Working with out-of-town buyers? 7 tips for making it less stressful

Working with clients from afar can be tough, but these helpful hints will get you on the right path for relocation success

As a real estate agent, you’ll find clients looking for property across the country and from vast distances relocating into your market.

Your clients will be stressed because they have to deal with many unknown variables during the move.

It’s a challenging situation for both you and your client, but with the right strategies, you can better serve your clients looking to move from a long distance. Here are a few tips to help you get moving.

1. Focus on photos, videos and virtual tours

Showcase through photos, videos, and if you have access to them, virtual tours of the types of homes that are common in each area your client is considering, and give them examples of what a “typical” home might look like. This is useful for starting the conversation and helping your client feel involved in the process.

Make sure you ask your client what they like and don’t like about each home, so you can curate a list of desirable and undesirable qualities.

You can then strategically order the photos, or capture visual data from different angles, to show off the best qualities of homes you’re ready to show, in a truthful manner of course.

This can be a long back-and-forth process, but it’s still good to only show a few properties at a time to truly learn your clients’ tastes and preferences.

2. Recommend moving services

Your client is likely stressed about the logistics of moving across the country, so do what you can to help them by recommending different services or strategies they can use during the move.

For example, you could recommend a trusted mover who specializes in long-distance moves, or you can recommend motels or storage units in the area that clients can use as they prepare to move in. The easier you can make the process, the better.

3. Set a timeline in advance

As proactively as possible, set a timeline for the move. This is going to be helpful in determining how to set your clients’ priorities and also how to approach each stage of the process.

For example, if it’s currently June 1, and you know your client wants to move in by Sept. 1, you’ll have three full months to find the best property. You can start by exclusively presenting near-perfect properties in terms of qualities and price, then gradually work your way to other compromises, like different neighborhoods, different features or higher prices.

You can also use the timeline to help your client prepare for their move, which can save them stress and make them feel more confident in their decisions.

4. Make strong recommendations

Most of the time, when someone moves long distances, they won’t be familiar with their target neighborhood. They’re going to lean on you and your expertise to learn more about the surroundings, and they’ll strongly rely on your recommendations.

Accordingly, you’ll need to take on a more active role in making recommendations for your clients. If your client gives you a list of desires and a budget, you should be able to confidently assert yourself when a property seems perfect for their needs.

You don’t need to be pushy, but do be firm in your recommendations. You’re their eyes and ears on the ground.

5. Take advantage of multiple forms of communication

These days, long distance realty work is possible thanks in part to the plethora of communication options available. You can call, text, video chat or email your clients and use these forms of communication on a regular basis.

Try to use all of them appropriately for your conversations; use email and texts for periodic updates or new information, and when you need to have a bigger conversation, consider video chatting.

6. Time an in-person visit appropriately

Most buyers will want to visit the area in person at least once before committing to a move. It’s partially on you to determine when an in-person visit would be most appropriate.

You might want to wait until you have a handful of potentially viable properties lined up, or you might think it’s more appropriate to wait until there’s a clear winner and plan a visit to finalize the details.

7. Empathize

One of the best things you can do for someone attempting a long-distance move is to empathize with them. This is a stressful and high-stakes decision, and it won’t be easy to make when you live across the country.

See this challenge through their eyes, and listen to them as they talk about their challenges and needs. If you can provide them with a comfortable and accepting atmosphere, they’re going to be more decisive and more confident in their final decisions.

Long-distance moves can be exciting, but they’re also incredibly stressful. Your role, as a client prepares for this kind of move, is to keep things rolling as smoothly as possible.

Keep your clients’ limitations in mind, and play to your strengths.

Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant specializing in entrepreneurship, technology and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.