Archive for March, 2012
In an attempt to stay in touch with clients, offer suggestions and keep a pulse on what works when marketing to distressed homeowners, I reached out to a handful of subscribers to our pre-foreclosure data. In my last post, I outlined some insights I gleaned from the feedback I received and I wanted to pick off where I left off and highlight some “don’ts”. Let me preface this with the humble assertion that I don’t profess to know your game better than you do, nor am I a “guru” (there’s too many gurus in the industry), but this is pretty much all I do, so focus on the message, not the messenger
In some of the marketing collateral I have seen, there are some common threads I think I think should be avoided:
- A propensity to focus on credentials. The reality is, distressed homeowners want to know how you will relieve the uncertainty, help their families, keep their children in the same school, etc etc, and care little about your credentials. People make decisions based on emotions and justify it with logic. They can come back to your credentials later, but only after making an emotional decision that you have their best interest in mind. Focusing on emotional benefits are much more compelling than raving about your credentials.
- Even worse, focusing on how many homes you sold. While eager for solutions and hope, distressed homeowners are leery of strangers and potentially, a vulture looking to swoop down on their misery. If you are the top producer in your market or top 2% nationwide, or you have millions of dollars in home sales, you are telling homeowners that you stand to profit from their misery. It’s better not to showcase your success to homeowners that are going through a tumultuous time in their lives, and focus more on getting them out of the woods through educating them on all of their options.
- Asking distressed homeowners to call and not providing any other next steps. Many homeowners are gun shy and will not pick up the phone and warm immediately to a stranger, especially if there are life-changing events like divorce, illness, or loss of employment that precipitated their mortgage problem. Try some different calls to action. Homeowners that would not otherwise call for a consultation would download a free report on five mistakes to never make if you fall behind on your payments, or call an anonymous hotline with an overview of their options, etc.
- Sending homeowners off to a general website without telling them what is there and what to do while there. Distressed homeowners need to take “baby steps” and be spoon fed. What should they do once on your website? There should be some specific step you want them to take while there.
- The propensity to give away the store with too much information on a website, with nothing in return. Distressed homeowners can go to your website, find a wealth of valuable information and leave. You don’t want the homeowners to close themselves on their best options – you are the real estate expert, not them. The first rule of negotiation: Give me X and I’ll give you Y. There should be a quid pro quo -I’ll give you some valuable information, in exchange for your contact information. By having a mechanism on your website or landing page that captures the homeowner’s phone number or at least their e-mail address, you can continue the conversation through a drip campaign. We practice what we preach…. a major push on our site is to request a count of distressed homeowners in a particular area, and this accounts for the vast majority of web leads.
- Using overly positive imagery, oftentimes with stock images of happy families. I’m reminded by world renowned motivator and trainer Anthony Robbins who preached mimicking the tone level of people you are communicating with. Distressed homeowners can’t relate to the vibrant, ecstatic family rejoicing on their perfectly manicured lawn depicted on some real estate collateral. In my view, it’s better to show the dark side of the real estate market, such as a depressed child. I’ve gotten some negative feedback about this and it is somewhat controversial, but I stand by it because of my previously stated belief that people make decisions based on emotion, and it is effective to put a face on the human tolls of foreclosure.
This is another article in which I feel I am remiss and have scratched the surface. If you want to bounce some ideas around as to how to get your message of hope and solutions out to homeowners struggling in this turbulent market, I’d be happy to jump on a call and have a one-on-one conversation to tailor a campaign – please call me at 607-727-0620. I’m reminded by a plaque I once saw which said, “We are compensated only to the extent that we add value to other people”. Please get in touch and see if I can add value to your real estate business.
I try to keep my antenna up, constantly re-discovering what works and what doesn’t work when marketing to distressed homeowners and share ideas on how to apply our data. In this spirit, I sent a lot of e-mails today to valued subscribers of our pre-foreclosure data to check back in, gauge their results and offer to be a sounding board. The responses are trickling in, and so I wanted to avail this post to share insights on some of the marketing samples/verbiage that clients were kind enough to share with me. It was a mixed bag of results.
For those clients that have generated a lot of response and realized big profits from completed deals, there are some interesting insights to be gleaned.
First and not surprisingly, there is a direct correlation between the number of “touch points” and response.
People respond to repetition and the more times you reach those struggling homeowners, the more response generated. Repetition builds familiarity, which in turn builds credibility, which in turn builds trust.
Second, there are more reported successes in sending hand written letters, versus post cards.
In today’s fast paced society, hand written letters are rare and for this reason, anything that strikes of personal correspondence stands out. Says one client today who invoked an 11 percent response rate:
This type of response is typical for agents and investors that take the personal approach and take the pen to paper. A hand written letter and envelope has the same personal look, touch and feel as a wedding invitation or a birthday card from uncle Bob – there is nothing commercial-looking about it. >View one sample of one successful letter that a client shared with us.
Third, the best results come from messages that offer a variety of foreclosure options, not just a short sale.
Home ownership is the American Dream. The reality is, many homeowners with unaffordable loans do not want to part with their homes just yet – they need to be educated on all of their options, including but not limited to selling their home. Most distressed homeowners have a stereotype of a REALTOR – they expect an agent to want to sell the home. Don’t present yourself as another opportunistic agent looking to cash in on commissions, but rather, a caring real estate professional that offers “ethical and compassionate solutions to problems with real estate loans”. This will break through the stereotype and position yourself as someone with the best interest of the homeowner in mind.
One response I got back today was from an agent in California that has seen an uptick in attendance for a foreclosure prevention workshop she holds out of a local library conference room, in which the full spectrum of options are discussed, not just a short sale. As a sidebar, I’ve seen other successful agents hold similar seminars and have a mortgage expert offer a free review of load modification paperwork after the conclusion of the event.
An agent in Utah threw a curve ball at me today in one e-mail. She said she “discovered in my state, real estate agents are not legally allowed to discuss loan modifications, especially not give advice about them”. Does the mention of a loan modification as a viable option to stave foreclosure (without offering to do the paperwork) violate any cannons? I’m not an attorney and can’t answer that definitively. If that was a concern, I suggested, change the verbiage to something along the lines of, “I can refer you to ethical, pre-screened professionals in my network that specialize in loan modifications to lower your monthly payment”. The quintessential point is that you will win trust by showing homeowners that you have many tools in your toolbox.
I have barely scratched the surface, but that’s all for now, folks, but I continued it in this next post. You can stay dialed into the latest thoughts in the sphere of distressed property marketing by subscribing to this blog, following me on Twitter, or becoming a fan on our new Facebook page for the latest updates.
When working with HARP Refi Leads in the past, many brokers ran into obstacles in underwriting because applicants couldn’t pass the LTV test. Enter the new HARP 2.0 guidelines and HARP Leads are more popular. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently announced a surge in applications in the 4th quarter. HARP refinance volume totaled more than 1,021,800 loans last quarter.
With the expanded initiative expected to account for such a high volume of refinance activity, the timing is perfect to seek accurate HARP Refi Leads to grab your share of this growing pool of refinance prospects. Since only select homeowners will qualify for the program, it’s vital to pre-screen HARP Refi Leads to identify borrowers that meet all of the requirements for HARP 2.0. Our philosophy is that an application that is not funded is a total waste of time and money, so we will find only the most eligible mortgagors that will survive the underwriting process.
Criteria when building HARP Refi Leads:
When searching our tri-bureau, prescreen consumer credit database for Fannie & Freddie leads, our criteria will include, but is not limited to:
- Fannie and Freddie as investors or backers of the loan
- Loans originated before June 1, 2009
- Single lien data – no junior mortgages
- Unblemished mortgage payment history dating back 12 months
- Minimum FICO score of 640, or scores matching your lender’s guidelines
- Loan balances within conforming limits – no jumbo loans
These parameters are not exhaustive, and we can customize a list of HARP Refi Leads using myriad filters. > View all data selects here. As a next step, we can go to the drawing board and research your market for the availability of HARP refinance prospects that are most likely to be motivated to lock in the historically low rates of HARP. For experience driven advice, custom quotes and fast counts, call a HARP Refi Lead specialist at 866-490-3459 or fill out a form with your criteria at www.preforeclosuredata.net/harp-refi-leads.html.
A list is useless unless it can be used.
Now that you have access to early, accurate and exclusive pre-foreclosure data, what do you do with it? A number of our clients told us that they want to spend less time designing artwork and licking stamps, and more time listing and selling homes. You spoke and we listened.
From concept to completion, you can turn to our design, print and direct mail professionals to launch your campaign and get your message of hope and solutions out to underwater, struggling homeowners that need your help.
Why Use Us?
Unlike a Jack or Jane of all trades, we do only thing, and we do it well. Distressed property marketing is all we do. Having worked with hundreds of short sale experts, we fully understand your business and your goals. This level of insight and experience will show in the course of a 10-minute consultation or by downloading our complimentary eBook on marketing to distressed homeowners.
If you outsource your project to another company, chances are they will have to learn your business. More than that, marketing to distressed homeowners requires a different approach than other consumer marketing because of the emotional turmoil they are experiencing. You can rely on us to not only get your message out, but make it resonate with struggling homeowners.
Postcards are popular because they are cheap to print, cheap to mail, and there are no barriers to be opened – they stare homeowners in the face. Yet there are potential pitfalls with this “tiny billboard” we can help you avoid (Read our blog post on some common mistakes to postcard marketing).
Your high-quality, full color postcards will be on heavy 14pt card stock, with UV Coating applied to one or both sides to create a super glossy look.
Do you have an existing postcard ready for press? You can send it to us to make sure the file meets the format, size, resolution and bleed requirements. If it doesn’t, we’ll modify it to maximize printing quality. If your not sure what you want on a postcard, we’ll show you examples and work to develop a conceptual design. > See one example. Once you’ve chosen the general layout, we’ll send it over to Dawn, our graphic designer. With over a decade of experience in the design and creation of dazzling advertising, marketing collateral and corporate identity for print and digital media and working for dozens of magazines, book publishers, retailers and ad agencies, your postcard design is in good hands. Once you sign off on the digital proof, the turn around time is 2-5 business days.
Your investment for printing attention-grabbing, 4×6 postcards is tiered on volume:
250 super glossy postcards for $95
500 super glossy postcards for $124
1,000 super glossy postcards for $172
Additional volume discounts apply. If you want larger postcards to create even more impact, call us at 866-490-3459 for custom quotes.
The yellow letter is a handwritten, usually brief message to homeowners on old school, yellow ruled paper. > See an example of a yellow letter that has worked well for another client. The magic of the yellow letter lies in it’s personal look, touch and feel. In today’s fast paced world, savvy consumers increasingly pays less attention to mail that strikes of commercial, while the yellow letter looks more like a wedding invitation or a birthday card from Uncle Harry.
While yellow letters have a higher response rate than postcards, one obvious disadvantage is the time required to laboriously hand writing each letter and envelope. Our staff painstakingly writes each letter and addresses the envelope. To smash through the clutter and grab distressed homeowners by their eyeballs, your investment is $1.49 per mail piece. This includes a handwritten letter, first class postage stamp, and personally addressed envelope. Turn around time ranges from 4-6 days, depending on the number of letters required.
Let’s bounce some ideas around. For expert advice and custom quotes, get in touch.
Let us wow your real estate business. Contact us at 1-866-490-3459 or e-mail us at email@example.com to start a conversation about finding delinquent homeowners that need your help, and turning them into motivated sellers.