The Chicago Association of REALTORS®, the “Voice for Real Estate” in Chicago since 1883, represents over 17,000 members from all real estate specialties including commercial sales, development, property management, appraisal, auctions and residential sales.
Author: Melanie Stone, Coldwell Banker Residential
First-time homebuyers need our help. They don’t teach you how to buy property in high school, college or the work force. Truthfully, the only way to learn is by beginning the process. Therefore, first-time homebuyers aren’t trained, and they need a REALTOR® to guide them from consultation to closing.
I launched my first-time homebuyer seminar, So You Want to Buy a Condo, in October 2015. I had only been in the business about a year, and I was 22 years old — still very much a rookie. I thought I would teach it once and never do it again, but today, I’ve led over 25 seminars and taught at Chicago companies like Uber, GrubHub, Deloitte, Hyatt and Salesforce.
The homebuyer seminar is not a new concept; I did not invent it. All I did was put my own spin on it. Here’s how I did it.
STEP ONE: Find a Location
The key to the location is finding somewhere people want to go naturally. Bars and restaurants are easy, as long as it’s somewhat quiet. For my first seminar, I rented out the back bar at Old Town Social. I’ve also hosted seminars at coworking spaces — low-key, open places where people or small businesses can rent offices or desks. Another option is to host the seminar at your office, providing it’s a sleek space.
Don’t forget to provide something to get people in the door. They want the free information and expertise, but it’s only going to help you to provide snacks and refreshments. It can be as simple as beer and pizza, or coffee and donuts.
STEP TWO: Write Your Content
This is just as important as securing a great location. You want your information to be relevant and capture people’s attention. First, keep it light. There’s no need to get into the nitty-gritty of earnest money and attorney review. Save the juicy details for your initial consultation. Instead, focus on giving a broad, gentle overview of the process. Be realistic and set a fair expectation for what it’s like going through the buying process.
Next, consider bringing in a co-host. Early on, I started working with a trusted lender and friend – he is a person who shares my passion for serving first-time homebuyers. The idea of co-teaching this seminar made so much sense. It’s helpful to have someone to play off of when I’m presenting, and I love having the moral support, too.
Last (but certainly not least), be yourself. Use examples and stories from your years in the industry. Not only are you sharing your knowledge, but you’re also selling yourself. You want to present yourself as someone they want to work with.
STEP THREE: Promote Your Event
You can have the coolest location and killer content, but if you don’t have bodies in the room, what’s the point? Promote your event to get people in the door.
Social media has been key for me. I use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and my blog — you can’t possibly follow me on social media without knowing that I teach first-time homebuyer seminars. And, for the most part, social media is free.
I send personal invites, too. These can be as simple as a text saying, “Hey, I think you should come to this event. Feel free to bring a friend!”
I also have my friends act as ambassadors. They post on social media about the event, and they invite their friends to the seminar. Then, at the event, my friends will sit in the audience and help create content — taking photos and sharing with my hashtags. This is an excellent way to get your circle involved and have your friends stand with you.
STEP FOUR: Follow Up
This is the step I’ve had to work on. All real estate professionals understand that it’s all about the long-term game. A homebuyer seminar is no different. Most attendees won’t necessarily want to buy a condo today; but, in a year or two, they might. I’ve taught over 25 seminars in two years, and it’s only been in the last twelve months that people have started to come back to me.
The day after the event, I hand-type a personal email to each person who attended. I’ll craft a blog post, share some pictures and post this content to my social media pages. I also link to this content in my follow-up email. Then, periodically over the next few months, I’ll reach out again.
Be patient, and know that the more people you can get in front of, the better. It’s a numbers game.
I’ve come a long way since my first seminar, but I’ve learned that if you’re authentic and put passion into your presentation, the leads will come. I did it after just a year in the business, and I know you can, too.