Selling a home is a team effort. In addition to the broker and the client, there’s the mortgage lender, the painter, the title lawyer, the plumber and a host of other home services professionals. And the real estate agent must be the team coach.
Michael Banks, a real estate broker based in Portland, Maine, has taken that approach for years, and it’s helped him grow his business. “It’s definitely helped secure listings,” he says. “When I go to a listing appointment and see water damage, I can confidently tell that seller someone will be over to fix it later that afternoon. Another agent might just suggest a few numbers to call.”
A strong vendor network helps get a home prepared for sale quickly and efficiently, and that’s a competitive advantage. Banks has created that strength by keeping his network busy and by making life easier for his vendors.
“One call to my painter and I can talk about and schedule three different jobs,” Banks said. “My painter much prefers that to having to wait for three different calls from three different clients.”
The vendors begin to develop a team mentality themselves by working closely with Banks. That teamwork between vendors creates additional value. “When we put multiple vendors on a project, they wind up working more efficiently because they’ve worked together with us before. That makes the homeowner happy, and that makes me happy,” Banks said.
And happy homeowners, of course, are more likely to reuse or refer an agent to friends and family. But keeping a homeowner happy goes beyond the point of sale.
“It’s all about the team that not only helps you find the house, but puts you in that house and helps you maintain it,” Banks said. “The agents are the coach of that team.”
Banks uses his network to keep his business top of mind throughout the life of a home. “Even after the sale, if it’s been two or three years, the agent can give the heads-up to window washing and offer a coupon,” he says. “It’s the helpful things, the things that make a life easier, that our clients most appreciate,” Banks said. “Our agents are able to let the clients know that this is what they should be doing this time of year, and here’s someone who can help.”
Having a network in place, of course, is not worth much unless the client is made aware of it. Banks believes that communicating the value of the network is essential. When a homeowner knows that a strong network will be there for him years down the road, he’s more likely to stick with the agent who offers access.
Mike Pontacoloni is director of marketing at OwnerAide, a real estate technology company.