How to Keep in Touch With Clients for the Long Haul
The average property changes hands every five to seven years. That’s why its important agents stay in clients’ lives well after the first transaction.
Getting referrals is golden. A client who considers you their real estate agent for life is a client you don’t have to spend money on trying to find. People recommend those they know and trust, but earning that trust involves some effort. Here’s how…
KNOW THE PRODUCT AND AREA THOROUGHLY
It’s essential you have an exhaustive knowledge of the area of operation – rather like a taxi driver. You should know the schools in an area and what the various school fees are. Know the different churches nearby, as well as the shops, offices, doctors, dentists and vets. You should have an equally thorough knowledge of other properties on offer, being aware of “the good, the bad and the ugly”.
KNOW THE LOCAL BYLAWS AND TOWN-PLANNING RESTRICTIONS
Often buyers will want to buy a property, intending to make certain alterations to the original purchase, such as adding an extra storey, a swimming pool or garage, or to use it as a business space. It is essential you understand local restrictions, subdivision rules, local bylaws and zoning requirements. You need to know the difference between commercial rights (where a property has been officially rezoned into commercial space) and “consent to use”, which is not necessarily transferrable from one owner to the next.
DELIVER ON YOUR PROMISES
When consumers use the services of an estate agent, they have high expectations that the “middleman” will know things and be able to do things that they are not able to do themselves. (Otherwise there would be no point in engaging the services of an estate agent and they might as well buy or sell privately.)
Agents who say they will find out information or say they will do things but do not follow through should realise that this is the quickest way to destroy the relationship.
Always tell the truth, always pay attention and listen carefully. Give constant feedback right from the start until the day the property is transferred.
UNDERSTAND THE ESTATE AGENCY AFFAIRS BOARD’S CODE OF CONDUCT
In addition to being controlled by the Estate Agency Affairs Act, agents have to follow the EAAB Code of Conduct, which is based on a fair code of ethics. One of the main clauses states that an agent must not wilfully or negligently fail to perform any work or duties with such degree of care and skill as might reasonably be expected of an estate agent.
Agents who always adhere to this code by putting their buyers and sellers first, before their own needs, will always survive and thrive in this competitive industry.
Jill Corfield began in the real estate profession 39 years ago as a rookie agent. She crossed over into full-time property education in 1984. Corfield is a director and past chairman of the Durban region of the Institute of Estate Agents and is serving a second term as a member of the Estate Agency Affairs Board. Corfield School of Real Estate, 031 303 3736
Words: Jill Corfield