Here it is late November of a challenging year for realty professionals and mortgage lenders. And here I am continuing to contact more than 250 different realty and mortgage offices every week about making themselves known and stand out at such a crucial time.
Just today, I had 3 lenders tell me that they are or will no longer be in the mortgage business come Jan. 1, 2009. But the ones that are planning on staying and being in the business for next year need to rise to the occasion.
Recent research by the likes of McGraw Hill and PWC showed that businesses which increased, or at the very least maintained, their ad spending during the previous recession period enjoyed noticeable sales growth over the following 3 years - when compared with companies that reduced or eliminated advertising during the same period.
To put it into a sports term, don't let the other team back into the game when you have a lead.
This article puts it even better than I can:
Granted, I complain a lot in this blog about the negative publicity which is mistakenly generated from within the industry. But I will admit that negative pub, such as mortgage rates rising and fewer homes being sold, does generate a significant increase in the number of consumers who will check for themselves.
Put it together, and I'm here to tell you that this is the time to increase or start advertising as much as possible. If consumers STOP seeing your name and/or your company name in the midst of the negative publicity, two things will likely happen:
1) Consumers will remember the advertisers keeping their name out there during tough times as soon as things pick up. If the rates dropped significantly this afternoon, they are not going to say "I'll wait until after the first of the year to see what happens!". They will say "I'm going to look right now and see which lenders and realty firms can help me!".
2) If you have reduced or eliminated your advertising and marketing presence, consumers could easily think that your office or company is among those which have closed their doors. You would have to spend double your previous budget to merely try to get those impressions back. And if you aren't spending now, I wouldn't count on having double the money and manpower available when the time comes.
Meanwhile, I'm pleased to learn that there are some positive efforts coming from some companies within the industry to reach consumers.
Kudos to Coldwell Banker corporate in New Jersey for compiling a list of "Major college football towns by home affordability". Great idea! This is the sort of list which will attract alumni of the more popular colleges across the country, who will want to see where their school ranks. Especially those whose football teams are having a subpar year. Gives 'em something to brag about. Of course, many are home owners.
If you are wondering, Akron, Ohio (University of Akron), was the most affordable market with an average price of $135,780. At the other end of the field ios Palo Alto, CA (Stanford University), with a $1.7 million average home price. Texas wound up with 3 of the "top" 11 areas on the list, by the way. Ft. Worth came in #6, Houston came in sixth with an average home price of $158,412, and Lubbock TX came in at #11.
Houston is a major example of the benefits of a story like this. All I have been reading and hearing about the Houston real estate market over the past six months is language not suitable to print here. If I were a CB agent or lender in the Houston area, I'd be all over this story. Finally, a positive and a fun slant.
Finally, there is the recent N.Y. Times story about the J.D. Power study of 4,300 mortgage loan applicants and their positive spin about the loan application process. Considering all of the funding and loan issues of late, this is a ray of hope.
Personally, I am already planning ways to make 2009 even more successful for my clients. But if they are not going to plan, and not planning to spend to establish or maintain a market share, the only way I can help them will probably be as a job reference in some other line of work.
Ando and Le Corbusier
4 days ago