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For leading real estate agents, building long-lasting client relationships has always been a hallmark of luxury service—but lately, relationships are lasting for a whole different reason.
“Like a lot of other markets this year, D.C. has been off the charts,” says Honor Ingersoll, Vice President at Premier Partners with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. Many buyers have been spending much more time—and having much less luck—trying to purchase properties. During this extended buying process, how can you keep your clients engaged and hopeful?
“Communicating on a regular basis is key,” says Lee Koffman, Head of North West London with Sotheby’s International Realty United Kingdom. “The more contact you have with them, the better the relationship will be.” Here are five facets of the buyer mindset that agents can pay attention to to offset long buying windows.
1. Buyers want to know they’ve partnered with an industry expert
To keep retained buyers from straying, agents need to prove that they’re staying informed and thinking strategically. “Speak to buyers regularly and update them on market activity,” advises Koffman. In particular, he suggests telling them about any recent deals that involved properties in their desired neighborhood or price range, or with their ideal plot size or square footage.
“Often, I send listings outside of my buyers’ targeted area to broaden their market knowledge,” says Ingersoll. “I’ll share unique properties with an architectural feature or design element they would find interesting, just as an FYI. Buyers like to be market aware.”
2. Buyers want to see you have local knowledge and inside intel
While your clients will appreciate having a holistic perspective, they’re most concerned with the markets relevant to them—and they want to be certain you’re not missing a single opportunity.
“Make sure you’re the first person to call them with any new homes that either come onto the open market, or that are being sold discreetly,” says Koffman. “They’ll know you’re very well-placed to find them their next home.”
For Ingersoll, her bi-weekly check-ins with clients not only include a market update, but detailed explanations of her recent efforts. “My process includes reaching out to other agents who sell in my buyers’ targeted neighborhoods, writing notes to homeowners, and networking with friends and colleagues,” she says. “This isn’t a one-time effort; you have to do this often for results.”
3. Buyers want to be reassured that you care on a personal level
Agents are in the relationship business, and building authentic connections is critical for retaining your buyers over a lengthy period of time. “You really need to listen to your clients,” says Ingersoll. “What are their interests? If they’re foodies, send them a gift card to the trendy new restaurant. If they love to hike on the weekends, give them a local events calendar with things to do.”
Similarly, Koffman calls his clients to provide regular progress reports, even if there are no new properties at the moment. “A lot of the time, we evolve into talking about other things, like kids or dogs,” he says. “The more you can relate to your applicant by chatting, the easier it will be for them to see you as their preferred broker.”
4. Buyers want to understand why they still haven’t had success
When buyers are feeling burned out from too many failed bids, the best thing is transparency. “I sit down with them face to face, and go through each of the properties they missed out on and why,” says Koffman. It enables clients to see the recurring patterns—typically, offers that are too low, or completion timelines that are too long.
Along with helping buyers set and manage realistic expectations, Ingersoll encourages agents to be creative when it comes to sweetening the deal. “Free rent back, having the buyer assume additional closing costs, free use of the vacation home for two weeks—anything to make your offer stand out,” she says.
5. Buyers want to work with a trusted advisor, not a salesperson
Koffman puts it simply: “Have patience.” Let your clients buy from you because they trust and respect you, not because you’re pushing a sale on them. “No one likes a salesperson,” he adds.
“I’m fortunate to be part of a company that provides high-end collateral,” notes Ingersoll. “Right after Memorial Day, I sent a beautiful trifold in the mail containing fabulous pool houses in the U.S. and abroad. These are definitely aspirational properties—and that’s the fun part. My clients appreciate receiving something from me that isn’t always about selling.”
Generate interest, garner confidence, and nurture genuine excitement and engagement, and you can keep your relationships going strong until you get that winning bid.