On the surface the real estate transaction is pretty straightforward. There is a contract, where the buyer and seller agree to certain terms. Then there is the loan, where the buyer agrees to certain terms with the lender. Then there is the closing, where everything is signed and everyone is paid. Just like on TV, right? Fortunately and unfortunately not. The fortunate part for me and many others is that if it were that black and white, that cookie cutter it would get boring pretty quick. Unfortunately, the buyer's and sellers only know what they've experienced before or what they've been told. Often much of what they are told isn't by the professionals, but by well meaning friends and family. This is where you as the professional Realtor can shine, by being the educator and communicator. Here's a few tips to help you maintain communication with your client:
•1. Arrange for scheduled calling times. Everyone is busy, and it's often easy at the end of the day to remember that you told someone you would call and forgot until it's too late to call. Each time you speak with your client, even if it is to simply check in, schedule the next call. Not only does this save time because you are not playing phone tag, but it creates a level of professionalism.
•2. Keep your emails professional. Many of us have mobile communication devises that feed us our emails while we are out in the field. Great as they are they also create the chance that the email your client gets a reply to will be short and sometimes too short. If you feel you have to reply and your thumbs can't type the appropriate reply, send a email letting the client know that you are out of your office but will reply in detail upon returning.
•3. If you leave a voice mail for your client, be detailed about what you are calling for and a time that you'll call to follow-up.
•4. Check in often, simple as that. One of the biggest complaints about Realtors is they are too busy once a they the contract to communicate with their client. Generally, they are busy checking in with the lender, title company, appraiser, cooperating agent, home inspector, etc. They are doing their job, they are just not communicating it back to the client. The client's often feel the only time they are called upon is when someone needs something.
•5. Use a secure website for your clients to view the activities as the transaction progresses. This will empower them and allow them to feel more comfortable being able to see that someone is working on their transaction. Many of the websites also allow you the ability to hold documents, appointments and check lists for the activities. Some even can export the file to a CD after closing which you can deliver to your client for safekeeping.
Keeping in touch with the participants in a transaction will go a long way to successful closing and future business.
I recall years ago working on a transaction as a closer, it was a tough one with title issues, loan issues and just about all the issues one can imagine. The buyer and I actually became friends after this transaction because of the number of calls we had and the hurdles we overcame together. As we worked together we never heard from her Realtor (who I didn't know existed because there was no reference to him on the contract nor a phone call EVER during the process) Two days before our scheduled closing I receive a call from Realtor "Bob" who said he wanted to make sure I was in contact with the lender about getting the loan packet delivered on time. I wanted to say DUH, but I didn't. I ask him who he was and he explained he was the buyer's agent. He also reminded me of his commission on the HUD. He didn't show up for closing and had us overnight his commission check. He was too busy and had other obligations that day he indicated.
A year or so later I received a call from that buyer telling me that she and her husband needed to move. She ask me if I could recommend a Realtor. She said she was less than impressed with her previous one wanted my opinion on who would do a good job for her and also keep her informed. WOW, that agent's lack of communication cost him over $15,000.00 on that transaction alone! Not to mention the referral on the home that they purchased after this sale.
My advise: *Make sure the lasting impression you leave on your client is one that keeps them calling you back for future business and referrals*