Real estate agent Kelly Brennan. Image via Melody Olivas Photographs.
Written by Breanna Hardy
Newly-licensed real estate agents are leading the way with a people-before-money mentality. They’re starting the connection with online marketing.
Fresno real estate agent Kelly Brennan was licensed in February 2020, just before the pandemic halted open houses.
As a new agent, she had already been marketing herself through social media about six months before she was officially licensed. This ultimately gave her a leg up in the competition amongst veteran real estate agent.
“I don’t have to sell houses, houses sell themselves,” she said, “But I do have to sell my personality and make sure people know that I’m a real-life person.”
Brennan has been up against people with cash offers. Some are even willing to waive appraisals.
“How do you write an offer that isn’t the highest offer but gets accepted?” she said.
Traditionally real estate agents cold call or go door-to-door to make potential sales, but people don’t welcome in-person interaction during the pandemic.
“I actually feel like I’m at an advantage because I wasn’t already relying on those methods to gain business,” Brennan said.
“I have to compete with the other agents, but I can start my business using the updated more modern ways,” she added.
She views the challenge as an opportunity to set herself apart. More established agents usually have more revenue to advertise through Zillow, but Brennan wants to diversify her advertising spaces to compete with high-traffic platforms.
“Referrals are a huge, huge way of getting business,” Brennan said.
Isaiah Espinoza’s real estate exam was postponed in December. He has been a real estate agent for less than two months. He plans on serving both Visalia and Fresno.
He has leaned on social media to market himself, and he wants to build a referral-based network.
Espinoza has helped a few different buyers put in offers, but competing in the fast market makes it difficult getting off the ground.
“We’re kind of just getting beat to the punch right now,” he said.
The hardest thing for new real estate agents is the change in open houses, said Patrick Conner, president of London Properties.
Open houses have customarily been a way for newer agents to meet people and market themselves. But low inventory means fewer open houses. And at that, some sellers are wary of allowing strangers into their homes during a pandemic.
It’s important to be in front of people so they can get to know the sincerity of you, Conner said.
“It’s hard to start letting people know that you’ve gotten into the business,” Conner said.
Social media helps get the word out there, using video tours of properties for engagement.
London Properties advises its agents that it’s the list of relationships, not the list of names that keeps an agent thriving.
He says that since Covid-19 has forced agents to market themselves differently, mailers are still effective.
“Low inventory is also punctuating the need of a good real estate associate to help people locate properties,” Conner said.
Cultivating trust isn’t necessarily confined to time in the industry, but the communication and attentiveness to inquiries. Education is also adding value to trust in real estate agents, he said.
“It is so important to have a Realtor who knows how to talk to people. The people are the driving force,” Brennan said.
Connor has noticed that newer agents are good communicators, especially when it comes to informing clients at how competitive the market is.
This is true for Erica Evans, who has been a real estate agent for a little over two years.
Evans came from the education field, and has sought to carry that skill into the real estate world. Under Realty Concepts, she has received hands-on training that has helped her develop skills that align with her personal values as a real estate agent, like putting people before profits.
“I just make sure that I’m really explicitly clear with my clients,” she said.
She found herself in multiple offer situations pre-pandemic, but buyers were still able to make a deal. Now the market is much more competitive than when she first started, she said.
Erica has relied on mailers and social media to gain new clients, but in this hot market, she said honesty and clarity are priority when communicating. She said her mission is to provide as much information as possible.
“I’m really down for you, not just the sale,” Evans said.
Evans said it’s not so much about who represents the buyer, but what is on the paper. She calls the agent representing the seller and asks what some non-negotiables are for the family.
Like Evans, Brennan finds out what is motivating every single person in the transaction in order to help her clients make a winning offer.
“I write an offer geared toward the needs and wants of everyone involved,” Brennan said. “It’s not just about price; it’s also about the terms.”
Evans gains trust in a hot market by prioritizing clients’ goals, not just the money. She is motivated by the people’s needs behind the sale.
“Although my number of years in real estate are few, my experience in helping people and educating people and caring for people – I don’t feel like because someone has 15 of experience that they’re a better fit,” Evans said.
Cash or high offers seem more attractive, but many agents don’t realize money isn’t the final say, Brennan said.
Two of her last three offers that were accepted were the lowest-priced offers.
“This whole gig is about money,” Brennan said. “But behind the money is a person, and that person has lots of needs. It’s definitely a people game.”