“20 Minutes of Successful Niche Secrets – EPISODE 36,”
With Peter See, where we discuss targeting the Move-Up Market
Glenn: Hi! It’s Glenn McQueenie, and welcome back to my 25-minute Success Series Podcast. My special guest today is Peter See from Keller Williams Energy in beautiful Oshawa, ON. So Peter, how are you doing today?
Peter: I’m doing great, Glenn! Just loving this weather.
Glenn: Yeah! Well thanks a million just for taking some time out to join me on this call. Before we get started, for the people listening, just tell them a little bit about you – how long you’ve been in the business, and a little bit about where your business is now. And then we can talk about where you want it to go.
Peter: Okay. Yeah. Well I’m almost seven years in the business. I started in March of 2011, so just moving along on a better pace now than I have been in the past. Last year I had a very good year. I was on a bit of a rollercoaster there the first few years in business. (It’s a common story). This year I’m on track to do better than last year. Last month, August, I had a great month. I did three deals. I’ve got four listings at the moment. Things are moving in the right direction, but there are some things that are missing.
Glenn: Okay. So where do you get most of your business from now? Where’s most of your lead generation?
Peter: I’m a door knocker. I get most of my business from that, and from being present in the community. I meet a lot of people, actually. I work out of a coffee shop. I’m very social that way, so I see a lot of people out and about and they’re finally at that point now that they trust me. I’m getting business coming to me from that kind of approach as well, but I would say most of the business I’ve done over the years has been directly from door-knocking.
Glenn: Okay. So last, say, 12 months, what percentage would you say door knocking is, compared to coffee shop or sphere or other leads?
Peter: Oh, I would say 70%.
Glenn: Awesome. Okay. And then what’s the average price in the neighbourhood you’re working in that you’re knocking on the doors?
Peter: I work mostly in Pickering. I grew up here in Pickering. I’ve been in Pickering since ’66, so I try and stick to what I know. That’s part of my script when I talk to people. There’s nobody that really knows it better than I do because I’ve lived here for so long and I still know a lot of people in the area, so I use that to my advantage. I would say the average price in Pickering right now is about $800,000, and I work in all segments from townhomes to condos to the upper end as well. The upper end in Pickering now is over $2 million. The lower end in Pickering is probably around $500,000. I just sold one last month for $490,000, and that was a single detached in Bay Ridges.
Glenn: Well, things sure have changed in Pickering! For those listening, Pickering is just on the east side of Toronto. It’s part of Durham Region. I used to work at RE/MAX first in Pickering, and I started there 21 years ago. I started in Toronto earlier, but used to work the Pickering, and then of course Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, and Scarborough markets. I think my average price at that time was about $149,000, so I’m glad things are going well for you out in Pickering!
Peter: Yeah, they certainly have changed! That’s for sure.
Glenn: Crazy. So who is your perfect, dream-come-true client? If I was building a model, and I knew behind these doors tomorrow, you were going to meet someone at 1:00, 3:00, and 5:00, who is the perfect, dream-come-true client for you? Where do they live? How much is their house worth? And what’s their problem or where are they going to move to?
Peter: Well, that’s a good question. I have a lot of different types of clients that I do business with. I do business with builders. I do business with investors. I do business with homeowners. The homeowner that’s an ideal client for me is someone who knows exactly what they want if they’re a buyer – or they’re realistic, obviously, in their selling price, if they’re a seller. I’m usually pretty good at illustrating or making a case for a price in the neighbourhood, and I even offer to take clients to look at inventory that’s comparable so that they get a really good picture of what their house is worth. I do like working with builders, and I’ve done a lot of business with unlisted properties that I’ve found door knocking for people that are looking to buy.
Glenn: Okay. So we’ve got three separate niches, and they’re all fantastic. I think for the sake of this call (because we’ve got 20 minutes or so), is there one that you really wanted to go really deep on, because you love it more than the others, or it’s faster, easier, simpler, or more lucrative?
Peter: Well, the short answer to that is sellers. I’d like to have more sellers, more listings.
Glenn: Okay. And what’s the perfect listing you like to sell in Pickering? What’s the price of that perfect home that you know that if you list it, it shows well, it’s staged pretty well, it’s right in the market, it will clear fairly quickly for you?
Peter: I’d have to say somewhere in the $650-$750 range.
Glenn: Okay. And where do those people move to after you sell that $650-$750 home?
Peter: They’re either moving up, or they’re moving out. They’re moving to a bigger property – that’s probably the general rule of thumb. Or they’re getting out of the area.
Glenn: Yeah. And for those people listening that don’t really know, it’s a fairly common place that it’s a maturing marketplace in Whitby, and a lot of people are downsizing their homes. A lot bought in the ‘70s and ‘80s. They’ve raised their kids now. They’re in their sixties (mid-sixties). They’re looking to go to the Peterboroughs, right, Peter? And Lindsay, and moving out?
Peter: Yeah, that’s right. Cottages.
Glenn: Yeah, cottages. And they’re usually cashing out and usually buying at about the same price or a little bit cheaper.
Glenn: And then the other market is the people who are moving up. What price range do they move up to?
Peter: If they’re selling in that price range, they’re probably going up to the $1 million range, or $1.2 million. I’ve got several buyers right now that I’m working with that have the home that they’re looking to upsize. They want the three-car garage, and they want some of that sort of stuff.
Glenn: Okay, so if you sell their house for let’s say an average price of $700,000, and they buy for $1 million (can we just use $1 million? Or $1.2? What would be more accurate?)
Peter: Probably somewhere in between – $1.1 million would probably be more accurate.
Glenn: Okay, let’s use $1.1 then. So that’s $1.8 million in real estate volume that you’d sell. What would your average commission on that be? $40,000? $45,000?
Peter: Something like that, yeah.
Glenn: Yeah. And how many of those type of people would you need to do in the next 12 months in order for you to hit all your goals and have your best year ever?
Peter: Not very many!
Glenn: Right! That’s the thing! This is what most people don’t understand. The riches truly are in the niches. Just get so good in one market, and go really deep on it. And I’m not saying blow up the rest of your business, because it sounds like you’ve got a really good business going. You’ve got lots of income streams. It’s incredible, the focus, that if you even just started going, “Okay, just 10% or 15% of the week, I’m going to be focused on the $700,000 seller that moves to the $1.1 million, because I know every time I do one of those, that’s $40,000 or $45,000.” And you need to do ‘X’ in order to hit your goals and your stretch goals, right?
Peter: Yeah. It’s putting those two elements together that’s been the challenge for me, Glenn. I’m always getting one side of it. I miss the other side. They’ve already bought somewhere. They’ve moved out. They’ve already bought, and I get to sell their place in Pickering, so I missed out on the referral possibility. I touch a lot of business, and I’ve watched it go right by me over my career.
Glenn: Welcome to real estate!
Glenn: Haven’t we all! Well, here’s the great thing. Let me just tell you what I think has changed in the 28 years that I’ve been in the business. One is we controlled all the information and it wasn’t automated. You’ve probably heard the stories. We used to cut out the listings that came every day and put them in little books. Then we finally got these little MLS books, so we could control the purchase because we had the property. It wasn’t easy for them to jump on MLS and just go find that home. And because we did that, we could get two transactions almost all the time, because they would reach out to us when they were buying first, and then as a by-product, we would come back and sell their house. That was the traditional way that real estate was done. When I started after the shifted market, it was the opposite. You had to sell the house first and hope that they’d be able to have at least some equity left, because the market had crashed. A lot of times, we had to get the approval of the bank to sell it. I sold many homes in Pickering where the seller had to credit the bank $10,000 or $20,000 on a closing in order to buy down the interest rate from 15% to 9% just in order for the buyer to qualify to buy their house.
Glenn: That’s what we used to do on almost every home, right? So the game’s changed, and we’ve got to change with the game. I think the way you’re going to succeed in this is, instead of door knocking to get their listing, what if we started marketing to where they’re going first? And then we just started getting their listing as a natural by-product of finding the purchase? Does that make sense?
Peter: That’s an interesting idea.
Glenn: Yeah. You’re playing one game ahead of them. You’re just trying to go, “I know you’re out there looking, but I want you to put up your hand when you’re looking so that I can help you find that, and in doing so, I’ll get the back up.” This is why you’re seeing less domination by farming agents (or neighbourhood farming), because what ends up happening in neighbourhoods is they get one-offed all the time. You’ll see this listing come up on a door that you knocked a couple weeks ago by some agent you’ve never heard of because they represented them on the purchase. Does that happen to you?
Peter: Yeah, of course. You see a lot of out of town agents taking the listings in town, so you scratch your head about that. Sometimes I think, why didn’t they go with the next
listing in Pickering when they had the opportunity?
Glenn: Right. So what if you created the place where people who were thinking about moving up would go to so that they could be educated and motivated? Then, as a natural by-product of you adding that value, they would put up their hand and go, “Hey, I think I need your help on this!”
Peter: Yeah. Interesting. My brother’s an agent and he works in Cobourg, and that’s pretty much what he does. He gets a lot of Internet leads for people that are looking to buy in Cobourg. His email address and his website says “See Cobourg!” and people are calling him to buy there, and then he gets their seller referral from whatever town they’re selling and coming from. So it’s kind of interesting.
Glenn: That’s it! Yeah. Maybe we should just call your brother right now and see what he’s doing! So a great thing to do would be to just focus on one neighbourhood and do a bit of a study first. What part of Pickering is the $650 to $750 seller sitting in?
Peter: Probably West Shore, Bay Ridges, Rosebank.
Glenn: Okay, so that’s the south part of Pickering on Lake Ontario, and it’s mostly bungalows and semi-bungalows.
Peter: The old E12.
Glenn: That’s right. So what would be really interesting to do would be to print off the sales between $650 and $750 over the last year. So now we know who sold. Then there are obviously some technologies you can use in order to find out where they’ve moved to, right?
Glenn: I think that research would give you the pattern flow. It would say, “Oh, 30% are going Cobourg” or “20% are going to Peterborough.” If they’re staying in Pickering and moving up, where are they typically going to go to for that $1.2 million?
Peter: If somebody’s moving from, say, West Shore or Bay Ridges and they’re going to spend $1.2 million, they’re probably moving to Rosebank to Highbush, which is the west end of Pickering.
Glenn: Yeah. So they’re coming out of the suburb into more of a mature, forested ravine setting. Is that accurate?
Glenn: And sometimes it’s newer homes, right?
Peter: Yeah, there are some newer infill homes. There’s not a lot of new development in Pickering. They’re redoing the north end of Pickering, and there’s going to be a lot of new development there. But in the south end, it’s all infill or older homes.
Glenn: Right. So what if we started offering a free list of the Top 10 Best Homes between $1 million and $1.3 million in Pickering? Free. No cost, no obligation. And create a Facebook page called “The Pickering Move-Up.” We’d have to brainstorm a bit on that, but you’ve got to go to where the fish are going, right? If someone’s going to be Googling “Pickering homes $1 million,” Google will go, “Oh, Facebook’s got good, relevant content.” It will shove it back to you. Or, you could also do Google SEO, just pay-per-click. It’s really easy. When anybody’s entering that, it could get directed over towards where you are. If you started positioning yourself as the expert on your pick of the week – “Here’s my pick of the week. This one’s $1.2 million, and it’s here and it’s got this and it’s got that” – then you start creating a membership community around it. The people who want the pick of the week, you start sending them the pick of the week. At first, they’re just going to be silently watching, but then you could start giving them really great information. “Here are my picks for the best streets to move up.” “Here’s the million dollar home mistake most people make in Pickering and how to avoid it.” Do you see where I’m coming with this? You’re really trying to almost become the BuzzFeed. Do you know what BuzzFeed is?
Glenn: They’ve got these compelling headlines and then you just get suckered into clicking on them all the time. So you have to position yourself as the person who represents where they want to go, and then by default, you get where they’re going to come from. Every time you’re knocking on the door, when someone says, “Hey, how’s the market?” instead of going, “Oh, it’s great! It’s really busy and our sales are up 9.2% (or 16%, or whatever everyone else talks about), you could say, “It’s great. I just helped one of your neighbours who had lived here for quite a few years buy their dream home over on Rosebank. It was such an interesting situation.” People love stories, right, Peter? You can tell by the coffee shop. It’s the stories that people love. “Winning formula stories” they call them, where you go, “They were able to buy this house, and everyone thought it was going to go in multiples, and it didn’t, and they were able to get it for cheaper than they thought they were able to do. But here’s the better thing! When it came to selling their place, we got multiple offers and they got $100,000 over asking, so they were able to move up to their dream home for less than they thought. And you know what? They’re so happy! That extra $100,000 they’re going to take to go on vacation or buy a timeshare in Florida.” Does that make sense?
Peter: For sure.
Glenn: Do you have questions? Do you think that would work?
Peter: Well, yeah. It’s another story to talk about, for sure. I’ve gone with the same stories all the time. Usually I work around a listing that I have, or even something that somebody else in our office has. If I don’t have anything, or nobody in our office has anything, I just talk about what’s available in the neighbourhood when I’m door knocking. That’s a different story to talk about, for sure.
Glenn: Yeah. And then what you could do is hand them the list at the door of “Peter’s top picks for Pickering homes between $1-2 million.” Another sheet you could have (most people skip Ajax now, right?) is “Peter’s top picks for Whitby.”
Glenn: “Peter’s top picks for Deer Creek” which is a golf course community, for those people listening, just north. Your offer to them could be, “Why don’t I just send you the Top 10 Best Homes in the neighbourhood?”
Glenn: Then they’ll go, “Oh, will you do that?” “Oh yeah, no cost, no obligation. I’d love to help you. Seriously, I’ll just send you them. And if you want to go out, we can go tour them. You can’t buy that day. We’re just going to go out and take a look.” That’s really the service I provide as an agent, and that’s what makes me different.
Peter: Yeah. That’s a good idea. Absolutely.
Glenn: I’m just trying to think. Could you create a guide? Google has got this stuff. It’s all over the place. But in Google, you could almost have a home seller’s guide. Or at the door, put together a mini guide that just says, “The ten things you need to know when moving up.” I don’t know what the wording is right now because we’re short on time here, but what I’m really talking about is, we have to come from contribution first. And also positioning – we position ourself as the expert in that niche, that we know so much about it that it would be ridiculous for them to even use anyone else, right?
Peter: Yeah, exactly. That’s where I’ve been trying to figure out that formula of what to do – tell you something more than just the fact that I’ve lived here for so long and I know it. You’ve got to have a little more substance behind it, for sure.
Glenn: Yeah. Dean Jackson, who I think is one of the best real estate marketers around, came out with this (I’m sure you can download it, because I think it’s a free download) booklet called “The Room-by-Room Review for your home.” So your second offer at the door can be, “One of the other services I provide is a Room-by-Room Review, and that’s really where we just go through every room and we just tell you what needs to get done in order for you to get the most money for your home, because we often find that people will go and find their dream home, and they weren’t even looking. They went into an Open House, and by Sunday night, they’ve bought a new home, and they’ve got to close in 30 days, and they’re in a panic. I don’t want that to happen to you. What I want to do is go through your house, make sure it’s all ready to go so that whenever – if it’s six months, a year, two years or five years from now – you’re not going to be caught in that stressful situation.”
Peter: Yeah. That makes sense.
Glenn: What’s neat about it is it’s just a completely different approach. Imagine I’m knocking on the door right after you, or I’m right before you, right?
Glenn: You’re very skilled at what you do. You’re probably better at door knocking than I am. But if I show up with value and offers all the time, really saying, “I care about you first, and I wouldn’t expect you to do any business with me unless I could give you a lot of value upfront,” then that’s where you start creating what we call “raving fan communities,” right?
Peter: Right. It’s funny – that scenario actually happens. I see people door knocking in the neighbourhood. I know that guy. He’s an agent. I know who he is, and he’s working the same neighbourhoods as me. I’ve seen them actually turn around and leave.
Glenn: “Oh no, Peter’s better! I’m leaving. I’m going to another street.”
Peter: I’ve actually seen that! And then you get the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They’re out there, and you want to get ahead of them. “It’s okay, I’m a real estate agent!”
Glenn: You’ve got to stay one step ahead of those Jehovah’s Witnesses! That’s the deal.
Peter: That’s right.
Glenn: Well, I think those couple things might change your game a little bit, right? I know we’ve only got 25 minutes on this call, but it’s one of those things that you just go deep on. You almost reverse engineer it. The way you have to approach this is, just go pretend that you’re that client sitting in West Shore neighbourhood, thinking about moving. What’s their biggest fear? What are their greatest aspirations? Their biggest fears are the very common questions we get: Should I sell my house first before buying? What if I buy and I can’t sell my place? Is now a good time to buy? Are interest rates going to go up? What if the market collapses and I buy this big house? All the stuff that we hear all the time.
Peter: Of course, a few months ago, we could have said you always want to buy first before you sell. Now it’s the opposite. Now you definitely want to sell before you buy.
Glenn: Absolutely. And the beautiful thing is, even as these markets shift, people have to move, right? People get married, people get divorced, people are born, people die. There’s always this beautiful pattern. I think the next extension of this business for you, once you master this move-up (the $650 or the $700 sell to the $1.1 million buy) would be the first-time buyer that you can start bringing into your stream now.
Glenn: Where are they sitting right now? What’s their biggest fear? Are they renting? Or are they in a townhouse right now in Scarborough, and they want to start moving in here? I think this is a completely scalable business, and if you nailed it right, you could duplicate this. You could hire your next person in Whitby to do the exact same thing, and then the next person in Oshawa. You could have one doing the south side and the north side. I think it would be really exciting to see how quickly you could scale, because you’re presenting yourself to that target market as the only person who really knows and understands what they’re going through, and you’re providing this unique solution to their selfish problem.
Peter: Right. Yeah, that makes sense.
Glenn: Yeah. Why don’t we give you a 90-day sprint on this? We’re almost over time, but here’s what I would do in the next 90 days. Break your sprint down right now. Instead of annual goals, just break it out to 90-day goals, and just do four or five things that will push this business forward. I would probably suggest that number one is to go and find out where the migration patterns are. When someone’s selling here, where do most of them go? We want to go to most of the market, right?
Glenn: Number two is, I would become the expert on the move-up home right now, and I would probably get a Facebook page and start marketing your “pick of the week” back to those people who are living there.
Glenn: Number three, I would create a “free list” offer for the Top 10 Homes in that neighbourhood, or if they want to come onto your subscription list, which is no hassle, no obligation. They can get off your list at any time. You’ll never call them until they call you first. You can make it, and really lower the resistance. Number four, I would start creating multiple lists, so you have “Top 10 in Ajax,” “Top 10 in Whitby” (or Oshawa), because that’s what they really, really want. And number five is, Google Dean Jackson’s “Room-by-Room Review.” He’s a genius in real estate, and I’m almost sure it’s a free download. If not, buy it. I don’t think it’s that much money. Get that booklet that you could start handing out at the door and just offering, because this is the way that you get them before they actually buy, which is what you really want.
Peter: Yeah, exactly. For sure.
Glenn: Any questions? Or are we good?
Peter: No, that’s great! That was awesome. Thanks, Glenn. I really appreciate it.
Glenn: Oh, my pleasure. Well thank you so much, Peter. Thanks for joining me on this podcast, okay? Take care. All the best!
Peter: Okay. Have a great day! Bye!
Glenn: Thanks! Bye.