They don’t want to meet me in person, and they don’t want to hear my voice or see my face. They do want regular updates and reports.

Lately I have been working with more sellers who I don’t meet in person. Sometimes I never meet them, and sometimes they come to Minnesota for the closing because we have this quirky business practice where we close at a closing table in person, though we can do it long distance, too.

They don’t want to meet me in person, and they don’t want to hear my voice or see my face. They do want regular updates and reports.

Lately I have been working with more sellers who I don’t meet in person. Sometimes I never meet them, and sometimes they come to Minnesota for the closing because we have this quirky business practice where we close at a closing table in person, though we can do it long distance, too.

A couple of weeks ago I met Beth for the first time. She walked up to my car and said, "Hi," as I was getting out. I had no idea who she was, but when she greeted me I recognized her voice. She contacted me late last summer when she was looking for an agent to list her home. She lives in Florida.

Like many of my new clients, she found me on the Internet, through my blog. She read it for awhile and then filled out a form requesting a comparative market analysis. We went back and forth via e-mail for a few weeks.

Then one day my phone rang and we talked. I listed her house and sold it within a few weeks.

Some of my current sellers fit the same profile, and I will never meet them in person. They don’t particularly like phone calls, especially not while they are at work. They certainly don’t want to come up to Minnesota during our horrendous cold snap just to list a home.

They hire me for one thing and for one thing only: to take care of everything and get their home sold quickly without bothering them or disrupting their lives in any way.

They don’t want to be wined and dined, and they never receive gifts from me or cards or go to a party with me. They don’t much care if I am a people person and they are not looking for a friend. They are looking for someone they can trust and who will do her job.

They want to be updated on showings and on general market conditions and, of course, they want to know what I am doing to sell their home. When it is all over I get referrals from them, too. …CONTINUED

I set them up with an account on the Internet so they can go to a Web site that will list any showings or upcoming showings on their home. They can also see the feedback if there is any from showings that have already taken place.

They get a report that I set up through our multiple listing service that is automatically generated when there is activity in the area on comparable homes. If there are no updates, I send a note stating that there are no updates so they know that I am on the job.

Technology makes working with absentee sellers fairly easy. Forms and contracts are sent via e-mail with a list of instructions. With some sellers I set up a meeting over the Internet and I show them the forms on my screen and we go through them line by line.

It has always been important to me to know that anyone who is signing a legal contract knows what they are signing. If I have any indication that they don’t, I contact them.

The Internet is not always the enemy coming between us and direct contact with our clients; it is a tool we can use to help them. E-mail and the Internet should be just as much of a priority as answering the phone and meeting people face-to-face if the goal is to win business and sell real estate.

Customer service is all about what my clients want and me doing my job. It is up to me to ask the right questions and find out what kind of communication my clients want and what is the most important to them in the sale of their home.

My absentee sellers are a reminder to me that what all my sellers are really looking for is someone who will sell their home. It is a business relationship. Face-to-face contact is important in business, but it is not always necessary or even desirable.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

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