Real estate may be a second career for New Jersey agent Mary Petti, but helping people is second nature for this former pharmacist. Mary credits much of her success to knowing how to engage with people and to the exposure she receives on Trulia – particularly in the Q&A section where she answers questions from buyers and sellers in her area.
Mary has made answering questions on Trulia Voices a daily habit and it’s working. “I honestly can say that 90% of my leads come from Trulia ads and answering questions in the Q&A section,” she says. “I have had customers tell me they have ’followed’ my answers before contacting me.”
“Currently I have 3 contracts in the works, all scheduled to close in January, and all three buyers were from Trulia,” says Petti.
Petti gets new question email alerts each morning and checks them while drinking her coffee or throughout the day on her Android phone.
If you’re like Mary and want to help new buyers get their bearings, or if you want to learn from her success, check out these tips.
How to Make the Most of Trulia Voices:
1. Be Honest
“Be as honest as possible,” says Mary. “Sometimes I will say ‘I’m pretty sure this is the case, but if I’m wrong let me know.’ I know I’m not the be all to end all.”
2. Stick to Your Location!
“Only answer in certain areas that you know very well if it’s about a specific location,” Petti counsels. “You shouldn’t answer a question about a property when you don’t have access to the MLS where people are inquiring about.”
3. Don’t Answer Every Question!
“If you’re not sure of the answer, don’t answer the question,” says Petti. “Sometimes if a question is really out of my realm or out of my area I won’t answer, and sometimes there are so many answers that are redundant. After a while why bother to repeat it? There are also questions that a Realtor should not be answering, and answering those is a waste of time.”
When asked what questions she does answer, Mary explains, “I answer anything that I think is a question that’s going to help and that I know I can answer with a reasonable amount of certainty. I answer when I know that I have something valid to contribute.”
4. Answer the Question & Don’t Self Promote!
“Don’t make it a forum to promote yourself or give a non-answer,” says Petti. “Answer the question that was asked,” she advises. “If you want to add more information later, fine, but a lot of agents really don’t answer the question asked the first time. Everybody is busy, and if someone asks what color the sky is, don’t say ‘well sometimes it’s gray and sometimes it’s pink’. It’s blue!”
5. Be Respectful!
Petti warns against inappropriate interactions with potential clients and peers.
She goes on to say, “I try not to be sarcastic when people ask silly questions and try not to be argumentative. Arguing with other agents is just not the way to go. We’re in a competitive market and don’t need any infighting.”
That attitude has helped Petti build relationships with other agents. “I’ve made connections with other Realtors who I’ve received referrals from, and have given to them as well.”
6. Give Something Extra!
“I try to supply people with additional information and links to websites where they can go to do their own research as well, particularly if people ask about places with no crime,” she says. “I can’t really say where’s a good place, but I can point them to a website where they can get that information.”
Thanks in part to her success on Trulia, Mary has given up print advertising. She says, “90% of people start their search out on the internet, and there’s so many agents out there that [we all] need to do something to set [ourselves] apart. People do read the questions and the blogs when they’re serious about purchasing. They ask questions and look to see who is answering completely and honestly.”
And when asked why she is happy to give advice to buyers and sellers who aren’t necessarily looking for an agent, Petti is quick to answer, “The more informed people are, the better it is for everyone involved. Some people have no clue and it’s helpful for the whole transaction to move, especially in this market when getting a contract to close is difficult on a good day.”