How Agents Can Expand Their Territory

Dawn

 

 

By: Dawn Pfaff, President of State Listings, Inc.

 

 

 

Agents who say they’re looking to expand their territory generally mean they’re looking to make more money. This can be done by expanding their geographic sphere, but with a little creativity, it’s possible to expand their territory by expanding their categorical sphere as well. Expanding geographically is the most obvious but expanding categorically means broadening the types of properties you list and sell, and services offered. For example, residential real estate agents could consider targeting commercial properties, rentals or even property management opportunities. Brokers who know value and are good at valuations can generate extra revenue performing BPOs (Broker Price Opinions) or appraisals. Property management for vacation rentals and Airbnb homes is another avenue for a steady revenue stream. And don’t forget about referrals!

Join a larger network

There are various ways that agents can expand their territory. They could join a Statewide MLS, or even a Nationwide MLS, such as My State MLS. My State MLS is a nationwide real estate listing platform and multiple listing service where agents and brokers can list all property types including residential, commercial, land, multi-unit, manufactured on leased land, mobile homes, business rental, seasonal/vacation rental and more.

Joining an MLS with a larger service area opens up new markets; real estate licenses cover the entire state, but traditional MLSs focus on smaller markets. Some brokers may be skeptical because the mantra in real estate is “you need to know your local market,” but many agents do know the area outside of their local MLS. Oftentimes another market can just be a few miles away if you live on the border of the MLS coverage area. Some agents may think they need to join all of the surrounding local MLSs in order to be competitive and expand their territory, but that isn’t the case.

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10 years ago, I started the first and only Statewide MLS in New York because I had to join seven MLSs just to appraise in the area that I covered. Once NY State MLS was established, our team wanted to expand our footprint, so we created My State MLS. Now agents are able to list anywhere they are licensed. I met a Florida real estate agent who works in the Southeast part of the state in Palm Beach County, but she spends a lot of time in Naples on the west coast of Florida. So, this agent is very well versed in both geographic areas. Because of that, she is expanding her team to the Naples area to do business during the time she spends there. This agent is a member of My State MLS and will use it to help her break into the new territory.

It can also be helpful to join a team that has a large geographic footprint. When joining a team, you get support from the other team members who may have connections in other areas, but they may be too busy to handle all of the work. This is a good way to use your resources and break into a new area.

If you live on a state border, you can get a second license for an adjoining state. Oftentimes these agents will need to find a new broker who is also licensed in that state, unless your current broker is also licensed in that state or you are a broker. If an agent wants to get multi-state licenses, they should check with the licensing division for states that have reciprocity agreements. When a state allows reciprocity for licensees it is much easier to become licensed in that state.

Take advantage of referrals

Referrals are a great way to expand your territory and make more money. Both getting and giving referrals are great ways to make money. The best way to get referrals from other agents is to connect with agents around the country, especially in areas where homeowners in your area tend to move to or move from frequently. For example, many New Yorkers end up moving to Florida, and plenty of Floridians have friends and family in New York who may need an agent. Florida agents can be the first to hear about new buyers heading to their area when they build relationships with those New York agents. In exchange, they can refer any of their clients’ family members to their New York counterparts. This increases business for both agents, as well as helping them make some side income through referral fees.

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Become an agent that gives referrals

It is possible to become an agent that collects leads and refers them to other agents. First, it is important to have a good online presence. Having a well-designed website that allows you to collect leads and is easy to navigate is key. Social media presence is also essential. You can also hire a marketing company to help you with designing a website and promoting it once it’s complete, or you can set up your website by yourself if you know how. Make a budget for what you can spend on marketing and stick to that budget. Once you have a good website and online presence you can collect leads from your IDX website that may not be in the area you work in. When you get these leads, don’t discard them, find a real estate agent in that area and refer it out. You can even be proactive in getting these leads by advertising your website in a larger footprint. Since these leads were captured off of listings, they will typically be buyer leads, however, that buyer may also have a house to sell. Don’t forget that when people move there are two sides to that move. To expand on lead collection even further you need an IDX with a greater footprint. That can be obtained by joining multiple MLSs or one very large MLS, like the nationwide MLS, My State MLS. Referral leads that you give out should be warm leads. Warm leads are when you call the lead and make sure they are really ready to buy or sell. You have to have a good relationship with the lead in order for them to trust you on the referral, so make sure you help them as much as possible before referring the lead out.

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Become an agent that receives referrals

Most brokerages have referral programs. These programs come at a cost, but the ROI can be worth it. Some brokerages that are nationwide have their own national referral program, but if you are with an independent brokerage there are still many resources available to get referrals. There are many different referral networks to join. If your broker doesn’t already have a built-in network from their franchises, independent brokers join referral services like Leading RE or Referral Exchange. When you join a referral service you can expect to pay out a percentage of your commission to the referring agent.  There is no standard fee, so it is possible to negotiate these fees and terms. Usually, the referral is paid out after the closing with no upfront payment. Make sure you have a referral form, which can be found inside your MLS.

It is also possible to become a referring agent by capturing leads in a larger territory. This can be accomplished by putting up websites that have listings on them that are outside of your territory. If you are a good marketer and know how to put up a website with good SEO or if you are willing to pay for internet advertising, you can capture a considerable number of leads from outside of your main area.  Don’t disregard these leads, they are valuable. You can find real estate agents that are willing to take leads on referrals in many different places.

When thinking about expanding categorically in terms of referrals you can join affiliate marketing programs that pay residuals monthly when you recommend customers and other affiliates. There are brokerages, mortgage companies, tech companies and more that have affiliate marketing programs.

Finding agents to send and receive referrals

If you want to send and receive referrals, there are Facebook groups such as “Lab Coat Agents” and “Raising The Bar in Real Estate” where you can “friend request” agents all over the country. If you are a member of a large MLS, the MLS may have agents in the area where you are referring buyers.

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When brokers think of referrals, they generally think of referring their clients to another agent in another territory or selling category (for example, residential vs. commercial), but there is another way to think about referrals. Affiliate marketing referral programs is a way to make recurring monthly income. Affiliate marketing is a form of marketing in which a business provides commission to the affiliate for each new customer that the affiliate brings to uy the business’s products or services. The business that sells the product or service pays referral fees to the affiliates that bring new customers. There are also programs that pay affiliates for signing up other affiliates, so it is not just about selling a service or product but also about helping companies build relationships. There are many different types of companies connected to real estate that have affiliate marketing referral companies. My State MLS also has an affiliate referral program. Mortgage brokers are also starting to get into affiliate referral marketing, and since the mortgage and real estate sales industry are closely linked, you should think about joining an affiliate marketing program in a related industry.