Inventing a Better Wheel – Driving Sales in the Real Estate Niche
It’s no secret that the real estate industry has always been a good source of personal lines business, even my grandfather knew that. As great as he was with insurance, he was an even more successful real estate broker and was able to help clients with both their real estate and insurance needs. The signage on the front of our original agency office read: “Real Estate” and “Insurance,” as he operated both firms from that location. I even dug up a photo to prove it:
Straight out of the 60s
So it’s “old news” that connections with real estate professionals can drive sales. Prospective home buyers are going to need insurance and they may not have a great resource to help them along the way – and that’s where we come in! Independent agents are going to be able to provide the best rates, and expertise for them! But let’s talk about what a HUGE opportunity this is for agency growth.
5.34 million existing homes were sold in 2019, according to data from the National Association of Realtors, and of that group of buyers, 31% were first-time buyers. That oh-so coveted group of millennials, that every agency talks about working with, but struggles to connect with — the people who are going to grow with the agency, add vehicles, eventually teen drivers, umbrellas, etc. The cross-sells! Oh, the cross-sells…
For many years, our previous agency co-owner was able to earn a steady stream of homeowners business from a select few local realtors and bankers she had good connections with. My grandfather was active in the local community and his connections helped drive homebuyers to his agency for insurance too.
Herman Lapointe at the local Chamber of Commerce, circa 1970
Other producers in our agency benefited from these relationships for many years as well. And our agency would pump out a solid 20-30 new policies a month, which honestly, really isn’t bad! But in the past four years, our agency has fundamentally transformed to focus on this real estate market, and the results have been astounding. On average, the agency is writing between 500-600 new personal lines accounts, with just a few “producers” and the number continues to grow.
So what happened!? Well…A LOT. I’ll try to cover more ground in future articles, but at its core: We started focusing a majority of our marketing efforts, carrier representation, agency culture, and PROCESS around the home-buying and refinancing process.
The real estate buying process is demanding, along with timeframes that have shortened tremendously. According to statistics from Ellie Mae, it now takes an average of 42 days to close on a home loan, for purchase and refinance transactions. That’s down from 51 days at the beginning of 2017. With the changing technology landscape, the time it takes to find a property you like, get approved for a mortgage, and close on that home, is shorter than ever before. Due to this, prospective buyers are feeling the crunch, and will likely resort to online insurance carriers that can provide a quote with a few clicks. But what the online providers can’t do is educate a first-time home buyer and develop a strong working relationship with the other professionals handling their transaction. Positioning yourself as a value-add to the client, AND their realtor/lender, will win you the deal over the online providers 10 times out of 10.
In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss elevating your marketing for success with these real estate partnerships.
John Lapointe is the executive VP for Lapointe Insurance. Through social media marketing and a careful balance of participation in local networking organizations, John has built a virtual network of referral sources within the housing industry in MA, RI, and CT. The strategy has grown monthly new business commissions by over 600% since joining the agency in 2016. His vision is to be an “agent of change” in a 60-year-old family business, to create an agency that embraces change, new ideas, and where people love coming to work. John and his team subscribe to their core values of teamwork, information, growth, doing the right thing, and having fun.
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