The Real Deal ZA
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The Real Deal ZA

What’s your (real estate) frequency?

In the US, there are now more realtors than homes for sale. A staggering 130,000 people have joined the industry since the start of the pandemic. In South Africa I’m seeing a lot of new faces too, and with real estate sales recovering much faster than anyone expected (largely fuelled by record low interest rates, so everyone is posting record sales), the seller’s market puts all the focus on winning new mandates.

That made me think: how do you stand out as a new agent … land mandates and attract the right buyers, when everyone tells you that “it takes many years to build a good referral business“.

This is where it is critical for (new) agents to join the right team and work under the guidance of experts (not the ones who call themselves experts, the real ones who can show you their sales record). Whether you join an independent or franchise company makes no difference, as I pointed out in this post. Interview the broker (not the other way round), and make sure you will get personal guidance. Look past the brand and WHO will be your mentor.

The alternative is to fall into mediocracy and become an average agent, that random people choose to sell their home. Average agents also follow average approaches to market themselves and become cookie-cutter salespeople:

The misconception that real estate agents are just salespeople is like that — like an original sin at the heart of our industry ~ Joe Rand

The spray-and-pray approach

I would estimate 80% of agents go for the spray-and-pray marketing approach: target as many people as possible through as many channels as possible, and hope someone will notice you, praying your hard work pays off.

It’s the easy way out. A more focussed approach takes lots of effort in the research and planning department. A spray-and-pray approach lacks ROI tracking in most cases and is inefficient marketing spend.

Blurred offers

If you want to thrive (and not just survive), the days of the spray-and-pray approach are over. The pandemic has amplified the need for a more personal approach. I feel the service offer from most established brands has somehow become blurred, commodified, to the point where the only differentiation (apart from their logo) is on their business side: the commission structure and benefits offered to agents.

Shiny logos and flashy marketing banners aside, real estate is still a recruitment business for most bigger brands. Some thrive on signing up as many agents as possible, cashing in on desk fees, while the top 20% of agents carry the operational costs of the office. The consumer is faced with choice overload, as no one screams “I’m different! I’m the one!”

Cut through the noise

Those average marketing efforts are just noise in the eyes of the consumer. Lots of noise. Most people are overloaded with thousands of daily marketing messages.

Your fancy banner disappears as quick as a thumb scroll, into a black hole of hundreds of other similar ads.

Your goal is to make people stop the scroll. Your service or product offer should be clear.

Just broadcasting is not enough, you need to home into the frequency of your ideal client. Once you see it works well and the deals start flowing in, make small incremental improvements to make your distinct signal even stronger. Your advantage is your own personal brand. There has never been a better time to broadcast your message for free to thousands of home buyers and sellers on social media platforms. How was that even possible 20–30 years ago?

Replace the noise with a more niche approach to real estate. Identify what you are good at and home in on that specific target market. Grow your referral business organically and you won’t need the big-budget spray-and-pray campaigns of your competitors. The secret is to focus less on the brand, and more on you since you are the brand.

Too many businesses focus on numbers, your biggest competitor probably does. So why not put a twist on it and look at it from a consumer perspective in a different way, very much as Avis has done:

So what’s your (real estate) frequency?

Who do you appeal to? Do you specialise in a specific segment of properties, specific buyers or seller services, or have some unique product you offer or community service that you tie in with every sale? Maybe the answer lies in the way the world around us is changing.

The pandemic has changed real estate. More people are working from home, people need more space, gardens, and many are trading in big city life for quiete coastal towns.

Are you reading the signs and adapting? Chances are you, and your future clients will probably retire much later:

Before our eyes, the world is undergoing a massive demographic transformation. In many countries, the population is getting old. Very old. Globally, the number of people age 60 and over is projected to double to more than 2 billion by 2050, and those 60 and over will outnumber children under the age of 5

You need to broadcast your message and value at a specific frequency in order for the right buyer or seller to pick it up. You cannot broadcast on all channels, you’ll burn yourself out and most likely, end up competing against commission alone.

I’ve taken this photo in 2021 on top of a water tower in Bela Bela, visiting my parents

For this reason, I think it will be a long time before we see the end of boutique independent brokerages that offer specialised services. In larger offices, I see more teams forming that work as specialised, high-performance units within a bigger structure.

Points to ponder

  • Decide who you want to work with, analyse your demographics: distressed properties, 1st-time buyers, investors, expired listings, FSBO market etc.
  • Pinpoint your passion and make sure people see it in your Instagram stories, blog posts, and general marketing messages.
  • Choose a specific geographic area: unless you can clone yourself.
  • Get the relevant designations in a specific niche and get certified.
  • Make sure people know what you specialise in, this needs to reflect on your biography including social profiles, and your website

In my company, we have a frequency too. It was not something we’ve established immediately, it has grown over the years as we’ve fine-tuned the business. We’ve realised that we are not the perfect match for old-school brands. We are for forwarding thinking innovators and high performance (tech savvy) teams that need a more personalised approach and flexible platforms to help them achieve their goals, and showcase their uniqueness, their real estate frequency, to the world.

Go out, find your frequency!

What’s your frequency? (Yeah I’m a big REM fan too)

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Adriaan Grové

Adriaan Grové

I’m the CEO of, I love working with my remote team to solve real estate problems. Questions everything.