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Every so often, a delighted buyer or seller takes to social media to celebrate the thoughtful, generous actions of their agent. Earning this sort of appreciation is a big deal: word-of-mouth referrals and repeat clients bring in significant business for most real estate professionals.
“There’s nothing better than when a past client calls and is ready to upgrade homes or explore an investment property,” says Bethany Taylor, Associate Broker at Glacier Sotheby’s International Realty in Missoula, Montana.
In the luxury space, white-glove service is not just appreciated, but expected—so what does it take to exceed expectations and build the kind of genuine relationships that keep clients coming back? Two agents share their top five tips.
1. Be a resource
Victoria Risko, a Westside Luxury Market Advisor at Sotheby’s International Realty – Beverly Hills Brokerage, knows that providing research can mean the world to clients. “I make sure I keep in touch with buyers by sending information that’s pertinent to all their real estate holdings, and I stay on top of the latest developments so they feel they can rely on me,” she says.
Taylor concurs. She once answered an inquiry from a seller who was looking for professional expertise but was expressly not in the market for an agent. Taylor happily gave the seller information regardless. “Fast forward two years later, and I get a phone call. The seller was so impressed by my comparative market analysis and the speed at which I addressed her needs—even though I wasn’t benefiting financially—that she asked me to handle sales across her portfolio. Now she hands out my business cards to everybody she hears talking real estate.”
2. Give thoughtful, personalized welcome gifts
Be attuned to the conversations and interactions you have so you can give gifts with impact. “If a client just had a baby, I give saving bonds for college, or a new set of golf clubs to a client who admired my swing—it’s always very client-specific,” says Risko.
When it comes to giving, Taylor gets to know her clients’ tastes and preferences and then selects a local business in the community to prepare a customized welcome basket. For gifts that are more real-estate-related, she looks to her clients’ home needs. “One thing I always do for my clients is purchasing them an enhanced or extended title insurance policy at closing because it’s not mandatory in the state of Montana,” says Taylor. “I joke that it’s like getting dental insurance for your 21st birthday, but for the few clients who have had to utilize the policy, it has been a lifesaver!”
3. Commemorate the old and the new
For sellers that are relocating, Taylor makes a point to provide a meaningful memento of where they’re leaving. “I try to find something to give a nod to Montana to remind them of home.”
But she also celebrates where they’re going. “I’ll reach out to their agent and ask them for their favorite local hot spot, and have a gift card delivered to them so they can go explore their new town,” she says. “Clients usually send me a selfie as they’re out enjoying themselves, and it makes me smile.”
4. Show past clients that you remember them
This holds true for both sellers and buyers: agents can stay in touch by recognizing the moments that matter. “I do my best to send a Happy Housiversary card,” says Taylor—though it doesn’t necessarily have to be real estate-related. “For me, it’s all about creating genuine relationships with my clients that last beyond the sale; so if I notice a job promotion, additions to the family—fur babies or human babies—or birthdays, I make sure to reach out and acknowledge.”
5. Prove you’re the best at what you do
Sellers remember kind gestures, but above all, they recognize great service. “I had a property I was showing for a year or so, but when I found a buyer who was willing to pay the $30 million ask, my seller said he no longer wanted to sell,” recalls Risko. “So instead of moving on, I patiently worked on the buyer and convinced them that $40 million might work. Suffice to say, I’ve now done about 15 deals with that seller.”
It goes without saying that agents should never expect reciprocity for their great service or thoughtful gifts. In the luxury real estate space, exceeding client expectations is fulfillment enough, and the repeat business that results is a bonus.
“Be genuine, do good business, and double down on service, even after the transaction has closed,” says Taylor. “If you provide exceptional service, you’re almost guaranteed to get that business when it’s time for clients to make their next move.”