Congratulations, you’ve have closed the sale on another home! After spending weeks or even months on call, shuttling your clients to and from potential listing to potential listing, and finally finding them the home of their dreams, you submitted their offer, worked your way through the transaction and successfully closed the account. As an agent, you know that realtors play the word-of-mouth and referrals game, where positive client relations are vital to a thriving practice. So, now that the functional portion of your duties are over, what else will your clients remember you by?
A practice unique to real estate is providing clients with closing gifts after successfully buying or selling property. This notion of rewarding your client may seem odd, as no other industry really demonstrates this habit. It is not likely that your doctor, accountant, or lawyer will gift you after having utilized their services. But the giving of these gifts serves two main purposes: one, and most importantly, it allows you to showcase your sincere and genuine appreciation for your client and secondly, as touched upon earlier, it is a subtle method that might potentially lead to generating referrals.
So while some agents refrain from gift-giving, it is apparent that a great majority finds value in doing so. Not only do you build a rapport with your client even after the transaction occurs, but there could also be a small but worth-mentioning benefit for you, as sending clients closing gifts could translate into greater tax deductions. Shannon O’Brien of Trulia.com writes that agents can deduct up to $25 per gift they give during the span of the year. Though that might not sound incredibly advantageous, consistently bestowing clients with gifts could really cause that deduction to add up.
Now that the importance of closing gifts has been established, an important subsequent discussion would be what kind of gift would be most suitable to give. Realtor.org polled readers and learned that flowers and plants are the most popular gifts, with nearly half of survey respondents indicating that to be their answer. Coming in as a close second are gift baskets, having been given by 43% of readers, personalized home accessories by 39%, alcoholic beverages by 32%, and foods or sweets by 26%. How agents approach this gift-giving process really differs with each individual. Some keep it simple, presenting all clients with the same gift. However, others choose more thoughtfully, selecting gifts especially appropriate for each person. Whichever method you stand by, make sure that each gift you give sends the same message thanking the client and wishing him or her good luck. These investments, in addition to providing your clients with a nice little gift may reap rewards for you in the years to come!
What goes in to choosing the perfect closing gift? Here are some guidelines to get you started.
- Make it personal. The conundrum of selecting a thank-you present for your client can largely be solved by looking into who your client is. You can likely reference small details from past conversations and incorporate them into your gift selection. Adding a personal touch to the gift communicates that you have spent a greater amount of time and effort to make the selection, making your client feel that much more appreciated and listened to throughout the process. For instance, you could invest in personalized key chains or wine glasses. A great idea for first-time homebuyers could be a self-inking address stamp.
- Make it practical. For example, if your client purchased the home with plans to flip it, gifts like the aforementioned key chains and stamps may prove to be superfluous and obsolete because it is not practical in his or her situation. Gift cards to home improvement stores are perfect in this case! Another gift certificate that could prove useful would be for a moving truck or for a rental unit. Choose a closing gift that is not only useful, but is also extremely fitting of your clients’ needs. These sensible gifts say to your client that you are thinking about their future needs, and that you are still thinking about them long after the sale is over.
- Make it local. Finding a gift that supports small businesses around the area will surely add to the uniqueness factor of the gift. People are proud of where they live so sending a small sample of their area’s specialty is sure to be a hit. You could purchase a wine from a local winery or vineyard or a gift basket from a local chocolatier. Whatever you choose, be creative! The important part is finding items with deep connections to the local area and to package them into a special closing gift your clients will never forget.
The bottom line here is that gestures like closing gifts are essential in maintaining great connections with your clients even after you have closed a sale with them. Similarly, saying thank you is vital in building referral businesses. Continuing to follow up and to show your clients that they are still in your thoughts will help them to remember you positively the next time they think about buying or selling a property or the next time their friends or family are doing so. All in all, making these monetary investments like closing gifts is not a large commitment at all, and they are certain to help you build both your business and reputation in the long run.