In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
Real estate is all about connections, and Palm Springs real estate broker/associate Laurie Ridgeway of HomeSmart Professionals knows this better than most.
With an extensive repeat client and referral network, she has built her reputation as a top producer on consistent service that keeps clients coming back. Find out how one transaction can lead to many (many!) more when you take good care of your clients.
How long have you been in the business?
I am about to begin my 17th year of selling real estate. I’ve always been self-employed and when we moved to Palm Springs I had no real idea of how I would support myself. So, like many others, I thought why not get my real estate license?
Originally, I thought I’d get into property management, but when I met my first broker — and he knew I had sales experience and owned my own businesses in the past — he quickly steered me in the direction of sales. Knowing what I do now about property management, I’ve been eternally grateful!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I will probably be winding my business down, but the beauty of this profession is that if I don’t want to, I can keep going.
What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?
I learn something new in every transaction. It is hard to name just one thing, but what I do know is that every person you work with is the best source of your future business so you need to nurture those relationships and never ever let anyone down.
At this point in my career, at least 85 percent of my clients are repeats or referrals.
How did you learn it?
Here is a great example of how one sale can turn into many: I was introduced to my client Joe by a past client who lived in the same condo complex. Joe and his wife, Pat, loved that complex and had a great unit except for one thing. It was kind of dark.
Because they are snowbirds, Joe wanted to make sure his wife was happy when she was here, and he asked me to find them a sunnier unit in a complex that had tennis courts like the one where they currently lived.
I ultimately found one that was bright and sunny and also happened to be two stories, which Joe insisted would not be a problem. He bought it for cash without Pat seeing it, and said he would probably list his old one next winter (sale No. 1). This was in July.
In October, I got a call from Joe. His wife saw the place he bought earlier that year and hated it. We put it back on the market. I was fortunate enough to find the buyer also (sales No. 2 and 3).
Joe and Pat stayed in their old unit but come February she was still unhappy with the lack of light, so he asked me to look around for a new place. Shortly thereafter, one came on the market in their same complex. We looked at it — with his wife along this time! Pat loved it, and so they bought it (sale No. 4)!
Of course then I had to list their original unit, and that sold (sale No. 5).
Three years went by, and they realized they weren’t getting any younger and didn’t really want to own two homes anymore and would just rent in future winters. So, I recently listed the last condo and just sold it for sale No. 6. And you never know — next winter they might change their minds and decide to buy again!
What advice would you give to new agents?
Get a mentor or at least establish a relationship with your broker or an experienced agent with whom you feel comfortable asking a lot of questions.
Develop good weekly or monthly marketing habits from the start and practice them even when business is great. This will really help in the down times.
The best tool is to develop and expand your circles of influence, whether it is friends, family, past clients, whatever. Most experienced agents will tell you that repeat and referrals is usually more than 75 percent of their business.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagr