But I am in the process of helping a great couple buy one. Just submitted a second offer (our first one had some issues, so we had to walk). Oh and there was that one a month or so ago (entirely different story on that one). That's not much to brag about really, but in fact - it is.
Both of these clients were random strangers in the not too distant past. They never heard of me, I never met them. Just a few people out there, searching the internet for property information. And they found it. On Trulia Voices.
Trulia Voices - Ask questions, get answers.
I've been using Trulia Voices for almost as long as I can remember. At first I jumped in and screamed "pick me, pick me!" It was the only way I understood when I first became an agent - I thought that's how agents got their business. Thanks to a lot of reading, a little soul searching, and some great Realtors® who really helped me get my start in the business; I realized that was not the way to go about things. So I calmed down and started answering by being helpful - letting the chips fall where they may. I wasn't after one client, I was after building a reputation as an agent who would help and could be relied on if ever needed.
And that's how I've maintained my presence on Trulia since then. Just popping in from time to time and giving my two cents, educating someone on how this or that works, or showing them what they were looking for, but just couldn't seem to find.
How I managed to get two strangers to talk to me about real estate.
We all get strangers to talk to us about real estate, that's what we do for a living, but these two were great examples of how to use Trulia Voices (at least to me - plus @trulia told me to blog about it or he would give me a "thumbs down" on every answer I ever wrote*).
The first one was simple and nothing spectacular in terms of what I did. A user asked a question and I anwered it in plain English. Just gave them the facts and went on my way. My phone rang after I hit "post." It was the user who had just asked the question. We signed a Buyer Representation Agreement the next day. We put in offers on three hours (all but one was a short sale) before getting an accepted contract, but it was worth it. A huge house for a very nice price. Unfortunately, the day after our inspection (which went great), he was called into his military office and they informed him they were shipping him to a new station. No warning or anything. The client and I remain good friends though and they have already referred business my way and plan on returning in two years or so.
The second client was a little more exciting as far as how it unfolded. There had been a spate of listings with poor info (typically correct info with the wrong photos). The photos were huge places with all the amenities, but the descriptions, addresses, and MLS numbers didn't match up. A little research and I often found the true information and would post it so that users could see. I answered a lot of questions about houses like that during that week (I think Trulia's computers went on strike or something).
One of the questions about these houses went unnoticed by me. I was busy, didn't have a moment to get to it and forgot about the question altogether. I can't be everywhere at once. The following day as I perused the recent questions to see who had answered what, I saw that questions and noticed some agents who had responded. Not a single one them told the person that the house they were seeing wasn't the house they were reading about. I was a bit concerned by that. Nearly every answer was of the "give me a call" variety, but didn't offer an real sustance.
It was now over 24 hours since the question was posted (with a phone number I might add) and you know what they say about contact after 24 hours. Problem was, I had a nagging feeling that I had missed this question and missed the opportunity to tell this person about the photo/description problem. I picked up the phone.
Answers online, answers on the telephone line.
A voice answered and I introduced myself. I basically said something along there lines:
"I know you've already been called by a bunch of agents at this point, but I just wanted to let you know that the home depicted in the images does not match the home in the address. I just wanted you to know that, because it's been a problem lately at Trulia and I don't want anyone to get their hopes up, only to find that it was based on the wrong photos."
Turns out, the couple were in their car, just heading towards the highway on a 1 to 1 1/2 hour drive to San Antonio to preview the house on their own. They wanted to scope out the home and neighborhood before calling an agent and signing an offer.
They were relieved that I had called and saved them the trip.
I never sold them on my services, I didn't get them to drive down and sign up, and I didn't tell them how great I was. I helped them.
The next day they called me, had me run a search for them and drove down to sign a Buyer's Representation Agreement. We're currently awaiting a response from a seller and we've made a great offer. They have been great to me and have trust in me ever since that one little call - not to sell myself, but to offer them a bit of information that everyone else had forgotten to mention that was crucial to their buying.
Don't sell, just show.
The need for selling yourself isn't as strong as it once was. Now it's more important to show youself. Be yourself, express yourself - show yourself to be the agent they want. They will know it when they see it. Whether in person, on Trulia Voices, via email/fax/phone, your website, your blog - anywhere - just show the world who you are, let them judge the rest for themselves. If you're the person they can trust, they will see it and be your best clients (loyalty and trust are strong).
*Rudy from Trulia didn't actually threaten me, but since he is pretty powerful I figured he had that power anyway and thought I'd just avoid it by imagining he said it.