Sunday, April 14, 2024

closing gifts

    “I think I’ll send my new patient a $50 Macy’s gift certificate to thank her for allowing me to perform her annual physical,” said no doctor, ever. Come to think of it, my hairdresser, accountant, and lawyer have never gifted me either.

    Yet real estate agents, somewhere along the line, came up with this notion that they absolutely must provide a closing gift to their clients. 

    Obviously, the agent who first gifted a client must’ve found the practice successful because it was quickly copied and has now become standard practice.

    Does giving a gift to a client make you memorable? If that were the case, more service industries would take up the practice, don’t you think? I don’t know about you, but I return to my hair stylist every month because I love the way she cuts my hair.

    My accountant saves me money on my taxes. So, is it the gift that makes them remember you, or was it your performance?

    Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of giving closing gifts, to real estate clients.

    Pros

    I’m not a tax expert or an accountant, but the IRS says agents can deduct up to $25 for each person they gift during the year. No, that’s not a whole lot of money and if you make the big bucks, you’ll need to buy a whole lot of gifts throughout the year to even put a dent in your tax bill.

    If you feel you must give a gift, consider handing your clients the keys to their new home on a quality (meaning, not plastic) keychain. With your branding on it, you’ll be able to deduct it as a marketing expense and possibly get a larger deduction. Talk to your tax professional.

    A swanky annual client appreciation event, on the other hand, will give you a bigger tax deduction as well as put you right back there at the top of their mind.

    The Content Card Series is shown above. To learn more, Click Here.

    Cons

    Since referrals are the lifeblood of a successful real estate practice, and keeping them coming in requires remaining top-of-mind with former clients, it would have to be a major gift to make you memorable throughout the years.

    What will make you memorable is frequent contact throughout the year — the birthday cards, the client appreciation events, and the ongoing direct mail campaigns.

    Here’s something else to consider: you are a buyer’s agent. You have been at your client’s beck and call, spending weeks or even months driving your clients to house after house before they finally found one they wanted. 

    You submitted the offer, you coordinated your client’s end of the transaction, and you smoothly paved the way to a successful close. All parties are satisfied with the outcome. In return, you are paid a percentage of the sales price of the home.

    You did your job and you got paid. Shake hands, as business people do, thank them for their business, and move on to your next client. 

    The subject of closing gifts, as you know, is a point of contention among agents. How about you?  Do you gift?


    PLUS: When you have time…below are some marketing tools to help support your success.

    1. Put Your Real Estate Business a Step Above with Your Own Branded Magazine

    Homes & Life Magazine is a customizable magazine with rich, full-color content and a sharp, professional aesthetic. It includes compelling, direct, response-driven articles written by real estate industry experts and engaging lifestyle content. Send out Homes & Life Magazine in Just Minutes – No Minimums Required. Or we’ll ship it to you. Homes & Life Magazine is the ultimate “Coffee Table Lingerer”! …and it costs less than sending a greeting card!Click Here

    2. The Free 6-Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan

    The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 6-Month Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do and when. Four key market segments include niche Markets, geographic farming, sphere of influence, and past clients. – Click Here

    3. The Free Interactive 6-Month Real Estate Business Review

    The Free Interactive 6-Month Real Estate Business Review allows you to enter your business goals for the remainder of the year and get a breakdown of how many prospects, listings, closings, and so on are needed to reach your goals.   – Click Here

    4. The Become a Listing Legend Free eBook 

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Become-A-Listing-Legend-3D-Book-White-274x300.jpg

    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


      Call it something fancy, such as a “Concierge Service,” or for what it is, a vendor referral service, but if you plan on offering this service to your real estate clients, learn how to avoid legal and other problems.

      First, however, head on over to part one in this series. You’ll find it here.

      RESPA refresher course

      The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, or RESPA for short, contains several land mines for agents that you’ll want to avoid at all costs.

      One goal of the Act was to crack down on kickbacks and other “abusive practices” which were common in the industry.

      While the heaviest regulations fall on those in the mortgage and title industries, real estate agents can run afoul of the rules.

      It’s a wise agent who will make the following a steadfast practice.

      I will not request, require or accept “a payment for the referral of business” from anyone for making a referral.

      The word “payment is used synonymously with the giving or receiving of a ‘thing of value,’” according to the experts at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).


      The Content Card Series is shown above. To see more, Click HERE.


      It’s a fine line you’re walking

      Consider not publishing the list until you have at least two companies in each section. For instance, two landscapers, two electricians, etc.

      Then, cover your backside with an additional layer by displaying a disclaimer on the vendor list and anywhere it is published, such as on your website.

      “When offering vendor recommendations to clients, include in writing that it is their responsibility to review vendors and select one that best fits their needs. Add language that indicates you’re providing a few recommendations for consideration, but you advise they review additional options to find the right fit,” cautions the pros at cresinsurance.com.

      We found several disclaimers online, including “We do not require a fee to be on our preferred vendor list. Instead, we require a proven track record of customer satisfaction.”

      Also, check out this disclaimer at sarealtywatch.com

      Let’s call it something else

      Dump the word “preferred” in the title’s list and never refer to a mortgage service provider by that word.

      Ken Trepeta, president of the Real Estate Services Providers Council Inc. (RESPRO) told Inman.com that he thinks “… the term ‘preferred’ has become a minefield.” 

      “Do not designate a settlement service provider as the broker’s or agent’s ‘preferred’ company.” 

      Continued due diligence is a must

      A one-time vetting of vendors isn’t enough. In fact, they should be vetted on an ongoing basis. The last thing you need is to have one go sour and provide crummy customer service to one of your clients or former clients.

      These people reflect on your professionalism, so follow up with clients who use them. If in doubt about any vendor’s responsiveness and overall customer service, dump him/her. 

      While actual closing gifts are still a “thing” in real estate, we believe that brilliant customer service is the best gift you can offer. A vendor referral service is a gift that keeps on giving.


      PLUS: When you have time…below are some marketing tools to help support your success.

      1. Put Your Real Estate Business a Step Above with Your Own Branded Magazine

      Homes & Life Magazine is a customizable magazine with rich, full-color content and a sharp, professional aesthetic. It includes compelling, direct response-driven articles written by real estate industry experts combined with engaging lifestyle content. Send out Homes & Life Magazine in Just Minutes – No Minimums Required. Or we’ll ship it to you.

      Homes & Life Magazine is the ultimate “Coffee Table Lingerer”! …and it costs less than sending a greeting card!Click Here


      2. The Free 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 and when. Four key market segments include niche Markets, geographic farming, sphere of influence, and past clients. – Click Here

      3. The BusinessBase, SOI building system

      The most effective thing you can do to build a real estate business is to become more visible, more likable, and remembered more often. The BusinessBASE™ not only checks all of these boxes but is also a business-building machine. In two easy steps, you can begin to build a robust sphere of influence that will provide you a lifetime of repeat business and referrals. – Click Here

      4. The Free Interactive Real Estate Business Plan

      The Free Interactive Real Estate Business Plan allows you to enter your business goals for this year and get a breakdown of how many prospects, listings, closing, and so on are needed to reach your goals.  – Click Here

      5. The Become a Listing Legend Free eBook 

      This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Become-A-Listing-Legend-3D-Book-White-274x300.jpg

      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

      6. The Take a Listing Today Podcast

      Watch the ProspectsPLUS!, Take a Listing Today Podcast for actionable content to help you get more listings. – Click Here


        Nope. Not another debate about whether or not to gift your clients at closing. Just a polite plea to change up what you’re gifting.

        You’ll find what seems like endless advice online about closing gifts. The most popular suggestions include cutting boards (right?), gift cards, welcome mats and knives.

        I think we can all agree that anything with your logo, face or other branding is a giant “no way!” Those are gifts that end up in the trash, the closet or at the local thrift shop.

        So, what’s a modern, thoughtful closing gift?

        “That’s going to depend a lot on the price point of the listing and your relationship with your clients,” according to Emile L’Eplattenier at TheClose.com.

        And, we might add, your budget.

        You’ve just spent at least 30 days getting to know these people, so we’re hoping you have some sort of clue as to what they like, need or want when they move into their new place.

        If you’re stuck, read on — we rounded up some gifts that agents are giving at closing that we think are both memorable and trendy.

        Thinking of You postcard from the Customer Appreciation Series
        Get them on the road to a smart home

        There are so many cool and useful smart home gadgets on the market now. From the basics, like an Amazon Echo or Google Assistant to a smart thermostat, doorbell or door lock, any would please the new homeowner.

        Get ideas by checking out Amazon’s most popular smart home tech:

        • Echo Dot (3rd generation)
        • Smart home cameras with night vision
        • Indoor security cameras
        • Ring doorbell
        • Nest Learning Thermostat
        • Smart light switch
        • Smart sprinkler system controller
        • Smart meat thermometer
        For the cash-strapped agent – Give a home management app

        Billed as “The All-In-One Home Management App,” the folks at Centriq have nailed the gifting decision process for those agents on a tight budget.

        This app promises to help your clients “… troubleshoot, operate and maintain …” their homes. The process sounds easy as well.

        “Just snap a picture of the appliances, electronics, and tools in your home. We’ll add the user manuals, warranties, how-to-videos and more.”

        For $7.95 per client, annually, the app will display your branding and it offers a “dedicated management dashboard,” among other goodies.

        Check out the agent plan at mycentriq.com.  

        Bling for the newly-minted luxury homebuyer

        The luxury home client’s gift may not look anything like that you purchase for the starter home client. And, luxury homebuyers can be further divided by newly-wealthy or old money when it comes time to choose a closing gift.

        “Those who are new to wealth tend to flaunt it,” according to Winston Chesterfield, the founder of Barton Consulting. The old-money types prefer “experiential gifts,” according to the editors at RobbReport.com.

        How about something to hold the keys to the new home, like a key ring from Tiffany & Co.?

        Old monied client? Consider gifting him/her with a book

        When billionaires gift their billionaire friends, they usually choose an “experiential gift,” according to Harry Cheadle at Vice.com. Agents with deep pockets may get some ideas by reading Cheadle’s blog post.

        Agents on a budget can’t go wrong with the careful selection of a book as a closing gift, according to Cheadle. Especially if that book is the biography of a successful person.

        No, books aren’t particularly trendy, but Steve Seibold, author of “How Rich People Think,” says that one of the first things we’ll notice when we enter a wealthy person’s home is “an extensive library of books they’ve used to educate themselves on how to become more successful.”

        “As long as that book is not attacking them and their way of life, they would value that gift and they would see that gift for an intelligent gift,” according to Chesterfield.

        Some clients are a cinch to buy for while others may take some thought. Hopefully, these ideas will set you on the path to finding that just-right closing gift.

        Thank You: Big as a House postcard from the Customer Appreciation Series
        Send the Thank You: Big as a House postcard from the Customer Appreciation Series to your past clients.

        PLUS: When you have time…here are some helpful resources we’ve made available to support your success.

        1. The Free Real Estate Mailing List Guide

        This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Real-Estate-Mailing-List-Guide2-3-D-999x1024.jpg

        The Real Estate Mailing List Guide outlines the top tools for generating targeted prospecting lists including Baby Boomers, Empty Nesters, Investors, Lifestyle Interests, High-Income Renters, Move-Up Markets, and more. The Guide also defines done-for-you marketing campaigns to match these markets. –Click Here

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

        This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2020-Planner-3D-999x1024.jpg

        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

        3. The Free One-Page Real Estate Business Plan

        This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Business-Plan-3D-Book-New1-270x300.png

        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

        4. Become a Listing Legend Free eBook 

        This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Become-A-Listing-Legend-3D-Book-White-274x300.jpg

        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

        5. The Market Dominator Branding System

        Become branded in a specific neighborhood with a Mega AMrketing piece sent automatically each month to an exclusive carrier route. Watch this excerpt on the Market Dominator from a recent Q&A Todd Robertson (Director of the Market Dominator) did below.

        For additional questions, you can reach Todd at 866-405-3638 or Todd.Robertson@prospectsplus.com or go to Market Dominator for more information.

        6. The Free Online ROI Calculator

        This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ROI-calculator-b-233x300.jpg

        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

        7. The Free Real Estate Marketing Guide “CRUSH IT” 

        This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is CRUSH-IT-Guide-3-d-298x300.jpg

        The “Crush It” Guide includes easy steps to launching an effective direct mail marketing campaign, how to create a targeted prospect list, the perfect way to layout marketing materials for success, seven opportunities available to target in your area right now. –Click Here

        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)!