Buyer Agent Playbook: Total Recall—Things You Want New Clients to Know ASAP…and Remember

The information overload can be overwhelming when meeting with first-time homebuyers. There may have been a phone convo or two, plus some texting and emails, but you won’t know everything concerning what they already know about the home-buying process, or how much research they’ve done. So the first face-to-face is crucial as each side wants to find out in detail what the other one is all about before moving forward.

While you will be explaining who you are and what you bring, and why you’re confident their journey will end with handshakes and keys exchanged, every REALTOR® has certain things they want their new client to remember right away…and in the future as well. And agents are also almost universally aligned with the idea that a client is more than just a business partner for however long it takes to purchase a house.

“My hope is that the buyer will consider me not just an agent but a friend,” says Charlie Kerr, an agent with RE/MAX Heritage Properties in Chester, New Jersey. “They have gotten to know me through the process and developed a trust that is consistent with our first visit. It doesn’t end there; it also carries into any future opportunities in which my buyer may recommend me. I want their experience with me to be that no matter what day of the week or time of day it was, I was there for them, and met every challenge of the transaction for a positive outcome.”

Elizabeth Altobelli, a luxury property specialist with William Raveis in Connecticut, points out that sometimes agents take on a way greater responsibility than simply accompanying clients to homes and guiding them through the process.

“The experience and guidance I provide from start to finish set me apart,” she says. “My clients become lifelong friends because of the trust I earn. My business relies heavily on referrals. Any mistake could put my reputation at risk, and I take every aspect of my profession seriously. In addition, many of my clients make purchases without physically seeing the property. In such cases, I act as their eyes and ears with boots on the ground. That is a huge responsibility.”

Leslie Singer, an associate broker with Brown Harris Stevens in New York City, 

understands from experience that the residential real estate wants and needs of clients change over time.

“We want our clients to grow with us,” she asserts. “We make intelligent, strategic, long-term recommendations. It’s not a one-and-done transaction because we cultivate relationships that last a lifetime as real estate needs and budgets change over time. We’re very prudent in evaluating elements that will impact a resale, such as whether or not common charges will rise. This is especially important in condos or buildings with tax abatements.”

Giving more than time

Many agents make sure to have on hand for the first meet-up certain items for their new clients, with the hope that they will help facilitate a sale and keep them top of mind going forward.

Jeffrey Decatur, a broker associate with RE/MAX Capital in Latham, New York, provides a new buyer’s package. “In it I have a resume, testimonials, a guide, lists of mortgage professionals, a questionnaire and a set of future paperwork, including agency and fair housing as required by law,” he says. “I also give them a magnetic to-do list or calendar for the fridge.”

Rylie Schroeder, founder of Schroeder & Co. Real Estate in Texas, explains that “each of my new clients get a ‘buyer survival kit’ that has our buyer’s guide, which includes common terms and an overview of the process, hand sanitizer, moving labels, a journal, a Schroeder & Co. pen and a branded measuring tape.”

RE/MAX’s Kerr says he provides “a tri-fold brochure with my contact info and my commitment statement to them as their sales associate. Prior to our first meeting, I also try to obtain information from them as to the type of home, location, price range and any other particulars they would like. Once I have all that, I will run random reports and share with them what the market has available. This also educates my buyers as to what the present market activity is telling us on both the selling and purchasing sides.”

Raveis’ Altobelli explains that “some clients like tangible items such as a catalog or show sheet, while others prefer digital materials via email. I always print out materials for formal meetings or listing pitches in case prospects want to follow along. Additionally, I provide vendor lists so clients can access all the necessary contacts in one place, including the best general contractors, painters, lawyers, garage repair services and more.”

Preparing something out of the ordinary when possible and presenting it to a new client works exceedingly well for Brown Harris Stevens’ Singer.

“I always come to meetings with new clients with paperwork and a folder because some prefer that,” she says. “We ask upfront if the client needs a mortgage broker. This is helpful at the onset because it will help create a net-worth statement that impacts what properties they can and cannot afford. The goal is to avoid someone falling in love with a property without being prepared to move quickly on it.

“We have a long list of vendors, but we wait to see what they need before making recommendations. A key element is to ensure that clients do not get any surprises. For example, we educate them on closing costs from the first meeting because they are widely misunderstood. I spell it out line by line for each property type. 

“Many times, the initial meeting covers aspirations and significant criteria. It’s about understanding a client’s dream scenario. Sometimes I’ll speak with a husband and wife separately to gauge what is important to each one. I create a Venn diagram (an illustration that uses overlapping circles to show the logical relation between two or more sets of items) with shared goals and priorities as we embark on the search.”

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