This post is the first in a new series: Industry-specific content marketing tips. If there’s a specific niche you’d like me to address, just comment below or email me at [email protected].
I chose real estate as the first post in my “Content Marketing for X” series simply because, lately, my social media feeds have been full of content advice for realtors. But it’s all been very high-level stuff, introducing the idea of blogs, social media, etc. And I think most realtors are aware of those things by now, even if they’re not using them. Nonetheless, the actual act of content creation can be difficult, especially if you’re operating without the resources of a huge agency backing you up. So I wanted to get both more specific and more practical. Assuming that you already know that you can use online content to grow your real estate business, what the heck do you write about?
It starts with ridding yourself of the curse of knowledge.
The curse of knowledge
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for experts in any field is the curse of knowledge. In other words, you forget that there was a time when you didn’t know what you know now. (Kind of like forgetting that there was a time when you didn’t know how to spell the word “dog.”)
Once you escape the curse of knowledge, you’ll be able to see your blog or website as an opportunity to publish content that educates potential buyers on the things that other realtors, thanks to the curse of knowledge, assume they already know.
Your content should answer questions before they’re asked
Chart the course for first-time buyers
First-time home buyers can be intimidated by what they don’t know, and they may hesitate to call a realtor because they’re worried they’ll look stupid. (And I imagine that most realtors would rather not invest a lot of time in potential buyers only to find out they’re nowhere near ready to start the process.)
Creating content that lays out the home buying process, step by step, solves both of those problems. Buyers will be more likely to call you if your content has already taught them what to expect, and you’ll be more productive if people have already done their initial homework by the time they call you. Along those lines, possible blog topics could include:
- Is your credit rating high enough to qualify for a mortgage? If not, how can you improve it?
- Why it’s a good idea to get pre-approved before you start your search
- How does a realtor make money?
- Does a realtor take you to see available homes, or do you provide a list of homes you’re interested in?
- What happens after you make an offer on a house?
- What happens at a closing?
- What do home inspectors do, and who pays them?
- Pros and cons of looking at homes that are under contract
- Pros and cons of buying a “for sale by owner” home
- Home insurance 101
- What basic homeowners insurance doesn’t cover (earthquake, flood, etc.)
- What you need to know about homeowner associations
- What additional fees you should expect?
- Shopping for a mortgage
This is just a sampling of topics you can address once you escape the curse of knowledge and stop assuming that potential buyers know all of the things that seem so obvious to you. And this kind of content is a two-for-one deal, because, by educating buyers, you’re making your own job easier.
Turn show-stoppers into easy fixes
Where you see things that can be fixed with little more than a trip to Lowe’s and a small investment of time, some buyers see show-stoppers. I know, because I’m one of them.
I’m what I tend to refer to as “visually challenged.” I’m one of the .000000001% of the population that doesn’t process images faster than words. When my kids show me pictures from Instagram, I often have to get them to describe what I’m looking at before I can “see” it. It’s kind of like that Friends episode where Rachel couldn’t see her baby on the ultrasound.
In other words, I’m a realtor’s worst nightmare. I can see only what’s there, not the potential hiding behind it.
My husband is the exact opposite. Not only can he envision the potential, he can do most of the work himself. Throughout our home-buying adventures, it hasn’t been uncommon for me to see something as a show-stopper only to have him look at me like I was nuts.
Most people fall somewhere in the middle. They can see the potential, but they think getting there is far harder than it really is. Since my husband is a master at maintenance and renovation, he gets frequent calls from people who want to pick his brain. I know the questions they ask him, so trust me when I tell you I’m not alone. Prospective buyers may turn down a home over things that are really easy to fix, and only realtors who know about the curse of knowledge can keep the home in play.
That presents realtors with a huge opportunity when it comes to content. One of the best ways to reassure nervous buyers is to let them know that some of the challenges they see as insurmountable aren’t that big of a deal.
- Light fixtures and ceiling fans: That four-tiered glass chandelier in what your buyers would be using as a playroom can be replaced with a little time and a few basic tools. Sure, you have to know how to turn the power off, and there are some costs involved, but it’s no reason to reject a house you otherwise like.
- Switch plates: It may never occur to would-be buyers that ugly brass switch plates (or those covered with characters from annoying kiddie cartoons) can be vanquished so easily. Again, you have to how to turn the power off (and how to make sure it’s really off at the switch), and you need some basic tools, but it’s a job most homeowners can tackle.
- Paint: Some people just can’t get around a neon-orange kitchen or lime-green master bedroom. Use your content to remind them that it’s just paint. And painting doesn’t have to be overwhelming. My husband can knock out an average room — with professional quality — in about an hour. I’m not suggesting that everybody can do it that well and that quickly, but everybody can do it. Ugly paint is no reason to just say “no” to a house.
- Landscaping challenges: A lot of landscaping challenges are easily overcome (pulling weeds, for example). Others are a bit more challenging — like a house that has gorgeous trees but bare spots on the lawn where grass can’t grow because of the roots and shade. Things like river rock and gravel, accented with a big stone or two, can eliminate that problem as well as a lot of yard maintenance.
- Kitchen hardware: Kitchen (and even bathroom) cabinets that look a bit dated can be rejuvenated simply by replacing the hardware. If your buyers can handle a screwdriver, they can give their cabinets an immediate update.
- Trendy features: Your buyers want a kitchen with an island that’s a different color than the cabinets, but you don’t have one of those in your inventory? Then teach them how easy it is to paint the cabinets under their island a contrasting color. Again, that’s no reason to turn down a house.
Fill your blog with content that addresses the questions inexperienced or first-time buyers may not even know to ask. Give them the knowledge that will keep them from dismissing a home for issues that can be fixed with little more than a trip to Lowe’s and a small investment of time.
Help buyers help themselves via community resources
Providing a list of community resources can turn your website into a one-stop-shopping hub for potential buyers. Consider providing links to things like:
- Local ordinances
- Contractors (only those you can vouch for personally)
- School websites
- Local news outlets
- Community forums like Nextdoor where they can ask questions of current residents
- Links to incentives like tax credits or private grants for buyers who make energy-efficient updates to the home they buy
- Home remodeling blogs
- Home decorating/interior design blogs
Providing a list of external resources increases your value and gives buyers who might still be skeptical an opportunity to verify the things you’ve told them.
Content marketing can help realtors grow their own customers, establish credibility, increase their own relevance and value, and make new buyers comfortable enough to embark on their first home-buying journey.
I started with first-time buyers because, when my husband and I bought our first home together, I was surprised by what I didn’t know I didn’t know. If a different customer segment is more profitable for you, then start there. Other customer segments may have different content needs — retirees, for example, might want to read tips on downsizing. And buyers interested in rental properties would have their own set of concerns.
Let me wrap up by challenging a common assumption: The person who writes your real estate content needs to be a local. Maybe…but maybe not. Locals will certainly have better insights into local concerns than a writer on the other side of the country. On the other hand, locals also come with built-in preconceptions and biases, and those can influence their writing in ways that aren’t readily apparent. I can’t give you a definitive answer, but it’s something think about if you decide to outsource content creation.
Need help with your content? Just get in touch. I’d love to chat about how we can work to grow your business.