Think of the holidays, and what comes to mind? If you're like many people, you probably envision a decorated home warmed by a roaring fire; a welcome refuge on a crisp winter's day or night.

Guess what? Home buyers love to tour homes for sale this time of year precisely because so many of them are cheerfully adorned in the holiday spirit. They like to buy homes this time of the year, too.

Ah, but here's the rub: Many agents stop working during the holidays, literally or figuratively (that is, they mentally shut down and get by with the "wait until next year" philosophy).

Not those who have made it to the top, however. Indeed, top agents often kick things into overdrive during the holidays while their colleagues take long winter naps. And they often end up closing more business during the holiday season than some agents close the entire rest of the year.

My point is this. The holiday season is no time to rest -- especially in a down market. Following are 12 of the best ideas from the top agents across North America; in the spirit of the season, I've compiled them as their gift to you, to help you stay focused and close more business. Following their sage advice can help you finish out the year closer to your goals, while providing a boost heading into 2008.

  • 1. Let sellers know that, contrary to what they may have been told by someone else, now is a great time to list. Let them know that homes look terrific and enticing decorated for the holidays; they show very well and create a warm and welcoming environment.
  • 2. Buyers who are relocating often make buying trips during the holidays. They are motivated buyers who often have relocation assistance which enables them to close quickly.
  • 3. Hand-deliver a gift (such as a small poinsettia or 2008 calendar) to past clients. Remember: They are always your best source of referral business.
  • 4. Get involved in holiday neighborhood and community events. Volunteer to help deliver food baskets, collect donations or serve meals. Get out and meet people. We derive our livelihood from our communities; it is important to give back, and there's no better time than the holidays to do so.
  • 5. Attend all of the parties you can! Everyone asks at some point, "What do you do?" Don't be shy -- tell them. Don't be a "Secret Agent." Carry business cards. And always, always, ask for email addresses. Tell them you will send them interesting information that will keep them apprised of the real estate market in their neighborhood.
  • 6. Continue to advertise online. People have more time to surf the Web during the holidays. Keep this fact front and center every day: 80 percent of consumers search online before they are ready to talk to an agent. Go where the consumers are.
  • 7. Send out holiday cards -- really nice ones. Send them out early; you'll be remembered if yours arrive in mailboxes first. People place holiday cards on their mantles.
  • 8. Send out Thanksgiving cards thanking customers for their business and support throughout the past year. People love to be appreciated and remembered. You can even make it an e-postcard, with graphics.
  • 9. Hold open houses. I know many agents really don't like this part of the job. But even if you haven't been doing it all year long, this is a good time to start. With so many other distractions vying for our time -- shopping, parties, etc. -- the people who are out looking for homes during the holidays tend to be serious. Use that to your advantage by holding open houses.
  • 10. Call your friends just to wish them happy holidays. Offer to send them a market update. Place them on a drip email campaign or your newsletter -- with their permission, of course.
  • 11. Vacation homes are still being purchased at record rates. Run a clever, memorable ad. Remember Eartha Kitt's classic song, "Santa Baby"? ("Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex, and checks, sign your X on the line…").
  • 12. Take time to thank your lenders, title company representatives, escrow or closing officers, loan processors, etc. for a good, hard, interesting, or something kind of year. Let them know how much you appreciate their help and support throughout the year -- and, of course, their business.

And while I'm on the subject of saying thanks, let me thank all of you for your interest, emails, comments and support in 2007. I look forward to continuing our conversation next year.

Until then, have a wonderful and safe holiday season!

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