The real estate business is competitive. With so many agents out there, you need to go out of your way to ensure you make all of your customers feel special. If you don’t, you risk losing them to another agent – and you guarantee losing out on future business. You want your customers to turn to you for all of their real estate needs and refer you to their friends and family. To do so, you must make sure that each buyer you work with is a happy customer.
It’s no secret that the best real estate agents constantly secure repeat business by building long-lasting relationships with their customers. Keeping your customers well-informed, establishing personal connections with them and easing their fears and burdens are crucial ways to turn each buyer into a happy customer. There’s no doubt you already know this to be true, but are you applying this knowledge to your everyday practices?
No matter how long you’ve been in the industry, it always helps to analyze your business habits and see how you can improve your customers’ experiences. To help you, we’ve gathered 12 real estate tips for how to add personal touches that make your buyers feel extra special.
1. Educate Your Customers On The Home Buying Process
Home buying can be a stressful experience, especially for first-time buyers. Take the edge off your clients’ fears from day one by telling them what to expect. Educate your buyers on their options and walk them through the entire home buying process from searching for listings to closing on their new home.
Explain the forms they’ll need to fill out and the contingencies they can potentially include in their contract. Ensure that they have an understanding of timing – how quickly they can lose out on homes and how long it can take to find the right one – and provide rough temporal estimates for each step that follows signing a contract.
“One of the main things real estate agents can do to ease the stress of the home buying process is sit down and do a buyer’s consultation,” says Lorraine Beato, a licensed REALTOR® with Palmer House Properties in Atlanta. “One of the things I do is lay out all the time frames. I go through the purchase contract and all of the additional contract addendums and exhibits. I explain what they are, how they work and how I protect the buyer’s interest at all times throughout the contract.”
When your customers are fully aware of the stages, procedures, timelines and paperwork, they’ll feel far more comfortable and know that they’re well taken care of.
2. Provide Materials That Your Customers Can Review At Home
Even after you discuss all aspects of the home buying process with your clients, it’s likely that they’ll need a refresher course at some point. After all, there are so many terms they may be unfamiliar with and so much that they’ll need to remember. Therefore, you can empower your buyers by putting information in their hands.
“Agents can break down the process for their clients in ways they’ll understand,” says Ashley Oshinsky, licensed REALTOR® and founder of Higher Living Real Estate LLC. “That’s why I’ve created buyer guides that are specific to my customers’ needs, as well as checklists, so they have something they can always refer back to.”
Creating informational materials for your customers to take home will help eliminate their anxiety, as it will ensure they have something to reference whenever questions arise. Furthermore, providing these resources will help to convey your level of expertise.
So, try to make the materials that you create for your customers specific. Reading your detailed explanations will reinforce the fact that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to help them through this momentous milestone.
3. Get To Know Your Customers On A Personal Level
Once you’ve ensured your customers are informed about the home buying process, it’s crucial you take time to become properly acquainted with them. All real estate agents know that asking buyers questions is a significant part of determining what kind of home is right for them. The better you get to know your customers, the more useful you can be in the home search phase of their experience. However, the importance of getting to know your buyers must go beyond identifying appropriate listings for them.
“In my opinion, real estate agents need to remember that their clients are people and not a transaction,” says Beato. “I treat all of my buyers as if they were family members. I get to know them, their lifestyle, what they like to do and meet any family members that may be involved in the transaction. I build a relationship with them, and I would say that about 90% of my past buyers are now friends.”
Customers are happiest with real estate agents they trust, and the best way to foster that trust is through conversation. Ask your customers questions about their lives and interests in a tone that’s conversational instead of interrogative. Tell them about yourself and make yourself relatable by drawing connections between your shared passions and experiences. Demonstrating that you care about them beyond the scope of the transaction is crucial for making your customers feel special and comfortable in your care.
4. Make Sure You Listen And Take Notes
When you ask your customers about themselves, make sure you’re not just trying to make polite conversation. We’ve all experienced those moments when we ask someone a question and realize that we weren’t paying attention to their answer. Don’t let that happen with your customers. Sincerity is essential when building any relationship.
Your customers are looking for someone who really hears them. So, make sure that when you ask them questions about their interests, preferences and personal lives, you truly listen to their answers.
“By being available and doing a very simple yet profound thing – listening – we can create a more personal experience for buyers,” says Mary Burak, a licensed REALTOR® for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. “This is all about them, and they need to know that I understand their needs. Listening is huge.”
Make sure you actively listen to your customers, so you remember everything they tell you. If you’re worried about your memory, you should take notes. Have a pen and paper ready during your initial meetings. You can jot down notes throughout your consultation. Then, in future conversations and after each showing, make sure to make additional jottings about what you learn about your customers and their preferences.
You want to be able to talk about things they’ve told you about themselves in future conversations because that’s how you build trust and a lasting relationship. Referencing previous conversations will signal to them that you know and understand them. The more they think you get them, the easier it will be to foster your relationship after closing – which will mean more repeat business and referrals.
5. Put Yourself In Their Shoes
There are many customers out there who think that real estate agents only care about the commission. Make sure that your customers know you care about them. The most effective way to ensure that you’re always acting in your customers’ best interest is to consider their perspective whenever a decision needs to be made.
“In addition to being speedy to respond, I really try to always be emotionally intelligent. I put myself in their shoes,” says Jamie Safier, a real estate agent for Douglas Elliman. “How would I feel if I got this offer? If I was shown this house? Would it make me happy? These are important things to keep in mind to make the experience of buying or selling a home as seamless as possible.”
Remember, you’re the one who has the real estate experience, but your customers are the ones who have the most stake in the transaction. Eliminate the gap, so you can better anticipate their concerns. Even when tough conversations need to be had, your buyers will appreciate how sensitive you are to their needs. Making it clear that you’re basing your advice on what’s best for them, as opposed to what’s most likely to increase your commission, will go miles in building their trust.
6. Check-In With Your Customers Constantly
Even after you’ve educated your customers on what to expect from the home buying experience, they’ll still be anxious. “The home buying process is stressful,” says Safier. “One thing I do for my clients is try to always be available. They have my cell phone number, and I’m always quick to respond and answer questions. I also make sure I’m checking in with them regularly, sending them updates and new searches often.”
Making yourself available to your customers is crucial because they’ll have loads of questions. Buyers want agents who always respond promptly. But don’t wait for your customers to reach out to you. The happiest customers are those who feel that their agents are always thinking about them. So, check-in with your buyers throughout the process.
Of course, you’ll be sending your customers new listings and updates whenever circumstances change. However, you should go a step further. Don’t let a week go by without contacting your customers – even if you don’t have any new information to provide. These check-ins will communicate that you’re still working for them even when the home buying process seems to be at a standstill. It will reassure them that you’re on top of the situation and doing everything you can to move things forward.
7. Make It Clear That Your Time Is Their Time
Active listening is key to making customers feel heard, but being truly present goes beyond your listening skills. When you’re with your customers or speaking to them over the phone, make it appear as though you have nowhere else to be, nothing else to attend to.
“What is one of the biggest gripes you hear about going to the doctor? They’re often late, and many tend to rush through the appointment. Nobody likes feeling like they’re just another ‘appointment,’” says Safier. “And the same goes for real estate. I am always early and make sure my clients know that I have all the time they need.”
Even if you score the ideal home for your buyers, what they’ll remember is the way you treated them throughout the process. When you treat customers like one of many “appointments,” you indicate that you don’t care about them as people. Regardless of how busy you are, try not to book appointments close together. Leave yourself extra time to spend with each customer, so they don’t feel rushed and feel comfortable opening up to you.
8. Make Each Customer Feel Like Your Only One
Balancing multiple customers and clients at once requires you to budget your time. However, your buyers want all of your attention. They want to feel as though they’re your only customers because the thought – however misguided – leads them to believe that your entire day is centered around getting them into their new home.
“When scheduling a showing with a buyer, I start with, ‘What day and time works best for you?’ so they feel like they are my sole focus. I schedule myself, so I can take ample time with each client, and I make it a point to never, ever talk about appointments I’m coming from or about to go to – no matter how busy I may feel,” says Jim Armstrong, licensed REALTOR® with JG Real Estate.
Ensuring that your customers feel that your time is all about them is only half the battle when communicating that they’re special to you. Reply with urgency to every question and request. And, like Armstrong, refrain from speaking about other customers and clients. Mentioning other deals in the presence of your buyers has the potential to cause them to worry that you’re distracted. Mitigate their concerns by giving zero indication that you’re working with anyone else.
9. Find Specific Ways To Make Your Customers’ Lives Easier
The stress of buying a home can be a lot to bear along with everyday responsibilities. So, any time you can take something off your customers’ plate, you should go for it. Doing so even when the task is not necessarily within your job description will improve your customers’ experience and leave them floored by your sensitivity and efforts.
If customers are too busy to make it to an open house or showing, go without them and film a guided tour of the property. If they don’t know anyone in their new neighborhood, help them network and make new friends. If they’re worried about being able to make time for cleaning or organizing their new home, set them up with a cleaning service or organizer. If their appliances aren’t installed yet, or you know they’ll be too exhausted to make dinner on move-in day, bring food to them or treat them to dinner at a local restaurant.
“I maintain a service mindset where I put the customers first and truly want the best for them,” says Armstrong. “Recently, I drove an hour to pick up one of my two buyers to then drive another hour to the closing location – since her alternative would have been to pay an exorbitant amount for a ride-sharing service. In that case, I went about an extra 50 miles for my customer!”
If you listen to your customers’ needs, you’ll find all sorts of creative ways to lighten their load. And, they’ll appreciate you all the more for it. By taking care of the small things, you’ll ensure that your customers want to work with you again and refer you to all their friends.
10. Send Hand-Written Notes On Occasions
It’s the personal touches that you add, which make your buyers happy customers. Many real estate agents will send thank you notes or holiday greetings over email, but you can stand out by sending hand-written messages instead.
“I write cards to my buyers after our first consultation. And once they’re in their new home, I write them a congratulatory card as well,” says Andrew Sanchez, REALTOR® for Wardley Real Estate. “This lets my buyers know I truly care about them.”
People get a slew of emails every day and tend to gloss over the less important ones. You can make sure that your customers are touched by the gesture by taking the extra time to write out a card and send it through the mail. Delivered mail is far more personal than email. It conveys a level of connection that is much deeper.
During your working relationship, you can send your customers a note after your first consultation and closing on their new house. After they’re settled in their new home, you can continue to send your customers cards for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Your customers will be wowed by your thoughtfulness and reminded to refer you to their family and friends.
11. Present Your Customers With Housewarming Gifts After Closing
Sure, everyone loves receiving gifts, but that’s not why you should give your customers housewarming presents. The reason is that it’s a personal gesture that implies you care more about your customers than you do the income they’ve provided you.
“I give a housewarming gift and congratulations card, thanking them for their business and wishing them well in their new home,” says Burak. “The kind of gift depends on the buyer and the home they have purchased. I like to be personal with a gift and note, which I design for that particular buyer. Many times, I have had a custom portrait of their home painted by a professional artist.”
Buying a home is a big deal to your customers, so you should be sure to acknowledge and congratulate them for accomplishing this tremendous feat. But, the gift you choose to give should not be one-size-fits-all. The best gifts are personal ones that remind your customers of how well you know them.
12. Be Your Customers’ Go-To Resource Even After Closing
Just because the deal has closed doesn’t mean your buyers will cease to need your expertise. Effective real estate agents retain their customers even after they’ve received their commission checks by continuing to be a resource for every real estate need.
Offer your customers referrals to local vendors throughout the home buying process to simplify their lives. And, continue to make introductions to contractors, designers, plumbers, etc. after your work is technically done in order to keep the lines of communication open long after your customers have their new keys in hand.
“I have a full list of preferred vendors available, who are my go-to,” says Adriana Buenrostro, a licensed REALTOR® with Prosper Real Estate in California. “This includes local lenders, handymen, contractors, cleaners – all the way to a trust attorney, CPA, local insurance agent, etc. I have found that what most customers enjoy is knowing that they are in good hands. I know firsthand that they are because I use most of these vendors personally.”
When you make introductions to local vendors, be sure that you can vouch for the quality of work that they do. Being able to provide referrals is only as useful as the vendors themselves are.
Buenrostro adds, “In our area, contractors and handymen are in high demand and often booked out for months. So, if I am helping you purchase a cosmetic fixer, I will have someone available to refer and start your project at the close of escrow if needed.”
Becoming a walking Angie’s List is yet another way that you can help diminish the stressfulness of buying a new home. So, be ready to anticipate your buyers’ vendor needs as you get ready to close on their new home.
The real estate business is a service industry. And, your buyers deserve the best customer service you’re capable of providing. So, incorporate these 12 real estate tips into your daily practices to ensure that all of your buyers are happy customers who are motivated to enlist your services in the future.
Do you have any tips for making customers feel extra special? Share them in the comments!
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Source: Home Loans