All year long, real estate agents are exhorted to stay top-of-mind with their clients — and then comes December, when the competition for consumer attention is fierce.
Do you give holiday gifts to your clients? If so, which kinds work best for you and your business?
Inman surveyed readers to ask what they typically give clients for Christmas. We compiled this guide based on the 229 responses collected between November 7 and 14, 2016, which helped us understand which types of gifts were most popular, and then did additional digging to find a few specific suggestions for each category.
(Don’t miss the other half of this research, which digs into what real estate agents would most like given to them as gifts.)
Do you give your clients gifts?
Survey respondents were split nearly 50-50 in terms of whether they give their clients gifts.
A slim majority of survey respondents who work with clients (50.72 percent) said they do not typically buy clients holiday gifts.
On the flip side, almost half of respondents (49.28 percent) said they do typically buy holiday gifts for clients.
What to buy?
In terms of types of gifts to give, respondents named these as their favored categories:
- 27.97 percent: An edible/drinkable item
- 26.57 percent: Other (this included plants, calendars, homemade food items and other items)
- 20.28 percent: An item for the home
- 17.48 percent: A gift card to a restaurant
- 4.90 percent: A subscription to a service or publication
- 1.40 percent: A gift card to a boutique
- 1.40 percent: A book
- 0.0 percent: A gadget or tech tool
- 0.0 percent: Tickets to a sporting/musical or other cultural event
These were some other options that respondents mentioned.
Big winners: Edible or drinkable items and plants — specifically, poinsettias — were popular options for client gifts.
Big losers: No survey respondents said that gadgets, tech tools, or tickets to sporting, musical or cultural events were gifts that they were likely to give clients (however, write-in responses suggested that some agents do give tickets to events with some success).
Eat, drink and be merry
A (relatively) safe choice for any agent considering a holiday gift is a food or drink item. Nearly one-third of respondents said that this method was how they chose to touch base with clients during the holiday season, and several more respondents wrote in “bottle of wine” or “homemade cookies” in the “other” response category.
Consider client allergies and food preferences before you spend a lot of your own time and money on food or drink items — and local specialties, too. Wine or beer might be obvious choices in some local markets (especially if there is a particular winery or brewery that locals love), whereas in others, you might want to go with honey or fruit instead.
Homemade items are often welcome; if you drop those off when your clients aren’t home, leave a recipe card with the food or drink so they can see whether there are any allergens they should know about.
And food-related items, such as cutting boards, gas or charcoal grills (of varying sizes), or other kitchen or cooking utensils or paraphernalia could be good holiday gift options for clients.
Home sweet home
Personalized (or not) items for the home was another popular category where agents can find lots of gift potential.
Many agents drop calendars off, which offers a medium to brand your gift. Most homes seem to be able to accommodate another calendar for the wall, but mass-produced gifts like calendars might get no more than a cursory glance before they are relegated to the recycling bin.
You could be better off with a different kind of seasonal gift, like a wreath or garland for decorating the front door or porch — or even a custom ornament for the Christmas tree with names, dates and/or a picture/rendering of the house.
A personalized “welcome” sign or name plaque for the outside of the house could be other options for personalized client gifts.
If you don’t know the client well enough (or don’t have time) to whip up something specific, you can still think “home-oriented” by bringing them or buying them:
- Patio furniture or deck chairs
- Time with a designer/interior decorator
- Trees for the property
- Custom planters (poinsettia optional)
- A fire pit
- A guest bathroom gift basket
- Cleaning services
And it’s certainly not the sexiest gift idea, but several agents noted that their clients appreciated home warranties, pest control or other house-related services as gifts.
Agents say ‘relax’
Giving your clients the gift of a little downtime — or an invitation to learn a piece of information they didn’t know about their own neighborhood — can be valuable (and make them smile when they think of you; who doesn’t want more of that?).
If you know of any books published about their neighborhood or city — especially recently — send it over, and if the author is local, you can try to get the books signed before they head out the door to make them extra special.
Personalized stationery (including journals) is one of those items that many people love but few people bother to purchase for themselves, which makes it a commendable gift option. Some sets for your clients that can be used for all-purpose greetings would likely be welcome (and possibly encourage them to put pen to paper more frequently).
Agents also said that they give:
- Spa gift cards
- Localized products (food, art, toys) in a local bag
- Magazine subscriptions
- Golf lessons
- Gift cards to a close-by movie theater
Some agents had specific suggestions for clients with families.
If you live in an area with a children’s theater, ask about pricing for family season tickets — they often have good deals, and you might be able to swing several plays for a family of three or four people. Cultural and community-oriented!
Is there a local child-minder you can’t stop recommending? Do yourself a favor and purchase some of his or her hours to gift to your own clients; whether it’s two, four, five or 80, your parent clients will no doubt remember you with gratitude when they leave their kids in good hands on their big night out. (And if they really like the child care, they’ll think of you every time they pick up the phone to book more adult time.)
And custom growth charts for families with kids — especially if they are removable and transferrable from home to home — make excellent gifts for families, too.