from last summer who just sent them a holiday card with a box of cookies…
You get the idea.
Also don’t ignore ISA’s or assistants! Not only is this a bit rude, but they are the gatekeepers that will often come between you and that 1 hour window your clients have to look at one more listing on Wednesday morning…
3. Go The Extra Mile for Every Lead & Client
We hear the same exact excuses from every new Realtor we talk to. “Sure I would do more for my clients, but I just don’t have the time!”
Let’s put aside the fact that this is obviously not true for a minute and focus on the opportunity.
Now that the market is slower, you do have the time!
So that means no more excuses. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to go the extra mile for your leads and clients.
Virtually stage rooms in listings for different purposes
This is a no brainer. Why not virtually stage that “home office” as a child’s bedroom, a workout room, or a workshop? Then when your client inevitably wonders aloud what they can do with the room, you can show them on your iPad.
Fiverr is a great and affordable site to have high quality virtual staging done on the cheap. Check them out below.
Organize Their Every Need Before & After Closing
Sure, photocopying that old sheet of paper with phone numbers of the cable company and gas company on it is helpful, but since you have the time, why not go the extra mile?
You might want to plan to have a handyman come by and make small repairs, send them a pizza or out to dinner on the move in night, organize a local gardener to come by and fix up the yard, hire a professional organizer.. The list is endless!
Make Custom Maps of Your Favorite Local Restaurants, Shops, & More
Perfect for cities with a lot of transplants, these maps can be personalized and sent to new buyers in a drip campaign along with other practical advice on buying in the area. What are the best blocks in each neighborhood? What are the “real” neighborhood boundaries? If you make custom maps your clients will use them all the time, and maybe even after you close.
4. Increase Your Marketing Spend to Account for Increased Competition for Leads
Lead Generation in the winter is a tricky beast. There are a lot of variables that come together, some good, some bad, that determine your GCI for the season.
Sure, a half the people in your office may be in Aruba all January and February, but then again, there are just fewer people looking for houses.
Yes you technically have less competition for listings, but since most listing agent’s business slows down too, they’re all pitching the same properties.
Of course some people only move in the winter because they have to, but there are also fewer listings on the market which means it might be much harder to find them what they want.
The one thing all those situations have in common is that the early bird gets the worm. When there are fewer worms, being early gets harder.
If you want to even the odds, scaling your marketing budget up will help you beat the hungry competition and list and close more this winter.
There are a ton of places to buy leads online, but since almost everyone starts off at a portal, Zillow generally offers the best ROI.
There’s a catch though. Your lead nurturing and closing skills need to be on point. If you’re ready to close, check to see if Zillow Premier Agent has space in your zip code this winter.
5. Questions on Thriving in The Winter With Top 1% Century 21 Agent Kim Wirtz
As a top 1% Century 21 Agent with 26 years in the business, Chicagoland Realtor Kim Wirtz knows a thing or two about surviving slow winters.
In order to see how she not only made it through 26 winters but ended up an award winning top 1% Century 21 Realtor, we asked her five questions on her winter strategy.
Here’s what she told us:
1.What do you need to do in the fall to ensure a solid winter?
“Work with ALL leads, continue to market and get your name in front of people. Possible even host open houses for established agents in an attempt to secure clients.”
2. What do you need to do more of?
“Cold Calling, mailings, open houses and visiting FSBOs. Also reach out to past clients.”
3. What do you need to do less of?
“Waiting for the phone to ring.”
4. Are there unique factors in your city that affect how well you do in the winter?
“I am in Chicago. Some days we have some pretty severe weather. In this instance the market will slow down. Many people do not want to move in the snow/cold.”
5. Any other tips and advice?
“Hard work will always provide results.”
6. If You Have a Listing, Make Sure the Entryway is Ready For Wet Coats & Muddy Boots
Unless yelling at people at your next open house sounds like fun, you need to prepare a place for your open house visitors to take off muddy boots and hang up snow covered coats to dry.
If you don’t, be prepared for filthy floors and polite but confused open house guests standing by the door unsure what to do.
If your listing doesn’t already have one, get a cheap indoor/outdoor carpet, a few coat trees, and chairs or a bench where people can sit down to take off their boots and slip on plastic booties.
You’re also going to want to make a sign welcoming people and letting them know that what they should do with their gear. Sure, ideally you want to greet every guest, but going through the same speil about boots every few minutes when you should be schmoozing isn’t going to help you close more deals is it?
Winter Survival Tips From The Agency Calabasas’ Managing Partner Emil Hartoonian
While the mercury on a freezing winter’s day in Los Angeles might never sink below 60 degrees, the market still dries up in the winter, especially over the holidays.
7. Use the Holiday Season to Help Market Your Listing
“I have personally had my best months in real estate during the holiday season so the idea that the markets are very tough to sell in the winter might be a myth to some extent. As I have always believed, the buying process is emotional. Feeding into the season’s spirit is important just like staging is an important element for homes that are vacant. Tap into the season, warm up the holiday decor around the home and even give it a twist of freshness with holiday candles and keep the fireplaces going. It sets the mood for the buyer and creates an emotional engagement for the showing and helps the buyers feel themselves in the home celebrating their own holidays.”
8. The Winter Offers Financial Benefits for Buyers and Sellers
“Another benefit I have seen from both sides of the deal is the financial benefit to both a buyer and seller. Some buyers are looking to make purchases before the turn of the new year for financial and tax purposes which drives motivation. With this said, making sure the house is available and show-ready is important. It’s critical to ensure the winter months are not dismissed as viable timing for sales since every buyer has their own motivation. Keeping the options open are critical to a successful sale. All it takes is one buyer to make a sale and a real buyer doesn’t look at the calendar to make a purchase, if they are capable they are a buyer year-round.”
9. Remember to Keep Your Listing Fresh Online
“Another element to keep in mind is that not all sellers think alike and that can work to your advantage. With the ideology that winter is slow, this idea that buyers will wait to list after the holidays and winter months actually dries up the competition for the serious seller and gives serious buyers less options to consider when in fact they are in the market. It’s good for sellers to account for this detail when thinking of the buyer psychology and keeping in mind that most house shopping starts on the internet. It is important to keep the photos fresh and the listing live and active. This fresh online presence shows buyers that there is a serious seller too, hence more reason to work a deal and make a sale.”
10. Focus on The Positive: No One Wants to Hear You Complain About the Weather
The wind is stinging your face and iPad finger feels like it’s going to crack into 100 pieces and fall off.
We get it. We’re out here in the same damn freezing rain you are.
The only difference is that we desperately need a place to live by February 7th when Kelly’s new job starts.
Why do you think we want to listen to you complain about how cold it is every 5 minutes? You’re making us feel like a burden…
Don’t be this agent.
Instead, even if you hate winter, focus on the positive. Point out how pretty the trees look covered in snow. Tell us about the free annual christmas concert at the local University.
11. Rise & Grind
This tips to applies to all four seasons (and life in general), but it’s especially true in the winter. Now that you have some “spare” time, why not use it on something that will have a great ROI?
How you spend your days is up to you of course, but if you want to look back and smile a year from now, get up early, and get busy getting better.
12. What Working 16 Cold Boston Winters Taught Century 21 Agent Collin Bray
“Real Estate has a pipeline. The actions you take now, will likely pay off with a sale in the winter or spring 2019. Go preview properties – if you don’t have an Open House to run, go see 7 properties and meet 7 new agents. Focus your energy on one neighborhood you love. Want a referral? Find a way to give one first. Givers gain is my philosophy. Be you and be bold.”
Also, never forget that a healthy agent is a productive one, so be sure to eat better, sleep more and work out.
Even if it’s your first year in the industry, don’t let your newness intimidate you from thriving. Instead, embrace it. 20.9 points per game, do you know what that is? LeBron James in his rookie season. Never let other people’s expectations define your success”
13. Plan For More Coffee or Tea Breaks With Your Buyers
Okay, I get it. Your clients are being chauffeured around in your well heated car, looking at well heated occupied listing for a few hours. The worst they’ll get is a gust or two of freezing wind walking from the car to the front door…
That’s not the point though. Stopping for a hot coffee, tea, or cocoa, on a freezing day makes people happy.
It’s just a nice thing to offer that your clients WILL appreciate.
As an added bonus those chai pumpkin spice lattes might loosen them up enough to talk about what they’re really looking for in a home…
This is not going to happen in your car.
14. Make Sure to Plan Showings or Photoshoots Around Earlier Sunsets
While golden hour might be the perfect time to take dramatic twilight shots of your listing, it’s usually a terrible time for showings. After all, didn’t you describe the living room as being “sun drenched” on Zillow?
The fact is that there are many, many people who are looking for bright, sunny homes. Even if they don’t come right out and say it, many people unconsciously associate the dark with negative feelings.
That’s not going to help your listing that’s a little rough around the edges that you promised your seller you’d get top dollar for. Sure, a second or third showing might help them “see the light” 😄 but what happens if they’re busy for the next few weeks during the day? What happens if there’s a offer or two waiting in the wings?
Instead, use an app like Weather Underground that can tell you exactly when the sun is scheduled to set.
15. If You Can, Get to Listing Appointments 20 Minutes Early
Here’s a tip that works for summer times showings as well. If you have vacant homes to show, try and get there 15 minutes early to make sure the heat is on, the walkways are clear of snow, all windows are closed, and all light fixtures work.
If it’s your own listing, you should already have a local handyman on call who can get this done for you while you’re on the road.
Of course even the best handyman can’t clear snow when they’re not at the listing. This is why carrying your own shovel and showing up 15 minutes early is crucial. It’s also why keeping spare winter clothing in your trunk is helpful as well.
Over to You
Have a great tip for thriving in the winter you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.