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The Value of Local Relationships (OR "How I Dodged a Bullet Yesterday")

Over the course of my real estate career, I have been burned by clients quite a few times.  People that I thought were loyal friends turned out to be much more self-interested than I realized.  It's not really about me.  It's about the client and their needs/wants.  If it is to their advantage to do something without me being involved, that is a likely outcome.  Thankfully, it happens far less often than it did when I first started.

Of course, you never want to have this happen with a past client.  Yesterday, I thought that it had happened to me.  My client lives about three blocks from my home (I have sold a bunch of homes nearby), and we had met recently to discuss their desire to move to a larger home in a different part of town, for a few reasons that are not really that important here. 

We met for a couple of hours, then we emailed back and forth as I endeavored to answer their questions about areas, builders, etc.  They had decided to wait awhile before pursuing anything, but they wanted to learn about some neighborhoods in the meantime.

Then, I got a worrisome phone call from them yesterday morning.

"Hi Jason, this is Sarah, I wanted to let you know that we put a contract on a new home yesterday.  It will be completed around late March or early April.  Could you call us so that we can talk about selling this house?"

I got that sinking feeling.  The one that I get when I realize that I may have just lost out on a nice-sized sale.  Sure, I can help them sell the home here, but it's about 1/2 the price of the home they want to buy.

I called her back, praying for the right words and the right way to present my value to them as an agent on the new home transaction.  I couldn't believe that they had acted so swiftly, and without me involved.

ME: Hi Sarah.  This is Jason.  I got your message.  You guys already found something that will work, huh?

SARAH: Yes, it's a great home!  It turned out that the new home salesperson knew you. 

ME: Really?  Great!  Who is it?

SARAH (after telling me his name): He said that he had known you a long time.  He got your information and he will be sending you a copy of the contract today.

ME: That sounds terrific.  Frankly, after I got your message, I thought you were doing something on the other end without me.

SARAH: No, we aren't doing that.  I'm sorry it happened so fast.  _______ asked if we had an agent, then he said, "We need to make sure Jason gets paid on this deal."

ME (laughing): That was very cool of him.  By the way, there's no need to apologize to me for moving quickly.  The only reason to apologize would be if you had cut me out of the deal completely. 

We had a nice conversation, and I will be meeting with them in a few days to discuss the timing on their listing.

I give this real-life illustration to show you how helpful networking can be.  This could easily have turned out differently if it weren't for my long-standing relationship with this particular salesperson.  In fact, I probably know the majority of the new home sales folk in this part of town, from years of working with buyers.

After finding out that I was the agent, this guy was excited to include me, for three reasons:

  1. I have a reputation for bringing REAL buyers.

  2. We have a reputation for generating a LOT of buyers, through our internet presence and our relocation account experience.

  3. I don't see it as my job to screw up the sale or make the builder's life difficult.  I am in the business of helping buyers get the home they want.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of getting "face time" with other agents and builders in your local market.  In this case, my friendship with this person was worth about $9.000 in commission. 

Networking requires effort, to be sure, but it pays off over the long haul. 

Thanks for reading!

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