The difference between marketing and connecting. w/Realtor Justin Loncaric
Canadian Real Estate Marketing Podcast #019
This post was written using a transcript from the video at the top of the page. It has been edited for clarity.
Paul Poulsen: Today, we're lucky to be joined by realtor Justin Loncaric from Burlington, Ontario. Justin's a Keller Williams Platinum Award winner and his team is consistently the number two team in KW Signature Oakville. Real estate is in Justin's blood. His parents have been in the industry for more than four decades and he himself has been at it for the past 16 years. Justin and his team crushed it in 2020 with a 725% increase in gross commission income with most of that happening during the lockdowns. He and his team are on a path to doing a million bucks this year. Justin's main focus is upsizing families using his Home Run Method. He's number seven on PropertySpark's list of the Top 15 Burlington Real Estate Agents for Social Media. He operates listingloans.ca and is one of the hosts on The Underground podcast. Justin says he found success as a realtor when he stopped marketing and started connecting, and that's exactly what we're going talk about today. Justin, how are you?
Justin Loncaric: I'm great, Paul. How are you?
PP: Super duper. Thanks for being here, really appreciate it.
JL: Well, it's always good to connect with new people, which I think is what we're talking about today.
About Justin's Home Run Method
PP: I agree. Exactly, exactly. All of your marketing is focused on attracting families that are ready to upsize. Tell us how your Home Run Method strategy targets that demo?
JL: We really work towards helping people that have families that are looking to upsize to the next level and we're really trying to work towards talking to their pain points and the problems that they have when it comes to actually making that move. A couple years ago, in 2019, I actually moved myself, and I have a family with three kids and a couple of dogs, and it's hard. It's not easy. You're wrangling kids, you're trying to paint the house, you're trying to... You got relatives coming and going helping you do trim work and cleaning, and everything else in between and you got kids going off to different daycares and whatever to try to get out of the way. And our Home Run Method works towards helping you ease all the stress and trouble of that. We've combined it with the Listing Loans product, which we've built, that will, again, make that process a little easier. I'm sure we'll talk about that in a minute, but the goal is literally to speak to those pain points and say, "Listen, we've been through it. This is what we do and we can help you," 'cause there's nothing better than experience for getting people to the next step of their life.
Diversify your leads and income
PP: Let's go back to the Listing Loans for a second. You're very accomplished. You've got a podcast, you're marketing all over the place all the rest. What do you see in the future of the industry that you think it's important to diversify where you're getting leads and income from?
JL: First of all, I think a lot of realtors think that real estate is it like, "I'm gonna get into real estate to sell real estate for the rest of my life," and I think that's a wonderful attitude. If you have the hutzpah to get out there and do it, that's great but I've watched people, like my mom and dad, and my grandmother was actually a realtor before that, too...
PP: Oh, really?
JL: Yeah, so I've got a pedigree that goes beyond the 40 years you were mentioning, but I've watched these people bust their ass for 40 years. I've watched my mom not be present at our family events. I can count on two hands how many baseball games she came to watch me play. And I played high-level baseball until I was 18 down in the states and stuff and she was rarely there because she was working. And I'm not saying that in a negative way because I got to play baseball because of my mom. I got to travel and play ball. I got to go to Hawaii and travel all over Europe and all the things we got to do as a family because of the lifestyle she gave us, but there was a bunch of sacrifices in between.
JL: And so I think, for me, it was looking at that mindset and seeing how that was built and going, "How can we do it slightly better so that I can be there everyday for my kids?" And part of that is multiple streams of income, part of that is building a team, part of that is creating a marketing campaign and a marketing platform that doesn't see me on the phone 17 hours a day making 130,000 calls a day. And all of it works together to give me the life that I require and that I desire because I want to build something better. So it's like starting with the end in mind, starting with the dream, saying, "Okay, what do you really want and how do we engineer that?" So you're reverse engineering in a way.
How can ListingLoans.ca benefit Canadian Realtors?
JL: So jumping into Listing Loans, it stems from this Home Run Method. It started like three years ago where we noticed... I have a friend who at the time was working in HVAC and he had this product where they would basically give people loans for their furnaces, and it started to get a bad rep at that time because of what people were doing with those loans and so on. And I said to him, "What if we took all these loans and converted them into a product that made sense for a homeowner trying to get their house ready for sale?" So you get a lot of people that are about to sell their house, they wanna stage it or they wanna do some painting or whatever but they don't have the money necessarily upfront, especially now more than ever with the increases. There's tons of equity in people's houses.
JL: So we decided to create a product and partner with a company and this partnership happened in the last six months, which has made it even better. But we partnered with this company that helps us allow a realtor to walk into a house and provide more value by saying to someone, "Listen, instead of you, as a realtor, paying 200 bucks and having a stager go through the house, or 250 in some cases or more, and just give you a list of things to do, you can pay a little more than that, 300 bucks, and have $5,000 to spend on completely staging the house top to bottom. You can bring in your own contractors, you can have a stager come in and do all kinds of work to the house, and then that money will be payable on closing out of the funds from the sale of the house at the homeowners expense." It goes into the homeowners pocket, then they have to pay it back. That's how the the loan is structured. And then you get an opportunity to, for example, sell the house for more money, which means more commission in your pocket. It makes it an easier sale because more people like the house because you've painted it and spruced it up, and done a bunch of staging that makes it look prettier, which eases the stress of having to show it for weeks on end.
JL: So there's a bunch of benefits to having a loan structure like this that doesn't exist right now. It literally doesn't exist right now. Nobody has this product. We are the first to market with a product like this, in Canada anyway.
PP: I can see that there is a lot of value in that for sellers and I'm guessing that that's even something that probably attracts sellers to you in the first place.
JL: Yeah, and look at it this way, from real estate perspective, a lot of realtors are doing this already just with their own money. So they're walking in in Toronto, for example, and charging people 7 and 8% but paying 20 and $30,000 to renovate the place before they even put it to market, 'cause that's the expectation down there. There's a lot of that going on in Toronto and surrounding areas. And even my mom has told me in the past, she's put money into people's houses to stage it, 2 or $3,000 to stage a house that wasn't really sellable and it didn't look great before but now it looks incredible. But it's at their expense and it's at their risk to do that. What if the guy doesn't sell? What if they got... Now you're the collection agency as the agent.
JL: So now we created this opportunity where the agent pays the money upfront to give the... Long and the short of it, that's the money we make on the loan, is the 300 bucks. The homeowner gets $5,000 to do what they want with. So you can stage the house for 2000 bucks and send them to Cabo for the weekend if you want. I don't care. You know what I mean? Whatever you wanna do with the money as long as it's paid back on closing. And that's part of it, too. I've had clients in the last six months or a year that have gone to stay in hotels and you can cover off their hotel stay for the weekend over the time that they have their house listed depending on how quickly it's gonna sell.
JL: So there's a lot of opportunity to do a lot with that money and then have it paid back at no risk to the agent. And really, truly, if someone's selling in a market, in a good market anyway, in Southern Ontario, some of these other markets, there's not a lot of risk to the homeowner either because, A, the money was given to you, you just gotta give it back on closing when the funds come from the buyer. So it's all part of the package, it's really seamless, nobody feels any pain of a few thousand bucks coming and going.
PP: And Is this something that is you're only doing in your market or is it open to realtors all across Canada?
JL: Right. So the soft launch will be in Ontario in the middle of June. Right now, the product is being... We're building out some back-end features to allow about a 30-second application process. So that's part of the convenience of it, is during a home evaluation, I can walk in and say, "Hey, Paul, we're gonna do this. All you need to do is for you to fill in this form." All the details are in the form, the homeowner fills it out, boop, boop, boop, send. And that information gets sent to the lender and then you're approved within 30 seconds. So then, within 24 hours, that money's in the homeowners account to be able to do what they want with. So that's really as simple as it will be. The soft launch will be Ontario because we have certain legalities we gotta make sure we we deal with. We probably won't end up in Quebec all that easily because it's very difficult to get stuff done in Quebec, but across Canada in the coming months. So yeah, we intend on going Canada-wide as quickly as possible.
Justin's strategy for organic reach on Facebook
PP: So somebody listens to you talking. You're very established, you've got experience, you've got a team around you, you're building your own platforms. Somebody that's new is maybe a little bit overwhelmed by this coming into the industry. They think, "This person is so established, how can I ever aspire to that level?" If somebody comes in and is brand new, what would be your advice to them? Where should they... What platform should they focus on? What type of marketing would be either free or low cost that you could suggest?
JL: So right off the hop, anything organic is free, so look for organic sources. And the nice thing about it is the average... I bet you, if you went across Canada and looked into most of the larger cities, you'd probably see the average demographic broken down pretty straightforward in this, that of home ownership to be between 30 and 55. Generally speaking, you get older people that own homes, for sure, but that demographic is shrinking as people go to rent and they downsize, and they move to other facilities. And more and more kids nowadays, for example, are actually staying at home later, so 30 to 55 is the average demographic across Canada. Almost every time I go into a house, when I pull up the stats for the house that I'm in, that's usually the statistic I find in my area, which is around Toronto and Burlington area, just west of Toronto.
JL: And so when I look at demographically what platforms people are using, especially now more than ever with the pandemic we've just been dealing with, we are dealing with, Facebook and Instagram are the two that are the main sources of advertising for 30 to 50 to 55-year-olds. Facebook's average demographic sits around 35 to 40 years old. So I would suggest start there. This is like hot tip of the day right here. Facebook allows you to have 5000 friends, so screw friending other realtors unless you're looking at building a team or you're building... You're recruiting for your brokerage. Screw friending other realtors and try to just friend people within the networks around you. That's what we've been doing for the last year. We started with like 1500 friends or something like that, we're almost at 5000, and when we get to 5000, we're gonna start culling off the realtors that are in my list, quite frankly. And that's a really great place to start because now you can speak to those people for free because by posting on Facebook, they're part of your friends list, they're gonna see you.
JL: Now, there's an algorithm you have to get around, which is interesting too, and you have to remember that the algorithm likes it when you keep people on Facebook. There's a couple of great documentaries. I wish I could remember the name but there was one recently about Facebook and social media. Gosh, I can't think of the name of it, but basically, the long and the short of it is they track every second and millisecond that you're on a post as you're scrolling through. They know exactly how long you spend on each post. They know what you've engaged in. They have 25,000 data points on you on every social media platform or more and what they're doing is they're saying, "Okay, Justin is scrolling through, Paul is scrolling through. He likes," I don't know, I'm just guessing here, "bananas." So they're gonna show him more posts about bananas to keep him there.
JL: As a poster, if I put a post about a banana but I put a YouTube video link right in the post and it's going to take me away from Facebook, Facebook's going to look at me and go, "Yes, sorry, I'm not gonna show that to Paul this time," because it takes me away from Facebook. And the point of that is, is that the longer Paul scrolls through, the more ads he can put in front of Paul. So if I click on something to take Paul away from Facebook, they're no longer putting ads in front of Paul, which means that Facebook's not making money. So just be wary of, if you're gonna post videos and things, talk about it. Maybe post a nice picture of something, put the video in the comments, the link to the video in the first comment. These are hot tips. You gotta be writing these down people, I'm telling you right now.
PP: Or even uploading video natively, right? Like we find...
JL: Yeah, so when you do listing videos, get it from your photographer, grab the actual raw data file, the mp4 file that they give you, and upload that directly into Facebook. And actually, that's that has an added benefit of, as people are scrolling through, it starts playing in front of them right away rather than just having a static link with a picture. So that's an added benefit there, too.
PP: Yeah, in our experience with Facebook... Like you had touched on there, that time on site, a video, of course, it's minutes, typically, that you're gonna watch it and Facebook, in our experience, favors that post over other types of posts. So you get a little bit more organic reach, in our experience, by posting a video natively to Facebook than other content types. So that's a very good tip.
JL: 100%. So then you can also almost get around the algorithm by cheating a little bit. So every now and then, if you post... I posted the other day, how many different addresses have you lived at or how many different houses have you lived at or homes have you lived at, or something like that. And then you get a bunch of people commenting and then you go in and comment back to them. And then you get other people commenting to each other, "Oh, I didn't know you had four houses. Oh, whatever." The fact that you're keeping people and engaging people in Facebook will put you in front of those people more and more 'cause the algorithm goes, "Wooh, these people like this guy. There are tons of people commenting. I'm gonna put this guy in front of more people." So they might throw a few extra posts in front of people.
JL: Now that's just flat out organic. I'm not even paying for this stuff. So that post I'm talking about had easily 3, 400 comments, a couple of shares. So I mean, that to me is beneficial. I don't care how many likes or whatever, I wanna see engagement. I wanna see people talking about the post underneath. I actually like it when people share it or even... I like it when people go, "Ooh, that was awesome. I'm gonna... " And they redo it on their own because it's like... Well, that's flattery in a way.
PP: For sure, yeah. Yeah, to get a share, I think, is the highest compliment you can get on social media, right?
JL: That's right, that's right.
Can Realtors in Canada succeed without social media?
PP: Earlier, you talked about marketing to... Not to avoid making phone calls but just to claw back some of your time so that it's not cold calling all day or door knocking. I think when realtors are getting started, there's a lot of... Especially older agents that really banging that drum about door knocking or making phone calls. There must be a happy medium between the two, especially when you're getting started to do some of the door knocking and then doing this type of marketing you're talking about. In your opinion, is there any way in 2021 for a realtor to get long-term success by just door knocking and avoiding Facebook and Instagram, and everything else or is that just what sellers and buyers are expecting from their realtors now, is to be online and active in video and photos, and that kind of thing?
JL: There's a lot of people that are gonna disagree with me because I come from a brokerage that bangs that drum. So I work for Keller Williams and there's a lot of that going on. A lot of people talking about door knocking, cold calling, and there's a lot of that. And I have no qualms to say that that does work. The catalyst moment for me was watching a video of a very successful realtor down in the US do... It was almost like a... When you have staff one-on-one meetings with your employees and you sit down with them, and you say, "What went right this week? What were your goals this week? Did you hit them?" that kind of stuff. And they they posted this video of a meeting like that with one of their employees and the kid was like, "I did," he said something like, "17 or 18 hours of cold calling this week and I had six appointments, and blah, blah, blah." And for me, I appreciate that but it's not scalable. I can't see myself doing that for a career, for 40 hours a week, 360 or whatever days a year, 52 weeks a year, forever. It just doesn't work for me and I don't think... It would just pound the crap out of your mental state and you'd be...
PP: I was just gonna say, it must draining if that's your job everyday.
JL: The only place where you fail more than you win and you're actually good is baseball. You can fail six or seven times out of 10 and you can be the best hitter in the league. [chuckle] So that's all I got. But that being said, really to answer your question about happy medium, yeah, sure, get out there and do some door knocking and get some experience, and get yourself in front of people. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't say never do it. We used to... Even last year before the COVID hit and all this stuff was going on, we were door knocking and dropping flyers and things, and trying to grow some business in this very specific area but I think the key is shooting a rifle rather than a shotgun. Don't be door knocking 15 different neighborhoods every week, every year. Stick to one neighborhood, try to figure out a specific spot, and really try to pound that neighborhood so people get to know know you more.
JL: But I will say this, just as easily as door knocking, and I would never advocate that you'll never gonna pick up a phone again if you start using social media as your marketing tool, you still have to phone. I have 3000 leads sitting in my database and all of them need phone calling. We spent two and a half hours as a team this morning on Zoom. Just sitting there keeping each other accountable on Zoom and calling leads, and we called 30 to 40 leads each. We got six or seven new opportunities out of those leads but all of those leads came from advertisements that we put out there. Then I just got off a text message with another realtor in the area. We bat ideas back and forth and he asked me, "What do you see as the most effective way to generate leads, hot sheets or whatever?" Honestly, listing ads.
JL: So if you're a new realtor, you don't have any listings, you don't have anything going on, get yourself on Facebook, one way or another, figure out how to create a listing ad. I know in Keller Williams... Not to toot their horn but they have a great opportunity to just create a Facebook listing ad in seconds flat using their system that they have, and I'm sure other companies have the same thing. So look into it, figure it out, or take a couple of training courses on how to do it, create a listing ad and get some leads rolling in because really, truly, that's the easiest way. You put an ad out there, you have a sign in sheet where people put their name and phone number, and email address, they click enter, they go to the next page and they get all the listing information, and you get a copy of their information and now you're calling them, saying, "Hey, you signed up for this thing. Just wanted to make sure you got all the information we require." That's it, simple as that.
JL: From a social media standpoint, you wanna get leads right away just for listing ads out there. And when you're in a brokerage in Ontario anyway, I don't know other brokerages or other provinces, you can use other people's listings in your brokerage. So you can just put a note out to your brokerage and say, "Hey, anybody got a listing they wanna advertise? I'm happy to take up some of that weight and I'll advertise it myself." And a lot of people will say yes because they want more advertising out there for their listing. So grab another listing, advertise it if you don't have any of your own, and and start there.
PP: I think that'd be a really valid strategy, especially in BC where agents can't double-end deals. If you're approaching a listing agent, saying, "Let me promote your site," the seller loses nothing. They're going to split commission with somebody anyway. And so yeah, I think for somebody new in a brokerage, that's probably a good way to get leads and to ingratiate yourself with maybe more experienced and more senior realtors.
JL: Well, you're also proving to them that you wanna work and perhaps they wanna work with you down the road, and maybe there's a team that wants to pick you up or whatever. That's another opportunity by the way, is to... I started on a team. I started on my mom's team. I felt like it was one of the best opportunities or experiences I had for learning because they really don't... They give you some tools, they talk a lot about legal stuff and how not to get sued or to become a realtor, but they certainly don't give you the Coles Notes or the steps on how to write an offer properly, for example. I just had one of my new agents go through that with me and the first offers she sent me were like a 12-year-old could have done a better job, but it's not her fault. She just has no clue because they didn't teach her. So hop on a team, if you can find a team, and A, you'll get instant Leads. Not instant, and that wouldn't be the reason why you jumped on a team but it's an opportunity to get faster leads because the team is already probably building and has leads coming in and B, you get tons of experience and opportunity to learn from some people that have been in it for a while.
Are teams the future of Canadian real estate?
PP: So do you think that's the way the industry is going, that you're gonna see more and more teams going forward?
JL: Yes, is the short answer. I see the industry going that way. It's really... And the reason why we built our team the way we did is I find it very difficult as one person to manage multiple listings and multiple buyers at the same time. Listings require something completely different than buyers require. Even though you don't have to drive around for listings, there's still time involved, there's still chasing certain things and figuring stuff out. Buyers require you to drive around. My buyer agent, one of them's out there today in... I think he's in Cambridge showing six or seven listings, which is about a half-hour-40-minute drive from where I am. He's gotta go show six or seven listings. I'm here doing this, advertising our team. So we've split it up to say, "Okay, over here, you're gonna go do all the buyer stuff, I'll take care of all the listing stuff." And we really provide a high level of service that way. So as you go forward, I'm not saying individual agents won't be able to sustain themselves but it certainly is a more difficult opportunity as an individual to try to manage all of that stuff, unless you have help. You need help with that. So yeah, that's the short answer. I should have said the short answer which is yes, I see it going that way.
PP: If you're a family in the Burlington area looking to upsize, visit Justin's website and download your free copy of his Home Run Method selling guide. Or maybe you're a realtor in another market that wants some inspiration on attracting sellers in a similar demo, either way, visit jlrealtygroup.ca to download the free selling guide. Justin, thanks for being here. We really appreciate it.
JL: Thanks, man. It's been fun.
This post was written using a transcript from the video at the top of the page. It has been edited for clarity.
Connect with Realtor Justin Loncaric
About the Canadian Real Estate Marketing Podcast
Each episode of the Canadian Real Estate Marketing Podcast brings you tips, tricks, and insights specifically for Canadian real estate agents. The podcast is hosted by photographer Val Labrecque and videographer Paul Poulsen, co-owners of Burnt Boat Media in Gibsons on BC’s incredible Sunshine Coast.
Burnt Boat Media provides real estate photography services for Sunshine Coast Realtors and specializes in narrated first-person video walkthrough tours.
What we do isn’t normal, typical, or traditional but it’s very effective. It’s important that we’re not simply providing a transactional service but creating positive results for our clients.
We’re marketers first and real estate photographers/videographers second. Our photos and videos exist to help Realtors get more listings and sell more real estate. Every photograph and frame of video that we provide is in support of that goal.
In life and in work, we operate with integrity and support businesses and individuals with which we’re aligned. Growth, progress, and supporting others are three of our key values and we choose to work with similarly aligned clients.
The focus of our work is primarily on Realtors and real estate but we do occasionally take on other projects.