Today’s guest post comes from Regina P. Brown, Author, Realtor, Inspirational Speaker and National Trainer.
In the high-end market, how much time does it take to acquire new sellers? What is your cost to attract buyers? What if you could spend less time generating leads because your clients are not only loyal, but recommend you to all their family and friends… that is every real estate agent’s dream!
We work hard to “roll out the red carpet” and give each client a celebrity experience. We stay in touch and keep our brand in front of our past clients, that’s why we mail out calendars, right? We even touch bases quarterly and clarify that we expect to be their agent on their next transaction. But it’s all about us, the agents… no wonder some people don’t trust us!
So, how can you provide real value to clients AFTER the closing? Of course that will lead to increased sales from your loyal sphere of influence, but the real satisfaction is doing the right thing. Developing long-term business relationships starts with being a reliable resource regarding a clients’ property — throughout the year, and for many years to come. Give such an amazing experience that you become their lifelong go-to real estate resource! Keep reading to discover the VIP Lifetime Client Value Program.
Find the Right Closing Gift
It begins with the closing experience, which sets the tone for your value program. Find a functional, pretty closing gift that adds value to their new home (example: Ring doorbell or Nest thermostat). Of course, the practical also means handing your clients a USB drive with their transaction paperwork. It includes sending them a copy of their closing statement in January to help with their income tax filing. What else does every new home owner need? Home maintenance. So why not gift them with a book about home maintenance, along with a gift certificate to their local Ace hardware store? Better yet, send them a list of your favorite home maintenance vendors — landscaper, painter, electrician, plumber, and handyman.
Provide Value Annually
Implement a system for providing value annually. Think about what your clients need to know about their property in order to avoid penalties, take advantage of tax breaks, and grow their house’s appreciation. Often home owners struggle to accept the high property taxes — so why not offer resources to get questions answered? And more importantly, send a list of the deadlines for filing a homeowners’ exemption and a property tax dispute? Since maintaining a home is an important function of homeownership, consider sending monthly reminders of important tasks that can be done to keep or improve the property value. For example, www.homekeepr.com is a cool app that will send monthly property maintenance reminders to your clients — and more importantly, keep your name in front of them as the go-to source for properties.
Why do home owners browse around the internet looking at other homes? Many are simply curious to find out the value of their house. So instead of leaving their future in the hands of fate (or an agent who provides free online property valuation), take the initiative to send a FREE property valuation annually to each of your clients. My favorite source is Realtor® Property Resource at www.narrpr.com because it produces a comprehensive 25-page report WITH an estimated valuation for nearly every U.S. home at the click of a button. Every year on their home purchase anniversary, remind them that safety is important (and you care about their home) by sending batteries to put in the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide detector (you will need to know in advance what type of batteries and how many). Homeowners need to maximize their income tax deductions — which is a strong motivation for property purchases — so send a quarterly newsletter with financial education and income tax tips from a licensed tax professional.
Be Available for No-Fee Consultation
Property owners, especially those in the higher income brackets, want more than a real estate agent who occasionally appears on the scene every few years when it’s time to sell or buy. They want a financial team who can help enhance their wealth position. In other words, they assemble a team and you can be a critical player among the pros: estate attorney, investment advisor, tax preparer, financial advisor, and wealth management guide. Invite your clients to wealth management seminars coordinated by your financial team — better yet, organize and host annual seminars with your team. Topics such as asset protection are also popular with luxury home owners.
Be available to consult with no fee at any time. Often, property owners just want a few quick questions answered and don’t know who to call. So, offer formal consultations on any type of real estate question. Better yet, set up an annual appointment hosted by your financial team and invite your clients to a free “checkup”. As a bonus, this formal appointment gives you insight regarding their future buying and selling needs, and how soon to anticipate the transaction in your pipeline.
If the property is an investment, send your clients to your trusted property management company who will refer them back to you for investment questions and decisions to sell or exchange the property. Consider hosting a seminar on 1031 tax-deferred exchanges for your clients looking to trade up or simply diversify funds from the stock market into real estate.
Look for Touch-Point Opportunities
Lastly, follow up an keep an eye out for opportunities. Keep track of their mortgage and remind them of refinancing opportunities when rates are low. For example, a buyer with an FHA mortgage should be alerted when it’s the right time to refinance into a conventional loan in order to shed the mortgage insurance payments. Check your clients’ public records periodically loan default notices so you can reach out — most clients are too embarrassed to call you. And of course, remind your client to renew their home warranty for the convenience of major repairs, which inevitably happen. You’ll become the hero!
Give yourself a competitive advantage by creating your own unique VIP program for your clients. Some buyers and sellers get abandoned by their agents after close of escrow, but your clients will continue to get the “red carpet” experience for many years because of the value that only you provide.
How long are previous buyers considered your clients? Until they list their house with another agent? Don’t worry about competitors. Instead, continue to provide real value for your clients so they never become “previous” clients. When they think about real estate, they will know you are the right agent to call. Take these steps and make them your own — adapt this value program to your clients and your market. Build a book of business and keep your clients for life!