Tired of tech and want an easy-to-execute listing lead strategy?
If you think it sounds too good to be true, it’s not.
I developed my Letters for Listings series more than two decades ago. Although the series has been updated, the mechanics are as basic as they were more than 20 years ago, and perhaps even more effective!
More effective? How can that be?
More than 20 years ago, Zillow didn’t exist. Redfin didn’t exist. Even Facebook was still just a glimmer in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. Online lead generation was in its infancy. The best ways to generate leads at the time included mailing, calling, open houses, and some agents even resorted to door knocking (not for me – but that is a whole different Zebra Report). Fast forward to today and most agents are looking to technology to generate leads. That is GREAT news for those agents who prefer to generate leads using some of the older tried-and-true methods – like sending letters.
According to the United States Postal Service, the average American household received 454 pieces of marketing mail per year – or about 1.5 pieces per day excluding Sundays. It doesn’t take much to be noticed these days and with much of your competition focusing on online marketing methods, the mailbox can become your most lucrative lead generation platform!
The Letters for Listings plan is super-simple, but it does work best if you have a listing. If you don’t have a listing, you can modify this plan as allowed by your local MLs and real estate standards of practice.
Here’s how it works:
Determine Your Target
Depending on the neighborhood, select around 50-100 homes to send the letter to. These are folks who will see your listing and for whom the selling of the listing will most likely impact their home value.
Send a Listing Letter
Have this letter prepared ahead of time, ready for when your listing goes live. Then drop the prepared mailing in the mailbox immediately. The contents simply:
- Introduce you as the listing agent.
- Let the target neighbors know that you have listed the property and they can expect increased traffic.
- Indicate if the neighbor is concerned about this traffic, perhaps due to small children or pets, that you would be happy to put a slow down or caution sign in their yard (THIS IS KEY!).
- Invite them to a neighbors-only open house that might be an hour or so before your scheduled open house.
- Indicate you will let the neighbors know when the house pends and sells.
When agents send out this first letter, it is amazing how many neighbors stop by that open house. Rarely do I hear of agents needing to supply a slow down or caution sign, but neighbors are impressed by the tone of the first letter. Why? This letter is about service, not sales. Those neighbors are potential sellers and this is step one in cultivating that relationship.
Here is a link for the slow down signs which you should have on hand if you are sending these letters.
Send a Pending Letter
Once the property pends, send the pending letter. The contents are as follows:
- Indicate the home is now under contract and traffic should slow down.
- In the event the final price is not to be shared until after closing, let them know that you will be sending that information as soon as the property closes.
- If it sold quickly, indicate the days on market so there is a sense of urgency.
Send a Sold Letter
When the property closes, send the sold letter. The contents should indicate:
- The property is now closed. The sellers will be moving out and the new buyers will take possession (or whatever the parameters are that you are allowed to share).
- The final sales price.
- Anything notable about the sale – low days on market, sold above list price, multiple offers, etc.
- You can also include some neighborhood statistics here if that is relevant.
- Indicate that you are happy to be of service if there are any questions. If you have a local neighborhood market report or something like that, this would be an appropriate time to offer it.
That’s it! No hard sale. This is all about you being of service to the neighborhood.
Now enter – the Other Buyers Missed Out letter. This can be sent a week or two after the property closes and should only be sent in the event the property you had listed went for multiple offers.
The “Other Buyers Missed Out” Letter
There can only be one winning buyer on a property. But when there are multiple offers, other buyers have raised their hands and indicated they wanted to buy in that neighborhood, at that price point. This could be a GREAT opportunity for someone who had been thinking of selling. You don’t necessarily have a buyer, but you do have the contact information for all those agents who brought their buyers to buy your listing. If the recipient is thinking of selling or just getting additional information, they should reach out.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I determine the area and get the addresses?
Each neighborhood will be a little different. In some cases, you might choose specific streets to target who might drive by your listing. In other neighborhoods, an entire section of houses may be suitable. In more-rural areas, you may only have a dozen or so homes that fit the bill. Once you determine what is most appropriate for your area, you can work with a direct mail company to get the addresses or perhaps a title or escrow company, or even a lender.
Are we talking letterhead and envelopes?
Yes! Letterhead and envelopes. Branded letterhead and envelopes if possible.
Can I just address them all as “Dear Homeowner” or do I need to get more-specific than that?
If possible, I suggest a mail merge that includes names and addresses. As I was researching for this article, I read time and time again that people like getting personalized mail. Doing a mail merge is certainly not as easy as having 100 of the same thing copied, but the bang for the buck is unparalleled.
This market is moving so fast, I don’t have time to send a letter, let alone schedule an open house!
I am here to tell you that some of my clients are making a lot of money following this formula. If you list and send the letters Monday, that should be enough time for a Saturday open house and offer review on Sunday or Monday. I suggest you look at what is common timing in your market and adjust your listing schedule to allow time for the letter and the open house. Plus, that gives more buyers more time to see the property. Of course, this is up to the seller, but I encourage you to remove the barriers to getting this done and add this simple letter series to your listing to do checklist.
Look, you can make excuses or you can make it happen. I prefer to make things happen.
Denise, can I get YOUR letters?
You can! There are two ways that you can get your hands on these letters:
OPTION ONE: These letters are available to all Club Zebra members. Learn about Club Zebra and join for free before July 15th. Once you are a member you can get your letters here.
OPTION TWO: Come to my Search for Sellers and Find Success class!
This July 21st I am going to be doing a deep dive on lead generation specifically for listings live in Lynnwood, WA. All attendees will receive these four Letters for Listings. In fact, if you become a Club Zebra member first, you will also get a $50 discount when you register for this class!
Interested in learning more about open houses and presentations? Need more sellers in your pipeline? Want to learn how to manage conflict, speak your truth, and make more money?
We are very excited to announce our summer and fall class lineup! Most classes are LIVE and in-person.
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI – The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.