In June of 2019, as a stubborn New Yorker, I stepped onto the 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica, California. As I felt the sun and the sea breeze, I had what would have been an inconceivable thought before: “Hey, this isn’t so bad.”
The weather, the breeze and the hypnotic trance I fell into watching the palm trees sway all combined and overpowered years of conditioning that New York City was the capital of the world.
That night, I called my partner and said, “What would you think of moving to the West Coast? It’s not so bad out here.” At the time, it was just an idea — a thought I was toying with. Within two months, he had an incredible offer, and we were packing our bags and heading to Los Angeles.
Since then, I’ve been specializing in working with clients relocating from New York to LA. Over time, I’ve come to realize that working with any clients who are relocating — be it from 3,000 or 300 miles away — boil down to a few key strategies:
1. Find the ‘why’
For many of my clients, the move from NYC to LA is not one that was by choice. As one of my clients explained: “Pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. I’ve known for a while that I would make the move eventually. I knew it would happen. It was only a matter of when.”
I have another client who was in a similar situation, with the exception that it was more of a realization that if she wanted to advance, she would need to be on the West Coast. It wasn’t really a choice; it was something that she absolutely had to do.
Knowing the “why” to the relocation is critical because it gives you a peek into your client’s headspace: Is this a choice they have agency in? Or is this something being forced upon them? Once you know this, you’ll be able to determine exactly what you’re working with.
2. Define the experience they’re looking for
What kind of vibe are they looking for in their new home or neighborhood? For example, if someone is moving to LA, what do they have in mind? Are they thinking of the ocean breeze in Santa Monica or the bustling nightlife in WeHo?
No matter where you’re located or where your client is moving, determine what “vibe” they’re after in their new space.
3. Build confidence (not just in you, but in their decision to move here)
Building your client’s confidence in you is always a given — it’s what we do. As the old adage goes, “We aren’t in the real estate business, we’re in the trust business.”
However, relocations require you to shift that focus slightly to building confidence in your client’s move, whether that’s by choice or by directive. How do you do this though?
As always, authenticity is critical, so don’t talk about how you could “absolutely, never ever, ever, ever live anywhere else.” Instead, pepper in a few of these throughout your conversations:
- “What I absolutely love about this neighborhood is …”
- “That bar has the best margaritas you’ve ever had …”
- “This corner here really reminds me of xyz …”
Little things like this go a very long way in making your clients feel more comfortable in their relocation. This is especially critical if your client is relocating because they absolutely have to.
4. Create connections to what your clients know
Hopefully, you’ll have some connection to the city or neighborhood your clients are relocating from — even if you’ve just visited a lot. Take that preexisting knowledge and show them their new city through their old city as much and as often as possible.
For example, (and I’m sure I’ll get a ton of flack for the upcoming comparisons) I try to create connections for my NYC/LA relocation clients in terms that they’ll understand. If I have a client who tells me they love the nightlife scene in Hell’s Kitchen, our first stop will be West Hollywood. If my client tells me that they like the feel of Williamsburg, we’re probably going to go to Silver Lake.
I’m always trying to create connections that are firmly rooted in what my clients already know. Even while we’re walking around, I’ll be sure to point out connections and similarities to what my clients are familiar with.
Most of the conversations that I’ve had with relocations are less focused on square footage, stainless steel appliances and flooring and more based on what the “vibe” of a particular neighborhood is.
All in all, working with relocations boils down to the same thing that we as agents do best — building a strong relationship based on trust.
Joel Lock is a real estate agent with Corcoran Global Living in Los Angeles, California. Connect with him on LinkedIn.