This article appeared courtesy of Jon Bell in the
June Edition of the Home Building News
When Cindy Belgarde, a broker with Summa Real Estate, first got into the business 12 years ago, she didn’t pay for any marketing. Instead, in those early days she relied almost solely on referrals.
But times — and the market — have changed.
“That’s fine for a while,” Belgarde said, “but after a while, especially if it’s your sole business, you have to do something more.”
For Belgarde, that meant paying for some marketing. She started advertising through Zillow’s preferred agent program, and so far, the results have been promising.
“I’m getting a lot of leads and having a lot of success with that,” Belgarde said. “I feel like these days, you get what you pay for, and I’m seeing some nice results.”
The real estate market today is much different than it was just a few years ago. Inventory is low, demand is high, interest rates are still way down and consumer confidence is on the rise. As a result of the shifting marketplace, those in the real estate industry have found themselves adjusting to the new realities and tweaking their approach to stay on top.
“The market has really been improving,” said Cindy Oja, a broker with John L. Scott Real Estate. “We have more buyers, more sellers coming on and even the market for homes over $1 million has improved tremendously.”
The real estate in Portland has indeed picked up steam, but it’s still a tight market here. According to the latest Regional Multiple Listing Service numbers, the inventory of unsold homes was down to just under three months. In Portland’s Overlook neighborhood in April, not a single home was available for sale, according to a report in the Portland Business Journal. Most economists and real estate industry professionals agree that a five- to six-month supply is an ideal level for a steady market. RMLS also noted that the average sale price for April was $332,600, which was up nearly 10 percent over a year ago and a little more than 1 percent over the prior month.
Nancy Gregg, a principal broker with Realty Trust Group, has found her particular niche to be fairly tight as well. Primarily focused on finding lots and land for builders, she said not only is supply tight, but sellers have been taking a hard stance on the selling price, too.
“It’s very difficult to find lots, and when you do, the sellers have really developed a hard attitude on pricing,” Gregg said. “They’ve read the articles and heard in the media that builders are having a hard time finding lots, that the urban growth boundary isn’t moving out far enough, so the pricing is higher than some builders can justify paying. You have to build a product that fits into a neighborhood and meets a certain price point, so there’s only so much that you can pay for the land.”
For the sector of the market she’s in, Gregg said she doesn’t do a ton of traditional marketing, but instead has been hitting sites like Craigslist and For Sale By Owner hard to find buildable land.
“Anything I can do to find lots,” she said. “It’s gotten a lot more difficult over the past three years and it’s not necessarily good for my business. But I chose this path because I love the creative process and it’s what I love doing.”
Oja said she does some print advertising in luxury home magazines and The Oregonian, but only for higher end homes, usually those priced at $1 million or more. She doesn’t do much on social media, but she said others in her office are more active on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. One reason Oja doesn’t use social media much is because of the way other sites share her listings for her.
“I do a listing and it gets grabbed by so many other sites and virtual offices like Redfin and RE/MAX,” she said.
Marketing has also gotten much more technologically advanced. Oja said Jon L. Scott’s mobile app has become a popular way for prospective homebuyers to scope out properties.
“People used to drive back to their office or homes with an address written on a piece of paper and then try to find out whatever information they could,” she said. “Not, you can get all that information instantly. It makes it much more competitive because people know what’s out there immediately.”
One thing that’s not changed when it comes to real estate marketing is the idea of making the best impression. Oja said no matter what kind of marketing she’s doing, she always makes sure everything looks top-notch.
“I make sure that I’m putting my best foot forward from the beginning,” she said. “I think it’s so important to make sure that everything is dialed in to perfection from the start.”