I think it’s safe to say that the goal of every real estate agent is to attract more clients and increase your bottom line.
While there are many ways to do that, what if you could accomplish that goal simply by filling a void and educating consumers?
That’s exactly what Kimberlee Meserve, Team Lead of the Street Property Team in Boston did in 2018 when she realized that many of her peers could afford to buy a home. They just didn’t know they could.
In episode 90 of The Walkthrough, Meserve says that’s when the idea for doing first-time homebuyer seminars was born.
“I would be talking to people who were spending $2,600 a month, $2,700 a month on rent…and they were telling me, ‘I can’t afford to buy.’ Or, ‘My credit score is a 700, and I need a 750 to buy.’ Or, ‘I don’t have 20% down.’ And I realized it wasn’t that these people couldn’t buy, it was that there was a gap in the education around what it took to purchase a home.”
Homebuyer Seminars Fill a Gap in the Market
In these conversations, Meserve saw a clear need. She realized seminars for first-time homebuyers were a solution that would accomplish three goals:
- Educate potential homeowners
- Watch her bottom line skyrocket
- Increase her sphere of influence and client database
When Meserve made the decision to do these seminars, she was new to the Boston area and knew no one. She met a lender who was new to the business, and “hungry” enough to try just about anything to earn more clients. Together, they formed an informal partnership that increased her bottom line exponentially and put both new and repeat clients in her pipeline.
In her first full year in Boston, Meserve closed $11.7 million in volume, 90% of which she says was directly from the first-time home buyer seminars. The next year, she closed $23.5 million, and the seminars continue to be a significant source of lead generation for her entire team today.
Small Attendance Can Still Mean Big Business
Meserve says commitment and perseverance were the keys. Her first two pre-COVID in-person seminars, which she held at a restaurant, were a success. Her third attempt didn’t seem so promising, with only four attendees. However, after tracking her numbers, she realized that each one of those four people eventually purchased a home with her help, translating into a 100% conversion rate.
“There’s a portion of people that might be more immediate business, then there’s some 6-to-12-month business, and then [others] further out. I have people from 2018 that just closed on a property a month ago. So, it can be a very pipeline-building business. You just have to commit to following up with it,” says Meserve.
When COVID hit, Meserve was forced to go virtual. That formula has proven to be just as effective as in-person seminars and even more efficient, cutting her costs substantially. The seminars are now 100% virtual, and she does one every two to three weeks.
How to Host a Successful First-Time Homebuyer Seminar
Meserve’s system is pretty simple.
She advertises two weeks in advance solely through Facebook ads. When people sign up, they’re directed to an Eventbrite page to register with their contact information.
Meserve’s seminars run 90 minutes long on Zoom, and each participant receives a PDF containing an interactive workbook to help keep them engaged. She finds that many clients end up printing them out.
The seminars begin with an icebreaker where participants introduce themselves, and are strongly encouraged to engage in the discussion. Meserve says that having a take-charge attitude in order to maximize the 90- minute block of time is imperative.
“So, I set the expectation from the beginning that this is going to be interactive. We’re gonna ask you to participate. You’re not just gonna sit there and be a voyeur throughout the next 90 minutes. So, we highly, highly encourage participation.” But, Meserve warns that you should be prepared for those awkward silences that may occur as a result of some questions coming in through the chat.
Next, Meserve introduces herself and jumps right into the state of the market. This is the perfect opportunity for her and her lender to assess the participants’ level of knowledge about real estate and segue into defining more basic terminology. They cover topics such as:
- What is a buyer’s market vs. a seller’s market?
- What is the absorption rate?
- How does financing work?
- What are closing costs?
- What is the timeline for getting a mortgage?
- What is a preapproval vs. a pre-qualification?
- What kind of credit score is needed to purchase a home and how do you improve your credit score?
- The different types of properties – multifamily, condos, single family, etc.
After reviewing these basics, the most important thing Meserve does comes next.
“This is where I really start to soft-close people. And I think that’s a huge mistake that people make when they’re trying these events – if they don’t ever close the buyers. We’re still salespeople. And so, what I’ll say is, ‘If you’re within 12 to 18 months of wanting to buy a home, the next step is for us to set up a time to meet and just talk about your goals, what kind of property you want,’” says Meserve.
Success is All About the Follow-Up
For people who registered but were a no-show, Meserve will follow up, invite them again and go after them with the same tenacity as any other potential client by calling, texting, or emailing them until she’s reached them.
“I’m gonna follow up with you until you either die or tell me to “F” off,” she says. “So, you’re gonna get invited to future events. You’re still gonna get called. You’re getting the full treatment just like anybody else. And that happens a lot. We have a lot of people that might register for like three or four events before they actually attend one and then they’re ready to become a client.”
Meserve urges other agents not to take unresponsiveness personally, recognizing that we all lead busy lives and clients may not be ready to take that next step right away. “78% of people will work with the first agent they talk to,” she says. And Meserve is going to be ready when they are.
Done is Better Than Perfect
One of the biggest things Meserve recommends agents do is just get started. “If you focus on making it perfect, you’re never gonna get started. Just get started and learn along the way. We’re all human, right? So, it doesn’t have to be perfect. But if you don’t do anything, you’re never gonna get the results.”
As agents, we ask this of our clients on a daily basis – to take action on something that we know is possible for them to achieve. That is the dream of home ownership. But without taking the first step, that goal remains just a dream.
If you’re looking to build your pipeline with current and future buyers, it’s time you follow your own advice. Take that first step. Commit to doing a first-time home buyer seminar. And if you want to grow your business, see measurable results, and create clients for life, do another. And another. And another…
Header Image Source: (fizkes / Shutterstock)