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Would you work with someone you don’t trust to make one of the biggest purchases or sales of your life?
The obvious answer is no, which demonstrates just how crucial trust is for real estate agents. “Building trust with your clients is foundational to a successful client-agent partnership,” says Aviva Kamler, Luxury Marketing Specialist and Real Estate Advisor from Sotheby’s International Realty – San Francisco Brokerage. “Buying or selling a home is a major life decision. It can be stressful, emotionally intense, and physically draining, [which is why] it’s critical to work with an agent who understands your goals and respects your decisions.”
Krissy Blake, Senior Global Real Estate Advisor for Sotheby’s International Realty – Greenwich Brokerage agrees and says trust is a two-way street that’s beneficial to both parties. “Trust in real estate transactions enables collaboration and team playing,” she explains. “I believe that when we have earned each other’s trust, it gives back on so many levels.”
So how can agents continue to establish trust with clients? Here are six effective strategies:
1. Listen to your clients’ goals
Ensuring clients feel heard by their agents helps build trust early in the buying or selling process. It’s critical to find out their desired outcome upfront and to create an environment where they feel they can be open and honest. “Clients will trust and be comfortable with someone who understands their goals,” says Blake. “I ask questions and listen. In understanding the needs of my client, I become their trusted advisor and steady resource throughout the entire process.”
2. Be honest and authentic
In a sales-driven industry, being transparent and genuine has a big impact on trust. “Being honest and authentic can take you far, and it’s just a matter of proving to your clients that they can truly place their trust in you and feel good about it,” says Kamler. She adds that being honest also means being vulnerable when things don’t go to plan. “I give every client and transaction my all, and acknowledge shortcomings when they occur.”
3. Accessibility is key
Client frustration often stems from their agent being unavailable, which can feel particularly stressful when making such an important decision. Blake notes that being reachable, whether by phone, text, or email, provides assurance and comfort during a time that can be emotional for many. And Kamler agrees: “Follow up and follow-through are critical here.”
4. Offer support, not pressure
No one wants to feel pressured when making a purchase, and that’s especially true when individuals are buying a new home, or selling one they’re emotionally attached to. Establishing support without pressure puts the client in control, and allows the agent to gain their trust. “I believe it’s important to educate and present the facts to my client and to let them make the decision,” says Blake. “I make sure they understand that my role is to support them, not pressure them.”
5. Demonstrate your value as an expert
The internet has changed the nature of buying and selling homes—clients often do their own research before even meeting an agent. So what is it that keeps clients turning to agents for advice? Trust. ”My goal is to demonstrate my added value as an expert in my marketplace,” says Blake. “It’s more important than ever to work with an experienced agent with expert market knowledge who can advocate for them.”
An agent’s experience combined with their client’s trust can result in big wins. Kamler shares a scenario where the seller wanted to list the property $400,000 over the contract price, but she advised her to stick to the original price to get the most buyers through the door. The home sold for $615,000 over asking. “It was all about trust there—trusting me, trusting my market and data knowledge, and also trusting that I had a good enough sense of the potential buyer pool to make that recommendation,” Kamler explains.
6. Stay in touch
When trust is established, it should last long after the transaction is complete. Blake advises nurturing relationships with past clients and notes a little care can go a long way towards maintaining a trusting relationship. “Check-in and ask them how they’re doing. What’s new with their family? Really listen to what they have to say. Thank them for their loyalty.”
In real estate, building strong client relationships is paramount, and that begins—and can end—with trust. As Blake sums it up, “Trust leads to loyalty, which leads to a lifelong partnership.” And that loyalty is invaluable for any agent.