Last month, we talked about the basics of building relationships with real estate agents. Obviously, the same principals hold true whether you're working with other real estate professionals, attorneys, financial and investment planners or CPAs.
Of course you know to always ask every new client, "How did you hear about us?" And when they mention a real estate agent, be sure to drop a short thank you note in the mail that same day. Also, call or e-mail the agent back after your meeting with his or her prospective homebuyers to update them with next steps. E-mail them every week to10 days during the process to keep them up to speed—even if there's really nothing new to report.
Once the loan receives conditional approval, send a note with a small gift, such as a Starbucks gift card or movie tickets (you can buy both in bulk at a cheaper rate from Costco or Sam's Club). Your note could say, "Congratulations, your clients are approved! You deserve to treat yourself!"
When the purchase contract is accepted, call the listing agent and introduce yourself as the loan originator who is working with the "Jones Family” to obtain financing on their listing at 123 Hill Street. Let them know where in the loan process the Jones Family is, and when a closing date may occur.
Once the appraisal is complete, call both agents and discuss the results. It's good to interject a question in here as to how things are going with the Joneses: Is there anything you as their LO need to work on or improve? Plus, remind them that referrals are very important to you and you appreciate their trust. Call both the listing and seller's agents to let them know when and where the closing will take place, as soon as possible. Many times, they are the last ones to hear this information; ironically, they deserve to be one of the first ones to know.
If possible, attend the closing. It will score you extra points with the client, both agents, the title company or attorney, helping you garner more referrals. Just don't be afraid to ask for them. In fact, if you have an iPad, bring it and ask them to post a quick referral on your Yelp, Google Places, Zillow, Homes.com or Trulia listing, and then copy and paste their testimonial on your Web site and your social media pages when you get back to your office.
At the end of every closed loan, send a thank you e-mail to the buyer's and seller's agents, along with a page of your client testimonials, mentioning that you can now add their client to your testimonials list. Follow that with a handwritten thank you and your business card. Provide them with a testimonial from you that they can use, and ask for one from them.
Mention on your Facebook and LinkedIn pages the various real estate agents whom you are working with, such as "Just worked with agent Jill Jones to help her clients, the Smiths, close a loan on their dream home. Jill was very thorough and a great help to the Smiths, who were buying their first home." And then e-mail them a link to your post, if they've not already "Friended" you on Facebook or "Connected" to you on LinkedIn.
In Part III of this series, we will discuss several types of value-added services to offer your real estate contacts.
Jean LeBlanc is director of marketing for Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company. For more marketing tips, download the eBook, 13 Ways to Juice Up Your Marketing in 2013, by going to joinghmc.com and clicking on the eBook offer midway down the page.
She may be reached by phone at (914) 696-3400.