A real estate agent talking with a family in front of a home for sale.

How to target buyers and sellers — and turn them into clients 

Seek genuine connections, coaches say, and embrace the four P’s: parents, passions, partnerships and passages (from one life stage to the next).

June 10, 2023
4 minutes

Key points:

  • Families with kids of all ages can be fruitful leads if you know how to attract them.
  • Choose a demographic that aligns with your passions and interests, and figure out how you can be of service.
  • Investing in your community and nurturing your database takes time but pays long-term dividends.

At the height of the pandemic the answer to who was buying and selling a home was easy: Everyone.

But with interest rates up and the pandemic hangover in full effect, the hunt for likely buyers — and especially sellers — is a lot tougher than it was just months ago.

Reports like this recent Zillow survey can help. It shows that 35% of homeowners with two or more children plan to sell in the next three years, compared to just 11% of homeowners with no children. So reaching parents is a solid strategy. But how? And what other demographics are you possibly overlooking as you look to build your database into a client base?

"If you pick your demographic, ask yourself, 'What is it that matters to them, and what service can I provide that is needed and useful," advises Keller Williams MAPS (Mega Achievement Productivity Systems) coach Leah Lemberg.

For some of her coaching clients, that might mean serving on local PTAs or other community groups affiliated with schools or youth sports. The key, she says, is to get involved with groups that you already have an affinity with.

"I don't have kids. That doesn't mean I can't help people with kids, of course. But when I'm looking at where to build relationships the question should be, 'What is important to me? What am I already passionate about?'"

It's not just parents of young kids who may want to make a move

David Romero, executive vice president of growth at Realty One, says folks on the other end of the parenting spectrum are great prospects for agents. During the pandemic, "a lot of people moved back home with their parents," he said. "It used to be that kids just couldn't wait to move out. Now they realize they've got a good gig."

The parents, however, may be eager to move the kids out and downsize themselves, which can turn into a chain of sales. "The kids have been saving money during this time. Now they're ready to buy. And who's helping them with the down payment? Their parents."

Romero said agents can target those families in creative ways. "You can track people who have equity and do campaigns: 'Parents, are your kids still living with you? Have you thought about helping your kid buy a home?'"

And even if they don't have adult children at home, people with significant home equity or paid-off mortgages are not as sensitive to interest rate hikes, he said.

Pets are another motivating factor for moves, especially as some HOAs become stricter about them, Romero said. "One agent that goes to a dog park, she actually sponsors the dog park and there's a little sign up with her name," he said. "People want to work with other pet lovers."

Build connections by investing in your community

Events that cater to a specific demographic can also help agents make connections. Partnering with groomers or shelters for pet adoption events, sponsoring a popsicle truck at a youth event or helping sponsor a large yard sale can bring you leads.

"Have a community yard sale and provide a dump truck," Lemberg said. "It kind of gives you a feel for who in the neighborhood might be cleaning out in preparation for a move." But most importantly, "it is just an opportunity to be in front of your people," she said.

Life transitions — marriages, births, divorces and deaths — will always be a major factor in home sales, so partnering with other professionals in those industries can be a big boon, says Keller Williams MAPS coach Jessica Wimmer.

"When I was really young … I would go to bridal shows and I would go to a cake person or a photographer, and if they were having a drawing I'd pay for half of their booth costs just to get the names," she said.

Taking the time to become a trusted contact for professionals like divorce or probate attorneys and nursing home directors can also pay dividends, she said.

Most important, says Wimmer, is nurturing the people in your database with meaningful communication. "It's a boring task to develop a database," she said. "But your database is going to be everything in the market ahead. …If you're passing that up to go chase internet leads you'll lose the battle."

Whatever your target demographic, give it time, Lemberg advises. "Don't jump from thing to thing to thing," she said. "Pick a budget, run the play and then evaluate what's working and what's not. … We can make it really really complicated, or we can create a plan and follow it and see what works."

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