Joseph Wilhelm started in real estate nine years ago, and the industry has changed a lot since then. He’s noticed the biggest change is how buyers find out about a new property. Previously, Joseph would get direct calls from clients based on signs he had posted at properties he listed. Now, that has diminished and he hardly gets any calls. Almost everything comes in online.
Joseph tells us, “I have signs up advertising homes for sale, but it’s rare that I ever get calls. What people do, is they go online. Nowadays, if they see a house, they put in the zip code and the house pops right up! People prefer to go that route instead of making a call to get information on a house.
When I started in real estate, the iPhone was just becoming big. Prospective buyers and sellers didn't have the accessibility to home sale data in the palm of their hands like they do today. Now it’s so easy to pull up home info while people are just out for their morning walks. There are even apps available to make it even easier!”
When Joseph heard about Opcity from his broker, he was enthusiastic to try an app as a way to receive real estate introductions. Much like prospective buyers have access to home information in the palm of their hands, Joseph is now able to receive new online referrals and follow up with his existing clients on the go.
“It’s nice to have an app attached to these leads so I can go in and check the status of them really easily on my phone.”
However, Joseph knew the convenience of the Opcity app did not guarantee instant success.
On average, online real estate leads have a really low chance of turning into an actual closed deal. While it’s convenient for consumers to be able to check home sale information on their phones and request more information from an agent, it’s equally as convenient for non-serious buyers to submit their info as well. For every serious buyer, there are 99 tire kickers out there.
And we would know! Opcity’s team of ISAs make more than 1.8 million calls every month to people who submit their information on various property websites, and screens out those tire kickers to only connect relevant prospects to the agents in our network.
So while Opcity sets our agents up for success, closing a real estate deal still takes hard work (as everyone who has ever been involved in a real estate transaction would know!). Joseph remained optimistic and was persistent in his follow up with the referrals he received from Opcity. That paid off in a big way. Joseph received 40 warm introductions from Opcity, and just closed his first deal for $3.75M!
That deal made Joseph Opcity’s top closer by transaction volume in October 2018. No easy feat; there are 45,000 agents who use Opcity.
“It’s nice to have something like Opcity where you’re not paying for leads upfront, you only pay when you have a deal. This has let me take more referrals and build relationships with more potential buyers without the upfront expense. Closing online real estate leads is tough, so this helps me have the most chance of success.”
One of Joseph’s key to success with this deal was patience. In this instance, the client was out of state and lived two hours away.
He said, “It took a good month and a half to get them under contract, in which time we saw seven or eight different homes. I took them through the same home four to five times before they ultimately moved forward with the contract. During that time together we built great rapport.”
Joseph kept the couple engaged by establishing himself as a point of contact and sending personalized notes by snail mail after their meetings.
Sending handwritten notes is his personal touch that goes a long way with online leads.
“Sending something in the mail really makes a difference and sets me apart from other agents who communicate solely through text or email. Here and there I would even throw my card in and the buyer would sometimes text me back to say it was a nice touch.”
Smartphones and the apps that come with them have brought so much change to the industry. Agents and consumers connect online which can really sacrifice the ability to build meaningful connections with clients. Agents like Joseph Wilhelm demonstrate that while the initial connection may be made online, building a personal relationship is what matters most.
Joseph Wilhelm is a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach in Ocean City, NJ. He specializes in executive homes, listing and selling, and million dollar+ properties. Areas served include: Avalon, Margate, Margate City, Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Stone Harbor, Townsends Inlet, Ventnor, Ventnor City, Ventnor Heights