One of the most successful tools for generating clients when I was a Real Estate Agent was speaking at First Time Home Buyer Seminars. I planned, organized, and spoke at them. When done properly you can pick up a client or two at every single one. So, let’s share how to do one properly to attract the most people.
I’ve spoken to many people who have said “young people won’t come to anything in person, you have to do it online nowadays”. Being in that age group, I knew that was wrong. Young people will come out but it has to have a very clear value and cannot look like a big sales pitch.
So I’m going to break it down into many of the different aspects involved with hosting a first time buyers seminar.
How can you create a first time buyers seminar that is not a sales pitch and offers value? It starts with who is speaking at the event. Obviously you will be speaking as a Sales Representative or Broker with RE/MAX. Use this to your advantage and leverage the brand because most young people will make associations with the brand more than they will any individual agent. This will convey expertise and that is what they are coming to learn about. Next up, have a mortgage specialist or mortgage broker. Again, if they are associated with one of the big banks it will more likely attract more people. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, have a Real Estate Lawyer speak at the event. People love being able to ask questions of a lawyer free of charge. It’s a major draw for these events.
Having the Mortgage Specialist speak first, followed by yourself, and then finish with the lawyer is an effective order.
To have the event not come across as one big sales pitch you also have to carefully consider the venue. For that reason I do not recommend having it at your brokerages office. I used to host them at a local bank branch in their conference room. Some people will not go anywhere near where they think it’s just going to be a sales pitch to hire them. Third party locations such as bank branches or community centers will be seen as more neutral locations. Host them there and you will see a larger attendance.
If you can have a location where everyone sits at a table or desk to write down notes more easily that is a plus. You should also consider serving light refreshments. I hosted them at 7:00pm on weeknights and not everyone has time to eat dinner after work so having a few things to eat and drink will help.
Don’t forget to supply some paper and pens for them to take notes with! If people show up with nothing they should still be able to take notes just like everyone else.
Just getting people to attend is not enough. You need to know what to talk about. Each of the three presenters should prepare a twenty minute presentation that includes slides on a screen and handouts. If you go longer than twenty minutes per person people will start to get bored. Allow a brief Q & A following each speaker and then a more formal Q & A session once everyone has spoken.
As the Real Estate Agent for the event there are definitely a few topics you want to cover. You should explain agency, the benefits of hiring an exclusive Buyer Representative, the dangers of hiring the wrong person, and what can go wrong in a transaction and how you plan to mitigate those risks. By showing them the potential problems and your solutions not only are you coming across as an expert but if they interview other agents down the road who do not bring up these issues it will lead them to trust you more.
It’s also important to explain how you are compensated. A surprisingly large number of the general public believe that Agents are a paid a salary and are provided with most of their tools by the brokerage. Think of what you would want your ideal client to know if you were working with them, now take this opportunity to teach them all those points.
Once you have covered agency and the potential pitfalls you should walk them through the entire home buying process from the initial buyer consultation, to searching for homes, putting in an offer, the deposit, the conditional period and closing day. Don’t forget to mention the last step, a house warming party, and that they can invite you to it! It can lighten the mood a bit and its good to get invited to house warming parties, they are going to have friends who will be buying soon too!
Not everyone who attends your seminar is going to hire you. Be open about this fact with them. I used to say “I know not all of you are going to hire me, so when you are a signing a Buyer Representation Agreement here are some things you need to understand so you do not get taken advantage of”. It builds trust and is also a soft sell for getting them to hire you!
Getting People to Attend
The first seminar I did this was by far my biggest concern. Even though I had 18 people registered, at 6:55pm I had no one else in the room but the mortgage specialist and myself. This was a little nerve-wracking to say the least. Almost everyone who registered ended up showing so do not worry if people are running a few minutes late. Expect to start at least 10-15 after the scheduled start time.
The first step to inviting people is your sphere of influence and leads you have already collected. Call or e-mail everyone in your sphere who is at the first time buyer age or has children at that age. Then contact all prospects you have, especially leads you may consider “dead” and invite them as a last ditch effort. Offer this piece of value and you never know how many are going to show up.
After that I also advertised on Facebook with paid ads. I targeted them to my area and the right age groups. One ad for those who are first time buyers and a separate ad targeted and people who have children that would be first time buyers. When the ad was clicked on it went to a landing page that had a description of the event and a brief introduction to the speakers and then a sign up form that included name, e-mail, and phone number.
After people register you should send them a Thank You e-mail and to ask them to contact you if they have any questions ahead of time and to confirm the amount of people that are attending with them. You will find a lot of people will register themselves but are actually bringing their significant other or more with them. It’s important to know numbers in case you need to change venues or close registration.
Two days before the event send one final e-mail to confirm attendance and if you do not hear back from everyone place a call asking for them to confirm their attendance. Some times people forget they registered and this is a good reminder. It also shows you are a good communicator which is important for Real Estate Agents to convey.
Following up with everyone who attended can be just as important as the seminar itself. They may all leave thinking they would love to hire you but then forget, go to a few open houses and hire the first person who asks them to sign a BRA.
The day following the seminar I send out a mass thank you e-mail. Here you can include a survey for feedback on the seminar if you like and a call to action to contact you.
After two days I now follow up with each attendee personally and try to book buyer consultations for those who are ready to start and those who are still a ways out I ask to keep in touch and for referrals of anyone they know thinking of moving.
This is one of the longer posts I’ve done and I hope you’ve found it valuable. Hosting seminars, whether they are for first time buyers, investors, seniors, etc…, can be extremely lucrative. I would regularly only spend about $60 on advertising and the mortgage specialist supplied the refreshments and the venue. The rate of return on your investment is definitely worth it if done properly.
So get out there and start organizing your first seminar. Then let me know how it went!