Do you have a Support Team?
You can find books and blogs galore about building relationships–both in general and designed specifically for Realtors. Most of them are focused on building relationships with your clients, so they will keep coming back for more and advising their friends to do the same.
But there are other relationships that are just as important to your success. And they deserve as much attention and cultivation as do your once and future clients. Take a look at your current contact list and see if you have at least one of each of these. In our experience, many buyers and sellers do NOT have these relationships and they are going to rely on you to find them, or at least provide recommendations. You need people, and these are the People You Need–your Support Team:
- The Bug Man (or woman). Just about every house you encounter is going to have a critter or two hiding out somewhere. It could be anything from a nest of termites to moles in the garden that pop up like a rerun of Groundhog Day. And getting rid of the critters is going to be a required part of the home inspection process, in most instances. Always have a good killer or two on your list.
- The Handyman (or woman). Start with the premise that nothing is perfect. There’s going to be a loose light fixture, a cranky garage door, a broken front step. Who are you gonna call? Our recommendation is to have more than one of these important people on your list. If they are good and reasonably priced, then they are busy. Your buyers and sellers need repairs handled in a timely manner, and you need the resources to make it happen.
- The Money Man (or woman). One word: prequalified. All your buyers need to be. Of course, some will prefer to go online and do it themselves, and that’s fine. But many will not and you need to have a cadre of good bankers and mortgage brokers at your disposal so you can meet each client’s needs efficiently. Some may already have a personal relationship with their local banker. Others may prefer a mortgage banker who has access to multiple funding sources. You’ll learn their needs early in the game so that your process doesn’t get disrupted by a missing qualification letter, or worse–a missing mortgage.
- The Appraiser. Though conventional wisdom tells us that multiple appraisals on a property should not vary more than 10% either way, that is sometimes not the case. You need a good pool of appraisal professionals that know you and that you know how to work with. The more data you can give the appraiser to support a realistic price, the more realistic your appraisal will be. It is often a good idea to meet with the appraisers before they start their process so you can see what they are thinking and then provide them with data to support the sale or contracted price.
- The Home Inspector. Like many of the other professionals in your arsenal, you need more than one good home inspector you can call. Inspectors, of course, should be licensed by your state and meet all state requirements. Ideally, they will also be members of relevant professional associations. You need inspectors who specialize in residential sales, and who keep their credentials and expertise up to date. Depending on where you’re located, you may need some sub-specialist inspectors as well, such as earthquake safety inspectors, arborists, or septic specialists. And speaking of sub-specialists, here’s another one you may need:
- The Radon Tester. Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that can cause lung cancer. Testing for radon is required in many areas. Home testing kits are available at many home improvement stores for $50 – $65. However, in areas where radon risk is known to be high, a professional inspection may be required. This is a two-day process which involves placing testing canisters in the lowest livable area of the home. It requires professional monitoring and generally runs between $100 and $200.
- The Closer. Your clients should consider (and you should be able to advise them about) two factors when choosing a title company: the quality of title insurance and of the title search. The goal is to find a title company that will do a thorough search and an underwriter who will be there years from now if a problem ever develops. Title company fees are regulated in many areas, so the bottom line price of title insurance may not be an issue. But ancillary expenses like wire transfer or courier fees could vary, so know your area’s title companies and their policies before you refer.
- The Home Stager. In some cases, you can coach your sellers through the home staging process and they can do it themselves. In other situations, they may need professional help. A good staging crew can make a Cinderella out of all but the ugliest sister, usually in a day or two. At certain price points, the cost of home staging is a wise investment. Be prepared.
- The Landscaper. Your sellers may be able to handle curb appeal with the strategic placement of a few flower pots. But then again, there are those properties that need a complete makeover. From greening up a lawn to soft-scaping with shrubs and flowers, research shows that homeowners recoup 100% or more of the dollars they invest in landscaping. You need to know which landscapers in your community are available on short notice, and which give the most bang for the buck. A true story: Recently we went on the hunt for some decorative rock to finish a landscaping project. We checked out four local landscaping contractors. What we paid $37.50 for would have cost us $110 from a different vendor. Buyer (and Realtor) beware.
A final word: This is your Support Team. Keep those relationships alive and well with frequent referrals, thank you notes for a job well done, and even the occasional small gift surprise. They are on your team. Keep them happy and they will come through for you when you need them most.
Got anyone to add to this list? Let us know below.