Brokers and brokerages are shifting lead building efforts to the online world and for a good reason – it’s proven to be effective with thousands of home searches online every day. But to what extent is this helping or hurting the client’s experience? And to what extent is this making your job as an agent fulfilling?
As useful as real estate tech is for home buyers, sellers, and brokers, the crux of what it means to be an agent – a support system, a reliable professional, and an accessible resource – are all still a crucial part of the job. Brokers who practice and excel at making warm connections stand out from the crowd.
Finding a good balance between juggling your online presence and embracing every personal connection isn’t easy, but will make for a better experience for your relationships, and contribute more to your overall happiness as an agent.
How do you build warm connections rather than cold leads?
- Take an old-school approach.
Not long ago before smartphones and inbound marketing, frequently meeting with clients in person to get acquainted, go over paperwork or discuss offers was necessary without today’s automated signing and online tools. Transactions are now much faster and efficient, but much more impersonal. As a result, ensuring a smooth overall experience of home buying and selling can unintentionally become a lower priority.
Although these kinds meetings are now increasingly skipped-over, they are still an invaluable use of time, and more important than ever.
David Warren, Managing Broker of Metropolist, still takes time to meet with new clients in coffee shops to help build a rapport. “It’s really all about getting to know the person and good old-fashioned customer service,” says Warren. Using this time to talk about goals and finances is the objective of the meeting, but just as importantly, this time is useful to learn more about the client, and prepare them for what can be an emotional process.
“If they want to take 6 months to a year to buy a home, then that’s okay with me – it’s about getting to know their journey up to this point and their future goals,” says Warren.
- Immerse yourself in the local community.
Local knowledge about the community around a home is sometimes just as important as the home itself – and you can’t sell a neighborhood you know nothing about.
Get active in community clubs, service projects and local events. Being involved in the community gives you a chance to network, build warm connections potential clients and build lasting relationships with professional contacts.
Your client and local community expect you to be an expert on local Seattle real estate trends and neighborhoods, but also expect you to care about their individual experience more than anything. Embrace your community to show you care, and use community knowledge to create a better buying experience. This produces a window into the community for your clients and builds a reputation for yourself.
Since Seattle is such a large metropolitan-area, Warren says it’s difficult to become well-known in a crowded community, but it’s important for brokers in smaller communities to take advantage of this opportunity. Even in such a huge city, Warren says he tries to be involved in his neighborhood where he lives, and builds leads that he otherwise wouldn’t have found online.
- Be available and collaborative.
Having the proper mindset for collaboration is also a vital factor for building warm connections. Putting yourself in the shoes of the client, and being open-minded about any questions (at any time of the day) does wonders for the relationship with your client.
“It helps when [the client] has someone they’re comfortable calling at 11 p.m. when they’re having a change of heart about an offer, or just need to talk,” says Warren.
Buying a home is equally (if not more) a personal investment than it is a financial investment. A home is where your client will potentially live for many years, watch their children grow up and create lasting memories. This is why being there as an emotional support is critical to building trust.
- Be patient and explain details.
Especially in a competitive market like Seattle, it may be tempting to expedite the process by sending an offer immediately without explaining much detail to the client. While automation is creating a seamless and faster transaction, the personal and emotional factors involved for buyers and sellers may not stay up to speed.
“It’s easy to move too fast,” says Warren. “Some teams rush, rush, rush to finish transactions when the process should be slow and at the pace the client is comfortable with.”
When putting together an offer, Warren suggests meeting in person to explain everything about the offer. For example, sometimes to make an offer stand out in a competitive market, it’s necessary to remove contingencies from an offer – but this is extremely important to discuss with your client before going all-in. Your client should know the risks an offer has without financial and inspection contingencies. Your clients will appreciate your transparency!
While it may appear as if making the extra effort only benefits the client – ‘warm connections’ are not as one-sided as it seems. Brokers who raise the level of professionalism and have the proper mindset for collaboration find this method to be much more rewarding, and are much happier with their careers.