If you are a real estate agent in the current market, especially if you are relatively new (within the last five years), you are likely struggling right now. Not only has the typical spring rush of home purchase activity not come to fruition, but home prices are still holding strong. According to a recent report from Black Knight, more sellers are retreating from the market, likely due to a volatile interest rate environment and inflation fears.
While building relationships with your clients is the logical first step when retooling your business during a challenging time in the market, it is also essential to ensure you give time and attention to your referral partners. Cultivating relationships with your mortgage loan officers, builders, and title agents is a solid complement to your strong client base. It will help you stand out in a crowded real estate agent arena during a time when purchase transactions are hard to come by.
The Loan Officer Relationship
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The relationship between the real estate agent and the loan officer can often be strained and combative. They may often blame each other if a transaction is not progressing or a loan is denied. That kind of thinking hurts everyone involved, including your mutual client. But what if you changed the narrative and took the time to really build a better relationship with your loan officer partners? What is the worst that can happen? The odds are that the loan officer would remember you as the one realtor who didn’t treat them like they were a glorified paper pusher but an actual partner in the transaction. What you have now done is create a pathway of cohesion that will result in more business for you and the loan officer.
Who else should I consider?
While loan officers are typically your most extensive pool of referral sources, other partners you encounter during the purchase transaction may provide you with additional resources. They are:
- CPAs and Tax Professionals
- Wealth Managers
- Property Managers
- Insurance Agents
- Small Business Associations
- Local Trade Organizations
- Settlement Agents and Title Attorneys
Building relationships with all these partners will help you expand your business reach while creating a wealth of support for your clients.
Where do I begin?
The concept of building relationships with your referral partners is simple to understand, but the application takes time, practice, and honesty. Here are some key factors to consider as you work to develop stronger relationships with your partners:
- Interact from a place of integrity– Partners who feel they are getting the “snake oil salesman” treatment from a real estate agent will be less inclined to consider them when they have a client needing help. Remember that you are more than a real estate agent- you are a trusted financial advisor. Working with that mindset will ensure you are seen as honest, trustworthy, and operating from a place of integrity.
- Embrace social media– If you haven’t hopped on the social media train by now, that train has pretty much left the station, but it’s not too late! The most active real estate agents get super creative with their social media efforts while sharing vital information with their viewers and referral partners. Check out this article from John Stevens that gives you additional tips on using social media in your business. Have fun with it while being mindful of your audience and remaining compliant. What works on TikTok won’t work on LinkedIn!
- Become an expert and share your knowledge– When transactions are hard to come by, becoming an expert in a niche area can help you capture additional market share. Pick a relevant niche to your market, then share that knowledge with everyone in your sphere of influence. Referral partners love to know when a real estate agent in their market is a first-time homebuyer guru and will be more than happy to send you all their leads.
- Keep the communication door open- If a referral partner reaches out to you and you do not respond promptly, they may be less likely to consider you for an opportunity in the future. Respond quickly to inquiries and follow up with the leads your referral partners provide you. Don’t forget to acknowledge your referral partners and recognize them for their efforts and the value they bring to your business. Even something as small as a hand-written “thank you” note can go a long way in fortifying those relationships.
- Get involved in your community– Credit Unions and Community Banks are ninjas for giving back to their community, and it is easy to understand why. Their entire business models are centered around relationships! If you aren’t spending more time in your community volunteering, a great place to start would be to see where the credit unions and community banks are focusing their efforts and getting involved. Lend your expertise by offering to partner with a mortgage office and host a lunch-and-learn about the home purchase process. Offer to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity. See if there are local veteran organizations you can get involved in. Let your community know who you are and how much you care about them!
Applying all these suggestions will get you on the right track to curating solid and valuable relationships with your referral partners, but do not forget to follow through on the work. Making yourself available and holding to your agreements will go a long way with your referral partners, and they will remember your integrity and honesty when they look for someone to help their clients.
What a shame that home inspectors were not included on “your” list
You are absolutely correct, Tom! Home inspectors, appraisers, and HVAC professionals are all part of the homebuyer’s journey and are essential to the process. Thank you for recognizing them as well!