Albert Einstein once said, "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simple." Are you making your clients’ real estate experience as simple as possible?
Let’s face it — closing a real estate transaction is complex, especially if it is a foreclosure or short sale. The required disclosures, the purchase agreements and all the other supporting documents can easily total more than 100 pages.
Consumers are also overwhelmed by all the other choices they must make. How much can they afford? Which loan is the best choice for their current purchase? What areas are best suited for their lifestyle? What are they willing to give up in terms of features and convenience as opposed to their must-haves? Who is the best agent to represent them? The list is virtually endless.
A great way to assist your clients is to do everything you can to simplify their transaction from beginning to end. Although the list below is by no means comprehensive, it’s a great place to start.
1. Simplify your business card
It’s common for agents to have multiple phone numbers, an e-mail address, plus their Twitter and Facebook links on their business card. Instead of using multiple phone numbers, simplify your business card by using a single cell phone number that’s printed in bold with the caption: "Call or text me at …" and then give the number. You can also include your e-mail address.
To make this as simple as possible for you to manage, use a service that translates your e-mails and voicemails into text messages. This means all incoming information will be conveniently organized in one place on your smart phone.
2. Emphasize what Web visitors want
Website visitors want four things when they visit an agent’s website: what’s currently for sale, what their house is worth, community information, and what the market is doing in their area. Make sure these four key links appear prominently on your home page. Also include the city, state and ZIP codes of the areas you serve. In addition, place your contact number in the upper right-hand corner of your home page.
3. Can the flash
Consumers today are impatient. Skip the extra click to "enter my website now" and avoid using flash. Flash takes time to load, especially on computers that access the Internet via a dial-up connection. Furthermore, search engines, iPhones and the iPad cannot read flash applications. Instead, your Web visitors see a big black box. Worst of all, you waste valuable space on your home page with an application that does nothing to help your search engine ranking.
4. Silence the music on your website and virtual tours
Most people find music on the opening screen of a website to be irritating. Instead, add a welcome video that people can click on if they want to see it. Furthermore, adding a voice track instead of music actually helps you achieve higher search engine ranking.
5. Simplify the search process
Lifestyle search allows agents and their clients to simplify the search process. Companies such as SpatialMatch.com and Onboard allow you to search by both the traditional bedroom-bath count as well as items such as school, proximity to transportation, or even your favorite coffee hangout. SpatialMatch.com graphically displays the houses that best meet the buyers’ criteria on a map. Even in a large metropolitan area, it’s easy to spot which homes are the best fit for a specific buyer.
6. Provide checklists
The buying and selling process can be overwhelming to most clients. Help them navigate this process by providing them with checklists for the various parts of the transaction. For example, before listing their property, provide a staging checklist with ideas to help them make their home look best. Including "before" and "after" staging photos of other listings as examples.
You can also include checklists on how to prepare your home for open house, how the offer process works, how to negotiate a counteroffer, as well as the steps required to close the transaction.
Two of the most important checklists are your "Preferred Vendor Checklist" and "Your Moving Day Checklist." These two checklists help the transaction flow more smoothly and minimize potential problems.
7. Transaction-tracking platform
One of the best ways to simply your clients’ real estate experience is to provide a transaction-tracking platform. Transaction tracking platforms allow you to have a single place where all transaction-related information and documentation are posted. Because anyone can visit the platform any time, it streamlines and simplifies communication.
8. Electronic signatures
Electronic signatures are another excellent way to improve your clients’ real estate experience. One agent shared his experience with how electronic signatures helped him win in a multiple-offer situation.
When the sellers countered the three buyers who had made offers on their house, this agent’s client was on a flight to Denver. As soon as the agent obtained the counteroffer, he sent it digitally to his client using the airplane’s wireless system. His client signed the offer digitally and the deal was done in just a few minutes. The other agents who were relying on using a fax machine back at the office or driving to their buyers’ homes for a signature didn’t have a chance.
The real estate transaction is a complex experience, but the more you can simplify it for your clients, the more efficient you will be and the more business you will be able to close.