Saturday, May 25, 2019

“Before I got an agent, I would try to inquire about their services … and I’d say 90% of the time agents did not return my call,” complains a real estate client (Trulia reviews).

If some agents can’t respond to a hot lead, how can a client expect them to communicate effectively during the listing period?

Agents have come up with a lengthy list of excuses for why they don’t call. They run the gamut from “I don’t call if nothing is happening,” to “I didn’t get your message.”

Which is why the biggest client complaint against agents is lack of communication. 

So why aren’t agents working harder to provide this most in-demand aspect of customer service?

Communicating with your client helps dispel the oft-repeated complaint that real estate agents don’t do anything to earn their commissions. It builds trust and it makes for a more relaxed working relationship.

Here’s how NOT to be that agent.

Examples go a long way
Let them know you’re on the ball (available in the postcard section under Get More Listings)

Explanations, walk-throughs, and examples go a long way in helping a client understand the complicated selling process, especially when working with first-time home sellers.

“We didn’t know there were all these things we had to pay for,” says a real estate client at a Hear it Direct event (pity they aren’t doing these any longer).

The gentleman went on to complain that his agent “never brought it up.”

Yet another client was so disgusted by her agent’s lack of an explanation of the process that she won’t use any agent’s services in the future.

“We’ll probably just do it on our own – we kind of feel like we are already,” she said.

A real estate client who feels isolated during the sale of such a huge investment is not only in a sad situation, but it’s uncalled for in an industry that prides itself on “building relationships.”

Take a tip from buyers agents who hold buyer consultations before showing homes. Take the time to walk your listing client through the entire process, from what happens immediately after signing the listing agreement to the closing table.

Outline the costs of selling the home, what might go wrong during the process and their responsibilities.

Explain the following during your consultation:
  • What happens after they sign the listing agreement – detail the process beginning to end. Don’t assume they know.
  • Describe your marketing plan and when and how you’ll implement it.
  • Explain what a broker’s open is and how important it is.
  • Show them a lockbox and explain how it works, what to expect from buyers’ agents and everything else they need to know about the marketing period.
  • How offers are presented.
  • The period after an offer is accepted. Explain the escrow process, the paperwork they’ll encounter, disclosure duties. Remind them that they’ll need to be accommodating to the appraiser and home inspector.
  • Explain the closing process.

    Keep them in on area real estate action (available in the postcard section under Content postcards)

Even the smallest aspects of the home sale process may be completely foreign to a client, so don’t assume that you don’t need to explain them.

Aside from an actual, sit-down seller consultation, there are a number of other ways to provide this information, from a book or e-book to a video or the plethora of information on your website (you have a plethora, right?).

Ask and listen

Ask questions—lots and lots of questions. How do they prefer to communicate, by text, email, phone? How often would they like to hear from you? Is once a week okay or do they want more frequent contact?

How do they feel about open houses? What are their biggest fears about the process? Is there anything about it they would like to know more about?

One home seller who vented his frustrations at CityData.com complained that “I figure an email a week telling me how many hits I’ve gotten on the various real estate sites, calls about my property (if tracked) and general market conditions would work, but I shouldn’t have to chase my agent down to hear what’s going on.”

Asking questions isn’t enough. You need to listen to the answers and ask for clarification if needed. Ensure there are no misunderstandings about their expectations.

Communicate often

Toss the old advice about not saying anything if you don’t have anything nice to say. Homeowners crave communication so provide it as often as possible.

Even if you have nothing to communicate, reach out to your client and let them know. I bet you can come up with something of value to communicate:

  • How many people toured the home during the past week?
  • How the open house went.
  • What type of feedback did they, or their agents leave?
  • Anything going on with the overall real estate market that they should know?
  • If under contract, let them know how escrow is progressing.
  • Find out if they have any questions such as, what comes next.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines “consultant” as “one who gives professional advice or services.” These homeowners could have chosen to sell the home without an agent but chose to go with you because of your professional knowledge.

By consistently communicating with your clients throughout the sales process, you’ll make them very happy they chose you and, hopefully, more likely to recommend you to others.

An effective way to communicate with and encourage prospective clients is to offer the Free Report “5 Sure-Fire Tips For a Quick Home Sale”.
Include it in all of your marketing and offer it as an opt-in on your website.

Need help targeting the perfect niche of buyers or sellers? Use our mailing list tool to create the ideal list (it’s easy) or call our support team for assistance at 866.405.3638!

PLUS: When you have time…here are Free ways we can help you have an INVINCIBLE 2019!

1. Become a Listing Legend Free eBook 

Ready to take a vertical leap in your real estate career? If you’re looking for inspiration…and the tools and methods to dominate a market and go to the top in real estate…you’ll find them in this free book. – Click Here 

 

 

2. “Get More Listings” Free Online Webinar

 

“Get MORE Listings & Begin to Dominate Your Market!” Free online webinar. Learn the 3-7-27 strategy for explosive growth, why 95% of agents have less than 20% market share, and how to become the agent everyone competes against. – Click Here

 

 

3. The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan

The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Get More Listings, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence. – Click Here

 

 

4. The Free One-Page Real Estate Business Plan

Treat your business like a business it is vital to long-term success in this industry. Some agents may put together elaborate business plans, yet there’s something powerful about keeping it simple. Check out our one page Online Real Estate Business Plan.  – Click Here

 

 

5. The Free Online ROI Calculator

Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! – Click Here

As a new agent, you no doubt learned that, in many states, home sellers have a legal obligation to disclose known problems with the home.

As well, home buyers have an obligation to perform due diligence. The law, however, understands that home buyers, even with the best due diligence, are inexperienced and may not understand what to look for.

Enter, the real estate agent – the third side of the disclosure triangle. While states differ in their agent disclosure requirements, most make it pretty clear that an agent has a duty to disclose any known material facts that may impact the value of the home.

In California, for instance, the Civil Jury Instructions state that:

“A broker must disclose these facts if he or she knows or should know that the buyer is not aware of them and cannot reasonably be expected to discover them through diligent attention and observation.”

Legal duty aside, helping your client make a wise buying decision is basic, good customer service. The stuff that referrals and glowing testimonials are made of.

As you advance in your real estate career you’ll learn that most houses have problems, from the tiny to the gigantic. Yes, even newly-constructed homes.

Some are obvious, while others lurk behind very scant evidence of their existence. With experience, you’ll get to know the clues – the red flags that something isn’t right.

Compel fence sitters to call (Available in the postcard section under Fence Sitter Buyers Series)

In the meantime, we’ve gathered some of the more common clues to look for when showing homes to your buying clients.

The electrical system

Old homes are notorious for their electrical system problems. Outdated or damaged wiring, too few electrical outlets and burned out or loose connections are common.

Before buying into your client’s desire to buy a home that needs to be rewired, let him or her know that they can “expect to pay $8,000 to $15,000 to rewire a 1,500- to 3,000-square-foot home,” says Angie Hicks of AngiesList.com.

A chief complaint of many owners of old homes is that there aren’t enough electrical outlets to meet their needs. While the cost of adding new outlets isn’t as high as replacing the home’s wiring, it can still be costly, depending on the electrician’s hourly fee.

“. . . adding a new electric outlet can range from $100 to $800, with the average cost around $350,” according to the pros at ImproveNet.com.

As you tour a home, especially if the home is more than 50 years old, do a bit of snooping. Flick all the switches in the home to ensure they’re operating.

Help the move-up market understand the process (available in the postcard section under Move-Up Market)

Take a look at the electrical outlets for obvious signs of trouble (scorch marks, etc.). Run your hand over the outlets. They should be cool to the touch. Warm outlets are “strong indications of an unsafe wiring condition,” according to Donna Boyle Schwartz at BobVilla.com.

How’s the plumbing?

Don’t be shy – turn on the water at the taps and check the pressure. Low water pressure may signify a leak somewhere in the lines.

It may also be a sign of less serious problems, including:

  • A water softener that needs servicing
  • A pressure reducing valve that isn’t set properly
  • Clogged aerators

Check the pressure while running the hot water only. If it’s lower than the cold-water pressure, there may be a problem with the water heater.

Press your toes on the flooring surrounding the toilet. If it feels soft, the toilet may have a leak.

Finally, in multi-level homes, look at the ceilings on the floors beneath bathrooms for signs of discoloration. This may indicate a leak somewhere.

Maintenance Red Flags

You’ll be hearing the term “Deferred maintenance” a lot during your real estate career. Some folks find home maintenance too easy to put off. As the years go by, problems don’t go away, and many tend to get worse.

Deferred maintenance is often easy to spot. It’s the overflowing gutters, the chipped paint, the dripping faucet and the toilet that rocks when someone sits on it.

While some of these may seem like minor fixes, taken as a whole, you’ll need to wonder what else was deferred that you can’t see. It’s something that you definitely need to share with your client.

Check out the floors

While your home-buying client is marveling over the gorgeous hardwood floors in a home, you should be checking to see if they slope.

Especially if the home isn’t vintage, sloping floors may indicate foundation problems.

The two most common include “ . . . uneven settling in the outer foundation, or uneven settling of the support columns beneath the floor system. Either way, it’s not a problem that fixes itself, but it is a problem that will get worse over time,” warns the experts at BDry.com.

Buying a home with foundation problems isn’t something you want to encourage. HomeAdvisor.com claims that the national average cost to repair a foundation is $4,158.

Centex Foundation Repair in Central Texas gives us a better idea of cost by looking at their client’s bills: $2,162.42 on the low end to $13,705.19 on the high end.

“. . . so far this year our average price of repairs has been $5,911.70,” they claim on their website.

Excite Fence Sitters to take the first step (available in the postcard section under Fence Sitters Series)

Run this by your client before he or she falls madly in love with those Brazilian walnut floors.

Send at least 100 The Time is Now postcards from the Fence Sitter Series to an area where you want more buyers.

Need help targeting the perfect niche of buyers or sellers? Use our mailing list tool to create the ideal list (it’s easy) or call our support team for assistance at 866.405.3638!

PLUS: When you have time…here are Free ways we can help you have an INVINCIBLE 2019!

1. Become a Listing Legend Free eBook 

Ready to take a vertical leap in your real estate career? If you’re looking for inspiration…and the tools and methods to dominate a market and go to the top in real estate…you’ll find them in this free book. – Click Here 

 

 

 

2. “Get More Listings” Free Online Webinar

 

“Get MORE Listings & Begin to Dominate Your Market!” Free online webinar. Learn the 3-7-27 strategy for explosive growth, why 95% of agents have less than 20% market share, and how to become the agent everyone competes against. – Click Here

 

 

3. The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan

The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Get More Listings, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence. – Click Here

 

 

4. The Free One-Page Real Estate Business Plan

Treat your business like a business it is vital to long-term success in this industry. Some agents may put together elaborate business plans, yet there’s something powerful about keeping it simple. Check out our one page Online Real Estate Business Plan.  – Click Here

 

 

5. The Free Online ROI Calculator

Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! – Click Here

 

 

Keeping past customers coming back should be easy…

After all, you don’t need to “sell” them on your service and phone calls to them are warm and friendly. In addition, if you did your job right, they know, like and trust you.

So, why do so many agents fail miserably at retaining past customers? And how are you going to ensure, as you head into the new year, that you keep your past clients present?

Beyond this being a smart question, it is also an important financial decision.

The following are some statistics that explain why you should strive to remain top-of-mind with former customers and some tips to help you do so.

The puzzling facts

Nearly 90 percent of real estate consumers surveyed by NAR say that they would use their agent again and that they would recommend their agent to others.

Yet the same statistics show that, sadly, only 12 percent of consumers actually used an agent that they had worked with in the past. Dive deep into these numbers and you can easily see that real estate consumers want to use the agent they’ve worked with in the past,

Yet curiously, few do.

And, it’s a safe bet that they don’t because they forgot about the agent and went with one referred by a friend, family member or colleague.

A financial reality

“Depending on which study you read, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one,” claims Amy Gallo at Harvard Business Review.

In fact, there’s a formula you can use to determine just how much chasing after new business costs you each year.

Divide your total marketing and sales costs (what you spend on gas driving buyers around, listing expenses, etc.) by the number of new customers you acquired during the year.

Scary, isn’t it? Those are some expensive customers.

Former customers, on the other hand, are gold mines. “Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%,” according to Frederick F. Reichheld and Phil Schefter of Harvard Business School.

How’s your past customer list looking? If it appears dry and parched, it’s time to try nurturing it.

Customer retention strategies

Remaining top-of-mind with former customers doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor, although the larger and splashier the “touch,” the more memorable you’ll be.

Less expensive ways to keep in touch are the no-brainer methods that tend to fall through the cracks of the busy agent’s schedule.

  • Drip email campaigns
  • Monthly direct mail, of interest to your customers, such as newsletters and market updates
  • Birthday and anniversary postcards
  • “Or offer home maintenance reminders (e.g., changing out smoke detector batteries once a year),” suggests Melissa Dittmann Tracey at realtormag.org.

Face-to-face

Some experts recommend a quarterly face-to-face visit with former customers. Take them to coffee, happy hour or lunch. Or to get the most bang for your customer-retention buck, throw some sort of annual customer appreciation event.

It can be as lavish as the black-tie event Buyer’s Edge agent Steve Israel holds (complete with orchestra and catered food), or as simple as a casual backyard summer barbecue.

You might even consider an event that not only brings your past customers back into your sphere but benefits your favorite non-profit as well.

Kathy Broock Ballard invites customers, past and present, to “The Annual Erin Go Bra(gh) Party” on St. Patrick’s Day. She asks that they bring an item of clothing for the local women’s shelter and in return, lunch and an open bar are theirs to enjoy.

An agent in San Francisco holds a crab feed every year during Dungeness season. He holds it in partnership with a lender and title company to keep expenses to a minimum.

Don’t forget to ask

Whether it’s one-on-one or as part of an event, don’t forget to ask former customers if they know anyone who may be thinking of buying or selling real estate. Focusing your “ask” may bring better results, according to the late Jay Conrad Levinson, father of Guerilla Marketing.

Narrow “the universe of those you ask,” he suggests in the book “Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days.” For instance, instead of asking your weekend golf partner to thumb through his mental database of everyone she knows, ask her who else she plays golf with who may be thinking of buying or selling real estate.

The smaller you make the “universe,” the more likely your customer will be able to come up with a name.

Keeping in touch with the customers you already know and who know you is one of the easier parts of your business. By not periodically reaching out to them, you’re leaving easy money on the table for your competition to grab.

Start sending out a Community Newsletter to your clients each month to remind them of who to turn to for expert guidance when needed.

Need help targeting the perfect niche of buyers or sellers? Use our mailing list tool to create the ideal list (it’s easy) or call our support team for assistance at 866.405.3638!

PLUS: When you have time…here are 3 free ways we can help you STILL CRUSH IT in 2018!

1. Become a Listing Legend Free ebook.

Ready to take a vertical leap in your real estate career? If you’re looking for inspiration…and the tools and methods to dominate a market and go to the top in real estate…you’ll find them in this free book. – Click Here 

2. The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan.

The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Listing Inventory, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence – Click Here

2. The Free Online ROI Calculator. 

Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! – Click Here

Also…check out these cool tools 

 Three Click Postcards – Just snap a home photo & create a postcard all from your mobile phone

MLSmailings.com – Automated Just Listed, Just Sold Postcards

Market Dominator System – Become a neighborhood brand

Want to Refer a friend or colleague? Refer them, Here. THEY get a Free $25 Gift Card and YOU become their hero. BTW, you also get a $25 Gift Card too (now that’s what I’m talking about)!

Whether or not to give gifts to real estate clients at or after closing is an often-debated topic.

Those in the “yes” camp struggle with coming up with a gift that is personal, but not too personal, and whether or not the gift should include the agent’s branding.

It’s a tall order, but, thankfully, we’ve checked with our agent network and, as usual, have some brilliant real estate closing gift ideas to share.

Stop hating on gift cards

No, a gift card isn’t highly original and whether or not to choose one as a gift depends on your relationship with each particular client. But, it is sure to be a welcome and much-appreciated closing gift for clients on a strict budget (maybe your FHA buyers?).

You can’t go wrong with a gift card from Lowe’s or Home Depot or any of the large home décor stores. If your client is an avid gardener, check if your local nursery offers gift cards. And, if you’re still stuck for ideas, how about a gift of delivery service with an Instacart or Uber gift card? The latter can also be used for Uber’s ride-sharing service. 

Artwork

Snap a photo of your clients and their kids and/or pets standing in front of their new home. Then, send it to an artist who can turn it into something family-room-wall-worthy.

Or, have the portrait made into “Just Moved” cards for the clients to send to friends and family. Pre-stamping the envelopes, by the way, is a thoughtful step that they won’t expect.

The internet is the best place to find talented, reasonably-priced artists who specialize in creating portraits from photographs. And, you can often find one who will do so in your preferred medium, from pencil to watercolor to oil.

Here are several websites I found while doing some online sleuthing:

  • Paint your Life
  • Portrait Painting
  • Instapainting
  • Portraits on Demand
  • A number of artists on Etsy offer portraits from photos 
The gift that keeps on giving, keeping you top-of-mind

How can a former client forget you when, each month, something amazing is delivered to their door?

No, they aren’t cheap (although some are surprisingly affordable), but subscription boxes are appreciated.

  • Meal boxes (there are a number of choices, such as Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh)
  • Fresh flowers
  • Bagels
  • Bark Box or Rescue Box (for the dog “Mom” or “Dad”)
  • FilterEasy (yes! No more schlepping to Home Depot to pick up HVAC filters)
  • Gardening
  • Beauty items (for female clients, Birchbox is among the most popular)

Find other popular subscription services at impactbnd.com.

Consider keeping it local by gifting several hours of services that you know your client will use. These include:

  • Dog walking
  • House cleaning
  • Landscaping
  • Pool cleaning and servicing
  • Handyman
  • Organizing
  • Errand running 
Techster clients will love these

I joined my neighborhood’s forum on NextDoor.com and the most popular conversations among neighboring homeowners involve home security. Most of the homeowners either own or are interested in purchasing the Ring video doorbell. They’re offered at a variety of price points, with the least expensive starting at about $100.

Google Home Mini for less than $50 (a smart speaker with Google Assistant built in) is so popular that the folks at Google say they’ve sold “more than one device every second since they started shipping in October” of last year.

Instead of the keys to their new home, imagine handing your homebuying clients a smart lock instead. Yes, they’re pricey, but the popular 3rd generation of the August Smart Lock sells for only $129 and the Kwikset Kevo Blue Tooth Deadbolt is priced at slightly less than $150.

While the topic of whether or not to gift your clients at closing seems to be a matter of personal preference, most agree that if you will be giving a closing gift, keep your branding off of it.

Then, put some thought behind it. If it’s a gift card your clients truly need, then, by all means, gift them with one. If not, we hope our list helps guide you to the perfect real estate closing gift.

With client appreciation on your mind, right now is the perfect time to all of your incredible clients with a Customer Appreciation postcard.
Send the All My Thanks postcard to all of your past clients and let them know just how much they mean to you.

Need help targeting the perfect niche of buyers or sellers? Use our mailing list tool to create the ideal list (it’s easy) or call our support team for assistance at 866.405.3638!

PLUS: When you have time…here are 2 free ways we can help you STILL CRUSH IT in 2018!

1.  The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan.

The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Listing Inventory, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence – Click Here

2. The Free Online ROI Calculator. 

Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! – Click Here

Also…check out these cool tools 

 Three Click Postcards – Just snap a home photo & create a postcard all from your mobile phone

MLSmailings.com – Automated Just Listed, Just Sold Postcards

Market Dominator System – Become a neighborhood brand

Want to Refer a friend or colleague? Refer them, Here. THEY get a Free $25 Gift Card and YOU become their hero. BTW, you also get a $25 Gift Card too (now that’s what I’m talking about)!