Homeowners Are A Prime Niche

Why? There's no telling how the HVCC will actually be implemented, or how it will change the landscape of the appraisal industry. Plus, homeowners are wondering how the current market situation is affecting their home's value and if they should be worried. So, I'd tap the homeowner niche like I just found oil. I've yet to hear from an appraiser who's doing this. If you are, I'd love to hear how you're approaching it and what results you're getting.

You hear all the time, "you should be doing XYZ." But rarely does anyone leave the theory behind and actually explain the specifics. Here are the first three things I'd do, and specifically how I would do them.


1. Print 200 door hangers at kinkos
Before I leave an inspection, I'd take 10 minutes and walk up and down the block and put a door hanger on every house. It would have my company name, contact information, web and e-mail. It would look professional and have my logo. And on it, I would clearly say something to the effect of: "Your home is your biggest investment. Do you know what it's currently worth? I can help. I've been appraising homes in this area for X years. I can provide you with an expert appraisal, and explain to you the recent trends in the real estate market and how they're affecting your home's value. Contact me today or visit my website to learn more."

That will cost less than $100. I'm no mathematician, but if I get one new order, I made a good return on my investment. Plus, people talk, so I won't be surprised if I get referrals as a result.


2. Mail the "Current Residents" of the homes I've previously appraised
If I've been appraising for even five years, I probably have several thousand reports in my database. I don't know who lives there, but I've got their address. I'd mail them a letter or postcard saying, "Our local real estate market has been in a constant state of fluctuation for several years. You know what you paid, but do you know what your house is worth right now? It's your biggest investment. I've appraised your home before. I'm an expert in your area and can tell you its current market value. Call me or visit my website to schedule a time for me to come out and appraise your home again." With printing and postage, I'll spend in the neighborhood of $.80 per letter. So I'm going to be very specific whom I target. I'm going to look at my market and see what window of time it had the wildest period of pricing. If that was 2003-2005, I'm going to pull a list of those addresses from that time period. I'm going to mail them that letter on my letterhead in an envelope with my logo on it, and I think I'll get a good return on that investment.


3. Hook up with a REALTOR®
I've got a good friend who's a REALTOR. I'm going to mention to him that before listing a home, he should recommend to his sellers that they get a drive-by appraisal. He's a good agent, knows Internet values are bogus and wants to do his clients right because his business is built on referrals. I'm going to remind him that his CMA is only as good as the data he has available, which isn't as good as what I can provide, and that a drive-by is an inexpensive way for his seller to get a factual idea of what they can expect to ask. Again, he and I have had a good working relationship and he wants to give his clients a warm fuzzy from choosing him as their agent. It costs him nothing, his clients are confident, and I just tapped into a new niche that can provide several more jobs a month. Everybody wins.

In regard to the door hangers and the "Current Resident" campaigns I mentioned above, let me continue being specific. To do both of those, I would use our XSellerate marketing system. XSellerate's print library has door hanger templates that merge in your logo, company name and contact information. They're customizable, professional looking, in PDF format, and you can buy the door hanger paper from Office Depot and print them yourself. Or, you can have them printed at Kinkos on a color laser printer.

Also, you can export addresses from WinTOTAL to XSellerate. From there you can print mailing labels, and the XSellerate library has three "Current Resident" letters and postcards you can use. Or, you can use the provided letters as templates and make your own, and still print the mailing labels.

What I've outlined above are easy ways to tap into a niche that's completely outside any new regulations in the mortgage lending business. And while no one knows how things will shake out over the next year, expanding your business and your mindset to include marketing to homeowners just makes good sense. And we're the only ones who had the foresight to develop the tools to help you do it.

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